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Duelling Bonhoeffers

If you want to know more about the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German pastor, theologian, and Nazi resister, you are in luck. Your choices range from Eberhard Bethge's classic biography, newly revised by Victoria Barnett and weighing in at 1,048 pages (Fortress, 2000), to half a dozen biographies of two hundred pages or less, in addition to three documentaries, three plays, two "biographical novels," an opera, and a feature film (Bonhoeffer: Agent of Grace, 1999). As Stephen R. Haynes…
David Timmer
October 1, 2011
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Misquoting Jesus

DECEMBER 2008: REVIEW Misquoting Jesus by David Timmer The title of this book is misleadingly provocative, conjuring up images of ecclesiastical skullduggery รก la Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. But Ehrman, who in fact wrote one of the better books debunking Brown, actually has a much more modest and conventional aim in this book: to introduce the textual criticism of the New Testament--that is, the scholarly endeavor to determine the original text of the New Testament writings. This involves…
David Timmer
December 16, 2008
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Conceiving the Christian College

In Conceiving the Christian College, Wheaton College president Duane Litfin offers a readable and substantive apologia pro collegio suo, while helpfully illuminating broader issues facing religiously-affiliated institutions of higher education. Litfin begins by distinguishing between two models for religiously-affiliated colleges. Those that operate according to an "umbrella" model accept a diversity of religious commitments under a "Christian canopy"; they attempt to maintain a "critical mass" of faculty and administrators who identify with the Christian tradition; and they put particular emphasis…
David Timmer
November 16, 2006
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A Cringe and a Challenge

In yet another cringe-inducing moment for Christianity, a sports radio host here in central Iowa opined on the air that a Jewish baseball player conflicted about playing on Yom Kippur could resolve his problem by converting to Christianity. Steve Deace's suggestion, made on station KXNO (AM-1460), was directed at Los Angeles Dodger slugger Shawn Green. Because his team was locked in a tight pennant race with San Francisco and was scheduled to play the Giants on the holiest day in…
David Timmer
October 16, 2004
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Laughter in the Precincts of Grace

British literary critic James Wood is hot right now. Formerly the chief critic for the London Guardian, Wood now lives in America and is a senior editor for The New Republic. He's about to publish a new book, The Irresponsible Self: Humor and the Novel (forthcoming from Farrar Straus & Giroux). An extract from the book's introduction has been published as an essay in the book section of The Guardian (April 24). In the essay, "Laughing Matters," Wood sets forth…
David Timmer
May 16, 2004
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Politically Correct Bonhoeffer

Of the making of books (and films and recordings) by and about Dietrich Bonhoeffer there is no end, apparently. The Lutheran pastor, theologian and political resister who died at the hands of the Nazis in the closing weeks of the Second World War has seldom been out of the theological limelight since the posthumous publication of his Letters and Papers from Prison in the early 1950's. His close friend, biographer and literary executor, Eberhard Bethge, is now deceased, but a…
David Timmer
November 16, 2003