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Sanctorum Communio: A Theological Study of the Sociology of the Church (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Vol. 1) [Hardcover]

By Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Author), Clifford J. Green (Editor) & Nancy Lukens (Translator)
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Item description for Sanctorum Communio: A Theological Study of the Sociology of the Church (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Vol. 1) by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Clifford J. Green & Nancy Lukens...

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was an important theologian, biblical interpreter, pastor ecumenist, and leader in the Confessing Church in Germany during the Nazi period. His writings and the example of his life continue to speak to people from many backgrounds. Here, for the first time in English, is Sancto Communio in its entirety, including all material omitted from the original 1930 German publication. Bonhoeffer's doctoral dissertion sets out the theology of sociality that informed all his work, engaging social philosophy and sociology to interpret the church as "Christ existing as church-community." Here are the roots of his commitment to the Confessing Church and the ecumenical movement, and of his actions in the resistance movement for the sake of peace and Germany's future.

Publishers Description
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.

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Augsburg Fortress Publishers
Pages   372
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.34" Width: 6.38" Height: 1.37"
Weight:   1.6 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Nov 19, 1998
Edition  Revised  
Series  Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works  
Series Number  1  
ISBN  0800683013  
ISBN13  9780800683016  

Availability  1 units.
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More About Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Clifford J. Green & Nancy Lukens

Dietrich Bonhoeffer Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born in Breslau in 1906. The son of a famous German psychiatrist, he studied in Berlin and New York City. He left the safety of America to return to Germany and continue his public repudiation of the Nazis, which led to his arrest in 1943. Linked to the group of conspirators whose attempted assassination of Hitler failed, he was hanged in April 1945.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born in 1906 and died in 1945.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer has published or released items in the following series...
  1. 40-Day Journey
  2. Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Hardcover)
  3. Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Paperback)
  4. Dietrich Bonhoeffer Worksreader's Edition
  5. Dietrich Bonhoeffer-Reader's Edition
  6. Facets
  7. Harper's Ministers Paperback Library
  8. Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion (Paperback)
  9. Making of Modern Theology
  10. Modern Spiritual Masters

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Authors, A-Z > ( B ) > Bonhoeffer, Dietrich
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Catholicism > Roman Catholicism
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Bible > General
4Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Ecclesiology
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > General
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Ethics
8Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Religion

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Books > Theology > Theology & Doctrine > General

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Reviews - What do customers think about Sanctorum Communio: A Theological Study of the Sociology of the Church (Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, Vol. 1)?

"The Key to understanding the theology of Dietriech Bonhoeffer" - his PhD dissertation  Feb 7, 2007
Sanctorum Communio

"The Key to understanding the theology of Dietriech Bonhoeffer" - his PhD dissertation

Many Christians (Protestants, Catholics, and I hope Orthodox believers as well) have read and recommended to others such Bonhoeffer classics as "Cost of Discipleship" or "Life Together." Even outside the Christian Church, the world has taken notice of "Letters and Papers from Prison" (being the first book listed by [...] DVD titled "Great literary classics) and "Ethics" is sometimes studied in college philosophy courses.

"Life Together" was my first book and it impacted my world completely (read my "Life Together" review). But who was this Christian, where was his source of inspiration coming from ( the Holy Spirit) ? I learned many details about his life in the two DVD's that I could find ("Bonhoeffer" 2003, and "Nailed on a Twisted Cross). I still did not understand his theology ... even though I could feel his Lutheran influence and the contact he made with American negro Baptists in writings (I was raised in a God-fearing Baptist family and now am member of a godly lutheran evangelical church).

The best way to introduce "Sanctorum Communion" is to quote the Editor's Introduction to the English Edition: "Understanding the theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer requires a thorough understanding of Sanctorum Communio, his doctoral dissertation and first published work. Here are found central ideas that inform all his writings ....In this formative book Bonhoeffer articulates the concept of 'person' in ethical relation to the 'other', ... the reciprocal relationship of person and community, ...the exercise by individual persons of responsibilities for human communities, ... social relations as analogies of divine-human relations, and the encounter of transcendence in human sociality

The 5th of 7 children intellectual German turn of the 20th century family, theologian, a pastor, a renewed child of God, a pacifist, a collaborator, A martyr for Christ at the hands of the Nazis. Today he is remembered, as an inspiration for Christians and non-Christians - a testament to the power of the Gospel lived out in every stage and trial of life. Up there with C.S. Lewis, he seems to be one of the most widely read and known modern writer. For me, he is my favorite theologian (a pragmatist at heart). One whose love to pastor the local parish and lead youth groups did hinder him from contemplatively writing about his struggles and God's "costly Grace" (to use one of his expressions).


Still in the process of reading. ... Thank you for your patience.

The only way I can conclude is again, to quite from the Editor's Introduction to the English Edition:

"All these theological ideas characteristics of Bonhoeffer [the ones listed in the Introduction] are invovled in his Christocentric theology of the Christian community, the sanctorum communio. Ecclesiology is set in the midst of a <> [ref. to Clifford Green's "Bonhoeffer: a Theology of Sociality"]

In his preface Bonhoeffer states that the more he has investigated "the significance of the sociological category for theology, the more clearly has emerged "the social intentions of all the basic Christian concepts." 'Person', 'primal state', 'sin', and 'revelation' can be fully comprehended only in reference to sociality. This is both a far reaching programmatic statement for Bonhoeffer's theology and a specific reference to the structure of this book." (page 1)

I will end with my lutheran pastor's last words of the liturgy - "Go forth and serve the Lord!" (in Word and Deed).
I would NOT recommend this book unless . . .  Sep 5, 2006
This book is my first attempt at reading Bonhoeffer. I had heard of him for a number of years, and recently viewed a PBS special on his life that piqued my curiousity. I decided to delve into his works and figured what better place to start than the beginning. Fortunately reading through Bonhoeffer's works in an orderly fashion is possible due to the publication of "Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works", the sixteen volume series in English. According to the web site of Fortress Press, the publisher of the series, it is "The definitive Englishtranslation of the Critical Edition. A comprehensive and thoroughly annotated sixteen-volume resource for the study of Bonhoeffer in thewider frame of twentieth-century thought and history." I am very impressed by the format, the footnotes, and the supplemental information, and would highly recommend that if you read Bonhoeffer you read from these editions.

Sanctorum Communio is the published revision of his Doctoral thesis. As a result the work is quite scholarly and spends most of its pages in conversation with other scholars and scholarly works. My comprehension of the book as a whole would have been greatly enhanced had I had more familiarity with the works of philosophers and theologians such as Luther, Barth, and Kant, as well as many others. The first four of five chapters are spent primarily laying a philosophical and socialogical setting for Bonhoeffer's view of the church and the Church. I couldn't tell you a single thing that I learned in the first four chapters, except that my knowledge of the works of the likes of those listed above is severely lacking! If I were to read this book again, I would at least familiarize myself with some basic understanding of the frameworks that Bonhoffer references. There are some interesting statements in these chapters however, including the following one which could apply today as easily as 70+ years ago:

"Vierkandt's concept of the invisible church expresses what the church has often become today, or rather what churches consider emancipated: religious theaters and lecture halls. The congregation is an audience, viewers who feel pleasantly edified by the music and the sermon. Each individual is happy to see many others who feel edified by the same spiritual food. And of course this feeling of shared joy is invisible... Yet shared emotion and knowledge of it, even a sense of belonging based upon this, are not enough to make a 'community'." - p.94.

The fifth chapter, which is approximately half the book, is where things start to get at least mildly interesting. In this chapter, appropriately titled "Santctorum Communio", Bonhoeffer rises from the theoretical intellectual constructs of the earlier chapters and delves into the reality of the church. At this point it becomes a historical document, written in a specific historical, geographical setting - the German Church in the early 20th Century. Excommunication and church taxes, for example, have never been part of my Church experience, but are assumed and referenced as part of the actuality of the church. From this perspective it is interesting, and there are also aspects that have given me some thoughts on a theological perspective of the church in a helpful way. However, there are many arguments he makes that I just don't agree with, including the following:

"Does this mean then that the Bible becomes the "word" only through church community? That is indeed true, namely as the church-community is created only through the word and sustained by it. The question as to what was first, the word or the church-community, is meaningless because the word inspired by the Spirit exists only where human beings hear it, so that the church-community makes the word the word, as the word constitutes the church-community as church. The Bible is the word only in the church-community, that is within the sanctorum communio." - p. 232.

In my mind, the Bible is the "word" regardless. Perhaps I am not sophisticated enough to understand his meaning. On a positive note, reading this book has inspired me to delve more deeply into both philosophy and church history, especially Luther and Protestant reformation - any recommendations? I still have to decide if I will continue reading Bonhoeffer; the next book in the series is Act and Being. Perhaps I will take some time and see if the compulsion strikes. I would also like to read a good modern study on the basis and purpose of the church as well as the Church.

In the "Editor's Afterword to the German Edition", Joachim Von Soosten sums it up nicely when he states, in translation:

"Comparing Bonhoeffer's dissertation with his later writings discloses the tendency of Sanctorum Communio toward over-systematization. This makes certain parts of it very difficult to understand, but later this sytematizing clearly decreases and the content of Bonhoeffer's arguments comes to the fore. In the later writings Bonhoeffer's language becomes more simple, dense, and concise; with the power of succint expressions Bonhoeffer skillfully carries his thoughts into the center of a given theological debate. in retrospect, he himself assessed his academic writings rather critically."

In conclusion, despite being an impressive work, I would NOT recommend this book unless you already have a level of familiarity with Bonhoeffer's writings and/or you are interested philiosophy and have a foundation in the referenced material.
great  May 9, 2002
I discovered Bonhoeffer after a short remark by my pastor and suddenly a new world was opened to me.

It was great. I loved his style and this edition with all of the notes and notes on the notes and notes on the editions etc.

The book discusses the importance of the church community and how it is essential for christians and as the author put, "A christian who stays away from the assembly is a contradiction in terms."

I chose to read this book first because i had wanted to read "The Cost of Discipleship" but i wanted to go in order as this handsome series publishes them. I am halfway through Act and Being and hope soon that i can start the book that i set out to read in the first place. However, i know i can say now that i am not disapointed in the journey.


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