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The Bonhoeffer Phenomenon by Stephen Haynes (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2004), 176 pages with notes, bibliography, index

Scholars have long struggled with the many sides of the legacy of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, enough one might say that at times, the various portraits of Bonhoeffer that have emerged make one feel as though the real Bonhoeffer may never be known. Or it may well be that as one theologian has put it, “Bonhoeffer’s writings are like a Rorschach ink blot test.” Apparently it is not possible to exegete Bonhoeffer, only to engage in eisegesis.

Stephen Haynes book The Bonhoeffer Phenomenon tackles this issue head on. This is a book that will no doubt irritate many a Bonhoeffer interpreter, but if it shakes up the all too dominant articulation of Bonhoeffer by the ‘inner circle’ of Bonhoeffer scholars who make up the International Bonhoeffer Society then some good will come of it.

Many of us who have engaged Bonhoeffer or who have made academic careers becoming Bonhoeffer specialists do not like to be pigeon-holed. We prefer to see ourselves as objective observers. Yet with Bonhoeffer we may well face our greatest challenge. One of the assets of a book like The Bonhoeffer Phenomenon is that it challenges one to come to grips with the particular lens by which one tends to read Bonhoeffer.

Haynes categories belie the major trends in Bonhoeffer interpretation: Seer (the radical Bonhoeffer), Prophet (the liberal Bonhoeffer), Apostle (the conservative Bonhoeffer), Bridge (the universal Bonhoeffer), Saint (St Dietrich??), Cult (Bonhoeffer dramas, plays, movies and pilgrimages). Each chapter is loaded with references to those, who each in their turn, have taken a stab at Bonhoeffer; scarcely a scholar, writer or lecturer is spared (thankfully, perhaps, Haynes has not yet read our work on preachingpeace.org!). The extensive notes are worth the price of the book.

At times, we sensed that Haynes was writing tongue in cheek, but the wry wit and critical analysis of Haynes make a fine combination. We would recommend this book as a fine survey of approaches to Bonhoeffer and await the sequel.

Books by Michael Hardin

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Reading the Bible With René Girard

A Wonderful Tool!

“Michael Hardin's website, PreachingPeace.org, strikes me as a wonderful tool for preachers who need more scriptural, historical and exegetical information as they prepare their sermons. It is well written, easy to use, and very well informed both in terms of traditional scholarship and of the ‘mimetic theory.’ Using PreachingPeace.org, with its breadth of reflection and its wealth of documentation, speakers will be able to enliven their presentations by presenting contemporary examples in a new light.” // René Girard

A Vital Resource!

“Rene Girard has been a godsend to many, as he has helped–as Karl Barth and John Yoder help–many to rediscover the strange new world of the Bible. Indeed, part of that rediscovery involves the surprise that the Gospel frees us from the violence that grips our lives. This web site wonderfully provides resources for the kind of discussion we so desperately need if we are not to lose hold of the nonviolence of the Gospel.” // Stanley Hauerwas

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A Fresh Understanding

Your site and other Girardian insights have helped rejuvenate my understanding of Jesus, the Gospel and preaching…in my 37th year of priesthood. Thank you! - Larry Estey

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An Amazing Resource

What better resource is there for we who’s calling it is to “proclaim the fullness of peace in messiah Jesus” than having a weekly opportunity to overhear what is really new about God’s good news to the peoples of planet earth? - Grayson Lucky

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Encouraging

As someone who has worked a lot recently with "Jewish Christian dialogue," I was especially pleased to see how user-friendly it was, and how encouraging of open and probing discussion–an important step, I think, in the process of peacemaking. - Sandor Goodhart President, Colloquium on Violence and Religion

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Life Changing

I wanted to write you a note and tell you thanks for the work you are doing via the Preaching Peace website. For years now I have read your lectionary commentaries and have found them extremely helpful, if not life-altering. -Rev. Dr. John Mann, Scotland

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A Big Help

Thank you for your site. It’s been a big help to me for a couple of years now as I seek to communicate the radical discipleship commitment of peacemaking in a graceful way to the congregation I pastor. - (The Rev.) Charles Booker-Hirsch Pastor, Northside Presbyterian Church

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