When Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote of "costly grace", he knew that his convictions could cost him his life. Executed by the Nazis just weeks before the end of World War II, his theology engages with a world in crisis - and it does this in profound and controversial ways that continue to challenge. In this unit, you will engage with Bonhoeffer's world through his writings from early philosophical theology to radical letters and papers from prison. You will explore the dynamic interaction between theological ideas and the changing religious, social and political context of Hitler’s Third Reich. Finally, you will consider the enduring issues raised by Bonhoeffer's life and work: especially, individual Christians and the embodiment of community and reconciliation, and the relationship between worldly faith and a transcendent God.

Unit code: CT3092P

Unit status: Approved (Major revision)

Points: 18.0

Unit level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit discipline: Systematic Theology

Proposing College: Pilgrim Theological College

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Learning outcomes


Articulate a holistic understanding of Bonhoeffer’s often controversial theology


Outline the major influences upon Bonhoeffer’s theology;


Analyse the relationship between Bonhoeffer’s theology and his ecclesial and political engagements;


Evaluate the interplay between systematic theology and church history in relation to Bonhoeffer’s works.

Unit sequence

18 points in CT and 18 points in CH


Guided reading, specialist input, student discussion, guided and independent research, feedback on written work.

Indicative Bibliography

  • Bethge, Eberhard. Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography. Translated by Eric Mosbacher, Peter Ross, Betty Ross, Frank Clarke and William Glen-Doepel. Revised ed. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2000.
  • Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Discipleship. Translated by B. Green and R. Krauss. Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works. Edited by G. B. Kelly, J. D. Godsey, B. Green and R. Krauss. Vol. 4, Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2000.
  • ———. Ethics. Translated by Reinhard Krauss, Charles C. West and Douglas W. Scott. Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works. Edited by Clifford J. Green. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2005.
  • ———. Letters and Papers from Prison. Translated by John Bowden. London: SCM Press, 2002.
  • Clements, Keith. Bonhoeffer and Britain. London: Churches Together in Britain and Ireland, 2006.
  • Clements, Keith. W. The SPCK Introduction to Bonhoeffer. London: SPCK, 2010.
  • de Gruchy, John W., ed. The Cambridge Companion to Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. (recommended for purchase)
  • Green, Clifford J., and Michael P. DeJonge, eds. The Bonhoeffer Reader. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2013.
  • Pugh, Jeffrey C. Religionless Christianity: Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Troubled Times. London: T&T Clark, 2008.
  • Schlingensiepen, Ferdinand. Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906–1945: Martyr, Thinker, Man of Resistance. Translated by Isabel Best. London: T&T Clark, 2010.
  • Scholder, Klaus. The Churches and the Third Reich. Volume 1: Preliminary History and the Time of Illusions, 1918–1934. Translated by John Bowden. London: SCM Press, 1987.
  • ———. The Churches and the Third Reich. Volume 2: The Year of Disillusionment, 1934 – Barmen and Rome. Translated by John Bowden. London: SCM Press, 1988.


Type Description Word count Weight (%)

Variant 1

Tutorial Paper/Seminar Paper

Tutorial Paper – 1000 words

1000 25.0
Book Review

Book Review – 1,000 words

1000 25.0

Essay – 2,500 words

2500 50.0

Variant 2

Document Study - Document study

Document study on a writing by Bonhoeffer

1000 25.0
Oral Presentation - Oral presentation

Oral presentation offered in person or via electronic means as per the lecturer's instructions

1000 25.0
Essay - Essay

Essay incorporating history and theology

2500 50.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by Prof Albert Haddad on 13 Jun, 2023

Unit record last updated: 2023-06-13 16:36:04 +1000