Review: Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 15

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 15: Theological Education Underground: 1937-1940

Author: Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Editor: Victoria Barnett

Hardcover: 750 pages

Publisher: Fortress Press, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-8006-9703-7

Augsburg Fortress


It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Bonhoeffer’s works. So, it should surprise anyone that I received a review copy of Bonhoeffer Works, Volume 15 from Augsburg Fortress.

The book is split into three parts. Part 1 contains 182 letters and documents, both to and from Bonhoeffer. Part 2 contains exercises, lectures, and essays written by Bonhoeffer for the underground seminary. Part 3 contains sermons and meditations written by Bonhoeffer. The books is pretty evenly divided between letters and other writings (about half the book is letters with the other half being the other writings.)

Of particular interest to me was Bible Study on Temptation from Part 2 and Meditation on Psalm 119 from Part 3. The Bible Study on Temptation should come as no surprise to those who have been following my story for the past year. This Bible Study focuses on the sixth petition of the Lord’s Prayer, “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matt. 6:13) I also enjoyed the Biblical Study Seminars on Basic New Testament Concepts from Part 2 and Confirmation Sermon on Mark 9:24 from Part 3. I would love to hear a sermon like this on Confirmation Sunday one year!

One of the things that I like about these documents, is not all of them are in manuscript form. Some, like Biblical Study Seminars on Basic New Testament Concepts are in outline form with notes. The thing that I love about the letters is that offer us insights into the person of Bonhoeffer apart from his theological writings.

The one thing that really bothered me was the use of fragments in this book. This is the first of the Bonhoeffer Works series that I have noticed the use of fragments and even did a quick once through of my other volumes to make sure. Take the Meditation on Psalm 119, which is a fragment. According to the footnote, this was a handwritten work, previously published in Gesammelte Schriften 4:505-43 and Predigten-Auslegungen-Meditationen 2:398-463. What remains unclear to me in if it is included as a fragment because only a fragment exists or if only a fragment is included. I have my suspicion that it is the former reason; however, clarification in the footnote would have been nice.

This is an excellent resource for those studying Bonhoeffer. There are a plethora footnotes that cross-reference other letters/papers/documents in this volume as well as other volumes in the series. The English version of this volume also contains new documents that were discovered after the publication of the German version. All told, this is another excellent volume in the series!

I received this book free from Fortress Press. Providing me a free copy in no way guarantees a favorable review. The opinions expresses in this review are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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