The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Bonhoeffer bonanza

Theologian's influence expands

One of history's great ironies is that so many outstanding figures become more influential in death than they had been in life. This is poignantly true of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German theologian and Confessing Church leader who was executed 55 years ago this month for his opposition to Adolf Hitler. A recent spate of publishing honors his ongoing importance.

Fortress Press, a leader in assuring the legacy, offers an innovative revision of the 1967 standard by Eberhard Bethge, Bonhoeffer's friend and colleague: Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography (2000; paper, $39). A variety of new discoveries — papers, stories and such — are incorporated by editor Victoria J. Barnett.

Also new: a volume of essays — Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust edited by Robert P. Ericksen and Suzannah Heschel (1999; paper, $22); and Discipleship (June 2000; cloth, $48), the fourth in an ongoing series of Bonhoeffer's 17-volume complete works. For readers new to Bonhoeffer, Clifford J. Green, one of the series editors, recommends Fiction from Tegel Prison, Life Together and Creation and Fall. For information on the series, including discounts, call Augsburg Fortress at (800) 328-4648.

Among other valuable recent contributions:

  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Writings Selected (Orbis Press Modern Spiritual Masters, 1998; paper, $13).
  • Meditations on the Cross (Westminster/John Knox, 1998; paper, $12).
  • Saints and Villains, a novel by Denise Giardina (Norton, 1998; cloth, $25), focuses on how Bonhoeffer grew in fits and starts toward his brave stance.

    Another intriguing project is the movie Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace (June 14; 9:30 p.m. EDT on PBS). A joint project of Aid Association for Lutherans and German, Canadian and American film companies, it won best film honors at the 40th annual Monte Carlo Television Festival in Monaco. It would make a fine introduction to Bonhoeffer.

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