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Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography

ISBN: 0800628446
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At a time when much of the world was either enticed with or entrapped by fascism, Dietrich Bonhoeffer dared to live the morally responsible Christian life to its most expressive, and tragic, end. As a theologically rooted opponent to National Socialism, and later as a member of the political resistance against Nazism, Bonhoeffer was recognized as a leader even by his enemies and was hanged by the Gestapo in 1945. His legacy has inspired many and has demonstrated his landmark life and works to be among the most important of the twentieth century and the most relevant for our times ahead.

This celebrated biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Eberhard Bethge—Bonhoeffer’s friend, pupil, close associate, and relative by marriage—has been fully reviewed, corrected, and clarified by leading Bonhoeffer scholar Victoria Barnett for this new edition of the classic and definitive work. With previous sections updated and expanded, and entirely new sections on Bonhoeffer’s childhood never before seen in English, this edition is sure to be the most accurate and inspiring textual rendering of Bonhoeffer to date.

In the Logos edition, this volume is enhanced by amazing functionality. Important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. 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.

Get this volume and more with Fortress Press’ Bonhoeffer Studies Collection (7 vols.).

Resource Experts
  • Tells the remarkable story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s life
  • Provides cutting-edge research and a the perspective of Bonhoeffer’s closest friend
  • Provides an engaging narrative that remains focused on details
  • Childhood and Youth: 1906–1923
  • Student Years: 1923–1927
  • Assistant Pastor in Barcelona: 1928
  • Assistant Lecturer in Berlin: 1929–1930
  • America: 1930–1931
  • Lecturer and Pastor: 1931–1932
  • Berlin: 1933
  • London: 1933–1935
  • Preachers' Seminary: 1935
  • Finkenwalde: 1936–1937
  • The Collective Pastorates: 1938–1940
  • Travels: 1940–1943
  • In the Custody of the State: 1944–1945

Top Highlights

“The period of learning and roaming had come to an end. He now began to teach on a faculty whose theology he did not share, and to preach in a church whose self-confidence he regarded as unfounded. More aware than before, he now became part of a society that was moving toward political, social, and economic chaos.” (Page 173)

“Bonhoeffer began by condemning the skill in which he had just distinguished himself under Harnack and Holl. Textual criticism, he wrote, left nothing behind but ‘rubble and fragments.’100 The texts are not just historical sources, but agents of revelation, not just specimens of writing, but sacred canon. Proclaiming the significance of that is a task for the future.” (Page 79)

“he is not the founder of the church, but the foundation of the church” (Page 214)

“He grew up in a family that believed that the essence of learning lay not in a formal education but in the deeply rooted obligation to be guardians of a great historical heritage and intellectual tradition. To Dietrich Bonhoeffer, this meant learning to understand and respect the ideas and experiences of earlier generations. It could also lead him to decisions and actions that conflicted with those of his ancestors—and, precisely in this way, to honor them. Ultimately, it might even mean voluntarily accepting history’s inevitable judgment on the world of his ancestors—while not allowing this to detract from his delight in its amicable representatives.” (Page 13)

“The fact of the matter was that the America he saw on the eve of Roosevelt’s New Deal, the activity of churches and students in the economic crisis, and the enthusiasm of the ‘social gospel,’ made an ineradicable impression on Bonhoeffer. Although he stood firmly by his fundamental theological principles, he was still strongly motivated by an ‘insatiable curiosity for every new reality.’68 An existence confined to his desk could no longer satisfy him. Worlds of thought and feeling that had gone unquestioned suddenly seemed one-sided, inadequate, and in need of reappraisal.” (Pages 165–166)

Some words Gorky used about Tolstoy come into my mind: 'Look what a wonderful man is living on this earth!' Bethge has produced a monumental study of him which will surely stand as the definitive and authoritative work on the subject. Reading it is a spiritual experience.

—Malcolm Muggeridge, The Observer

Here is a twentieth-century Christian martyr’s life faithfully and passionatley rendered—a gift to all of us who so very much admire Bonhoeffer and dearly love him for all he embodied in his generous and grave person.

—Robert Coles, Agee Professor of Social Ethics, Harvard University

No one doubts that Eberhard Bethge’s biography has been indispensable to Bonhoeffer studies from the day of publication. Fortress Pressis to be congratulated for bringing it back in this complete and updated edition.

—Larry Rasmussen, Reinhold Neibuhr Professor of Social Ethics, Union theological Seminary

  • Title: Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography
  • Author: Eberhard Bethge
  • Edition: Revised edition
  • Publisher: Fortress Press
  • Print Publication Date: 2000
  • Logos Release Date: 2016
  • Pages: 1068
  • Language: English
  • Resources: 1
  • Format: Digital › Logos Research Edition
  • Subjects: Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, 1906-1945; Protestants › Germany Biography
  • ISBNs: 0800628446, 9780800628444
  • Resource Type: text.monograph.biography
  • Metadata Last Updated: 2022-09-29T23:25:21Z

Eberhard Bethge (August 28, 1909 – March 18, 2000) was a student of famed theologian and anti-Nazi martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and later married Bonhoeffer’s niece Renate. A fellow resister of the Nazis, Bethge was also the editor for and biographer of the great theologian. Bethge was born in Warchau, near Magdeburg, on August 29, 1909.


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Digital list price: $44.99
Save $9.00 (20%)