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Dissertation on Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Theological Anthropology


This project explores Dietrich Bonhoeffer's theological anthropology and in particular his concept

of “sin”. The the work is a genealogical study on Bonhoeffer's multiform and partially fragmented

work. The project is based on the premise that an appropriate reconstruction should take the

salvation history framework of Bonhoeffer's theology into account.


Although only very few texts of Bonhoeffer explicitly are concerned with hamartiology, the

doctrine of sin plays an essential role in his work. By the lines of Bonhoeffer's argument, sin is

located in the personal relationship of the individual to God. Because human relationships are

constitutionally depending on their relationships to God, sin also plays an important role in

interpersonal human relations. Central concepts of his anthropology, other than sin and imago dei

(as analogia relationis), are “the tension of centre and limit,” “sorrow,” “revelation” and

“responsibility.” These are taken into account in the reconstruction.


The study investigates this nexus of Bonhoeffer's theological anthropology and thereby illuminates

an underexplored part of Bonhoeffer's dogmatic vision. The study shows that Bonhoeffer's

hamartiology is capable of revive the contemporary discourse on the doctrine of sin.


Research questions:

Which concept of sin underlies Dietrich Bonhoeffer's theology?

Which salvation-history context frames his concept of sin?

How can his concept of sin contribute to contemporary theological discourse?

What is “sin”?

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