Heidegger and Theology Author(s): Hans Jonas Source: The Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 18, No. 2 (Dec., 1964), pp.

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of oBJEGTiFiGATiON, and with it that of reversing or toWestern it, was bequeathed theology from its partially unmaking It in the mating of the Biblical word with the Greek logos. origin and even slightly older. is thus as old as Christian theology itself, Which and which parentage would be dominant was demonstrated in the very first offspring A telling symbol of what of the two in Philo Judaeus. to the Biblical word is through him and his successors happened he evolves from an unwittingly supplied by an allegory which of the name "Israel." (Heidegger was not the first to etymology side of the double in the recessive encounter

JL he problem

by masterful etymologizing.) underpin philosophical propositions The name is taken to mean "He who sees God," and Jacob's acquir from progress ing this name is said to represent the God-seeker's the stage of hearing to that of seeing, made possible by the The allegory falls into of ears into eyes. miraculous conversion the general pattern of Philo's views on "knowing God." These relation to genuine of sight, when beholding. extended into the religious sphere, determines also the highest and most authentic relation to God?and with it also to the word of God.1 To this Philo indeed assigns a nature which makes vision, supposition This eminence
* address This delivered paper was at the Second Consultation and form slightly abridged on Hermeneutics, devoted in Contemporary Speaking in University, April 9-11, as the opening to the Problem con

rest on the Platonic is intuition, being

that the most

of Non-Objectifying Thinking School vened by the Graduate 1 References of to Philo

of Drew Judaeus

Theology, 1964.


are according to volume and margin which in ten volumes, edition, Library text of Philonis Greek Alexandrini the standard Opera quae super reproduces and Paul Wendland Cohn (Berlin, sunt, ed. by Leopold 1896-1930). . . . the eyes is the fairest of all the senses with "Seeing with butjseeing the ruling of the soul excels all other faculties: this is the insight principle The Loeb Classical (phronesis), science the of vision all that of the mind. in nature He but exists not only to has who succeeded to behold also the Father and


i.e., intellectual contemplation, and not audition,



criterion. the voice"
Creator God of

to the phrase in Exodus, Referring 20: 18), he comments: (Exodus,
the all, has is nothing; soul may attained to the for this summit has stage

"All the people saw "Highly significant,


and whoever pray


for higher of blessedness, than Him thus with the intend and last" (De Abrahamo,

ing eye of his

to persist

VI 57 f. ).
order ontological approach

Note how God is here included as the highest being in the rank
even as a culmination, is precisely the inclusion, set by this visual the terms Under approach. a definite is "the being that God one" (6 wv) assumes claim the equally but clash with that emphasized

of all being; and this to the correlate the statement cannot all

which meaning He transcends

This determination. of God's ontological meaning manifest in Philo's him becomes "the most "being" calling perfect good" IV 180). in De Confusione Platoni (xEXetoTaxov ?ya^?v, Linguarum, e.g., of the good is the highest itself") (or "the good cally understood, category as into a representation of the beingness of all beings hypostasized being such. to specific essence" (for essence "beyond being), Although pertains or the form of forms?and as such it is yet the essence of all essence, the an eros which terminal of the its goal: in it reaches object intuiting out from the structure of being ontological principle, separated in metaphysical it is by its very nature the correlate of vision, to be found but in pure Now when Philo Setopt'a and nowhere theory. to be "the most declares his God the him and thus makes perfect good" of the hierarchy of all being, culmination in line with the original he stays impersonal as a whole Greek does "visual" that mean and with determined the ontology approach to God, for man's for the relation i.e., is the end-good, the final goal of a desire turns into a being; and the mode of having the statement But what by it. life of pietyP The

perfect good a having that venture may bonum (e.g., appetition, presence:

of piety must be vision, which of the object's the purest mode con Philo grants presence. Accordingly, ceives the way of piety, as a progress the way toward of per being God, a decisive in which the passage from hearing to seeing marks fection, point. the handmaid's the "merely is Ishmael, son, Typologically, type, hearing" as the contrasted with the true-born, et (Cf. De Fuga Israel, type. seeing V 208.) And the elevation of Jacob to the himself of lnventione, grade Israel is a change-over from the condition to that of seeing: of hearing depend is the name for learning and progressing, for the powers that i.e., on hearing; is the name but Israel for perfection, for it means what could be more in the realm of the truth than 'seeing God'?and perfect to see the truly existent one?" cf. also De Migratione III 82; (De Ebrietate, "Jacob the ears conversion of Jacob of (the him

by Augustine), as the potential ultimate i.e., and then the most valid relation

for possession, for is .beholding. We as the summum is defined that wherever God as final object then he is also understood of an satisfaction of a desire for a

Abrahami, ears into

IV 47 ff.) The transition takes place through breath converts the Logos the eyes: "By a divine "ascetic" who wrestles with the angel) into eyes, thereby into a new type called the seeing one" Israel, (De Somniis,

transforming i, V 129).



for human voice is to be heard, but God's voice is in truth to be seen. WhyP Because but that which God speaks is not words the eye discriminates better than the ear" (De Dec? which works, are what God finished realities, logo, VII, 47) .2 "Works," what he, either by his being or by his acting, puts "speaks," i.e., our eyes. And the finished or perfected is objectively pre can only be looked at; it presents sent and itself in its eidos. But the word of God is primarily call and understood, Biblically are not looked at but heard?and and commands command, obeyed or disobeyed. that this is not the antithesis Now it is obvious before Philo has in mind.

'merely" heard

The logos he contrasts with the seen one as is the apophantic the imperative) (not logos which
i.e., on "visibles" in the widest sense, and


for a seeing to fulfill and redeem its symbolic intention. Such logos about a state of things, which substitutes for authentic presence by meaningful is received by a pro signs, visional "mere hearing" which by its own sense strains toward its own overcoming in the seeing of the signified content. A more thus calls indeed perfect, archetypal logos, exempt from the human duality of sign and thing and therefore not bound to the forms of speech, would not require the mediation of hearing but is immediately beheld by as the truth of things. the mind In other words, the antithesis the argued by Philo lies as a whole within is to say it is no real antithesis but a differ to the ideal of immediate, intuitive presence of the object. It is with a view to this ideal that the "hearing" as its deputizing, here opposed to "seeing" is conceived, namely, and not as something mode, authentic, provisional basically other of seeing and hearing realm of "seeing"?that ence of degree relative to seeing here the turn from hearing seeing. Accordingly, ismerely a progress from a limited to an adequate knowl envisaged
teaches that, "Scripture of its criterion the sense are seen the words of God of in the manner (statements, hearing, logoi) . . .' saw the voice. for it says 'all the people divided For the speech light; . . . but into noun and verb and all the members of the sentence is audible . . . the voice of God which is beheld is visible. by the eye of the soul statements sense of sight Therefore God's have for their criterion. the soul's The divine a pure communication is of pure, unmixed which soul Logos of sight." beholds byacuteness the Abrahami, Migratione voice of mortal creatures has for 2 Cf. De IV 47 ff.





the same project of knowledge. But edge of the same and within we have the right to take Philo's parable of perfection through the of ears into eyes on our part as a parable for that turn conversion to seeing which he himself and after him Christian from hearing to speak of Gnosticism) in their primary underwent (not theology turn from the original hearing of the call of constitution?the will God to the theoretical for vision the living, non-worldly of the supernatural, In this sense the "conversion of divine truths. a symbol of the first rank. ears into eyes" can be considered Taking a cue from Philo we may ask: If the adoption of the was a misfortune from Greek philosophy for "seeing" approach or overcoming does the repudiation of that approach theology, a conceptual means in a contemporary for philosophy provide to reform itself, to become more theology adequate Can it thus lead to a new alliance between theology one with Aristotelianism ophy after, e.g., the medieval downP The question assumes that some of the nature of reality the elucidation of the nature of thinking about reality sirable and even necessary for theology. to its task? and philos has broken

as the logos since theology, granted, the discursive, definition in some sense scientific, elucidation of the contents of faith (not, of course, of the internal structure of faith, which would be phenomenology) and thus, for one thing, comes
under the rules and norms of elucidation and discourse as such;

use of philosophy, i.e., of secular thought, and by in secular thought, is de This assumption must be is by about things divine,

of faith comprise the dealings of God with the world and with man, the elucidation of the mundane and human side of this polarity must be informed by a knowledge of what world and man are, and philosophy is supposed to provide such knowledge. It would then follow that that philosophy is most to theology which is most i.e., adequate adequate to being, is most nearly true?by which the criteria of philosophy itself, But since for a decision i.e., by the the criteria of secular reason. on this the theologians cannot wait for the consensus of philos nor even necessarily trust its authority, ophers, they may be guided in their choice by the appeal of affinity, the lessons of past expe rience with pline, philosophical and by appraising liaisons, the present needs of their disci which is most helpful to the philosophy

and since the contents

its own

211 to its own trust,
any or

of theology's

task, or least dangerous
least seductive, least



On all of these considerations, but as little as possible by fashion. the theologian would do well to exercise a great deal of these counts in the face of tempting similarity: caution and mistrust. Especially is the otherness of philos what theology needs in this relationship On this I need not elaborate before a not its similarity. ophy, of relationship the experiment audience. However, theological and the one choice closed is abstention. itself is inescapable, Thus, in the shown by theology to contemporary the openness thought
present comed. experiment?as it was shown at all times?is to be wel

then, on the count of affinity, the appeal of Heidegger's can to the Christian at least of his language, theologian thought, the philo not be denied. He brings to the fore precisely what of call moment tradition had ignored or withheld?the sophical First
over against that of form, of mission over against presence, of

over against object, being grasped over against surveying, of event even the humility of reception of response over against concept, over against the pride of autonomous the reason, and generally At of the subject. stance of piety over against the self-assertion side of "hearing" cue, the suppressed last, to resume the Philonic a hearing after the long ascendency of "seeing" and the spell gets and Christian it cast upon of objectification which thought; turn its eyes, no longer blinded by the metaphysical thought may into ears and so to vision, to this quarter to have them reconverted
hear, and perhaps make heard, its own message anew.

on the prima facie evidence it hears there familiar must that evangelical be granted theology sounds and can feel more at home with this than with some other or traditional But isn't it perhaps varieties of modern thought. Or so it seems to some. And at home there ? Are the familiar sounds legitimate there ? Is theology perhaps lured by them onto alien ground made all the more dangerous by the mysterious the inspirational tone, masking, so much more difficult to discern than its paganism which make too much secular philosophies? that of straightforward, identifiably Let us ask what the prima facie affinity here really means. is holds that "thinking" To take a well-known example, Heidegger

a "thanking" (anf?nglich) "secondary," and science. for the favor of being. or "essential" thinking, derivative (abk?nftig) Whereas the language He asserts he




is that of the language of essential discourse, thinking has the objectifying The Biblical or generally religious quality of thanksgiving. ring on of these statements is unmistakable. But does this consonance from the philosopher's arise part independent philosophical or was the Biblical model itself a factor in the reflection? reflection, I think, there can be no doubt that the latter is the case. We are fact and always known simply in the presence of the well-known in Heidegger's that there is much secularized Christianity thought. This was evident from the beginning, from Sein und Zeit on; and the strenuous assertion and by notwithstanding by Heidegger as guilt, others on his behalf that such concepts care, anxiety, call of authenticity, (e.g.,

thinking of the last two

this of "primal" to the opposes of metaphysics

resolution, conscience, Verfallenheit, authenticity-un no ontic have a purely ontological with meaning are meant and least of all connotation, psychological)
the reasonable observer, without entering into the ques

tion of subjective honesty, will not let such disclaimers keep him to from giving tradition its due. then acknowledge, He will that Heidegger's secular thinking does embody elements repeat, But does that justify saying that there is from Christian thought.
an autonomous parallel between the two? a correspondence or cor

to the aid and comfort to that of faith? In the case of Moses other, the side of knowledge case before Philo?there and Plato?the could have been an inde relation? that therefore
pendent and therefore relevant correlation, or complementation, or

the one

can offer

mutual but in the case of dependence with which confirmation; we deal here the situation is logically different, and the invocation even falsifying. of concordance is spurious, invocation Such to be a temptation for some theologians. For theology too, not to be outdone, now wishes to be "primal" thinking, though by its very nature, being derivative from a revelation, it ought not even to entertain such a wish. But since Heidegger, too, speaks seems
of revelation, viz., of the self-unveiling of being, these two?revela

tion-dependent even identical.


"primal" thinking?seem Does not, as one theologian

to be (Heinrich

compatible, Ott) argues



in support of such concordance, Anselm of Canterbury pray as follows: "Teach me to seek thee and show thyself to me as I seek; for I am not able to seek thee unless thou teachest, nor to find thee unless thou showest (Proslogion, thyself" Chap. I) ? Does not relation to God as here described by Anselm precisely theology's correspond Is not here as response to thinking's relation to being as seen by Heidegger? the "fate-laden" character of thinking, (geschicklich) of being that is given to it to think, to the unveiling

terms of theological stated in the analogous thinking? adequately a special and applied case as it were of what has now philo to be the general nature of "essential been shown sophically to which To speak thus is the temptation indicated, thought"? some theologians succumb.3 But isn't this putting things upside Shouldn't one say at best that thinking's down? relation to being as seen by Heidegger to theology's relation to God? corresponds of the latter could not be transposed And that characteristics into terms better than was done in Hei i.e., unbelieving philosophical,
degger's doctrine of the fate-laden character of thinking ... re

even this would of being? Whether be a sponse unveiling true statement remains to be seen. But the turning around of the as such is by no means amatter of indifference (as one relationship
might say "correspondence is correspondence from whatever end

. . .

I start"), for it reverses the whole locus of the standard of ade what has to be measured For once, up to by what. quacy?of is not, as so often, theology's this point, the situation trying to from the domain of philosophy and in the process appropriate from the being appropriated by it, but philosophy's appropriating into its debt?whatever domain of theology and coming that may concern and need not This is the philosopher's do to philosophy. But neither must he lose sight of the true the theologian. of things. I am sorry, as a mere child of the interdependence to have to say this to theologians: instead of theology's world, or corroboration validation for itself in what has been finding trouble
3 volume p. 47. source. cussion Cf. and Theology The Later Heidegger in Theology, (New Frontiers and John B. Cobb I), ed. by James M. Robinson 1963), (New York, account from of Ott's above The is taken this argument given an excellent This record of the German-American dis volume, on the subject will as Robinson-Cobb. henceforth be quoted

214 borrowed



from itself, the real case is that philosophy must examine from theology. the philosophical borrowing validity of Heidegger's its result may consid This is not our present task, and although the erably lessen the theoretical prestige of those elements which to reappropriate, it may still leave them the wishes theologian usefulness under articulation of the conceptual treatment. But philosophical his own original he re-imports the they have received must ask, theologian what have you product: which

before done with my little ones? in what company did you bring them children? can I take them back up? are they still my uncorrupted I take them, will I take with them? from you? and what, Now, if "Can I take them back from you?" is the crucial question though a question and strictly for the Christian of decision, theologian,
not for me to answer, the other questions, especially the last:

if you decide to take them, will you have to take with "What, them?" is a question of fact and logical necessity, and can be con who has a knowledge, sidered and answered by the philosopher And here I may albeit a merely one, of both sides. objective to at least one modest virtue of objectifying point provisionally and thus, speech, viz., that it will bring to light incompatibilities theology to speak of heresy. came to adopt the Judaeo Now, if we first ask how Heidegger in the first place, the vocabulary of guilt and Christian vocabulary e.g., enable
conscience and call and voice and hearing and response and

we could and thanksgiving, mission and shepherd and revelation the claim?if of course not take seriously it it were made?that was simply suggested by the phenomena themselves and represents No mere analysis will the result of their unprejudiced analysis. with ever yield those concepts and that language (and we shall deal later account of thinking hails the fact that not even Heidegger's from an "analysis" of thinking as it is so often called in the Amer At any rate the Biblical is no mere ican discussion). ring

demands of linguistic by the independent compelled and at best counting in favor of the ancient the subject matter in any case not be Hei But this answer would predecessor. own and would not fit in with his very conception of degger's as In accord with the fate-laden character of thinking thinking. coincidence the self-un veiling history of being itself, he might rather say that



the Christian of being laid down in it, speech, and the disclosure our are via our tradition an integral part of the fate to which must respond, and that therefore the language is genuine thinking as his thinking to the task as conditioned response by history. Some such answer probably comes close to the truth of the matter, even though the role of free choice; and to some it underplays to extent philosophy has gained from this opening of its universe features which it has all too long ignored. But the theologian has no cause to rejoice in this endorsement of his cherished heirlooms As I understand it?and of course it is by an influential thinker. somewhat awkward for me to act as spokesman for or defender of should resist the the cause of Christian theology?the theologian as a matter of historic to treat his message fate, and thus attempt as part of a comprehensive and thus as one element becoming, in a tradition, and as itself something among others divisible, in part and left in part, ready for the pickings of the one can take half of his story ask whether He must without the whole?as he will in time have to ask falsifying can be assimilated in Heidegger's conversely whether philosophy But most of all he must resist part without taking in the whole. And herewith I come to Heidegger's the idea of fate itself. assimilable unbeliever.

the idea of fate.4 It looms large in Hei and in his idea of thinking. lot is thinking, degger's Thinking's cast by being. to thought, and what it speaks is speaks Being lot. But what, how, and when it speaks is decreed by thought's the history of being and is this history as the history of its own or concealing. And as this is not at the thinker's com unveiling as genitivus is at mand, thinking about being?which subjectivus the same time also the thinking of being its self itself, namely a fate-like character clearing taking place inman?has (or, is "fate laden" : geschicklich). The fateful nature of thought is its depen is sent to it, and the sending dence upon what issues from the
4 common brute term. Heidegger's Schicksal: to rescue which force, term is Geschick to the more in preference form from the root word schicken, by this derivative or the element of "sending" from that of mere "decree" common in the average of the more predominates usage German

Let us

start with

he wishes


(a an the

on this the secular philosopher Now of being. history will comment that thinking redundant is precisely expression) effort not to be at the mercy of fate, an effort to save or achieve

in the face of the pres freedom of insight (once called "reason") sure of being and of our own condition?an effort enjoying the not quite chance of at least partial success. himself, Heidegger at times seems to appeal to precisely this aspect of the consistent, and self-responsibility of thought?as he when power, nobility, must to holds that genuine arise in a new openness philosophy an openness we can only (like that of the pre-Socratics!), being achieve as we free ourselves from the distorting conceptualizations imposed dictions committed must raise on our vision count contra Although by our fateful history.5 in the shelter of primal those thinking, to the uncomfortable exactions of objective thought of questions. Is this "freeing our here a number for little

in Heidegger's is taking place, e.g., selves," which presumably an action that itself is free from fate and not itself own thought, abolished in the "self Is fate overcome, transcended, of fate? of past fate? from the impositions Or is it itself a gift of freeing"
fate?and then to our chosen generation, because the time was

from all generations fulfilled? because the chances withheld since to us? be the fall from pristine Greek grace are fatefully granted cause emerging at last from the long forgetfulness of being decreed of being, which is its own fate, we are the self-concealing again by event again not of being only its unveiling?an to being as much as to us? The latest turn in but also happening case we?we of all people!?would In this be in a state its fate? advent in the emergence of primal thinking ushers of grace, whose Or is this possibility in a new apostolic age. of laying hold of the to every generation and tiny corner of it?open in each, with changing success? and the element of fate attempted the historical situation is?and is only how helpful or hindering of course the incalculable chance of there arising a great thinker: on instead of tackling the task as best one things futile to meditate no better off than other In that view we are in principle can? truth?some ages nor worse:
5 Cf. Cobb's

at last favored with

it is up to us as it was
comments in Robinson-Cobb,

up to them.

And we





hardly the proper judges as to whether we have succeeded better. I notice I have slipped into a language which knows of no history of being but only of a history of finite human attempts to get at being,
viz., at knowledge imperfect. of being?a However, revocable, knowledge so far I must always not provisional, move outside

frame of reference if I am to stay in discourse the Heideggerian with its theological devotees. If, then, it is to be fate, are we?as a last variety?to as working out its own destiny, deify history as its organs?if not in the Hegelian sense, using human minds our present state of grace would where the phase of the equal Absolute then by some other logic or illogic of deter Spirit, mination? for the philosopher. All these are questions But as regards the theologian?or should I rather say the believer?may I for a on his behalf? it seems to me moment Then that the speak and therefore the Christian Christian, theologian, must reject any to the status of his own such idea of fate and history as extending is said to be saved from the mandate. For one thing the Christian in the early books. So I remember of fate. power reading saved him was, by the under Second and more that which so, standing of faith as distinct from not an event of the world and ever to become destined fate or all dicta of fate and invalidating of the world, the understanding not an event of fate, nor thus part of fate itself, but an event

the words which fate overruling Nor including the words of self-unveiling being. speaks to man, I should itself a mere unveiling: is it, thirdly, the crucifixion, Must I say say, was not in the first place an event of language. It seems so. For I read: this to Christian "[The theologians?
as answer to the word of being, are in a fate-like manner



on the part of being. It is . . . fate that they speak as . . . Our answer to the This is true of theology as well. do. they . . . Existence is linguistic. call of revelation itself (is) essentially . . . The of our faith . . . is our essential answer linguistic. speech the inadequate the call, itself expression speechless,

to the call of God's revelation, not merely of our essential And since answer."6
6 der Weg


und Sein. Ott, Denken der Theologie 1959), (Z?rich,

Der p. 190

Weg f.




gains speech only in our answer, there ensues the

parallel: "Just as

con historic fate-laden being so Christian is . . . the historic, fate ceptualization, just language laden medium in which God's word speaks to us. . . . Existence is itself essentially and faith takes place within our lan linguistic is our answer to God" guage, which (Robinson-Cobb, p. 55). and quite consistently, is the Bible itself taken as one Accordingly, "the Biblical answer to the word linguistic record of such answer, of God" (ibid., p. 54). But I find more than human answer in the Bible, taken by its own claim. I hear questions to man, such as these: where are you?" (Genesis 3:9) ; "Cain, where is "Adam, : this is not the voice of Abel your brother?" (Genesis 4:9) being; and "He has told you, O man, what is good and what the Lord requires of you: what else but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" This requires (Micah 6:8).
more than a linguistic answer.







as to Heidegger's of unveiling, being, it is an occurrence a fate-laden happening so was the F?hrer and the upon thought: call of German an unveiling of something destiny under him: a call of being all right, fate-laden in every sense: neither indeed, then nor now did Heidegger's thought provide a norm by which to decide how to answer such calls?linguistically or otherwise: no norm except depth, resolution, and the sheer force of being that ever suspicious of this world, But to the believer, issues the call. the abyss, and force, the prince of this world. may mean depth As if the devil were not part of the voice of being! Heidegger's own answer is, to the shame of philosophy, on record and, I hope, But not fact (whose apart from this personal is immense), the theologian however, significance, philosophical if he keeps faith with himself, cannot, accept any system of his forgotten.7 quite
7 degger. following students The record is collected zu in: Guido und Schneeberger, Denken. Nachlese (Bern, 1962). zu Hei The to the as an



of Freiburg "Not theorems and 'ideas' example. F?hrer himself and alone is the present ever deeper law. to know: Learn that demands p. 135 f.) decision, and every action,

from quotation of the University

seinem Leben a proclamation

of your The being. its and future German reality on each and every from now thing Heil Hitler!" (op. cit., responsibility. and

by Heidegger in November, the rules be

(then Rector) serves 1933,



as a frame to integrate his torical fate or reason or eschatology or Comte 's or Marx's or Spengler 's or it Hegel's trust into?be the simple reason that it is about "this world," Heidegger's?for b xo<T{jio? and its truth at best the truth of this world : and of outo?, the Christian has learned that it certainly does have its this world law (be it reason or fate) and its being and its power and its voice, or voices rather, as the plural "the archons of this world" suggests; and the more so and so he can indeed learn from those doctrines, nature of the the truer they are, what he has to contend with?the and powers?and principalities insofar as he too is a creature what he himself and citizen is subject to, But of this world.

No. of his subject matter? adopt their vista for the understanding It must be clearly and This must be the radically other to it. that the "being" of Heidegger understood is, unambiguously inside the bracket with which ivith the "ontological difference," The theology must bracket in the totality of the created world. is the quintessence of this fate Heidegger whose being ponders should guard the it is saeculum. this, theology world, Against voice comes not out of of its God, whose radical transcendence of being from without. being but breaks into the kingdom friends?don't friends, my Christian you see My theological are dealing with? Don't sense, if not see, the you you of Heidegger's character pagan thought? Rightly profoundly insofar as it is philosophy, pagan, though not every philosophy must be so devoid of objective norms ; but more pagan than others of its, also, from your point of view, not in spite but because of call and self-revealing and even of the shepherd. speaking what Consider up what these two statements is irreconcilable. where objectification helps to show "The world is God's handiwork"; However and therefore not objectifying,

"being reveals itself." even the most to be taken literally the first statement may be?in sense it most the (equally excludes de-mythologized certainly the Being of the beings statement that Being?i.e., objectifying) ?reveals

in experience, in the encounter of itself, by its initiative, is im with beings i.e., that revelation (human) beings (things); to its nature; manent in the world, that the nay, belongs i.e., is the divine. world do the gods appear again Quite consistently But where the gods are, God cannot in Heidegger's philosophy.

be. should That theology it could learn from whom


admit this foe?no mean foe, and one so much about the gulf that separates amazes me. and faith?into its inner sanctum, secular thinking to express myself it passes my understanding. Or, reverently: the essential In order to show that I have not overstated immanentism of Heidegger's let us have one brief look thought, at his own exposition of the groundwork for a natural theology. on Humanism to those loci It occurs in his Letter and belongs can prove that Heidegger is from which the friends of religion not of an atheist. have heard of the return Surely he is not?we to in his world-view. the gods But then the real opposite the Christian and Jewish view is not atheism, which contemplates a neutral world and thus does not pre-empt divinity for what is not

This is what Hei but paganism which deifies the world. from the truth of being can the essence of the degger says: "Only holy be thought. Only from the essence of the holy is the essence of deity to be thought. Only in the light of the essence of deity can that be thought and said which the word 'God' should divine,
name." "... the holy, which as yet is but the space for the

the dimension of deity, which itself in turn only provides . . ."8 Now this is in the for the gods and the God. absolutely or metaphysical not in its tradition, though surely philosophical of the Socrates' One need only remember discussion language. its relation to the gods in the Euthyphro. The ascent of holy and thought from being to God : the analysis of being yielding the holy to the structure and the divine, the holy and the divine belonging of reality as such, the divine affording the ontological dimension need not elaborate. for gods and God to exist or not to exist?I of a natural If this is not a draft for the ontological procedure remote ancestors are Plato and Aristotle, I do not as an old friend of metaphysics, have no quarrel I, the theologian? with that. But shouldn't let us now rhetorical Lest this remain a merely question, in ameeting of Heideggerian examine what really happens thought theology, whose know what is.
8 Brief also,


Martin den f. 85

?ber p.

von Piatons Lehre Heidegger, "Humanismus" 1947), (Bern,

der p.

Wahrheit. 102 (italics

Mit added).

einem Cf.

I take a statement by Ott. and theology. As a point of departure to the way we have under "The being of God signifies, according Ent stood 'being' thus far, an event of unveiling (un-hiding: : that God unveils himself to thinking as He who He is; bergung) that He himself befalls thought as a fate and imposes himself on it as subject-to-be-thought" We ask: is it (Ott, op. cit., p. 148). If the former, which is Hei "being" that unveils itself, or beings? is a being stance, then God, who (again Heidegger's degger's in Biblical terms, he stance), does not "unveil himself" (though, "reveal" himself), itself through him, and but Being unveils may his imperious self-revealing may even stand in the way of the un so to speak, block the view of being. may, veiling of Being?he on where you take your stand. I must Or vice versa, depending now The to go with me on a stretch of rigorous dialectics. from thinking emerges following through Heidegger's posi tion with a view to the subject matter of theology. are occasions of being; for the experiencing God is Beings an occasion a being: when thus God, is for the encountered, enjoin you

of being. in beings as amaze Being is experienced experiencing ment at their being that they are i.e., amazement (existing), at all: thus the experience at his of being in God is amazement at something Amazement existing at all. being at all is to think or its contingency: with its being its not-being thus the expe of being in the encounter with God is the thinking of the and the contingency of God.9 Since being is not the not-being of this or that being, but qua being-itself transcends all being the thinking of being in any particular particular being, being is a thinking away from that particular being?toward being as such thus the primal thinking of God is and toward all other beings: a thinking away from God or a thinking beyond God. Finally, riencing
in a different form by James Robinson as of beings to numinous being corresponds that their being is God's creation then [as suggested by Ott], awareness seem to be latent of God would in awareness of a being's being. . . . confusion as himself a being When this correlation is applied to God awareness If awe-inspired of a being's to emerges. being corresponds a being as a creature, a creature? is then God awe at a If such sensing reverence is ultimately for a being's as does God, being Creator, being's a being, a Creator?" have Robinson-Cobb, p. 42. This follows: awareness "If has been made point at the amazement 9

since a thing, each thing, sides of the ontic "square"


or assembling is a meeting of the four the divine, the (Geviert), earth, heaven, a complete each thing properly encountered mortal, provides more revelation of the structure of being in all its dimensions?a one than God who presumably represents only the divine. complete An evangelical can welcome "In Heidegger's this thus: theologian of the 'thing' the fatal idea of a closed immanence is interpretation no longer felt: the real, concrete world is structurally opened
towards possible transcendence. . . . The relation to the 'divine


as the counterpart to the essential structure

(vis-?-vis: Gegen?ber) of the 'thing' as such"

This, it is true, (as the author is careful an a priori revealedness of the living God: imply of "the divine" in all things makes the revelation of revealedness a living God a redundancy. At this point I turn rather to Zen where I find the doctrine of the revelatory and saving function of I sense each and every thing at first hand and on native ground. p. 224). a certain thing. However that may be, the whole preceding argument was based on the supposition as strictly onto that "Being" is understood as something itself being (which, among logical and not ontic, not involve an infinite regress). In other words, other things, would I have abided by the injunction that being not be hypostasized, Under this dispensation while God, of course, must be a being. the being of Heidegger's there cannot obtain an analogy between and the God of Christian but instead there philosophy theology of the ontological must follow all the consequences difference the I have just developed. which However, Ott, apparently with does precisely claim the analogy which of Heidegger, the backing "As philosophical is difference" "ontological precludes: thinking so faith's thinking related to being, when being speaks to thinking, is related to God, when God is revealed in his word." (Robinson own succinct formulation Cobb, p. 43) Or, in Heidegger's "philo is to the self is to being as theological thinking sophical thinking revealing

belongs op. cit., to add) does not but an a priori (Ott,

of men

in the Christian recalcitrance Imay of course be wrong. But


to this kind




is oral tradition.10
are as made at

If correct,






1960 Meeting





say, it lets the cat out of the bag and shows that we must not take too strictly at his own word. For the claim to analogy, Heidegger and the since there just cannot be one between the ontological statements about being are it clear that Heidegger's ontic, makes his protesta really, at least in part, ontic, not ontological whatever are metaphysical. that is to say, that they This is in tions?and and so no insult is intended. But it my book not a bad word, clarifies matters postulated of evidence physical, from the considerably. the asserted I have Indeed, what is fully borne analogy and ontic, objectifying, just merely out by the thus meta

eminently statements themselves. For of Heidegger's a "being" that acts must be; that which takes the initiative surely, it kept hidden, must exist; what unveils itself had a before when and thus has a being beyond the act of revealing; what can give language itself differs from that to which?and difference, but ontically, ontological Indeed how can one speak of being's and being of the former's having

differs not by way of the as here and there, as vis-?-vis. activity and man's receptivity, a fate, being event, not only

making possible thought but giving thought, clearing or obscuring to man, itself in such thought, having voice, calling happening
upon man, sending man, entrusting itself to man's care, appro

enlisting his loyalty, can one him?howr it as an agency and the language of the one of to the rigorously in contrast later Heidegger, ontological Sein und Zeit, has become increasingly and obtrusively ontic, and or poetical such language to be (and however figurative is meant it is, even if bad poetry) its ontic meaning is inalienable poetic from it on pain of its becoming Let us then not be empty sound. the frown of the "ontological and intimidated difference" by of course, "being" is hypostasized in Heidegger, that, acknowledge as was "the good" in Plato and the "causa sui" in Spinoza, only, to be sure, not in the category of substance. That there are
Marburgers," in Robinson-Cobb, of that meeting hypothetical own position. and I was pp. 43 and 190. at least Heidegger's that for argument's sake, told rather in Germany in the than as a

priating him into its own care, favoring him, his gratitude, but also needing summoning attribute all this to it unless one understands a power, as some sort of subject? Certainly

by participants was formulation statement of his




this side of the ontological to the being of substance But if we grant shown.11 has impressively difference, Whitehead or metaphysical of Being in those aspects we the ontic meaning we can care of itself?then infinite regress take have noted?letting also grant the analogy disputed esis, we can scrap the previous
Zen, and we are free to appraise

before. argument

Thus, on the new hypoth in that landed theology
analogy, viz., "as


is to the is to being so theological thinking thinking philosophical that leaves the theologian. Let us see where God." self-revealing Not better off, I am afraid.
Of course, lest the analogy state a mere truism, we must

according thinking ?philosophical rephrase so theological thinking should be degger is to self-unveiling " being, But since according to Heidegger what to the self-revealing God. but primal thinking of being, not so much philosophical matters is one mode and poetry another, we is only of which philosophy is to being, must once more rephrase and say "As primal thinking can omit "un so theological should be to God" (here I thinking or: it is included in "primal"); and "revealing" because veiling" But since, God. should be primal concerning thinking theology is already a func of "primal thinking" the very conception again, it is to think about, tion of the particular concept of that which viz., of "being" (let me ignore the circle) and involves it and has itself is no meaning that theology without it, the analogy?now to the proposition: Hei down to be primal thinking?comes in the twofold sense of how and about being, thinking degger's think for theology's what he thinks about it, should be the model of Him, for the conception ing about God; and thus, if the model of His of the nature for the conception then also the model
to Heideggerians. recommended of Whitehead is urgently study of qualification into the unquestioningly it may inject a modicum of metaphysics." On the other of the "end thesis hand, they accepted in much of what would in the rigor of concept, find there, they welcome A Inter alia, the event-character of innovations: the break with "substance," Heidegger's of entity to actual of occasion the inwardness the reduction occasion, being, as experience, as prehensions, in of occasions and so on. But the context ontic Process and Reality level. all this is on the objectifying, Whitehead, can of nature from issue No philosophy is "An Essay in Cosmology." Heidegger's thought. 11

it thus:


to Hei



since And still one last step remains to be taken: self-revealing. in response to the call of being, thinking, namely, primal thinking or is man's most adequate relation to being, and thus the highest truest mode of man's existence the axiom of philosophy (formally the former analogy finally becomes since Parmenides!), this: Hei
degger's quate view response of to thinking the call as man's of being?not, true avocation e.g., and action, as his ade brotherly

of the good?I to evil, promotion love, resistance say, seen by Heidegger for theology's should be the model of man's under God in adequate response perfection of the content of God, and therefore for its conception itself. Professor



conception to the call of this call

I am fully aware that nobody wishes to go that far and that Ott's intentions somewhere stop along the line 1 have I believe that this cannot be done, that you must traced. take or leave the whole, a part you have willy and that by buying

But as there is no time for me to show nilly bought the whole. this now, I will for argument's sake go with the eclectic approach and treat single themes as if they were isolable from the rest. 1. Firstly, then, the very least you buy is a doctrine of per manent revelation. For it is really inseparable from the analogy own history, of the unveiling of being as being's etc., that its too is an ever-renewed in happening and event, religious analogue content determined fate. be expressed, this might by Doctrinally of the kind we have in certain e.g., in an Adamitic prophetology

or in the idea of a constant revelatory activity Gnostic speculations, of the Holy Ghost. this will not frighten the theologian Perhaps who speaks so confidently of the communio sanctorum. Further can easily work out for himself, the trained theologian implications and it is for him implications an entirely open horizon for future advents of the word; that are not pre-judged future revelations and no past revelations, by one revelation criterion by which others supplies an authoritative are to be judged. This does away with the possibility of, but for distinguishing between true doctrine and idea of a true doctrine disappears. But is also, very heresy?the [ am afraid, makes it impossible to distinguish between the inspira equally with the need to decide whether he wants what he finds? such as these : that the revelation is unfinished and has



tions of the Holy Ghost and the demons (I hope you agree with me Another is that the whole that there are demons). consequence the Christ event is only a phase in the revelation Biblical including through events of language. ongoing process of divine self-revealing on those terms you can indeed not have a theology of saving And facts, but only a theology of events of language and its criterion itself an event of language),
God's actions, i.e., the correct meaning of those

(strangely enough is not the truth of
saving facts, but

the authenticity of speech about those actions. from 2. This brings me to the second item you are buying and at the same time back to our theme, the problem Heidegger, the item, namely, of non-objectifying that theology must speech: or as you might be pneumatic say, glossolaly ("speaking theology in tongues"). in the claim is implicit This consequence that or should be, a species of primal thinking. Here it is is, theology con not I that tell theologians what theology might unwittingly tract from an alliance with Heidegger, is the but this point declared

viz., to

of a theologian
transfer Heidegger's


the hub

of his whole
"primal" or



as itself primal and to set its thinking, with that of poetry, apart from the of metaphysics and secondary, subjectivist-objectifying thought science (Cf. Ott, op. cit., p. 45). When word reached me that is henceforth to be primal thinking, my first thought theology was: God forbid!?and short, poor theologians!?in my second: and tial" thinking essential, to theology; in common the classical reaction to tragedy?fear and pity. For primal think as we have learned, is not at the thinker's but command, ing, to him by the grace of being. And so the theologian is happens a man to being continually committed that granted professionally or a man who claims for the doing of his day's work; happening to dwell permanently a life's calling I that close to the source: care to choose. not would In fairness to Heidegger be it must said that what is here asked of theology does not follow from his and his doctrine of thinking as such. On the contrary, philosophy his unpublished lecture of 1928 on "Theology and Philosophy," which I recently had occasion to read, expressly terms theology a positive a positum, since it deals with God?a science, being, as distinct from philosophy, therefore an ontic discipline, is which



And as a ontological, non-positive, dealing with being purely. science that thinks about its object, theology is of course secondary and not primary This was before the famous "turn," thinking. was still a rational thinker (reason and profundity when Heidegger do not necessarily exclude each other). But even in terms of his later let alone necessary, that theology thought it is not at all plausible, must be or even can be primal thinking. It seems that only as an afterthought, their heeding the plea of theologians who wished freed from the odor of science, after science had been discipline found out to be forgetfulness of being,12 did Heidegger (at least to be added to poetry and philosophy permit theology orally) as possible modes of primal thinking. The ontological havoc that : results from the, analogy thus established has just been considered the linguistic is not less. That theology must become pneu matic and its speech glossolaly, follows from the desired analogy to Heidegger's include his about being, which must thinking manner two things are inseparable. of speaking about being?the Where


than man



the speaker:

of being,



kind speaks."13 What p. 24) speaks of the

(op. cit., rather than con suggestive "hauntingly May I, amere non ceptually explicit style of the later Heidegger." be permitted saved, but sympathetically caring child of the world,

of language

is this?


to pray: God protect theology from the temptation of resorting to haunting It is not merely that I find many of the language! (I cannot kitschig linguistic offerings of the prototype exceedingly and that I shudder to think translate that) rather than haunting: of what might happen when people begin to decide to be poets. More of specter You can no appears. anarchy there?this you may disdain anyway?but longer prove anything neither can you refute, nay even reject anything there: as indeed cannot say "No" to the voice of being in question the speaking important arbitrariness and that thus to which it responds. The only criterion that remains is authen than such considerations of taste is the


"Science 1961),

does p.

not 4 and

think," passim. zur




hei?t 1959),


(T?bingen, 13 M.






I believe, But of authenticity, ticity of language. should unremittingly Each one for himself speak. on its score but not give marks his own work, others. What do But

HANS one


should not strive for it in to the work of

yardstick would you have anyway? I really need to dwell on thisP of The dangers are familiar to the theologian versed in the charismatic speech But on another angle of this issue I must history of his creed. because it leads us to the heart of our problem. Apart speak, of the linguistic of the potential from the dubiousness products
stance I have remarked on, what presumption, what arrogance, in

the stance

As what do there ? But, itwill be objected, just the opposite of self-assertion the initiative to being, listening to its call,


I set myself and my speaking up isn't primal thinking and speaking and thus of arrogance? Leaving to what being speaks, responding

of all: letting oneself be grasped by its power, most the the whole attitude of subjectity and of overmastering giving up that reverence? isn't that object by my conceptualizing?isn't about the seeming, false Here I must say something humility? of Heidegger's the initiative to Being, so seductive shifting humility but in fact the most enormous theologians, hybris in of thought. For it is nothing the whole less than the history thinker's claiming that through him speaks the essence of things itself, and thus the claim to an authority which no thinker should ever claim. it is the claim that in principle the And moreover at a distance to things basic human that of being condition, the so which we must bridge by the reaching-out of our mind, to Christian The overcome. avoided, subject-object split, can be remitted, that perhaps has a claim, that is, to a possible immediacy in the person-to-person but not in the relation to relation, place There is really no being and things and the world. impersonal called

for this in the whole of Western Closest to precedent philosophy. a parallel hardly welcome it comes, in one respect?Schopenhauer: for lack of time I cannot pursue here, to Heidegger, but which as it is,14 except for one pointer: to Schopenhauer music, intriguing
14 Consider, objedification vidual forms of are

for the

example, universal

the Will.

following is Will

its appearance.


is the The world points. the thing-in-itself, the indi and staticness boundedness hide the

HEIDEGGER AND THEOLOGY the only non-objective the universal Will.



musician Nietzsche's

art, is the direct voice of the thing-in-itself, in Nietzsche's the This, phrase, made the ventriloquist of the Absolute. In the spirit of witticism that Nietzsche had (it is well to remember be the ventriloquist equivalent
is non

thinker would wit) Heidegger's primal of being, then denoting the ventriloquy
glossolaly. Schopenhauer's fantasy was




for music

and cannot suffer from the misconception of a duty it responsible does not have. But thinking is not indifferent to the conception of As responsible, its task and nature. it crucially depends on the of its responsibility. and Here the apparent humility conception actual pride of the conception of primal thinking may altogether ruin thought. Man's the event of the self-clearing thought: of being, not his own erring bid for truth! Man: the shepherd of being?not, ring which Christian being keeper. terrible with being

mind you, of beings! this use of the hallowed ears?it The is hard he has


just latter he is meant of Heidegger's anonymity

Apart from the blasphemous title must have to Jewish and to hear man hailed as the shepherd of so dismally failed to be his brother's to be

personal characters, of another person

in the Bible. But the decked out "being," illicitly Not by the blocks out the personal call. am I grasped, but just by "being"! And
own event. But called as person


is being's

response will not primarily by person?fellow beings or God?my be thinking but action this involves thinking) and the (though action may be one of love, responsibility, also of wrath, pity; . . . it is him or me. hate, even fight to the death: indignation, In this sense indeed also Hitler was a call. Such calls are drowned in the voice of being

to which

one cannot

say No;

as is also, we
in concepts: experienced as however of the Will to the and of the movement wedded

can be seen and defined the Will. They as Vorstellung: is The Will representation. it can also be made to appear?to within. But not hearing; Music is the art form in which the voice call, but as music. it is non-objective, bcause and pure speaks directly, non-spatial, ceaseless this driving is the world of time. All to a other arts, and to with appearance, theme in the representation, new direction Heidegger and language objectivity. his distinction the theory, Nietzsche of the are

continued Dionysian








are told, the separation of subject from object. This is the final claim of pride, and the betrayal of man's task growing from the the subject-object acceptance of his lot. For let this be said now: holds open and stands through the relation, which presupposes, is not a lapse but the privilege, burden and duty of man. duality, Not Plato is responsible for it but the human condition, its limits and nobility under the order of creation. For far from being a from Biblical truth, this setting of man over against the deviation sum total of things, his subject-status and the object-status and in the very idea determined by imposed by his

are posited mutual externality of things themselves, of creation and of man's vis-?-vis nature position it: it is the condition of man meant in the Bible,

to be accepted, acted through?and transcended createdness, only in certain encounters with fellow beings and God, i.e., in exis tential relations of a very special kind. The philosopher's respect for the Biblical tradition rests precisely on the acknowledgment of the role it has played in impressing this ontological scheme with its great and exacting tension upon the Western mind?more so,
perhaps, because more unambiguously, than even the Greek tradi

or hailed, The origin of the rift, whether tion. is in deplored no less than in Plato. And if you must Moses at lay technology door, don't forget, over the scapegoat of metaphysics, somebody's the Judaeo-Christian tradition. does all this leave the linguistic problem of theology? Where is That there is a problem, the theologian that the issue troubling a genuine one, has been granted at the very opening of this address. and objective That the conceptualization language of theory do not to the primary content com do justice, to some extent do violence, mitted this: to theology's Also on care, on this there is agreement. that there is non-objectifying and speech. We find thought in the language of prayer and it in the prophets and the psalmists, and preaching, also in lyrical poetry; and in the life confession

of the dialogue: much of what Buber has said about the "I-thou" from the third person and its language as distinct "I-it" falls squarely into the area of our prob relation and its language, lem. But the theologian, when he attends to theology (which he nor does not do all the time), is neither prophet nor psalmist relation preacher nor poet, nor in the I-thou situation, but under the yoke

of theoretical


discourse and therefore beholden to objective thought and not This burden and language. theology has to shoulder, even the later Heidegger release from it. Nor offers legitimate On this point I agree completely should such release be sought. and with what has been said in his vein with Rudolph Bultmann in the American discussion, notably in the excellent essays of Come the Bultmannian and this is precisely and Ogden.15 Nevertheless, there can be amore or less adequate style of conceptuality position, and language in theology, or: a less or more inadequate one, since our lot. In short, there are degrees of inadequacy will still be And indeed?to give now at the end my own objectification. tentative view on the matter, which up to a point coincides with but beyond that point diverges from his?the Bultmann's, question is not how to devise an adequate language for theology, but how to is to be indi for what inadequacy transparent keep its necessary is amatter about which cated by it : its lesser or greater opaqueness can be done. something own early grapplings with the problem of objectification and My " its hermeneutical aspects made me stumble on the concept of de 16 I regarded this as one step in the process of my thologizing." for which the interpretation of certain ancient texts de-objectifying
seemed to call. The translation?a re-translation as it were?of

terms into concepts of existential philosophy would return mythical to the substance from which the logos into closer proximity it had to wit, the dynamics and self-experience of human originated, meant existence. Thus the de-mythologizing of the retrieving most most from the most this substance compact, un-yielding, in which extreme form of objectification it was locked up, and here indeed in Sein ground contains
15 16 Robinson-Cobb, In a study on das des

the categories evolved in Heidegger's analysis of existence und Zeit offered a superior means of bringing to light the from which the projections of doctrine had risen and which their truth. And the dialectical character of the concepts


3 and

5. of Church to my dogma, appended zur Religion (Forschungen 44 [N.F. 27]) (G?ttingen, Struktur cf. p. 68. des Dogmas,

the hermeneutics

und Augustin und Literatur

paulinische und Alten ?ber die

Freiheitsproblem Neuen Testaments hermeneutische

I: 1930), Anhang edition (A second

is impending.)

affords which

some protection of the concepts
they are less opaque,

against the kind of objective of substance the philosophy

to fixation are prone.

So far, I think, I am in complete the "subject matter of theology. But here comes agreement with my friend and teacher Bultmann. How far can the "translation" the point of my parting from him. Up to what sphere in the universe of religious of a conceptual of "appropriateness" danger and create a is that it may blunt the sense of paradox scheme The dividing where none is permitted. line, the line familiarity would have that the de-mythologized whose concept crossing by can be clearly If it is said, on Bultmann's indicated. effect, legitimately discourse? extend? The existentialist behalf, that "the concepts of Heidegger's analysis are of man the Christian better adapted to explicating understanding the writers of the New the mythological than concepts employed by Testament" p. 167), we add: (Robinson-Cobb, yes?precisely man: to God or the divine. no?with with respect respect to or On pain of immanentism There, symbolic speech must begin. mere reduced
of its





of God is not to be the understanding anthropologism, The domain of the to the self-understanding of man. the sphere extends as far as phenomenology, existential concept
verification, extends: over the self-experience of man

"before" God, coram deo, Where homo sub gratia. outpouring of the the Holy through from the blemish and with and thus: of divinity


spirit, "the healing of the soul (Rom. 5:5), Spirit" ceases to have a say; of sin," phenomenology of existentialist it the verifiable concepts knowledge; for the sphere And all the more de-mythologizing! itself. The final

or: homo sub lege, not in God; the divine itself is said to enter, the into our hearts love poured "God's

is better protected by the paradox the Where of thought. than by the concepts symbols of myth a glass darkly." What "we see in at home, is rightfully mystery In the shapes of myth. To keep does "in a glass darkly" mean? for the ineffable is of myth the manifest opaqueness transparent of the con in a way easier than to keep the seeming transparency it is in fact as opaque as any for that, to which cept transparent
language must be.

Mytli Myth Myth


literally is crudest objectification. is sophisticated taken allegorically objectification. is the glass through which we taken symbolically taken New School


for Social Research.