Between Berlin and Barth

Michael P. DeJonge

in Bonhoeffer's Theological Formation

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9780199639786
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191738708 | DOI:
Between Berlin and Barth

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The opening chapter introduces the book’s argument by presenting the theological impasse facing Bonhoeffer’s early theology—an impasse formed by the competing transcendent orientation of the theology of Karl Barth, Bonhoeffer’s teacher from afar, and the worldly theological orientation of Bonhoeffer’s official teachers at the University of Berlin, including Karl Holl. It seems to Bonhoeffer that Barth’s transcendent orientation cannot deal with the historical continuity of the Christian life, while Holl’s worldly orientation cannot deal with the transcendent aspects. Bonhoeffer negotiated this problem with a theology built around the concept of ‘person’, which Bonhoeffer understood as the conceptual unity of transcendence and historical existence. Bonhoeffer’s notion of ‘person’ rearticulates a traditional Lutheran understanding of the person of Christ, and the resulting ‘person‐theology’ constitutes a theology of revelation alternative to Karl Barth’s, an interpretation of Lutheranism in competition with Karl Holl’s, and the foundation of Bonhoeffer’s later thought.

Keywords: Barth; Holl; Luther; person; theology; revelation; Lutheran; transcendence

Chapter.  5318 words. 

Subjects: Christian Theology

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