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Daring, Trusting Spirit: Bonhoeffer's Friend Eberhard Bethge [Paperback]

By John W. de Gruchy (Author)
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Item description for Daring, Trusting Spirit: Bonhoeffer's Friend Eberhard Bethge by John W. de Gruchy...

How did Bonhoeffer's fame and influence happen? Much of the credit goes to Bonhoeffer's close friendship with his student and colleague Eberhard Bethge, says theologian John de Gruchy. In this important and fascinating work, de Gruchy narrates the course of that friendship, building on interviews and newly available primary sources.

Publishers Description
When Dietrich Bonhoeffer was led into the courtyard of the concentration camp at Flossenburg on April 9, 1945, to be hanged, few would have guessed that his writings, indeed his most personal thoughts and fears, would attain worldwide fame and marked influence in just a few years. How did this happen? Much of the credit goes to Bonhoeffer's close friendship with his student and colleague Eberhard Bethge, says theologian John de Gruchy. It was Bethge to whom Bonhoeffer wrote most frequently from prison, he with whom he discussed his emergent theological writing, and he who organized and published the writings that would fall like a bombshell on the English-speaking religious world after World War II. In many respects, Bethge, working with his wife--Bonhoeffer's niece, Renate--was responsible for creating and shaping the reception of Bonhoeffer and his work. In this important and fascinating work, this Bonhoeffer expert narrates the course of that friendship, building on interviews and newly available primary sources. It provides testimony not only to a powerful friendship but to the eventual vindication of the life sacrificed that early spring morning.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   252
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.88" Width: 6.34" Height: 0.69"
Weight:   0.6 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2005
ISBN  0800637585  
ISBN13  9780800637583  

Availability  0 units.

More About John W. de Gruchy

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John W. de Gruchy has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Cambridge Companions to Religion

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1Books > Subjects > Biographies & Memoirs > Leaders & Notable People > Religious
2Books > Subjects > History > Europe > Germany > General
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
5Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Spirituality > General

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A Seminal Work  Jan 25, 2006
At the November 2005 meeting of the International Bonhoeffer Society meeting in Philadelphia, John de Gruchy, author of Daring, Trusting Spirit said: "Know Bethge, Know Bonhoeffer; No Bethge, No Bonhoeffer." Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been recognized widely as one of Christianity's saints of the 20th century. Bonhoeffer is remembered in the collection of ten martyrs on the west front of Westminster Abbey. In a few days, meetings around the world will stop to honor his memory on the 100th anniversary of his birth. What does Eberhard Bethge have to do with this anyway? John de Gruchy wants you to know.

When the Confessing Church was forming in Nazi Germany, picture postcards of Pastor Martin Niemoller and other church leaders circulated among the people, but not of Bonhoeffer. He was a young man in his late 20's and early 30's, brilliant in mind, but not well known. Bethge became associated with Bonhoeffer as a member of the first class of ordinands attending the Confessing Church's seminary at Zingst and Finkenwalde. Upon completion of the course, Bethge remained in Finkenwalde as a member of the House of the Brethren. Later, in the collective pastorates, Bethge served as Inspector of Studies serving under Bonhoeffer the principal. For the last ten years of Bonhoeffer's life, Bethge was his near-constant companion. Following Bonhoeffer's arrest, Bethge remained close, being the recipient of many of the letters preserved in Bonhoeffer's famous Letters and Papers from Prison. Bethge's wife, Renate was Bonhoeffer's niece. In Martin Doblmeier's recent documentary Bonhoeffer, Bethge says, "He was my best friend!"

In spite of the closeness, one may be tempted to ask why a biography on Bethge. We don't have biographies of Calvin's best friend or Luther's best friend (do we even know who they were?) Bethge is significant for theology today because he is responsible for the preservation and promotion of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in the fifty years following Bonhoeffer's execution by the Gestapo. Except in small circles of churchmen, Bonhoeffer was barely known in Germany and little known outside of Germany. Among Bethge's many tasks were the collection and editing of Bonhoeffer's unfinished works: Ethics, Letters and Papers from Prison, Fiction from Tegel, etc. Bethge is instrumental in the production of the numerous volumes of the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Werke (now in process of translation into English). Bethge is also responsible for a 1000 page biography of Bonhoeffer (which translates roughly into 250 pages for each decade of Bonhoeffer's life).

In addition to preservation and publication of Bonhoeffer's writing, Bethge became the premier interpreter of Bonhoeffer's work. He provided the answers to the questions, "What would Bonhoeffer do?" and "What did Bonhoeffer think?" Sometimes, even responding to situations which Bonhoeffer may never have addressed specifically.

John de Gruchy's biography is admirable. While he is fair to Bethge and shows appreciation for him, he does not shy away from questioning Bethge's methodology which, in some ways, made Bonhoeffer a "saint" claimed by many with wildly varying agendas. (George Bush referred to himself as a "Dietrich Bonhoeffer type Christian" concerning the war on terrorism. Pat Robertson cited Bonhoeffer when offering his call for the assassination of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.) Much of the work is based on de Gruchy's personal knowledge of Bethge who he knew well. The volume represents an incredible amount of research and is a fine addition to the libraries of Bonhoeffer scholars and devotees. If you want to understand Bonhoeffer and you want to understand the current issues in Bonhoeffer research, this book is a must.

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