Fortress Press

Dorothee Soelle - Mystic and Rebel: The Biography

Dorothee Soelle - Mystic and Rebel

The Biography

Renate Wind (Author), Nancy Lukens (Translator), Martin H. Rumscheidt (Translator)


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Renate Wind has composed a well-researched and searching biography of Dorothee Soelle (1929–2003), who became a true religious provocateur and one of the most prolific and widely read theologians of the postwar period. 

Born in Germany and educated at the University of Cologne, Soelle turned from literary studies to theology, concentrating on rethinking Christian convictions in light of World War II and the Holocaust. A poet and activist as well as theologian, after her arrival at Union Theological Seminary in 1974, where she assumed the post previously held by Paul Tillich, Soelle became a leading voice for the liberation of women and against militarism, especially the Vietnam War. Her person, work, travels, and the times themselves combined to make her a pioneer and leader in the most exciting developments of the period: political theology, feminist theology, and liberation theology. Among her influential works were Christ the Representative (1967), Suffering (1975), To Work and to Love (1984), Theology for Skeptics (1994), and The Silent Cry (2001).

Wind’s short and insightful biography is informed by extensive interviews with Soelle’s friends and family, especially her husband, Fulbert Steffensky, by use of the family’s archives, and by Wind’s extensive knowledge of contemporary theology, political history, and the contemporary church.

  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Hardcover
  • ISBN 9780800698089
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 8.5
  • Pages 224
  • Course Level Undergraduate
  • Publication Date April 15, 2012


"Dorothee Soelle was one of the most evocative (and provocative!) voices in the Christian theological discourse of our era. Influenced by some of the leading thinkers of the 20th century (Gogarten, Kaesemann, Buber, Heidegger and others), and shocked into action by the post-war revelations about her nation and society, Soelle realized more than most that the 'theology of the cross' is a political theology. Renate Wind's biography, in this excellent translation, is a much-needed and lucid guide to the works of this inspired and fearless Christian witness."
—Douglas John Hall
McGill University

"Through engaging the horrors of war, Christian anti-Semitism, and the depths of other suffering caused by human injustice, Dorothee Soelle (1929-2003) developed a deep theo-poetics as she lived. Wind tells of her very particular struggles and joysof belonging and identity, Christian faith and reason, politics and prayer, the personal and the public. A most welcome biography of this fascinating and pre-eminent political theologian and eco-peace activist."
Marilyn J. Legge
Emmanuel College, Toronto

"This book is a noble wide-ranging work. Dorothee emerges as a mystical Midas-like figure who turned to gold the lives she touched by her insight and resolve."
Daniel Berrigan
University Poet-in-Residence
Fordham University


Review in Church Times