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date: 23 January 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines Bonhoeffer’s attitude towards Jews and some of the secondary scholarship and debates on this topic. It gives particular attention to the ambiguous status of Bonhoeffer’s 1933 essay ‘The Church and the Jewish Question’ (DBWE 12: 361–70). On the one hand, Bonhoeffer calls for solidarity with Jews in the context of Nazi Germany. On the other hand, he still operates within a Lutheran theological framework, one with anti-Judaic features. The Kristallnacht pogrom of 1938 led Bonhoeffer to revise this earlier framework, and also to join the military conspiracy against Hitler. In particular, this revision becomes apparent in his Ethics, in which Bonhoeffer talks of ‘a genuine, unceasing encounter’ between Christians and Jews, as well as suggesting that ‘the Jew(s) keep open the question of Christ’ (DBWE 6: 105). Finally, in some passages of his prison letters he senses that the fate of the Jews in Europe requires an even more radical revision of Christology and theology.

Keywords: anti-Judaism, Jewish–Christian relations, Kristallnacht, solidarity with Jews, conspiracy, Christology, theology

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