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Ethics by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Ethics (original 1949; edition 1972)

by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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1,63576,726 (3.92)13
Authors:Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Info:The Macmillan Company (1972), Paperback, 382 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:T, teachings, BON

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Ethics by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1949)

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» See also 13 mentions

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"Sometimes I think I really have my life more or less behind me now and that all that would remain for me to do would be to finish my Ethics . . ." (14).

Unfortunately, he was unable to finish. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was hanged by the Nazi regime on April 9, 1945, a mere two weeks before the allies liberated the Flossenbürg concentration camp which held him. The essays and notes which comprise Ethics were gathered and published posthumously.

Despite the lack of unified structure or flow to the book, the work is rich. Bonhoeffer's penetrating mind reached deeply into a variety of ethical topics. Consider, for example, this meditation on obedience and freedom:

"Obedience restrains freedom; and freedom ennobles obedience. Obedience binds the creature to the Creator and freedom enables the creature to stand before the Creator as one who is made in His image" (248).

Bonhoeffer's Lutheran background is evident throughout this work. His discussion of the church and the world, the three uses of the law, and the role of the conscience in the life of a believer all reveal a Lutheran mind at work.

Ethics is a slow read. It's a book that forces you to slow down and consider the details of what it means to be an ethical Christian. ( )
  StephenBarkley | Nov 30, 2017 |
  CPI | Aug 8, 2016 |
One of the best and most beautiful books I have ever read. I have saved a few books for myself to read at a later date. What an awesome gift this is to me! ( )
  aegossman | Feb 25, 2015 |
Translated from the German: Ethik.
  CGSLibrary | Jul 12, 2011 |
It is hard to review Bonhoeffer's Ethics since it is not completed. Many of its portions seem a bit disjointed, especially the somewhat arcane discussion of Lutheran primus usis legis and the like.

Nevertheless, the general theory of the book has merit-- the world is not dualist, but singular, under the authority of Jesus Christ who reconciled the world to God through His blood. Nothing can be properly understood as apart from Christ, since Christ is the source of creation and all things exist because of Him. On account of these things, and in an attempt to make sense of reality, Bonhoeffer identifies four mandates that God imposes upon the world-- labor, marriage (he adds family to this on occasion), government, and the church. Bonhoeffer sees each of these functioning in complementary ways and operating under their distinct mandates.

It would have been great to see how all the different pieces could contribute to this whole, but alas, such will not be the case. ( )
  deusvitae | Aug 7, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Dietrich Bonhoefferprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bethge, EberhardEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Green, Clifford J.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Smith, Neville HortonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 068481501X, Paperback)

The Christian does not live in a vacuum, says the author, but in a world of government, politics, labor, and marriage. Hence, Christian ethics cannot exist in a vacuum; what the Christian needs, claims Dietrich Bonhoeffer, is concrete instruction in a concrete situation. Although the author died before completing his work, this book is recognized as a major contribution to Christian ethics.

The root and ground of Christian ethics, the author says, is the reality of God as revealed in Jesus Christ. This reality is not manifest in the Church as distinct from the secular world; such a juxtaposition of two separate spheres, Bonhoeffer insists, is a denial of God's having reconciled the whole world to himself in Christ. On the contrary, God's commandment is to be found and known in the Church, the family, labor, and government. His commandment permits man to live as man before God, in a world God made, with responsibility for the institutions of that world.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:46 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

Ethics is the culmination of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's theological and personal odyssey. Using the acclaimed DBWE translation, adapted to a more accessible format, this new edition features an insightful introduction by Clifford Green and supplemental material from Victoria J. Barnett. Though caught up in the vortex of momentous forces in the Nazi period, Bonhoeffer systematically envisioned a radically Christocentric, incarnational ethic for a postwar world, purposefully recasting Christians' relation to history, politics, and public life. This edition allows all readers to appreciate the cogency and relevance of Bonhoeffer's vision.… (more)

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