This fascinating book, which explores an intriguing idea formulated by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the very last months of his life, has up until now been available only to German readers. Since Polyphonie des Lebens first appeared twenty-five years ago, a whole new generation of scholars has come into contact, in English as well as in the original German, with the entire collection of his works, as well as with a huge body of Bonhoeffer studies that have provided an exhaustive assessment of the man and his theology. But now with this brand new English edition of a book that explores a neglected but significant aspect of his life, readers may be surprised to discover how Bonhoeffer’s interest in music influenced him—he seriously considered becoming a professional musician as a teenager, but chose the path of theology instead—and that not only did music provide him with a rich inner world of solace during his daily life while confined in Tegel Prison during 1943 and 1944, but music also lent him a remarkable metaphor for the fragmentary nature of life itself. In Polyphony of Life Andreas Pangritz explores Bonhoeffer’s musical development and its impact on his theology and so fills in an important gap in the record of Bonhoeffer’s life and thought.
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This book is a jewel in the literature on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was an accomplished musician since his youth. His theology was deeply inspired by music, as Andreas Pangritz describes precisely. The English translation has the great merit to make his study newly accessible for a larger public.
—Wolfgang Huber, Bishop Emeritus and former President of the Protestant Churches in Germany
This translation of Andreas Pangritz’s 1994 classic Polyphonie des Lebens is long overdue. A gifted musician and sophisticated music lover, Bonhoeffer naturally merged musical metaphor with theological references, and he drew on the classic Lutheran hymns in his preaching and theology. Pangritz illustrates the extent to which one can ‘read’ DB and his life story in a musical sense: as point and counterpoint, as hope in the midst of dissonance, as transcendence in the midst of imprisonment and despair. Skillfully translated by Robert Steiner, this is a rich and insightful study of Bonhoeffer’s ‘theology of music.’
—Victoria J. Barnett, General Editor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works English Edition
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