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Bonhoeffer, the Psalter, and Pastoral Identity

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Published Date: 20 Nov 2013

Presentation Date: 20 Nov 2013

File: Download File "Bonhoeffer_The Psalter and Pastoral Identity"

Event: Public Lecture

While Jesus Christ himself used Psalm 110 more than any other, making it his favourite psalm, this honour for Bonhoeffer goes to Psalm 119. He writes to a correspondent in England, asking for a copy of a recent set of meditations on Psalm 119, drafts a significant meditation on its contents himself in the period of 1939-1940, and quoted from it more than from any other portion of Scripture in his later works. While in England pastoring a German congregation in London, he learnt to value the use of the Psalter in liturgical settings, an essential part of traditional Anglican worship but something not so common in Lutheran churches. Perhaps more intriguing than an appreciation of their liturgical usefulness is the fact that Bonhoeffer gravitated towards this particular psalm as a focus for his reflections on Christian life and engagement with society. Bonhoeffer had been repeatedly told during his theological studies that it was the most boring of the psalms. It is certainly the longest with frequent repetition of themes and tropes. It is the intent of this paper to explore not merely the content of the psalm but to sketch an outline of its place in Bonhoeffer’s own pastoral identity. From this vantage point, we can witness something important about the ministry priorities of Bonhoeffer and resources for obedience today.

 

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