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Dorothee Soelle, anyone?

Anyone read much of Dorothee Soelle? I’ve only come across her recently and am definitely intrigued by what I’ve read about her work so far. For a small shotgun blast of some of her quotes, see Jeremy’s recent post on her hard to find book, Christ the Representative.


  1. Adam Kotsko wrote:

    If only we knew someone who worked for a publisher that often reissued out of print theology books….

    Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 4:58 pm | Permalink
  2. Halden wrote:

    Already working on tracking it down. . .

    Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 5:06 pm | Permalink
  3. tim kumfer wrote:

    Suffering is excellent.

    Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 7:53 pm | Permalink
  4. darren wrote:

    “thinking about god: an introduction to theology” was required reading in my second year if theology, she can be a bit hard to read, but well worth it.

    Thursday, October 29, 2009 at 8:22 pm | Permalink
  5. kim fabricius wrote:

    Here is the body of a post I did for Ben at F&T in July 2006 (it was one in a series of guest posts), “Why I Love Dorothy Soelle”:

    I discovered Soelle in the late seventies when I came across her little Political Theology (1971) in a second-hand bookshop. She did not come well recommended, as my main man Barth had said of her “that that woman should keep silence in church!” Nevertheless, there was something passionate and powerful about this working mother who would not shut up.

    Soelle was certainly a persona non grata in the German theological establishment: never was she offered a chair in her homeland. But then Deutschland’s loss was New York’s gain, as Soelle became a professor at Union Theological Seminary (1975-1987). She thrived in the cultural pluralism and social activism of the Big Apple, which markedly influenced her theology, an eclectic mix of politics and poetry, mysticism and ecumenism. No ivory tower academic, Soelle visited both Vietnam and Nicaragua in the cause of her praxis of peace and justice.

    Sure, Soelle’s fragmentary work lacked academic rigour and failed to engage both with tradition and with the theological heavyweights of her time. And, yes, her obsession with the Holocaust clouded her judgement when it came to contemporary Israeli politics. But the theological scene of the last three decades of the twentieth century would have been the poorer without this godly gadfly, who died in 2003, aged 73, while leading a workshop in Bad Boll. Just hours before, Soelle had read some protest poetry on the war in Iraq, but ended with words she had written to her grandchildren: “Don’t forget the best!”

    Juxtaposing Soelle’s flawed theology with her political instincts and commitments, I am reminded of a conversation between Karl Barth and Martin Niemöller. Barth: “Martin, I’m surprised that you almost always get the point despite the little systematic theology that you’ve done!” Niemöller: “Karl, I’m surprised that you almost always get the point despite the great deal of systematic theology that you’ve done!”

    Agreed: Christ the Representative (SCM, 1967) and Suffering (Fortress, 1975) are both splendid.
    Finally: I would love to have heard Soelle continuing to bellow against the “Christofacism” of the Religious Right during Bush’s second term.

    Friday, October 30, 2009 at 8:07 am | Permalink
  6. John P. wrote:

    I read The Silent Cry: Mysticism and Resistance when I was a freshman in college…As someone who is usually focused on historical theology and how the tradition is retrieved for contemporary conversation, I still found her work in that book to be profound and unsettling. Sure, it is not a rigorous work of theological scholarship: reading it felt more like reading the journal of a deeply spiritual and theologically engaged mind…but her poetic sensibilities help those of us who write in more sterile styles to see the drama at the heart of Christian contemplation.

    Friday, October 30, 2009 at 8:59 am | Permalink
  7. Adam Kotsko wrote:

    I posted a blockquote from Christ the Representative on my blog a while back — it made me happy when Jeremy popped in to say that I had inspired him to read the book.

    Friday, October 30, 2009 at 9:22 am | Permalink
  8. Jeremy wrote:

    Yeah the quote and the fact that it was on your 20th century theology reading list for CTS convinced me it was probably worth the read. That and I enjoyed her Political Theology and Introduction to Theology, but not as much as Christ the Representative. Didn’t you say she was on the syllabus for your feminist theology class next semester?

    Friday, October 30, 2009 at 10:15 am | Permalink
  9. Adam Kotsko wrote:

    I was planning on it, but now I’m being advised that it might be better to go with something different, given my undergrad audience. Still, I will teach her eventually — maybe if I wind up adjuncting a business ethics class somewhere next year, I can use Christ the Representative.

    Friday, October 30, 2009 at 10:31 am | Permalink
  10. CCW wrote:

    I taught through suffering for a senior seminar class in theology and it was by far the most accessible of the books we read. She really does an outstanding job of not allowing the reader to simplistically respond to very complex existential problems.

    Friday, October 30, 2009 at 11:05 am | Permalink
  11. ajmoyse wrote:

    I really enjoy Soelle. Here is a review of sorts I wrote last year on “Suffering”:

    Saturday, October 31, 2009 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

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