Bonhoeffer’s Essay Life Together

The second essay is on a treatise by Bonhoeffer entitled “Life Together.” Your essay should cover the entire book (pp. 17-122).  Late papers will be reduced one full letter grade per day that they are late. The essay should be 5-6 pages (approximately 1600-1900 words) in length, 12 point Times New Roman Font, and double-spaced with one exception: quotations occupying more than two lines should be indented five spaces and single-spaced. Please use a word processing program that is compatible with Microsoft Word when completing this assignment. The analytical essay assignments are intended as exercises in the interpretation of historical documents, rather than as “research papers” in the usual sense of the term.

Assigned readings in the course textbook and readings from secondary sources from the library will help to provide a context for your analysis (both print and electronic resources, including databases, are available) , but none of these works need be extensively summarized or analyzed in the paper.

The object of the assignment is the direct encounter with primary sources, and only these sources should be discussed in great length. Therefore, the best preparation for completing these assignments is reading the documents themselves, more than once. After this task is completed, secondary sources should be consulted to provide deeper understanding of each document’s historical context.

Whenever such sources are used, proper footnote or endnote citation is imperative (consult a style manual such as MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, by Joseph Gibaldi and Walter S. Achtert, for questions about proper form. Citations in APA, Chicago, or Turabian format are also acceptable).

If proper footnote or endnote form is followed, no separate bibliography page is necessary. When citing the primary document itself, simply put in parentheses at the end of the sentence the page number from which you are citing, and include the author’s name and/or an abbreviation of the document title (underlined or in italics) if either is unclear. Your analytical essays should contain three main sections: The first section is the shortest (generally just the opening paragraph), but in many ways is the most important.

In this section you must state clearly and define fully your essay’s thesis, or the main idea for which you are arguing. Your thesis should take into account the theme of the document you are analyzing (but notice that the two are different!), along with the main points that you are trying to make about that theme.

In the second section (approximately one-third of the total length of the essay) summarize the author’s line of thought, focusing on the main points and turning points in the argument. This summary ought not to include every point made in the document, but only the central issues which indicate the structure and meaning of the document.

Finally, in the third section (approximately two-thirds of the essay) offer an extended analysis of the document. This analysis should incorporate a consideration of the following types of questions (not all of them need be addressed — focus on those most applicable to the document that you are analyzing): In what ways does the historical context of the document shed light on its meaning? What influence do biographical details about the author’s life have on your interpretation of the document? (

These first two questions — about historical context and biographical detail — are probably the most important for the purposes of this assignment, so I recommend dealing with them at length). Who is the audience to which the document is addressed, and how does considering this audience help in arriving at a proper understanding of the document? Does recognizing the genre of the document help to arrive at a proper understanding of it? What message did the author intend to convey to his/her audience? What are the author’s key presuppositions? Does the author provide evidence and arguments sufficient to defend adequately his/her thesis?

Why did the author believe it was important to make the argument that he/she makes? In what ways does the author’s argument shed light on future theological controversies that the author was involved in? What was the doctrinal importance of the document at the time it was written? Does this doctrinal importance continue today, or is there some other way in which it has theological significance in the present?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.