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Strange Glory: A Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer Paperback – 14 Apr 2015


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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (14 April 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307390381
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307390387
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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Review

''A good biography takes a reader beyond the life of its subject into the times and places in which they lived. A great biography can leave us with the impression we know a stranger better than we know our friends. Charles Marsh's biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer does all these things. No recent biographer of Bonhoeffer knows his theology or his historical and intellectual context better than Charles Marsh who has, for the past two decades, been the finest Bonhoeffer scholar of his generation. Yet none of this would matter if one did not want to turn the pages. Strange Glory tells Bonhoeffer's story with accuracy and insight but more than that, it is a joy to read.'' --Stephen J. Plant, Dean of Trinity Hall, Cambridge, and co-editor of Letters to London: Bonhoeffer's previously unpublished correspondence with Ernst Cromwell, 1935-6 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Charles Marsh is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, and has served as the Dietrich Bonhoeffer Visiting Professor at Humboldt University in Berlin. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Stephen Redman VINE VOICE on 10 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The author, Marsh has an academic pedigree as a long term student of Bonhoeffer and so it is seemly that he should produce this new and well researched biography of this great man.

As one of those thousands who read with enjoyment the popular 2010 biography by Eric Metaxas, I approached this volume not knowing what to expect. It has an excellent bibliography and a large number of notes pages at the rear of the book giving references and explanations. It also carries an excellent range of endorsements from Professors, Deans and Lecturers in relevant subjects; all of which is better than the Metaxas volume (not that I am critiquing it – it was then and is still now a good and helpful read!)

For a biographer, a way with words is essential in engaging the reader with the details of the life of the subject, and the author does not disappoint in this way. Marsh hits the ground running with a first page that will not let you skim forward, but grounds you firmly into history. Very quickly there is this overwhelming sense that Bonhoeffer knew he had a calling that was different to the rest of his family and indeed he became a source of sound biblical theology in an age dominated by liberalism.

The impact on Bonhoeffer of men like Karl Barth and also “negro” preachers in America are combined in such a meaningful way by Marsh into a blend that most accurately explains Bonhoeffer’s lurch towards a more biblical theology. I felt that I learned even more about Bonhoeffer from Marsh, who at times pulls themes and inferences out of surviving documents that are thoroughly informing and helpful in a study of the subject.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By S2b an OAP VINE VOICE on 6 Nov. 2014
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book is a challenge. I am neither an academic nor a theologian and to be either or both would surely help. Whilst I was given a Roget's Thesaurus as a 21st Birthday present I have never needed it as much over the last 36 years.....despite all of that this book is a page turner!

I must warn the common man (or woman) that this is written by an intellectual who never uses two simple words when one that you have never heard of can be used instead and it is therefore quite often a struggle to work through the mud of language but gives an insight into a man, not just any man, but a man who dared to dream of a better world whilst living in Nazi Germany. A man who would die on a human meat-hook in a Nazi murder along with millions of other Nazi murders.

This Protestant Christian was an enigmatic human being whose greatest love was a fellow Protestant ministering to the few whilst the masses were indoctrinated by the Nazi machine. That love was all consuming but never consummated and, perhaps, never quite reciprocated to the same intensity. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was so much more than this and this is a complex book getting beneath so much that has been written before to help us understand the development of his faith and why it was that he became embroiled in the plot to assassinate Hitler.

I have been moved by this story, the story of a life short lived.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Skypilot VINE VOICE on 28 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Dietrich Bonhoeffer has always one of my modern heroes for his stand against Nazism and Hitler - a stand which ultimately cost him his life in a concentration camp. The quote I've chosen as the title for this review is his - and he certainly walked his talk!

Charles Marsh's biography paints no 'plaster saint' but a very human one. When Hitler comes to power Bonhoeffer opposed him as offering false salvation to the German people - in private he even called Hitler an Antichrist. Yes despite his moral courage he shows an odd concern for sartorial correctness and developes a fascination, even fixation, on a student of his, Eberhard Bethge, though his feelings for her were unrequited and there is no suggestion of anything improper.

This is a refreshingly honest bigraphy of a Christian prepared to take a stand against the evils of his world and pay the highest price. It is a long read, 400 or so pages, not counting the notes and indices, but the modern flowing prose helps and it is well worth the effort.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J.K. Currie VINE VOICE on 21 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a substantial biography, but with 120 pages given over to acknowledgements, endnotes and indices , the actual biography is a shade under 400 pages. We are in the safe hands of SPCK although there are some small errors ('ascent' instead of 'assent' – twice – and two identical passages) and the American English may at times jar with some readers.

It is a work of great breadth and generosity, and Marsh, in his meticulous tracing of Bonhoeffer's outer life also provides the parallel development of his at times complex and dense inner life.
Moving on from his extremely privileged childhood with all the attendant luxuries and intense experience Marsh considers the more difficult area of Bonhoeffer's intellectual growth. For some, this may be too detailed and with too much emphasis on the intricacies of the German theological schools, with much discussion on the various views held by the giants of liberal Protestantism and others.

Along with the sometimes arcane dissection of Bonhoeffer's responses to Barth, Harnack Kegel, Niebuhr, Hegel and others - to name but a few - we are also given insights – not always very pleasant – where we find that for example Paul Tillich was a predatory pervert and Karl Barth brought his mistress into his home with his wife still living there.

Bonhoeffer's academic brilliance is obvious and Marsh gives us plenty of his writing – sermons, notes, letters, poetry (some heart-breaking) and this enables us to move with Bonhoeffer to what will be the inevitable end of his life. As we take this journey we see the struggle that Dietrich had with the German Church, believers in general and himself. This was the sometimes shocking hiatus between belief and action.
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