REL 314 - Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Life, Theology, and Ethics: A Legacy for our Times?


Faculty: David W. Miller, Ph.D., dwm@princeton.edu, T: 609-258-6956.
Contact: Office hours by appointment at 5 Ivy Lane, Suite 301

Course Objective and Description

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is arguably one of the most influential pastors, theologians, and public figures of the twentieth-century. His ideas, life, and eventual martyrdom at the hands of the Nazis in the closing weeks of WWII continue to impact social movements, countries, classrooms, and the church far beyond his native Germany. This course investigates the different aspects of Bonhoeffer's identity (as a person, pastor, theologian, ethicist, and political activist), with particular attention to his ethical system and praxis.

Taught in a seminar style, this course will focus on selective but intense reading of Bonhoeffer's broad corpus. Having some previous study in ethics, religious studies, philosophy, or European history is helpful but not required. Having a personal religious conviction or spiritual orientation is not required for the course; having respect for those who do is.

During the course, students will be challenged to apply their understanding of Bonhoeffer's life, ethics, and theology to a contemporary social issue of their choosing.