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A Brief Overview of the Life and Writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

John W. Matthews

Foreword by Dr. Martin Marty.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life spanned four decades of the early twentieth century and was shaped within the crucible of two European wars and an economic depression. Born in 1906 and raised in an upper middle class German family, he was educated to be a pastor, further trained as a theologian, involved in a plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler, and was finally hanged by the Nazis only days before the end of World War II. His life story is more than one more tragic episode in the history and horrors of the Holocaust. Bonhoeffer’s life cannot be simply summarized as only one of trauma and tragedy. His was also a life filled with great blessing, even when requiring great courage and incredible sacrifice. His relationships were life-giving and his experiences were rich. The authenticity of Bonhoeffer’s Christian faith and the integrity of his theology continues to inspire people. During that time when most people understandably struggled to protect their own lives, as well as the lives of those they loved, he often ventured by faith into uncertain territory,risking his reputation and life to advocate for others. Rarely does one encounter an individual whose inner convictions and outward actions so consistently and courageously match-up.

Pastor-theologian John Matthews has given the twentieth-century church an exceptionally valuable resource. This work is especially helpful in the exposition of Bonheoffer’s theology, while not neglecting his prophetic life and heroic death. A clear christological focus brilliantly guides the reader through the remarkably diverse primary literature with its complexity and dialectical tensions. Matthews effectively brings to the contemporary church Bonhoeffer’s needed challenge.
Paul Sponheim, professor emeritus, Luther Seminary

John Matthews frames the focus of theologian Diedrich Bonhoeffer around the theme of Christology. What pastors Bonhoeffer and Matthew do with that theme is what makes this book so cogent, concentrated and clear.
Martin Marty

Refracted through Bonhoeffer’s radiant christocentric vision of reality, this book provides an engaging introduction to the writings and continuing legacy of this influential theologian and martyr. Matthews’ crystal-clear writing brings the complexity of Bonhoeffer's insights into beautifully accessible form. A treasure for all who are longing to dive in....
The Rev. Lisa E. Dahill, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Worship and Christian Spirituality, Trinity Lutheran Seminary
Past chair of the Bonhoeffer: Theology and Social Analysis Group of the American Academy of Religion"

What a pleasure to spend time in this strong and clear book -- I loved the christocentric focus throughout. Lisa Dahill

John W. Matthews is senior pastor of Grace Lutheran Church of Apple Valley, Minnesota. He is also an adjunct instructor of religion at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, a founding member of the ELCA’s Consultative Panel for Lutheran-Jewish Relations, and past president of the International Bonhoeffer Society – English Language Section.

This book is published in the Theology for Life Series, Albert Anderson, editor. The series provides brief but comprehensive and understandable overviews of the lives and writings of some of the most enduring theologians/philosophers of the past. As adult primers, the books provide historically accurate interpretations of the writers’ major works that are also clearly relevant to contemporary concerns. The series is suitable for group discussion, with available study guides, as well as for personal reflection. Moreover, each book includes key references to the prominent figure’s published works, and thus offers the reader an eminently useful platform for continuing study. The reader will find the series thought provoking, inspiring, and of lasting value for life.

Also in the series: Kirkegaard (Philosophy button at left)


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ISBN: 978-1-932688-65-X
102 Pages
Size: 5.5 x 8.5
Binding: Perfectbound
Publisher: Lutheran University Press
Quantity in Basket: None

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