Bonhoeffer considered his Ethics the culmination of his theological existence, consisting of a series of well-worked fragments written between September 1941 and his arrest in April of 1943. In a series of varied beginnings, Bonhoeffer attacks the central questions of Christian ethics. The work is of perennial importance for a number of reasons. First, it represents the most extensive presentation of the themes of Bonhoeffer's mature thought, and thus is key to understanding his entire corpus, including the famous prison letters. Second, it examines the ultimate origin and fundamental orientation of specifically Christian ethic with powerful theological insights hard won from the crucible of the German Church Struggle. Third, Bonhoeffer develops several distinctive themes-including Christian freedom, responsibility, the notions of the natural, the penultimate, the divine mandates, ethics as formation, and vicarious representation-which have proved decisive to the shaping of theological ethics ever since. Fourth and finally, Bonhoeffer's Ethics represents one of the signal attempts in the last century to formulate a Christian ethic on the soil of the renewed theology of the Word.
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Philip G Ziegler is a Lecturer at the University of Aberdeen, UK.
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