Poetry is often noted as a particularly suitable medium for understanding the connection between theology and biography. This is particularly exciting in the case of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the poems he wrote during his imprisonment by the Nazis.
Although any one of his 10 poems should be read within their respective historical and biographical context, they are also robust, self-sufficient pieces of work that cannot be “explained” by the biographical and theological prose that surrounds them. They rather serve as a creative, and perhaps sometimes even critical, interlocutor to these contexts. This is why the contributors to this volume have not been asked to explain the poems but to facilitate this conversation: the conversation between the individual poems themselves, between the reader and the poems, and between the poems and Bonhoeffer’s life and theology. These poems lend themselves as an entry point into Bonhoeffer’s theology, in that each one resonates with a particular central theological concept that Bonhoeffer was developing during his prison years.
Themes and concepts such as “friendship,” “religion,” “identity,” “freedom,” “representative action” and others are not only represented in these poems but often expressed in the dense and compelling fashion that only poetic language affords. As such, they deserve the thorough and imaginative engagement of the international lineup of first-class theological authors gathered in this book.
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Whoever contemplates Bonhoeffer’s prison poems gains unique insights in the life and work of this great theologian. Bernd Wannenwetsch and the contributions in this collection offer such insights now to the English speaking world. The 11 studies on the theological poetry of this truly ecumenical martyr will enrich international scholarship with new theological inspirations on what it means to be a Christian today.
—Jürgen Henkys, professor for practical theology, Humboldt University of Berlin
A worthy and timely contribution to Bonhoeffer studies in English and one that opens up fresh perspectives.
Of the many graces which Bonhoeffer possessed, his gift for poetry is perhaps the least recognized, even though his verse illuminates much about him and his thought. As they contemplate Bonhoeffer’s poems, these essays conduct their readers towards some of his deepest life-experiences and theological commitments, and show once again how much he continues to astonish, move, and instruct us.
—John Webster, professor of systematic theology, King’s College, Aberdeen
In the Logos edition, this digital volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Citations link directly to English translations and original-language texts, and important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, commentaries, and theology texts. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.