The Contribution Of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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The Contribution Of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Interpretation Of The Old Testament Essay, Research Paper ?The Contribution of Dietrich Bonhoeffer?s Interpretation of the Old Testament? In reviewing the works of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the study of the Old Testament seems to be almost non-existent. It is not until his time in Tegel Prison, nearly one year prior to his execution, that he fully commits himself to serious thought on the subject ?My thoughts and feelings seem to be getting more and more like those of the Old Testament, and in recent months I have been reading the Old Testament much more than the New (Bonhoeffer, Letters, 156).? Though his Old Testament study was fairly dicey and incomplete, the contributions of his interpretation have been tremendous. Bonhoeffer?s

distinct Christological approach to the Old Testament may not have pleased an orthodox readership, but the ?kerygma? and additional impact of it was in one word, masterful, especially in view of the theological and historical context of his day. Due to his tumultuous academic life resultant of the German crisis (Bethge 1025), his cohesion of the Old and New Testaments centered in Christ was not systematically expressed and was primarily encountered in his exegetical studies, sermons, and letters and miscellaneous papers (Harrelson 115). As with all biblical interpretation, careful evaluation is required. View of the Bible Bonhoeffer views the Bible as the place where God reveals himself to the individual in the context of the church (Ballard 116). The Bible is not merely an

instruction book or a magical book of answers to confirm or order human thinking about God and the world. It is not something to be manipulated, rather it to be come to humbly and in expectation of God?s revelation of himself in relation to humanity (Harrelson 116). It is where ?God speaks? to humanity and it listens (Kuske 20). To do otherwise is ?to make man the measure of the Gospel rather than to learn from the Gospel the true norm for human existence (Harrelson 116).? This God who reveals himself and his plan in the Scriptures is, according to Bonhoeffer, the God of the Old and New Testaments. Because God the Father of Jesus Christ in the New Testament is the God of Abraham, Moses, and David in the Old Testament, he is the one God of the one Bible (Kuske 23). The synthesis

of the Old and New presents one complete history on a continuum. This claim was highly significant in the historical and theological context of Bonhoeffer?s day and will be expounded upon later. To discard the Old Testament is to negate the recognition of God?s creation, his intimate involvement with fallen humanity and a chosen people, and the preparation of the incarnation, death, and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ who is the center of the Church. Bonhoeffer will take this a step further and claim that the incarnation and crucifixion are found in the Old Testament, further driving the need for the Old Testament(Harrelson 117). This also will be discussed in more detail later. This united corpus of Scripture is considered the book of the Church. Bonhoeffer portrays an

almost symbiotic relationship between Jesus and the Church. As Jesus witnesses to the church in the New Testament and provides life to it, so the church looks to Christ via his biblical witness as its foundation. The Bible is where God speaks to the church, revealing himself and his plan. This God is not the only the God of the Gospels and the book of Acts, but he also is the God of the Law, Prophets, and the Writings, the one God of the one Bible. Given this framework, Bonhoeffer?s view of the relationship between the Testaments and Christ can be examined more closely. Because the New Testament is seen as the book of Christ, Christ must be seen in the Old for the two to be seen as one. To overcome this difficulty, he sees the entire Bible in relation to Jesus Christ (Harrelson