Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison comes under the category of “Books to Be Read on an Annual Basis”—like Augustine’s Confessions, King Lear, or anything by Flannery O’Connor. In general, we read too many books and return to too few.
The new English translation of Bethge's 1970 biography, skillfully rendered by Barnett, includes all corrections and revisions of earlier editions. As a result, the edifying story of a remarkable 20th-century Christian life is now available in even greater detail. At 941 pages it's not a quick read, but Bethge offers a compelling account of a complex man.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer has become
an almost mythical being, whose legacy everyone seems intent on claiming. From death-of-God
theologians to evangelicals to radical antiabortionists, partisans of all
stripes have remade Bonhoeffer in their own image.
"I want my seminary experience to form me as a person of prayer.” We had never heard a student state this desire so eloquently and succinctly. We sensed in this comment something much more than a first-year student’s desire for greater piety in the school environment. This student had done extremely well at a college with a strong undergraduate program.