Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Meditations on Psalms edited by Edwin Robertson

Summary: A collection of sermons, letters, devotional writing, etc on the psalms with helpful biographical introductions.

When I wrote the review of Martin Marty’s Biography of Letters and Papers from Prison I said I needed to read more Bonhoeffer directly and rely less on the secondary sources. Edwin Robinson has a helpful halfway point between primary and secondary works. He has edited together a book of Bonhoeffer’s reflections on the Psalms. Most of these are directly sermons or devotional writing of one sort or another. Rarely is a section longer than 15 minutes (I listened to this on audio semi-devotionally for about two weeks).

Most of it is fairly traditional Christian material. That is not to dismiss it. But to instead say, Bonhoeffer was first a pastor. No matter what else he did, his vocation was pastor. So this collection is primarily pastoral. There are clearly difficult sections here where Bonheoffer is struggling against the weight of the German state and Hitler’s power and God’s role in it (especially in private letters). But still primarily he was pointing to the power of Christ to transform and using the wide variety of emotions that are contained within the Psalms as prayers and reflections as the church has always used them for thousands of years.

Robinson also has very helpful introductions to each meditation that includes biographical context not only to place what was going on in Bonhoeffer’s life at the time of the writing but also to tell the larger story of Bonhoeffer. This is not a biography, but if you are not that familiar with Bonhoeffer, you will not be lost.

Robinson also has a couple other similar books, Bonhoeffer’s Prison Poems, Christmas Sermons, and an out of print biography of Bonhoeffer.

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