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Saint Paul and Philosophy

The Consonance of Ancient and Modern Thought

Ed. by Heiden, Gert Jan van der / Kooten, George Henry van / Cimino, Antonio

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August 2017
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Heidegger’s Hermeneutics of Paul

Vedder, Ben


This essay follows Heidegger’s interpretation of Saint Paul. First I present Heidegger’s concern with facticity and the way he sees the need of a philosophy that is connected with and comes forward out of human facticity. This leads to a philosophy that tries to avoid petrified concepts and is a-theistic in principle. Classical philosophy is not able to do justice to human facticity and human historicity. Therefore, the question arises of how a philosophy has to be in order to make human facticity understandable? For Heidegger, the early Christian texts of Saint Paul are an expression of the experience of human facticity. Especially the notion that Christ will come like a thief in the night expresses the unpredictability and the suddenness of the future. This also raises the question of whether an atheistic philosophy can understand religion. For Heidegger, an atheistic philosophy is the only possibility for philosophy, also for a philosophy of religion. The unpredictability of the future is expressed in early Christianity also there where Paul writes about the “as if not.” The “as if not” expresses that humans live not as completely open to the unpredictable future but still have to use concepts that are framed already on forehand. This means that human self-understanding remains always a vulnerable and broken understanding. This applies also to the hermeneutics of religion.

Citation Information

Ben Vedder (2017). Heidegger’s Hermeneutics of Paul. In Gert Jan van der Heiden, George Henry van Kooten, Antonio Cimino (Eds.), Saint Paul and Philosophy: The Consonance of Ancient and Modern Thought (pp. 67–80). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110547467-005

Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110547467

Online ISBN: 9783110547467

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/BostonGet Permission

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