I can’t remember the last time I shed tears while going through a biography, because I did this time. Everything about Eric Metaxas’ work is beautiful. Excellent. I was not only impressed but so moved that I feel the words I just used are an injustice to his great work.
It is obvious by now that I’m impressed and highly recommend reading (or listening) to Bonhoeffer’s story by the author already mentioned. No author can produce a great work without being engrossed in his subject. This is obvious in the meticulous research and captivating story-telling by the author.
This review is of the work and not commentary or my reflection of Dietrich’s life or story after reading. I will do that in other upcoming posts. For now, I’ll just look at the biography as a work and Eric Metaxas’ efforts in general.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a German theologian who, at relatively a young age, challenged the German church to be the church. Wrestling with the question, “What is the Church?”, he would speak up and act for the integrity of the Church. Dietrich would lead a charge, first within the German church and later be involved in one of the conspiracies to ‘take out’ Hitler.
Bonhoeffer believed we should protest by way of confession and confess by way of protest. His confession and protest would span from theology to justice and a fight against evil incarnate in the form of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich. Eric Metaxas maps Dietrich’s journey from the context of his family and post-World War I to the end of his (Dietrich) life at the end of World War II.
Bonhoeffer, a subject or character, is a biographers’ dream — a story with all the elements of great stories. Wrought in a dramatic and intense period of history, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s story unfolds. Because Bonhoeffer and his story are easily any biographer’s dream, some can argue that it wouldn’t be difficult to pen a biography that easily matches. Not so. If anything the ‘larger-than-life’ characters can be the most challenging to chronicle.
What is important? What to include or leave out? How much is enough research? Are there any critical sources left to consult? I suspect these are questions Eric wrestled as he worked on his exquisite account of Bonhoeffer’s life. Metaxas rose to the challenge.
The Work Itself
The result: a balanced view into what shaped one of the most notable theologians and figures of the German church, and the Church at large. In the biography, we get a clear sense of Dietrich’s, and Germany’s, context. From childhood to adulthood, student, pastor, prophet and ultimately martyr, there’s a clear thread through Bonhoeffer’s growth and personal and public struggles.
We’re given clear insight into things that impacted and influenced Bonhoeffer’s choices, and subsequently his role in the German church, Germany, and the world. This work can be described as vivid and thorough. Eric has done the biographer’s role without infringing on the readers’. Like a painter, he completed his painting hung it and now it is for the ‘viewers’ to engage and decide. It is well written. Need I say more?
Thanks Eric for the work you did. This has been one of the best biographies I’ve read.
I rate this work a sterling 5/5 stars.