New Research on Nazism and Christianity: David A. R. Clark

Contemporary Church History Quarterly

Volume 24, Number 4 (December 2018)

New Research on Nazism and Christianity: David A. R. Clark

By David A. R. Clark, University of Toronto

From time to time, the editors of Contemporary Church History Quarterly invite a young scholar to profile his or her work. Here we are pleased to introduce you to David A. R. Clark, a PhD candidate in Theological Studies at the University of Toronto and the Toronto School of Theology.

Broadly, my research examines the intersection between theology, biblical interpretation, and Christian responses to Nazism and the Holocaust. More specifically, my dissertation, “Jewish Scriptures in Nazi Germany: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Old Testament, 1932-1945,” examines Bonhoeffer’s interpretation of the Old Testament during the Nazi period, particularly in the context of antisemitic efforts by the “German Christian” movement to discredit and decanonize these Jewish Scriptures. Centrally, this three-part dissertation considers whether Bonhoeffer’s exegesis presented a theological alternative or protest to the claims of the “German Christian” movement.

Part I of the dissertation builds on historiographical research by Doris Bergen and Susannah Heschel in order to analyze the place of the Old Testament in Nazi Germany. I recently presented on this research area at the Canadian-American Theological Association interdisciplinary conference, “Peace and Violence in Scripture and Theology”: my paper received the conference prize, and is now a forthcoming article in the Canadian-American Theological Review entitled “Antisemitism, Violence, and Invective against the Old Testament: Reinhold Krause’s Sportpalast Speech, 1933.” Part II of the dissertation examines the significance of Bonhoeffer’s christological interpretation of the Old Testament in the political and theological context of the Nazi period, focusing especially on Bonhoeffer’s approach to the Psalms. My article in this research area, “Psalm 74:8 and November 1938: Rereading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Kristallnacht Annotation in Its Interpretive Context,” was recently published in the peer-reviewed Scottish Journal of Theology, an imprint of Cambridge University Press. (For readers without institutional access to the journal, a read-only version can be accessed here.) Part III of the dissertation considers the implications for post-Holocaust Jewish-Christian relations of Bonhoeffer’s Nazi-era exegesis. Within the scope of the dissertation, I can only begin to trace these wide-ranging implications; accordingly, I intend a fuller treatment of this topic as a postdoctoral project.

My research is supported by a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship. Additionally, in 2017, I was a Seminary Fellow with Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics. For more information or to contact me, readers can visit