the weblog of Alan Knox

Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together

Posted by on Jun 10, 2007 in books, community | 4 comments

Last night, before going to bed, I read a post by Ted over at “the Jesus community” called “a beautiful afternoon“. Ted explained that he spent the day on a college campus reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book Life Together (my copy is subtitled “The Classic Exporation of Faith in Community”). His blog post reminded me that I had a copy of that book, but had never read it. So, last night I decided to start reading it.

After reading only a few pages, I thought about blogging through the book – perhaps a post per chapter. After reading more, I wondered how I could ever summarize without leaving out important information. The books is fairly short and is easy to read. But, as I read, I realized that summarizing this book would be very difficult, because each sentence and each section is important to Bonhoeffer’s exploration of Christian community.

I still have not decided if I am going to blog through this book or not. In fact, I am still processing much of what I have read, and I haven’t even finished the first chapter yet. In many ways, my thinking about community (as expressed recently in the post “Building community…” and applied to our community in the post “The blessings of community…“) parallels much of what Bonhoeffer wrote almost 70 years ago. However, even in the first chapter, he has challenged some of my thinking about community and is stretching my understanding of what it means to be community in Christ. (I’m looking forward to reading more!)

The German title of this book (Gemeinsames Leben) reminded me that I wanted to look at how Luther (and other German tranlsators) tranlsated the Greek word εκκλησία (ekklesia – usually translated “church” in English translations). I noticed when I was taking German that in some verses, εκκλησία is translated with “kirche” (“church”), while in other verses it is translated by the German word “gemeinde” (“community”?).

Anyway, if you have read Life Together, please share what you think about this book. Would you recommend others read it? Do you have any concerns?


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  1. 6-11-2007

    Our men’s grouup at Church will be choosing a new book to read/discuss. Would you recomend this book?

  2. 6-11-2007


    I thouroughly enjoyed the first chapter. The second chapter has been completely different, and not as good, in my opinion. That’s all I’ve read so far.

    I would recommend Church Without Walls by Jim Peterson. I mentioned it briefly in this post.


  3. 6-13-2007


    “Life Together” is a wonderful summary of much of Bonhoeffer’s attempts to create a Christian community amongst his seminary students. I especially liked his perspective that we don’t directly relate to each other, but do so through Christ.

    Bonhoeffer’s “Cost of Discipleship” now re-released by Fortress as simply “Discipleship” would be a good book for a men’s group.


  4. 6-16-2007


    Thanks for explaining both Life Together and The Cost of Discipleship. I hope to read Discipleship soon.