The Doubled Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Women, Sexuality, and Nazi Germany

By Diane Reynolds

A study of the great German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer analysing the role of the women in his life and his struggles with his sexuality.

ISBN: 9780227176320


Few twentieth-century theologians have had a bigger impact on theology than Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a man who lived his faith and died at the hands of the Nazis. For Bonhoeffer, the theological was the personal; life and faith were deeply intertwined – and to this day the world is inspired by that witness. Yet the true story of the women in this remarkable man’s life has until now been obscured by a conventional narrative that has distorted their role. Using primary sources written by the women in his life, and even including the first ever photo of alleged “first fiancĂ©e” Elisabeth Zinn, this book “sees” these women fully for the first time. A highly readable but scholarly work of narrative nonfiction, The Doubled Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer places Bonhoeffer’s theology of love and sexuality within the context of his struggles with women, friendship, and the evils of Nazi Germany.

Additional information

Dimensions 229 × 153 mm
Pages 466
Illustrations b&w and colour

Trade Information JPOD

About the Author

Diane Reynolds is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, and Publishers Weekly. She teaches literature and writing and holds an MDiv from Earlham School of Religion.


List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations


Part I – Pleasure and Pain (tob and ra)
Part II – Seeking Ground
Part III – The Incomparable Year
Part IV – Reconfigurations
Part V – Decisions
Part VI – War and Conspiracies
Part VII – Cornered: 1942-43
Part VIII – Alone
Part IX – Eberhard and Maria
Part X – Saints


Appendix I: Maria von Wedemeyer Timeline: 1935-45
Appendix II: Orientation and Celibacy Questions



Endorsements and Reviews

Bonhoeffer finally learned the best theology is a kind of writing that spans systematics, confession, narrative and poetry. The engaging biographical writing of Diane Reynolds presents a neglected side of the Bonhoeffer story: the place of women and the presence of sexuality in the Christian discipleship and political resistance of this German saint. This book will be a required text in my Bonhoeffer graduate seminar.
Scott Holland, Slabaugh Professor of Theology & Culture, Director of Peace Studies at Bethany Theological Seminary

Diane Reynolds’ The Doubled Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer offers a new and important perspective on the life of Bonhoeffer. Her broadening of our understanding of Bonhoeffer’s immense contribution resonates with the changes in attitude toward homosexuality we are witnessing in the world today. Not only was Bonhoeffer a committed pacifist and protector of Jews during the Holocaust, but as Reynolds aptly suggests, Bonhoeffer’s sexual orientation may have heightened his sensitivity to the plight of the marginalised under the Nazi Regime. Readers have much to gain from Reynolds’ insights.
Elaine Pigeon, author of Queer Impressions: Henry James’s Art of Fiction

Reynolds’ writing style as a journalist is engaging … it makes a positive step toward bringing these undervalued women to light.
Katie R. Leggett, in Theological Book Review, Vol 28, No 2