Volume 21, Issue 1, Spring 2016
Faith in the Web of Evanescent Meaning
Historicity and Christian Life-Experience in the Early Philosophy of Martin Heidegger
In his early Freiburg lectures on the phenomenology of religious life, published as his Phenomenology of Religious Life, Heidegger sought to interpret the Christian life in phenomenological terms, while also discussing the question of whether Christianity should be construed as historically defined. Heidegger thus connected the philosophical discussion of religion as a phenomenon with the character of the religious life taken in the context of factical life. According to Heidegger, every philosophical question originates from the latter, which determines such questions pre-theoretically, while the tradition of early Christianity can also only be understood historically in such terms. More specifically, he holds that the historical phenomenon of religious life as it relates to early Christianity, inasmuch as it undergirds our conception of the religious phenomenon per se, reveals the essential connection between factical life and religious life. In this way, the conception of religion that Heidegger establishes through his analyses of Paul’s Epistles takes on both theological and philosophical ramifications. Moreover, the historicity of factical life finds its fulfillment in our comprehension of the primordial form of Christianity as our very own historical a priori, determined by our own factical situation. Hence, historicity and factical life belong together within the situation that makes up the foundation of the religious life.