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date: 23 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s eschatology has received far less scholarly attention than many other aspects of his theology, and in fact has occasionally been relegated to near-insignificance for any proper understanding of his work. It is certainly the case that the theological function of eschatology changed for him during the course of his life. However, far from being simply an addendum to his writings, eschatology was deeply embedded within Bonhoeffer’s theological development. Eschatological themes made their first appearance in his academic work in a seminar paper from 1926, formed a crucial element of his catechetical instruction in early-1930s Berlin, and later provided him with a crucial hermeneutical perspective from which to view both his own final imprisonment, and the future directions of authentic ecclesial proclamation. Perhaps most strikingly, eschatology—that insistence that we must interpret our present (penultimate) circumstances from the lens of ultimate reality—was the irreplaceable foundation to Bonhoeffer’s wartime theological ethics, and to his insistence on the socio-political character of Christian discipleship.

Keywords: eschatology, ethics, discipleship, ultimate, penultimate, politics, proclamation

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