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Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 472 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury T&T Clark (June 3, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0567034003
  • ISBN-13: 978-0567034007
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #520,523 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"[Bonhoeffer] came from a cultured and musical family which choose- unlike the Wagner clan at Bayreuth, for instance- the painful road of opposition to National Socialism. The author of this new biography understands this Kulturkampf from within." www.energypubisher.com


'When the last paragraph is finished, the reader is left with the sadness that such a grand Christian should have had his life so brutally ended, but also with a feeling of strange warmth in the fact of the great strength, the hope and faith and love of the Lord Jesus whom Bonhoeffer served so loyally...Read this book and walk with him.'
- Methodist Recorder, January 2010


"An important contribution to our understanding of the period." The Catholic Herald, January 2010


'Admirable work ... Bonhoeffer's correspondence with his fiance, the talented and spirited Maria von Wedemeyer, which was not available to Bethge [Bonhoeffer's previous biographer]. deepens and humanizes the portraiture.'
Church Times, June 2010


Review in East Riding News, July 2010


Reviewed in Church of England Newspaper, 10th September 2010


In fact, there are a number of excellent biographies that offer an account of Bonhoeffer's life that is both thorough and engagingly readable....that captures the full sweep of his remarkable story. The best is Ferdinand Schlingensiepen's Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906-1945, Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance published in translation by T & T Clark/Continuum. Ferdinand Schlingensiepen worked closely with Bethge and served on the editorial board of the 16 volume Bonhoeffer Werke. A nice bonus: He got permission from the Bonhoeffer family to print previously unpublished photographs. (Charles Marsh)

Like all biographies of Bonhoeffer the reader cannot but turn the final page and ponder the 'what ifs' of human history. How might his life, theology in the 20th century and the Church of Jesus Christ today be different had Bonhoeffer survived until the Allies liberated Flossenbürg a few weeks later? But Bonhoeffer himself would have shunned such wishful and fanciful thinking: his search was for the concrete word for the moment, 'who is the Christ for us today?' Schlingensiepen's biography deftly reveals the theological, political and personal urgency of a man on such a quest and it does so while paying great attention to the context in which he lived. His book will be both an invaluable resource to the libraries of scholars and a popular addition to the shelves of readers with a more general interest. It deserves to be both widely and deeply read. Craig Gardiner, Regent's Reviews
(Craig Gardiner)

The time is long overdue for a good, shorter biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer that has the depth and scope of the Bethge biography. Schlingensiepen has written it. His is accurate, thoughtful, and shows a solid grasp of the history of the churches under National Socialism — not surprising, since the author's father was himself active in the Confessing Church. That's important for understanding Dietrich Bonhoeffer as a person, for he was very much a product of his religious tradition and training as well as its most provocative critic and visionary. The portrayal of Bonhoeffer's role in the Confessing Church (and his conflicts with it) is fascinating. The newer documents that have come to light since the Bethge biography, particularly the correspondence between Bonhoeffer and his fiancee, are referenced, giving more glimpses of Bonhoeffer's personal development. This is a fine biography and important background reading for anyone who is reading Bonhoeffer's theological classics — for it shows the life from which these classics emerged. - Victoria Barnett, General Editor of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works in English
(Victoria Barnett)

First published in German in 2005, this sustentative biography represents the fruit of a lifetime devotion to the preservation and consideration of Bonhoeffer's theological legacy on the part of its author. Schlingensiepen provides a deft, lively and richly detailed narrative which, drawing judiciously from the primary sources and a wealth of related scholarship, sympathetically unfolds the movement of Bonhoeffer's life and traces the development of his theological and political-ethical thinking. — Philip G. Ziegler, University of Aberdeen, UK (Philip G. Ziegler)

'Schlingensiepen provides a deft, lively and richly detailed narrative which, drawing judiciously from the primary sources and a wealth of related scholarship, sympathetically unfolds the movement of Bonhoeffer's life.'
(The Expository Times)

'Ferdinand Schlingensiepen serves us exceedingly well with this work written out of his own lifetime's study of Bonhoeffer.' (Keith Clements Theology)

'Ferdinand Schlingensiepen serves us exceedingly well with this work written out of his own lifetime's study of Bonhoeffer.'
(Theology)

'This new biography is one of the most important resources for taking us forward in dialogue with Bonhoeffer during the coming years.'- Reviewed by John W. de Gruchy Emeritus Professor, University of Cape Town

'One measure of a good biography is the degree to which it keeps this anachronistic tendency in check. When judged by this criterion, Ferdinand Schlingensiepen's new book is without peer. The author's knowledge of Bonhoeffer and his familiarity with the massive amount of research that has been done over the past 50 years are readily apparent, and they result in a clear and compelling picture of Bonhoeffer's life, work and witness. Schlingensiepen excels at navigating through the many settings, characters and plots that converge to form the contours of this life. Schlingensiepen is equally masterful at relating the intimate relationships of Bonhoeffer's life. We are in his debt for the good work that he has done, opening a new window into the remarkable life, witness and scholarship of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.' - The Christian Century


'One measure of a good biography is the degree to which it keeps this anachronistic tendency in check. When judged by this criterion, Ferdinand Schlingensiepen's new book is without peer. The author's knowledge of Bonhoeffer and his familiarity with the massive amount of research that has been done over the past 50 years are readily apparent, and they result in a clear and compelling picture of Bonhoeffer's life, work and witness. . . . Schlingensiepen excels at navigating through the many settings, characters and plots that converge to form the contours of this life. . . . Schlingensiepen is equally masterful at relating the intimate relationships of Bonhoeffer's life. . . . We are in his debt for the good work that he has done, opening a new window into the remarkable life, witness and scholarship of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.' - The Christian Century


'When the last paragraph is finished, the reader is left with the sadness that such a grand Christian should have had his life so brutally ended, but also with a feeling of strange warmth in the fact of the great strength, the hope and faith and love of the Lord Jesus whom Bonhoeffer served so loyally…Read this book and walk with him.’ - Methodist Recorder


'An important contribution to our understanding of the period.' - The Catholic Herald


'Admirable work ... Bonhoeffer's correspondence with his fiance, the talented and spirited Maria von Wedemeyer, which was not available to Bethge [Bonhoeffer's previous biographer]. deepens and humanizes the portraiture.' - Church Times

Review in East Riding News, July 2010


Review in Church of England Newspaper, 10 September 2010


'In fact, there are a number of excellent biographies that offer an account of Bonhoeffer's life that is both thorough and engagingly readable....that captures the full sweep of his remarkable story. The best is Ferdinand Schlingensiepen's Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906-1945, Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance published in translation by T & T Clark/Continuum. Ferdinand Schlingensiepen worked closely with Bethge and served on the editorial board of the 16 volume Bonhoeffer Werke. A nice bonus: He got permission from the Bonhoeffer family to print previously unpublished photographs.' - Charles Marsh

'Like all biographies of Bonhoeffer the reader cannot but turn the final page and ponder the 'what ifs' of human history. How might his life, theology in the 20th century and the Church of Jesus Christ today be different had Bonhoeffer survived until the Allies liberated Flossenbürg a few weeks later? But Bonhoeffer himself would have shunned such wishful and fanciful thinking: his search was for the concrete word for the moment, 'who is the Christ for us today?' Schlingensiepen's biography deftly reveals the theological, political and personal urgency of a man on such a quest and it does so while paying great attention to the context in which he lived. His book will be both an invaluable resource to the libraries of scholars and a popular addition to the shelves of readers with a more general interest. It deserves to be both widely and deeply read.' - Craig Gardiner, Regent's Reviews

'The time is long overdue for a good, shorter biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer that has the depth and scope of the Bethge biography. Schlingensiepen has written it. His is accurate, thoughtful, and shows a solid grasp of the history of the churches under National Socialism — not surprising, since the author's father was himself active in the Confessing Church. That's important for understanding Dietrich Bonhoeffer as a person, for he was very much a product of his religious tradition and training as well as its most provocative critic and visionary. The portrayal of Bonhoeffer's role in the Confessing Church (and his conflicts with it) is fascinating. The newer documents that have come to light since the Bethge biography, particularly the correspondence between Bonhoeffer and his fiancee, are referenced, giving more glimpses of Bonhoeffer's personal development. This is a fine biography and important background reading for anyone who is reading Bonhoeffer's theological classics — for it shows the life from which these classics emerged.' - Victoria Barnett, General Editor of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works in English


"First published in German in 2005, this sustentative biography represents the fruit of a lifetime devotion to the preservation and consideration of Bonhoeffer’s theological legacy on the part of its author. Schlingensiepen provides a deft, lively and richly detailed narrative which, drawing judiciously from the primary sources and a wealth of related scholarship, sympathetically unfolds the movement of Bonhoeffer’s life and traces the development of his theological and political-ethical thinking." – Philip G. Ziegler, University of Aberdeen, UK

'This new biography is one of the most important resources for taking us forward in dialogue with Bonhoeffer during the coming years.' - John W. de Gruchy Emeritus Professor, University of Cape Town


'[Bonhoeffer] came from a cultured and musical family which choose — unlike the Wagner clan at Bayreuth, for instance — the painful road of opposition to National Socialism. The author of this new biography understands this Kulturkampf from within.' - www.energypublisher.com


'Ferdinand Schlingensiepen serves us exceedingly well with this work written out of his own lifetime’s study of Bonhoeffer.' - Theology


Interview with the author in the Mars Hill Audio Journal, Vol. 107


Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance should berecommended to a wide readership. As a streamlined and updated account ofBonhoeffer, it is ideal for new readers of Bonhoeffer. For such readers, it offers comprehensive and nuanced accounts of Bonhoeffer's cultural and political challenges. This biography also instantly becomes the starting point for those interested in Bonhoeffer the man of resistance. (Sanford Lakoff)

About the Author

Dr Ferdinand Schlingensiepen is one of the Founders of the International Bonhoeffer Society. His father was principal of one of the seminaries of the Confessing Church. As a theologian and pastor, Schlingensiepen was a close friend of Eberhard Bethge. He has published widely on Bonhoeffer, Heinrich Heine and the German novelist, Theodor Fontane.

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Customer Reviews

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I'm sure other tomes have covered the same ground, but still a good read.
Kafka45
The closing weeks of his life are known to us only through the stories told by survivors, but these stories prove poignant as they are retold in this book.
Robert Cornwall
It is a well researched, very readable account of Bonhoeffer's life and times.
M. Reginatto

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

78 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Robert Cornwall on October 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Dietrich Bonhoeffer has become an almost mythical being. His death at the hands of Nazi thugs has proven to be so inspirational that everyone wants to claim him as their own. Therefore, Death of God theologians of the 1960s could build a theology on Bonhoeffer's theological musings about a "religionless Christianity" and a world "come of age." On the other hand, radical antiabortionists have claimed his mantle and appealed to his involvement in the plot against Hitler as a rationale for their acts of violence directed at abortion clinics and their personnel. There is also the recent attempt by a biographer of Bonhoeffer to turn him into an American Evangelical. Yes, Bonhoeffer has become of the great modern saints, standing alongside Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Bonhoeffer's life story and his theology are much more complex than any of these attempts to use his legacy would suggest. When you consider that he died at the age of 39, you can only wonder where his life and his theology would have gone had he lived a full life. This is especially true of this theology, which seems to have been bursting with new ideas in the closing years of his life, years spent in prison. All that we can do is speculate on where these threads might lead. There is, of course, there is sufficient material available that suggest that Bonhoeffer was on the verge of becoming one of the great and most creative theologians of the modern age. He interacted closely with theologians and biblical scholars such as Barth, Tillich, Van Harnack, Bultmann, and Niebuhr, and he left us with tantalizing clues to his agendas and concerns, clues that have proven fruitful for theological reflection since his death.
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45 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Victoria J. Barnett on November 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover
(The reviewer is General Editor of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, English Edition.) The time is long overdue for a good, shorter biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer that has the depth and scope of the Bethge biography. Schlingensiepen has written it. His is accurate, thoughtful, and shows a solid grasp of the history of the churches under National Socialism -- not surprising, since the author's father was himself active in the Confessing Church. That's important for understanding Dietrich Bonhoeffer as a person, for he was very much a product of his religious tradition and training as well as its most provocative critic and visionary. The portrayal of Bonhoeffer's role in the Confessing Church (and his conflicts with it) is fascinating. The newer documents that have come to light since the Bethge biography, particularly the correspondence between Bonhoeffer and his fiancee, are referenced, giving more glimpses of Bonhoeffer's personal development. This is a fine biography and important background reading for anyone who is reading Bonhoeffer's theological classics -- for it shows the life from which these classics emerged.
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49 of 52 people found the following review helpful By C. Hutton on July 5, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer was originally published in Germany in 2006 and translated into English this year. It is superior to the competing English summary of Bonhoeffer's life by Eric Metaxas which contains no new information. Mr. Schlingensiepen had the advantage of reading the German source documents in their original and of interviewing persons who personally knew Bonhoeffer. The weakness of this translation is an assumption that the reader has a theological background (having a Lutheran heritage would help). It's strength is depicting the evil era of Nazi Germany which Bonhoeffer actively opposed and was murdered by at the end of World War II. It contains many helpful photographs and generous selections of Bonhoeffer's writings. It is worth reading, even if only for the stand that Bonhoeffer took against Hitler (which is three-quarters of the book).
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By M. Reginatto on October 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This book, published in Germany in 2006 and now available in English, is the definitive biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It is a well researched, very readable account of Bonhoeffer's life and times. This does not mean that the book is a quick read: as is the case with any book that succeeds in immersing you in a time and place that is not your own, you will have to go through it carefully. But you will be amply rewarded for your efforts.

Bonhoeffer lived in the complex, turbulent first half of the twentieth century. The author provides a deep, thoughtful portrayal of the historical developments that were taking place around Bonhoeffer while at the same time presenting a superb account of his life and work. The description of the struggle between the German Christians and the Confessing Church and of Bonhoeffer's role makes for fascinating reading. The author makes a conscious effort to present a complete, balanced account. Most importantly, he does not attempt to appropriate Bonhoeffer for any current cause or church, or to give a biased view of his life to support a particular point of view.

Essential reading.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Adam Shields VINE VOICE on April 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There were two biographies of Bonhoeffer published in 2010. It was not a coincidence. The final editions of Bonhoeffer's complete works a 15 volume set are now being completed. There is a trove of documents and letters that have been discovered since the classic biography from Bonhoeffer's best friend Eberhard Bethge's was first published in 1970. (A new translation was released in 2000.)

I read Eric Metaxas' biography, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy right after it came out. It is a good, but not great biography. Metaxas is a good storyteller. He was trying to counter some misunderstanding about Bonhoeffer, especially to an Evangelical audience that did not quite trust Bonhoeffer. But Metaxas is not a Bonhoeffer scholar and even a Bonhoeffer lightweight like myself saw errors or myths that were presented as fact. But this is a review of Schlingersiepen's biography, not Metaxas' biography.

What I appreciated about Schlingersiepen's biography is that it was much more focused on telling the background and history around Bonhoeffer. I felt like I understood not only more about Bonhoeffer, but also more about Germany, the issues of religious freedom under Hitler and a number of theological issues that Bonhoeffer was dealing with.

Second, Schlingersiepen uses Bonhoeffer's own works frequently. It gave me a much better sense of the changes in Bonhoeffer's theology and his progression over time. I was glancing back at the passages I highlighted and realized that all but one were quotes from Bonhoeffer's own writing. It is an odd biography that concentrates so well on what Bonhoeffer said in context and without being bored by quotes.

I also appreciate that Schlingersiepen does not present Bonhoeffer as if he were always right.
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