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HTS Theological Studies

On-line version ISSN 2072-8050
Print version ISSN 0259-9422

Herv. teol. stud. vol.64 n.1 Pretoria Mar. 2008





Haynes, S R 2006 – The Bonhoeffer legacy post-holocaust perspective
Publisher: Fortress. 224 Pages. Price: Unknown;
Bonhoeffer, D 2006 – Wondrously Sheltered
Publisher: Fortress. 43 Pages. Price: Unknown;
Bethge, R & Gremmels, C 2006 – Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A life in pictures
Publisher: Fortress. 160 Pages. Price: Unknown
Reviewer: Dr André Groenewald (Scotland)

The Bonhoeffer legacy is divided into 8 chapters, with a preface, acknowledgments, notes, a detailed bibliography and an index. The author manages to hold the reader’s attention from the beginning to the end. The key issues the author wants to address are outlined in the preface.. “The premise of this book is that while the Bonhoeffer legacy contains real significance for post-Holocaust Christianity, this has been neither fully explored nor accurately described” (p xi), the reasons being that Bonhoeffer is often read/interpreted without his immediate context and the tradition he represented. In chapter 2 the author provides the reader with a thorough overview of Jewish and Christian perspectives on Bonhoeffer’s views on the Jewish people as is evidenced in research undertaken from 1960 to 1990. In the end he concludes that Bonhoeffer’s theology cannot be read without the tradition he presented. “For Bonhoeffer the Jew is always the other who is also Christ’s brother; the other whom is tied up the fate of the West; the other whose suffering reflects God’s providence and whose treatment discloses the moral condition of church and society” (p 142). I agree with Haynes that Bonhoeffer reminded Christian theology of the true meaning of Israel when it reflects on election, covenant and redemption. His theology also serves as a warning to theologians to be aware of the problems of the Christian tradition when theologizing about the Jewish people. This book is recommended for its critical reflection on Bonhoeffer’s perspective of the Jewish people.

Wondrously Sheltered is a selection of quotations from Bonhoeffer’s major works and letters reflecting on themes of shelter, joy, light, hope, faith, prayer, happiness, love, nearness, darkness, anxiety and fear, evil, resistance, freedom, friendship, peace, strength, consolation and trust. All the quotations are accompanied by beautiful photographs which emphasize the impact of Bonhoeffer’s words. The last pages contain a brief history of Bonhoeffer’s life and provide a detailed list of sources of the referred texts.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A life in pictures is an English translation from the German edition Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Bilder eines Lebens. It is edited by Renante Bethge and Christian Gremmels. They did an excellent job in portraying the life of a thinker, theologian, pastor and someone who stood for righteousness. They divided his life into several categories, beginning with his family background, his childhood and youth (1906-1923), his studies (1923-1927), his journey to Barcelona, Berlin and New York (1928-1932), the developments in his thinking from 1931 to 1932), his decision to resist Hitler (1933), his trip to London (1933-1934), his own seminary in Finkenwalde (1935-1937), his journey to America and the return to Germany (1938-1939), his active resistance (1942-1944), his imprisonment in Tegel (1943-1945) and finally covers his death in Flossenbürg (1945). The most amazing aspect about this book is the fact that it contains pictures of not only Bonhoeffer, but also of other prominent figures of his time. All the pictures portray a vivid image of the life of a man who died too soon. Every photograph is accompanied by a short paragraph giving details of the particular photo.

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