Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) is one of the most prominent voices in modern theology. From the 1960s to the present his work has been at the centre of a number of important theological developments and debates. Moreover, his dramatic involvement in the resistance against Hitler, and consequent execution, has resulted in a widespread interest in his work outside of the academy. Today, he is among the most widely read theologians in Europe, North America and beyond. For further background on Bonhoeffer see this video by Professor Tom Greggs, and for the ongoing relevance of Bonhoeffer see this article by Professor Philip Ziegler.
- Bonhoeffer in Aberdeen
The Divinity department at Aberdeen has significant strengths in Bonhoeffer studies. In recent years the department has hosted a number of events on Bonhoeffer’s theology, including academic workshops (hosting scholars from around the world) and public lectures (by Jennifer McBride and Chris Holmes). In 2014 the University awarded Clifford Green an honorary doctorate in recognition of his contribution to Bonhoeffer studies. In early 2015, Aberdeen’s Centre for Ministry hosted the daylong event Bonhoeffer for Pastors. Staff currently teach postgraduate and undergraduate courses on Bonhoeffer’s theology and there are also a large number of doctoral students working on projects in this field.
We are interested in hearing from students wishing to undertake postgraduate level work on Bonhoeffer at the doctoral level. We are also keen to support students to spend time in Germany as a part of their doctoral work for language study and research (i.e., through applications for DAAD fellowships, the Erasmus program, or independently). Please contact one of the supervisors below if you are thinking about applying for a PhD in their subject area.
Dr Brian Brock: Brian Brock has regularly drawn inspiration from Bonhoeffer for his constructive theological work, particularly his biblical hermeneutics, understanding of the Psalms, approach to the role of creation in Christian ethics, dialogues with Karl Barth, and role as a representative of a contemporary Lutheran theology. Engagements with Bonhoeffer figure centrally in Brock’s main works: Christian Ethics in a Technological Age (Ch. 4) and Singing the Ethos of God (Ch. 5).
Professor Tom Greggs: Tom Greggs’ interests in Bonhoeffer relate to his understanding of religion and religionless Christianity, to his political theology, and to the relationship between the theologies of Bonhoeffer and Barth. Bonhoeffer’s ecclesiology has also been a significant influence, and will be a formative part of his own three volume project on the church. He has written widely on Bonhoeffer’s thought directly. Prof. Greggs has been involved for a number of years with the International Bonhoeffer Colloquium, and has contributed a number of essays to the International Bonhoeffer Interpretations series.
Dr Michael Mawson: Michael Mawson has interests in Bonhoeffer’s ecclesiology and ethics, and is currently working on a monograph on Bonhoeffer’s early ecclesiology. In 2009, he was the Eberhard Bethge Fellow in Residence at the Bonhoeffer House in Charlottenberg, Berlin. In 2011, he co-organized (with Adam Clark) the conference ‘New Conversations on Bonhoeffer’s Theology’ at the University of Notre Dame. In 2014-15 he co-organised (with Phil Ziegler) the workshop series at Aberdeen ‘The Challenge of Bonhoeffer’s Theology for Contemporary Ethics and Public Life.’ He has lectured and given a number of papers on Bonhoeffer’s theology and is an active member of the International Bonhoeffer Society.
Professor Phillip Ziegler: Philip Ziegler’s work focuses on Bonhoeffer in the context of modern Protestant theology generally, and in particular with reference to the German Church Struggle of the 1930s. He is also interested also in the on-going significance of Bonhoeffer’s theology and ethics. He continues to work on a book length study of the theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer titled Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Theologian of the Word of God (which will be in the Great Theologians series from Ashgate), and together with Mike Mawson is editing the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. He has lectured widely on Bonhoeffer, and also delivered papers at the International Bonhoeffer Congress, the International Bonhoeffer Colloquy, AAR/SBL and the Wheaton Theology Conference. Professor Ziegler is on the Steering Committee of the Bonhoeffer, Theology and Social Analysis Group of the AAR, a member of the Board of Directors of the International Bonhoeffer Society, and represented the English Language Section of the Society on the planning group for the International Bonhoeffer Congress which took place in Basel in July 2016.
- PGR Students
Some current (and graduated) students and their projects from the University of Aberdeen include:
- Sophie Ballard, Bonhoeffer’s suffering: A critical analysis of his theology of suffering in dialogue with Liberation Theology and Julian of Norwich
- Claire Blanton, Between Resistance and Collaboration: Locating Ecclesial Responsibility to Government Action in the Political Theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- Chris Dodson, Religionless Christianity and the Sacraments
- David Emerton, Speaking and thinking about God: epistemology and eschatology in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Theology
- Jeffrey Gang, Bonhoeffer’s Theology as a Provocation to Contemporary Ecclesial-Ethical Responsibility
- Ross Halbach, Power, Race, and Responsibility in Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Theology
- Ian Hall, Bonhoeffer and Nietzsche
- B.J. Hutto, Bonhoefferian Limit and Christian Marriage?
- Jin Kim, The Theology and Ethics of Dietrich Bonhoeffer Concerning the Church
- Jonathan David Lynch, Strength in Weakness: The Intimate Brotherly Discipleship of Dietrich Bonhoeffer
- John McCabe, Bonhoeffer’s Theology of Work
- Joseph McGarry, Bonhoeffer's Theology of Christian Formation
- Andy Odle, Homelessness: A Bonhofferian Practical Theology of Sociality
- Jacob Putich, For the World: An Exploration and Extrapolation of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Cruciform Worldview
- Wilson Tan, Who is Christ really for us today? The Christology of Bonhoeffer and Žižek in a World Come of Age
The following are some selected publications engaging or drawing on Bonhoeffer by staff at the University of Aberdeen.
- “Bonhoeffer and the Bible in Christian Ethics: Psalm 119, the Mandates, and Ethics as a ‘Way’,” Studies in Christian Ethics, 18:3, December 2005, 7-29. [This article was the journal’s second most electronically accessed article (831 downloads) from July 2006-July 2007.]
- Christian Ethics in a Technological Age. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2010, ch. 4.
- Singing the Ethos of God: On the Place of Christian Ethics in Scripture. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007 ch. 5.
- “‘Sorrow and Joy’: Public Disasters, Works of Love, and the Inwardness of Faithfulness,” in Bernd Wannenwetsch, ed., Who Am I? Bonhoeffer’s Theology Through His Poetry. London: T&T Clark, 2009, 47-69.
- “Beyond the binary: Forming evangelical eschatology” in Tom Greggs (ed.), New Perspectives for Evangelical Theology, (Abingdon: Routledge, 2010), 153-167.
- “Pessimistic Universalism: Rethinking the Wider Hope with Bonhoeffer and Barth.” Modern Theology, 26, no. 4 (2010), 495-510.
- “Religionless Christianity and the Political Implications of Theological Speech: What Bonhoeffer’s Theology yields to a World of Fundamentalisms.” International Journal of Systematic Theology 11, no. 3 (June 2009), 293-308.
- “Religionless Christianity in a Complexly Religious and Secular World: Thinking through and beyond Bonhoeffer” in Ralf K. Wüstenberg & Stephen J. Plant (eds), Religion, Religionlessness and Contemporary Western Culture. International Bonhoeffer Interpretations Vol.1 (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2008): 111-125.
- Theology against Religion: Constructive Dialogues with Bonhoeffer and Barth (T&T Clark, 2011).
- Christ, Church and World: New Studies in Bonhoeffer’s Theology and Ethics, edited by Michael Mawson and Philip Ziegler (London: T&T Clark/Bloomsbury).
- ‘How God Suffers: Bonhoeffer, Moltmann and Theological Language’, in Dietrich Bonhoeffer Concept of Language, edited by Christiane Tietz (Peter Lang, 2016).
- Ontology and Ethics: Bonhoeffer and Contemporary Scholarship. Edited with Adam Clark. Eugene, OR: Pickwick.
- The Oxford Handbook of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, edited by Philip Ziegler and Michael Mawson (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
- 'The Spirit and the Community: Pneumatology and Ecclesiology in Jenson, Hütter and Bonhoeffer'. International Journal of Systematic Theology, vol 15, no. 4, 2013, pp. 453-468.
- Christ, Church and World: New Studies in Bonhoeffer’s Theology and Ethics, edited by Philip G. Ziegler and Michael Mawson (London: T&T Clark/Bloomsbury).
- ‘Dietrich Bonhoeffer—Theologian of the Word of God’, in Bonhoeffer, Christ and Culture, edited by K. Johnson & T. Larsen (Downers Grove, IN: IVP Academic, 2013), pp. 17-38.
- 'God, Christ, and Church in the DDR—Wolf Krötke as an Interpreter of Bonhoeffer’s Theology', in Engaging Bonhoeffer: The Influence and Impact of Bonhoeffer’s Life and Thought, edited by Matthew Kirkpatrick (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014).
- The Oxford Handbook of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, edited by Philip G. Ziegler and Michael Mawson (Oxford: Oxford University Press).
- 'Witness to Christ's Dominion: the political service of the Church', Theology 116:5 (2013), pp. 323-331. doi: 10.1177/0040571X13493582
Some helpful links for further information and resources on Bonhoeffer’s theology and Bonhoeffer studies: