The impact of Bonhoeffer’s Bible

“Something happened, something that has changed and transformed my life to the present day.  For the first time I discovered the Bible…. I had often preached.  I had seen a great deal of the Church, and talked and preached about it – but I had not yet become a Christian… I know that at that time I turned the doctrine of Jesus Christ into something of personal advantage for myself… I pray to God that will never happen again.  Also I had never prayed, or prayed for very little.  For all my loneliness, I was quite pleased with myself.  Then the Bible, and in particular the Sermon on the Mount, freed me from that.  Since then everything has changed…” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a letter to Elizabeth Zinn. January 1936

“One cannot simply read the Bible, like other books.  One must be prepared really to enquire of it.  Only thus will it reveal itself.  Only if we expect from it the ultimate answer, shall we receive it.  That is because in the Bible God speaks to us.  And one cannot simply think about God in one’s own strength, one has to enquire of him.  Only if we seek him, will he answer us… Only if we will venture to enter into the words of the Bible, as though in them this God were speaking to us who loves us and does not will to leave us along with our questions, only so shall we learn to rejoice in the Bible… If it is I who determine where God is to be found, then I shall always find a God who corresponds to me in some way, who is obliging, who is connected with my own nature.  But if God determines where he is to be found, then it will be in a place which is not immediately pleasing to my nature and which is not at all congenial to me.  This place is the Cross of Christ.  And whoever would find him must go to the foot of the Cross, as the Sermon on the Mount commands.  This is not according to our nature at all, it is entirely contrary to it.  But this is the message of the Bible, not only in the New but also in the Old Testament.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a letter to Rudiger Schleicher. 1936



  1. I would like to know the source of these quotes.
    The date is prior to those recorded in “Papers and Letters from Prison”

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