Bonhoeffer the assassin? Challenging the myth, recovering his call to peacemaking

Mark Nation

Book - 2013

This careful examination questions the assumption that Bonhoeffer was involved in plots to assassinate Hitler and reveals Bonhoeffer's consistent commitment to peace.

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Grand Rapids : Baker Academic [2013]
Physical Description
xv, 250 pages ; 23 cm
Includes bibliographical references (p. 235-243) and index.
Main Author
Mark Nation (-)
  • Foreword / by Stanley Hauerwas
  • Introduction
  • Part 1: Bonhoeffer's Biography Reconsidered
  • 1. "Pacifist and Enemy of the State"
  • 2. Seeking a "Legitimate Christian Means" of Fighting Hitler
  • 3. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the Assassin?
  • Part 2: The Development of Bonhoeffer's Theological Ethics
  • 4. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Amoral Ethics: "An Extremely Awkward Undertaking" Never Again Attempted
  • 5. Obedience to Jesus Christ: Narrating God's Command in Bonhoeffer's Discipleship
  • 6. The Penultimate and the Ultimate: Negotiating the Discipleship Tradition in Ethics
  • 7. "Everyone Who Acts Responsibly Becomes Guilty": Contested Themes in Ethics.
Review by Library Journal Review

The traditional understanding of the German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-45), based chiefly on the firsthand knowledge of Bonhoeffer's close friend, main prison correspondent, and biographer, Eberhard Bethge, is that he was not only involved in the resistance against Nazi Germany but participated in efforts to assassinate Hitler. Nation (theology, Eastern Mennonite Seminary, Harrisonburg, VA), Anthony G. Siegrist (theology, Prairie Bible Coll., Alta.), and Daniel P. Umbel (former pastor, Mt. Olivet Church, Dyke, VA) challenge this idea, arguing that there is no documentary evidence that Bonhoeffer was involved in plots on Hitler's life and asserting that he remained a pacifist throughout the war years. Indeed, he was in prison in 1944 when the most notable attempt on Hitler's life took place. By arguing as they do, the authors upend commonly held assumptions about the theologian's activities and underlying credo during World War II. It traditionally has been understood that Bonhoeffer shifted away from his pacifist stance as he confronted the evil of Hitler and the Nazis during his period working for the Abwehr, or German military intelligence. VERDICT This book, with its bold assertions and careful argumentation, is excellent for stimulating new thought. Bonhoeffer scholars and lay readers with an interest in him will find it beneficial.-John Jaeger, Dallas Baptist Univ. Lib. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.