In this unit students will engage with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, described as ‘the one German theologian who will lead us into the third millennium’ through a structured, facilitated reading as a group through one of his last major publications. Students will locate Bonhoeffer in his historical, theological and political context, providing the necessary background for understanding his thought. Students will also encounter key themes and terms that emerge in Ethics, through which Bonhoeffer’s fragmentary prison writings can be better appreciated.

Unit Code: CT3810T

Points: 18.0

Unit Level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit Discipline: Systematic Theology

Delivery Mode: Face to Face

Proposing College: Trinity College Theological School

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Learning Outcomes


Situate Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his historical, theological and political context


Articulate the influence of early twentieth century German Protestantism – especially Karl Barth’s theology – on Bonhoeffer’s own theological development


Critically evaluate scholarly responses to his Ethics


Identify key motifs for interpreting Bonhoeffer’s prison writings


Assess the internal consistency of Bonhoeffer’s Ethics when measured against his own ethical decisions.

Unit sequence

At least one unit of CT or, at least one unit of DT


Participation in this unit assumes some knowledge of basic theological concepts as well as some understanding of the various ways theology and ethics intersect. Students will build on this foundational knowledge through exposure to a ground-breaking primary text in theological history and by the opportunity to explore the innovations and challenges that emerged from the text in the context of a facilitated close reading.


Type Description Wordcount Weight (%)
Seminar or Tutorial

Seminar paper on 1 of the 7 aspects of ‘natural life’ 1,000 words

1000 25.0
Document Study

Documentary analysis of a selected chapter 1,000 words

1000 30.0

Research essay 3,000 words

3000 65.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 27 Sep, 2019

Unit Record last updated: 2019-10-14 15:33:40 +1100