TO THE ENGLISH EDITION
GEFFREY B. KELLY
ONE SHOULD MAKE no mistake about it; in the context of Nazi Germany's bitter opposition to any manner of honoring of the Old Testament, this book, at the time of its publication, constituted an explosive declaration both politically and theologically. It came as no surprise, therefore, that its appearance led to an unpleasant exchange of letters between Bonhoeffer and the Reich Board for the Regulation of Literature, which had seen fit to fine him thirty Reichsmarks for violating the obligation already imposed on him to report his writing activity to the proper authorities. The board added a prohibition against any further publications. Bonhoeffer appealed this punishment on the grounds that he was only doing “scientific exegesis.” He argued, moreover, that the prohibitions against his religious writings were so vague that he was unable to discern whether this particular work should have been submitted to the board or not. The head of this censorship board was not fully taken in by Bonhoeffer's disingenuous protest. Although he repealed the fine, he strengthened the prohibition against any further publishing on Bonhoeffer's part, adding that there were enough dangerous dogmatic and spiritual connections in the book to make it impossible for the board to declare it “scientific,” or to accept Bonhoeffer's reasoning.
This book could hardly qualify as “scientific exegesis.” In fact, Bonhoeffer was fully aware that his writings on themes of the Old Testament, which occupied him during this period, would be part of the church struggle in which theologians debated the value of the Hebrew Bible and the “Old Testament people of God” for the Christian church. This was a conflict aggravated by the anti-Judaism of the German Chris-