Creation and Fall, Temptation | Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Don’t let the mere 144 pages of girth fool you—this book’s a workout. The first study, “Creation and Fall,” was originally delivered as lectures at the University of Berlin in the Winter semester of 1932-33. In them Bonhoeffer laid out a detailed philosophical and emphatically Christological investigation of Genesis 1-3. The second study is consists of daily studies for clergy of the Confessing Church in Finkelwalde from April 12-17, 1937.

Like most things in life, the mental work required to read these studies (especially the first) is equally rewarded. Bonhoeffer delivers penetrating insight into the nature of creation. He doesn’t shy away from modernist questions we like to ignore. (I.e., What came before God’s Creation? “No question can penetrate behind God creating, because it is impossible to go behind the beginning” (16).)

Especially valuable is the way that Bonhoeffer recognized Christ and his resurrection in the Creation story. The constant high Christology, for the Christian, is thoroughly inspiring.

The second study on temptation is easier to read but no less profound. Again, Bonhoeffer redirects us toward Christ:

To be precise, the Bible tells only two temptation stories, the temptation of the first man and the temptation of Christ, … All other temptations in human history have to do with these two stories of temptation. Either we are tempted in Adam or we are tempted in Christ. Either the Adam in me is tempted—in which case we fall. Or the Christ in us is tempted—in which case Satan is bound to fall. (115)

(As a side note, did you notice the shift from singular to plural? Either the “Adam in me” is tempted or the “Christ in us” is tempted. That’s worth meditating on right there!)

If you’re looking for something deep, thought-provoking, thoroughly Christological, and rewarding, these two studies are an inspiration.

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2 Responses to Creation and Fall, Temptation | Dietrich Bonhoeffer

  1. Alaine McGill June 15, 2012 at 11:32 am #

    I haven’t read Bonhoeffer in a few years and I haven’t read these. Thanks for the great reviews Steve.

  2. Stephen Barkley June 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    Thanks Alaine. You’re always welcome to borrow it if you’d like. It’s at the church in my office.

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