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Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Theologians for a Post-Christian World

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Wolf Krötke, acclaimed as a foremost interpreter of the theologies of Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, demonstrates the continuing significance of these two theologians for Christian faith and life. This book enables readers to look with fresh eyes at the theologies of Barth and Bonhoeffer and offers new insights for reading the history of modern theology. It also helps churches see how they can be creative minorities in societies that have forgotten God.

Translated by a senior American scholar of Christian theology and an accomplished translator, this is the first major translation of Krötke's work in the English language. The book is necessary reading for those studying Barth, Bonhoeffer, and other developments in modern German dogmatics.


Foreword by George Hunsinger
Part 1: Karl Barth
1. Karl Barth as Theological Conversation Partner: Personal Experiences between East and West, and the Challenges of Barth's Theology (2013)
2. Karl Barth: Humanity and Religion (1981)
3. God and Humans as Partners: On the Significance of a Central Category in Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics (1986)
4. Barth's Christology as Exemplary Exegesis (1996)
5. "The Sum of the Gospel": Karl Barth's Doctrine of Election in the Church Dogmatics (2010)
6. "Man as Soul of His Body": Notes on the Anthropological Foundations of Pastoral Care in Karl Barth's Theology (2003)
7. Theology and Resistance in Karl Barth's Thinking: A Systematic-Theological Account (2005)
8. The Church as "Provisional Representation" of the Whole World Reconciled in Christ: The Foundations of Karl Barth's Ecclesiology (2006)
Part 2: Dietrich Bonhoeffer
9. The Meaning of God's Mystery for Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Understanding of the Religions and "Religionlessness" (1984)
10. "Sharing in God's Suffering": Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Understanding of a "Religionless Christianity" (1989)
11. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Understanding of God (2006)
12. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Exegesis of the Psalms (2012)
13. "God's Hand and Guidance": Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Language for God in a Time of Resistance (2003)
14. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Understanding of His Resistance: The Risk of Freedom and Guilt (2009)
15. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Understanding of the State: Theological Grounds, Practical Consequences, and Interpretation in East and West (2013)
16. Dietrich Bonhoeffer's "Nonreligious Interpretation of Biblical Concepts" and the Current Missionary Challenge of the Church (2007)
Appendix: "I Refuse to Let Anyone Else Share What Belongs to You Alone": An Experience with the Love Letters of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Maria von Wedemeyer (2011)


"These essays are a great gift! Wolf Krötke, one of Germany's leading 'post-Barthian' theologians, began his career during the Cold War as a citizen of East Germany who found resources for his theological existence (and resistance) in the writings of Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I have known him to be a scholar of great erudition who carries in himself both moral gravity and a delightful sense of humor. These essays sparkle with insight. They also remind us of what Christian dogmatics once was--and what it can be again--when done at a high level. John Burgess is to be thanked for his fine translation."

Bruce L. McCormack, Charles Hodge Professor of Systematic Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary

"In this volume, Wolf Krötke, one of the foremost German scholars of Bonhoeffer and Barth, presents a collection of his most important essays on these theologians. Krötke is not only quite capable in his interpretation of their work. With a biographical background in the former East Germany and now speaking regularly about the flourishing of atheism there, he also translates their ideas into a time in which being a Christian is no longer self-evident."

Christiane Tietz, professor of systematic theology, University of Zurich; former president of the German Language Section of the International Bonhoeffer Society

"John Burgess has done a great service to English-language readers by making available a rich selection of Wolf Krötke's most interesting and important writing on Barth and Bonhoeffer in this fine volume. Krötke's constructive readings of these formative theological figures are astute, critical, and wide-ranging, shedding invaluable light on their achievements and legacies as well as drawing out vital insights and impulses for doing Christian theology today. The opportunity to learn from such a fine practitioner of the theological art is not to be missed."

Philip G. Ziegler, University of Aberdeen

"With his very readable and thoughtful translation of Wolf Krötke's essays, John Burgess has given English-speaking students and pastors invaluable access to one of Germany's best interpreters of Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Krötke has spent his career interpreting the work of these theologians with sensitivity and care for people struggling to be Christian leaders in politically fraught and changing times. Krötke's focus on Barth and Bonhoeffer as exegetes, as theologians of resistance, and as theologians for reconciliation makes his essay collection indispensable reading for students of theology today."

Amy Marga, associate professor of systematic theology, Luther Seminary

"It is wonderful finally to have these essays from one of the greatest theologians of his generation translated into English. Krötke's work is insightful, careful, and bound to reset current readings of Barth and Bonhoeffer in the English-speaking world. No student of Barth or Bonhoeffer can afford to ignore them, and any student of modern theology would be wise to read them as stellar examples of engagement with the greatest theological thinkers of the twentieth century."

Tom Greggs, FRSE, Marischal Chair and Head of Divinity, King's College, University of Aberdeen

"Wolf Krötke ranks among the most insightful interpreters of Karl Barth and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. His life in East Germany provided him with a unique vantage point both before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall. This collection of essays, wonderfully translated and edited by John Burgess, spans the entirety of Krötke's career. It provides English-speaking scholars, students, and pastors the opportunity to encounter the best insights of a master theologian whose voice is much needed today."

Keith L. Johnson, associate professor of theology, Wheaton College

"Wolf Krötke is not yet widely known in English-language studies of Barth and Bonhoeffer. It's high time to catch up! With his distinctive experience of church, politics, and theology in the postwar Germanys, and his high esteem as an interpreter of Barth and Bonhoeffer, Krötke's essays speak into the crises of the twenty-first century."

Clifford Green, Bonhoeffer Chair Scholar, Union Theological Seminary, New York

"Wolf Krötke is an extraordinarily clear, wise, and profoundly insightful voice in the world of Barth and Bonhoeffer studies. These remarkable pieces warrant scrupulous study by all those concerned not only with Barth's and Bonhoeffer's witness but also with the ways of the God of the gospel in this world."

Christopher R. J. Holmes, associate professor of systematic theology and head of the Theology Programme, University of Otago

The Authors

  1. Wolf Krötke

    Wolf Krötke

    Wolf Krötke (PhD, University of Tübingen), widely regarded as a towering figure among late twentieth-century German theologians, is professor emeritus of systematic theology at Humboldt University in Berlin. He studied under Eberhard Jüngel and...

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  2. John P. Burgess

    John P. Burgess

    John P. Burgess (PhD, University of Chicago) is the James Henry Snowden Professor of Systematic Theology at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. He is a Translation Fellow of the Center for Barth Studies at Princeton Theological...

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