Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works in English (DBWE)
The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works in English (DBWE) is published by Fortress Press (Minneapolis, MN) with various editors and translators, (1996-2014). Readers’ Editions, with fewer notes, are also available for four volumes: Discipleship, Life Together, Ethics, and Letters and Papers from Prison.
A word from Fortress Press:
“Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works series is the definitive English translation of the German editions of Dietrich Bonhoeffer Werke—a comprehensive and thoroughly annotated sixteen-volume resource for the study of Bonhoeffer in the wider frame of twentieth-century thought and history. In addition to the original translation series, the adapted Reader’s Edition volumes include supplemental material from DBWE general editor, Victoria J. Barnett, as well as insightful introductions by Bonhoeffer scholars which clarify the theological meaning and importance of his work.”
Volume 1: Sanctorum Communio
Sanctorum Communio was Bonhoeffer’s dissertation, completed in 1927 and first published in 1930. In it he attempts to work out a theology of the person in society, and then, particularly, in the church. Along with enlightening us about his early positions on sin, evil, solidarity, collective spirit, and collective guilt, the volume unfolds a systematic theology of the Spirit at work in the church and what this implies for questions of authority, freedom, ritual, and eschatology.
Here is offered the complete text in translation, annotated by the German and American editors. The historical context is explained and textual commentary is provided in a Foreword and Afterword.
Volume 2: Act and Being
Act and Being, written in 1929-1930 as Bonhoeffer’s second dissertation, deals with the questions of consciousness and conscience in theology from the perspective of the Reformation insight about the origin of human sinfulness in the “heart turned in upon itself and thus open neither to the revelation of God nor to the encounter with the neighbor.” Here, therefore, we find Bonhoeffer’s thoughts about power, revelation, Otherness, theological method, and theological anthropology.
Volume 3: Creation and Fall
Creation and Fall originated in lectures given by Dietrich Bonhoeffer at the University of Berlin in the winter semester of 1932—33 during the demise of the Weimar Republic and the birth of the Third Reich. In the course of these events, Bonhoeffer called his students to focus their attention on the word of God the word of truth in a time of turmoil.
Volume 4: Discipleship
“Cheap grace is the mortal enemy of our church. Our struggle today is for costly grace.” And with that sharp warning to his own church, which was engaged in bitter conflict with the official nazified state church, Dietrich Bonhoeffer began his book Discipleship (formerly entitled The Cost of Discipleship). Originally published in 1937, it soon became a classic exposition of what it means to follow Christ in a modern world beset by a dangerous and criminal government. At its center stands an interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount: what Jesus demanded of his followers—and how the life of discipleship is to be continued in all ages of the post- resurrection church.
“Every call of Jesus is a call to death,” Bonhoeffer wrote. His own life ended in martyrdom on April 9, 1945.
Freshly translated from the German critical edition, Discipleship provides a more accurate rendering of the text and extensive aids and commentary to clarify the meaning, context, and reception of this work and its attempt to resist the Nazi ideology then infecting German Christian churches.
Discipleship (Hard Cover & Paper)
Discipleship (Readers’ Edition)
Volume 5: Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of the most influential Christian martyrs in history, bequeathed to humanity a legacy of theological creativity and spirituality that continues to intrigue people from a variety of backgrounds. Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, a sixteen volume series, offers a fresh, critical translation of Bonhoeffer’s writings, with introductions, annotations, and interpretations.
The stimulus for the writing of Life Together was the closing of the preacher’s seminary at Finkenwalde. The treatise contains Bonhoeffer’s thoughts about the nature of Christian community based on the common life that he and his seminarians experienced at the seminary and in the “Brother’s House” there. Bonhoeffer completed the writing of Life Together in 1938.
Prayerbook of the Bible is a classic of Christian spirituality. In this theological interpretation of the Psalms, Bonhoeffer describes the moods of an individual’s relationship with God and also the turns of love and heartbreak, of joy and sorrow, that are themselves the Christian community’s path to God.
Life Together and Prayerbook of the Bible (Hard Cover & Paper)
Life Together (Readers’ Edition)
Volume 6: Ethics
The crown jewel of Bonhoeffer’s body of work, Ethics is the culmination of his theological and personal odyssey. Based on careful reconstruction of the manuscripts, freshly and expertly translated and annotated, this new critical edition features an insightful Introduction by Clifford Green and an Afterword from the German edition’s editors.
Though caught up in the vortex of momentous forces in the Nazi period, Bonhoeffer systematically envisioned a radically Christocentric, incarnational ethic for a post-war world, purposefully recasting Christians’ relation to history, politics, and public life.
This edition allows scholars, theologians, ethicists, and serious Christians to appreciate the cogency and relevance of Bonhoeffer’s vision.
Ethics (Hard Cover and Paper)
Ethics (Readers’ Edition)
Volume 7: Fiction from Tegel Prison
Writing fiction, letters to his family, fiancée, and friends and contending with his interrogator occupied Bonhoeffer during his first year in Tegel Prison. Of the incomplete drama, the novel fragment, and the short story, Bonhoeffer admitted to his friend and later biographer, Eberhard Bethge, “There is a good deal of autobiography mixed with it.” This book discloses a great deal of Bonhoeffer’s family context, social world, and cultural milieu. Events from his life are recounted in a way that embodies and illuminates his theology. Characters and situations that represent Nazi types and attitudes are a form of social criticism and help to explain Bonhoeffer’s participation in the resistance movement and the plot to kill Adolf Hitler, for which he was hanged.
This important volume, now in paperback, is complete and authoritative and contains much material not found in the previous edition. The German edition of this volume was edited by Bonhoeffer’s niece, Renate Bethge—who brings personal knowledge of the Bonhoeffer family to her observations—and Ilse Tödt, who contributed much of the commentary. The English edition is edited by Clifford Green, who also edited the earlier version of the book, titled Fiction from Prison.
Fiction from Tegel Prison (Hard Cover and Paper)
Volume 8: Letters and Papers from Prison
Despite Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s earlier 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 a wide and appreciative readership, especially in North America, they also introduced to a broad readership his novel and exciting ideas of religionless Christianity, his open and honest theological appraisal of Christian doctrines, and his sturdy, if sorely tried, faith in face of uncertainty and doubt.
This splendid volume, in many ways the capstone of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, is the first unabridged collection of Bonhoeffer’s 1943–1945 prison letters and theological writings. Here are over 200 documents that include extensive correspondence with his family and Eberhard Bethge (much of it in English for the first time), as well as his theological notes, and his prison poems. The volume offers an illuminating introduction by editor John de Gruchy and an historical Afterword by the editors of the original German volume: Christian Gremmels, Eberhard Bethge, and Renate Bethge.
Letters and Papers from Prison (Hard Cover)
Letters and Papers from Prison (Readers’ Edition)
Volume 9: The Young Bonhoeffer: 1918-1927
The first of the chronological volumes in this acclaimed critical edition of Bonhoeffer’s work gathers his one hundred earliest letters and journals from after the First World War through his graduation from Berlin University. It also contains his early theological writings up to his dissertation. These seventeen works include, for example, works on the patristic period for Adolf von Harnack, on Luther’s moods for Karl Holl, on biblical interpretation for Professor Reinhold Seeberg, as well as essays on the church and eschatology, reason and revelation, Job, John, and even joy. Rounding out this picture of Bonhoeffer’s nascent theology are his sermons from the period, along with his lectures on homiletics, catechesis, and practical theology.
In translation for the first time, these writings show Bonhoeffer as pastor and theologian alert to his times and developing the formative themes of his religious worldview.
The Young Bonhoeffer: 1918-1927 (Hard Cover)
Volume 10: Barcelona, Berlin, New York: 1928-1931
The period 1928 to 1931, which followed completion of his dissertation, was formative for Bonhoeffer’s personal and pastoral and theological direction. Almost all of these nine hundred pages of writings appear in English here for the first time. They document the intense four-year period that included preparation of his postdoctoral thesis; a vicarage in Barcelona; occasional lectures; his postdoctoral academic year at Union Theological Seminary; travel around the United States, Cuba, and Mexico; and his re-entry into the German academic and ecclesial scene.
Barcelona, Berlin, New York: 1928-1931 (Hard Cover)
Volume 11: Ecumenical, Academic, and Pastoral Work: 1931-1932
Volume 11 in the sixteen-volume Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works English Edition, Ecumenical, Academic, and Pastoral Work: 1931-1932, provides a comprehensive translation of Bonhoeffer’s important writings from 1931 to 1932, with extensive commentary about their historical context and theological significance. This volume covers the significant period of Bonhoeffer’s entry into the international ecumenical world and the final months before the beginning of the National Socialist dictatorship. It begins with Bonhoeffer’s return to Berlin in June 1931 after his year of study in the United States. In the crucial period that followed, Bonhoeffer continued his preparations for the ministry, began teaching at Berlin University, and became active at international ecumenical meetings. His letters and lectures, however, also document the economic and political turbulence on the European and world stage, and Bonhoeffer directly addresses the growing threat of the Nazi movement and what it portends not only for Germany, but for the world. Several of the documents in this volume, particularly the student notes of his university lecture on “The Nature of the Church” and his lectures on Christian ethics, give important insights into his theology at this point. His ecumenical lectures and reports are significant documents for understanding the ecumenical debates of this period.
Ecumenical, Academic, and Pastoral Work: 1931-1932 (Hard Cover)
Volume 12: Berlin: 1932-1933
“Then came the crisis of 1933.” This is Bonhoeffer’s own phrase in a letter that documents a turning point in his own life as well as that of the nation. Of Bonhoeffer’s own life at this time, his biographer writes, “The period of learning and roaming” from 1928 until 1931 “had come to an end” as the young lecturer, age 26, 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.” Bonhoeffer was becoming part of a society “that was moving toward political, social, and economic chaos.”
Events moved quickly at the onset of 1933 in Berlin. In only one hundred days the path was cleared by the German Parliament and the Nazi Party for the establishment of the fascist dictatorship. These one hundred days, as well as the preceding and succeeding months, are reflected in the materials in this volume: in letters, in sermons, in Bonhoeffer’s university teaching, in manifestos and a church confession, and in his proactive engagement in the developing church struggle. The vast majority of these are translated here for the first time.
Berlin: 1932-1933 (Hard Cover)
Volume 13: London: 1933-1935
Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s pastoral sojourn in England from October 1933 to April of 1935, which he initially viewed as a withdrawal from the church clashes in Germany, marked instead a new phase in his intensive participation in that struggle. This enlightening volume provides an almost daily documentation of his deepening engagement against the placid backdrop of his two London pastorates.
Detailing Bonhoeffer’s extensive contacts with German expatriates, ecumenical partners and allies, and friends and family, London: 1933-1935 impressively records both Bonhoeffer’s involvement in the rapidly developing clash with the deutsche Christen and the means by which he pursued it.
The bulk of the material consists of his wide correspondence but also includes records and minutes of his congregational meetings, excerpts from the diaries of Bonhoeffer’s friend and London colleague Julius Rieger, reports from international conferences from 1934, and more than twenty sermons he preached to his London congregations. The wealth of this material, says editor Keith Clements, allows us to experience a dramatic slice of this history and see the many and complex facets of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s personality.
London: 1933-1935 (Hard Cover)
Volume 14: Theological Education at Finkenwalde: 1935-1937
In the spring of 1935 Dietrich Bonhoeffer returned from England to direct a small illegal seminary for the Confessing Church. The seminary existed for two years before the Gestapo ordered it closed in August 1937. The two years of Finkenwalde’s existence produced some of Bonhoeffer’s most significant theological work as he prepared these young seminarians for the turbulence and risk of parish ministry in the Confessing Church. Bonhoeffer and his seminarians were under Gestapo surveillance; some of them were arrested and imprisoned. Throughout, he remained dedicated to training them for the ministry and its challenges in a difficult time. This volume includes Bible studies, sermons, and lectures on homiletics, pastoral care, and catechesis, giving a moving and up-close portrait of the Confessing Church in these crucial years—the same period during which Bonhoeffer wrote his classics, Discipleship and Life Together.
Theological Education at Finkenwalde: 1935-1937 (Hard Cover)
Volume 15: Theological Education Underground: 1937-1940
With extensive commentary about their historical context and theological significance, this volume of writings covers a crucial time and an understudied period of Bonhoeffer’s life. It begins during the final period of his illegal work in training Confessing Church seminarians and concludes as he begins his activities in the German resistance. Bridging these two periods is his brief journey to the United States in summer 1939, when he pondered and ultimately rejected a move to the safety of exile. Bonhoeffer’s writings from this transitional period, particularly his New York diary, offer a rare and more deeply personal picture of Bonhoeffer in a time of great inner turmoil.
Theological Education Underground: 1937-1940 (Hard Cover)
Volume 16: Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945
This volume, published in the year of the one hundredth anniversary of Bonhoeffer’s birth, documents Bonhoeffer’s life under the increasing restraints and fateful events of World War II Germany.
In hundreds of letters, including ten never-before-published letters to his fiancée, Maria von Wedemeyer, as well as official documents, short original pieces, and a few final sermons, the volume sheds light on Bonhoeffer’s active resistance to and increasing involvement in the conspiracy against the Hitler regime, his arrest, and his long imprisonment. Finally, Bonhoeffer’s many exchanges with his family, fiancée, and closest friends, demonstrate the affection and solidarity that accompanied Bonhoeffer to his prison cell, concentration camp, and eventual death.
Conspiracy and Imprisonment: 1940-1945 (Hard Cover)
Volume 17: Index and Supplementary Materials
The completion of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, the definitive English translation of the Critical Edition, represents a milestone in theological scholarship. This wonderful series is a translation from the German editions of Dietrich Bonhoeffer Werke. The product of over twenty years of dedicated labor, the comprehensive and thoroughly-annotated sixteen-volume series will be the essential resource that generations of scholars will rely upon to understand the life and work of this seminal thinker in the wider frame of twentieth-century thought and history.
Now, the editorial team has offered an essential companion to the entire series in the form of an index volume.
Index and Supplementary Materials (Hard Cover)
The Bonhoeffer Reader
The essential theological writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer have been drawn together in a helpful one-volume format. The Bonhoeffer Reader brings the best English translation to students, and provides a ready-made introduction to the thought of this essential thinker.
The Bonhoeffer Reader (Paper)