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The Polyphony of Life: Bonhoeffer’s Theology of Music

, 2019
ISBN: 9781532661525
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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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Resource Experts
  • Features an English translation of Andreas Pangritz’s 1994 classic Polyphonie des Lebens
  • Explores Bonhoeffer’s later life and passion for music
  • Examines how Bonhoeffers life and theology can be related to musical metaphors
  • Preface to the English Translation by Andreas Pangritz
  • Editors’ Introduction by John W. de Gruchy
  • Bonhoeffer’s Little Invention by John Morris
  • Bonhoeffer’s Musical Biography
  • Christological Concentration
  • The Lutheran Chorales
  • Heinrich Schütz and the “Recapitulation of All Things”
  • The Art of Fugue and the Conspiracy
  • The Music of the Deaf Beethoven and the “New Body”
  • Cantus Firmus and Counterpoint
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

  • Title: The Polyphony of Life: Bonhoeffer’s Theology of Music
  • Author: Andreas Pangritz
  • Publisher: Cascade
  • Print Publication Date: 2019
  • Logos Release Date: 2020
  • Pages: 72
  • Era: era:contemporary
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Reader Edition
  • Subjects: Bonhoeffer, Dietrich › 1906-1945; Music › Religious aspects--Christianity; Music › Philosophy and aesthetics; Theology, doctrinal › History
  • ISBNs: 9781532661525, 9781532661532, 9781532661549, 1532661525, 1532661533, 1532661541
  • Resource Type: Monograph
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-09-30T02:16:11Z

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Andreas Pangritz is Professor of Protestant Systematic Theology and Director of the Ecumenical Institute at the University of Bonn. He has written widely on theologians such as Barth, Bonhoeffer, Gollwitzer, and Marquardt. His books include “Der ganz andere Gott will eine ganz andere Gesellschaft” (2018), on Gollwitzer; Theologie und Antisemitismus (2017), on Christian-Jewish relations; and Theological Audacities (coeditor, Pickwick Publications, 2010), on Marquardt.


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