Letters and Papers from Prison

Front Cover
Fortress Press, 2010 - Religion - 750 pages
"Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers from Prison has inspired many of us in South Africa and across the world. In these remarkable writings we meet Bonhoeffer at his most vulnerable and human, but also as a man of faith and prayer. Separated from those he loved most, surrounded by destruction, assailed by doubt, and fearing the worst, his hope in Christ remains firm even as his death becomes more certain. And through his profound reflections on what it means to be a Christian he guides us into the twenty-first century. I strongly commend this volume to a new generation of readers."---Archbishop Emeritus Desmond M. Tutu Cape Town, South Africa

"In the tests and trials of imprisonment and imminent death, Bonhoeffer's faith---as belief, as practice, and as theology---is richly illuminated. Indeed, it becomes luminous. It composes his life and his death into an act of integrity and grace that resists interpretation because it so richly interprets itself."---Marilynne Robinson, author of Gilead

"The most celebrated case of `engaged theology.' Letters and Papers from Prison has inspired generations of theologians all over the world. Confined in a prison cell and expecting death, Bonhoeffer thought of the Christian faith not as a `religion' offering mere consolation, but as a way of living in the here and now with its great world-historic upheavals and little personal joys and sufferings. May the tribe of the readers of this book increase, and may it stimulate new forms of `engaged theology,' uncompromisingly oriented toward God and genuinely faithful to the earth."---Miroslavvolf, author of Exclusion and Embrace and Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale University

Despite Dietrich Bohoeffer's prior theological achievements and writings, it was his correspondence and notes from prison that electrified the postwar world six years after his death in 1945. The materials gathered and selected by his friend Eberhard Bethge in Letters and Papers from Prison not only brought Bonhoeffer to wide and appreciative readership, especially in North America; they also introduced to a broader audience his novel and exciting ideas of "religionless Christianity," his open and honest theological appraisal of Christian doctrine, and his sturdy, if sorely tried, faith in the face of uncertainty and doubt.

This splendid volume, in some ways the capstone of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, presents the full array of Bonhoeffer's 1943-1945 prison letters and theological writings (except his fiction, separately published). The more than 200 documents, composed during his long incarceration, include his extensive correspondence with his family and Eberhard Bethge (much of it in English for the first time), his theological notes, and his prison poems. Along with full research apparatus, the volume offers an illuminating introduction by editor John W. De Gruchy and a historical afterword written by Christian Gremmels, one of the editors of the original German volume.

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