Rob's Reviews > Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas
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M_50x66
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Jun 16, 12

bookshelves: bx-christian-denominations

Metaxas, Eric. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010.
This latest biography about Deitrich Bonhoeffer is a pile of crap. Badly written, badly researched, a novice Bonhoeffer reader like myself could tell that there were aspects that were off about this book in which a minimal amount of research showed that Metaxas is a hack writing under the auspices of providing scholarly work. Don’t read this book unless you choose to read a book that misrepresents and lies about its subject matter.
After reading this book, I wanted to make sure that I was not coming to a conclusion that was untrue. Therefore, I shall not repeat what a number of other reviewers have said. Most notably the review by Clifford Green. I would point out this review as Dr. Green is the director of the translation of Bonhoeffer’s complete writings into English. Anything I write would just be a pale comparison from what has to be considered to be the foremost scholar of Bonhoeffer in America. So read his review.
However, I will just like to point out what made me first question Metaxas’s scholarship. Metaxas wants to point out that progressive Christianity is a bad thing and Bonhoeffer would be very much against it. One of the ways he does that is by showing Bonhoeffer’s disdain for Union Theological Seminary. He quotes o number of letters in which he points out a number of disagreements with other professors and flaws within the student body. With this information one would have the impression that Bonhoeffer held Union in a rather low disregard. This path of argument did not fit well with me. So I started doing some research on what Bonhoeffer thought of Union. As it happens, I had recently purchased the volume of Bonhoeffer’s works in which the letters Metaxas quoted was a part of. I looked to see if there was other places in which Bonhoeffer wrote about Union. There was. In a later essay, he writes that Union is the foremost seminary in the United States and is the only seminary seriously examining a number of continental theologians. In reality, Bonhoeffer saw both the strengths and shortcomings of Union, as any institution would have, and commented about both in different situations. However, in Metaxas’s hands Bonhoeffer only has negative things to say about Union which would further Metaxas’s agenda but not illuminating the thought of his subject.
I had further problems also with the book. The writing was rather awful. In a number of sections in the book it was as if he discovered that Microsoft Word had a thesaurus and he was going to see how many new words he could use. I think it can be presumed that I cannot recommend this book. Don’t waste your money.
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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Cheryl (new) - added it

Cheryl Crazy that you recently reviewed this book. Picked it up before leaving WNY and haven't gotten very far yet. Your review makes me think I shouldn't bother. :(


Debbie Currently reading... it has increased my interest in Bonhoeffer and my personal reflections. We should read ALL non-fiction with eyes wide open!

This link takes you to the Clifford Green review you reference

http://www.christiancentury.org/revie...


Kristy I think maybe YOU sir are the hack!


Danielle I actually felt that Metaxas was quite fair in portraying Bonhoeffer's opinions of Union. He made it clear tha Bonhoeffer saw both the good and the bad in the seminary, but that he left ultimately unfulfilled. Metaxas was a bit wordy in places, but he was also successful in showing Bonhoeffer as he was: a humble man of faith who believed God was calling him to fight Hitler until his dying breath--which he did.


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