The Phenomenology of Religious Life

The Phenomenology of Religious Life

The Phenomenology of Religious Life

The Phenomenology of Religious Life


The Phenomenology of Religious Life presents the text of Heidegger's important 1920--21 lectures on religion. The volume consists of the famous lecture course Introduction to the Phenomenology of Religion, a course on Augustine and Neoplatonism, and notes for a course on The Philosophical Foundations of Medieval Mysticism that was never delivered. Heidegger's engagements with Aristotle, St. Paul, Augustine, and Luther give readers a sense of what phenomenology would come to mean in the mature expression of his thought. Heidegger reveals an impressive display of theological knowledge, protecting Christian life experience from Greek philosophy and defending Paul against Nietzsche.


These lecture courses present particular difficulties for the translators, given that they were compiled from Heidegger’s notes and the notes of students in his lecture courses, rather than from material Heidegger prepared for publication. Details on the text sources and compilation are provided in the editors’ afterwords, included at the end of this volume. When the abbreviated or truncated character of the notes, particularly in the appendices, was retained by the editors of the German edition, we, too, have retained this insofar as it was still possible to provide a sensible and readable translation into English.

We have also endeavored to maintain, whenever possible, consistency regarding our translation of terms from the several lecture courses and appendices; we have provided for the reader a glossary which will indicate the terms we have employed to render the more or less technical terms of Heidegger’s German. Some German terms (such as “Zusammenhang”), however, cannot be reliably translated by a single English word, and the glossary will also help to guide the reader here. In a few cases, additional words have been inserted in brackets in order to render a grammatically acceptable English translation. (Unfortunately, these will not always be distinguishable from the editors’ insertions.) Occasionally, Heidegger capitalizes important terms like “How” and “When,” in effect rendering them nouns, which in German would then be capitalized; but he does not always do so. We have capitalized the terms when it was so in the German text; otherwise, we have put them into single quotation marks or, when appropriate, italics.

The Greek terms in the volume have, as in the German, been left without transliteration. Heidegger seems to have assumed that his audience knew Latin (in the second lecture on Augustine and Neo-Platonism there is much), but not Greek. Thus, while he rarely gives translations of the Latin, in many cases he paraphrases the Greek terms or sentences. However, he does not always do so. Wherever he does not do so, we have provided English translations on the basis of the New Revised Standard Version of the New Testament. In cases where Heidegger does not give a translation and the Greek terms are not clearly referenced to the Bible, we have supplied our own translation, often on the basis of the standard Liddell and Scott dictionary.

Such translation problems are a bit more convoluted in the Latin that appears in the second lecture course, largely because we could not rely upon existing English translations of Augustine in most cases. As with St. Paul’s Greek, the translators faced the difficulty of remaining faithful to Augustine’s as well as to Heidegger’s text in translating the frequent Augustine passages.

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