A friend posted a quote from Heidegger-in-English, a lecture course of the winter 1933/34 on “the essence of truth,” a short passage which causes my discussion here.
I’ll provide full context later, not relevant yet. I want to comment at first on a small part of the passage. Warrant for doing this in isolation will become clear in part 2.
The small part—“...δóξα θεον [“doxa theon”] in the New Testament = the majesty of God.....”— is like an aside note in the passage. There’s no other reference to “God” in that particular course session (my quick skimming indicates), though Heidegger sometimes refers to “God” across many courses and essays. After all, he’s teaching in a deeply Christian region.
What’s presently interesting is that δóξα [doxa] is standardly translated “glory” (according to Google Translate) rather than “majesty.” This is salient because Christianity’s sense of the majesty of God is usually associated with “Old Testament” thinking; and glory of God is New Testament thinking.
I don’t know whether or not the translators of the course are mistranslating Heidegger. But analogously, a glory of “Being” appeals rather than a majesty of “Being” in the Gospels and Heidegger’s thought (analogously—not equating ‘God’ and capped-B ‘Being’; Heidegger tends to avoid the capped-B anyway, later in life).
If you read ‘being’ as a term of living a life enactively—about be-ing yourself, Truly so, i.e., according to your ownmost possibilities and potential—you’re closer to a keynote of the teachings of Jesus: there being with him (i.e., for him: in being with others) is very much (proximally speaking) emancipatory interest in a glory of being—“setting free” from Judaic comprehension of his time, for the sake of Truly being Of “our” time. The valid translation of the Aramaic term for ‘among’ is also validly translated as ‘within’ (an insight I received from a scholar/translator of Aramaic); i.e., the Aramaic term is resonant or numinous in normal use, such that a key message of the Gospels is “The kingdom of heaven is within/among you,” whereby ‘you’ is both singular and plural: The kingdom of heaven is within/among us/you.
Elaine Pagels, reknowned scholar of the New Testament era, notes (citation available) that the singular insight of Jesus that was epochally original was that everyone is created equal in the eyes of God.
This was a primordially humanistic idea that implied, decades later, that a religion of Jesus—a reformed Judaism (this-worldly rather than other-worldly) should welcome gentiles. The traditional Judaists within the reformed movement fought against allowing gentiles into the reforms, into a new religion that would be catholic, in the generic sense (universalist). Gentiles were regarded by Judaism of the time as people of the sea, who didn’t belong to the land. Gentiles were regarded as rootless nomads by Judaists.
Those people of the sea—mariners in the wake of Odysseus—named a navigational star Marian, after a goddess who was the guardian of seafarers before Christianity. On Heidegger's and his wife's single gravestone is a six-pointed star—the Marian star—not a Christian cross, while a cross is on the adjacent gravestones of other family members.
The humanistic conception of “Being”—originated by Jesus in Palestine, but originating in the Mediterranean by Greek poets—was not available to the Judaism of Jesus’s time. After the time of Jesus and the disciples, a conception of the glory of our being was concealed in the Hellenic notion of Christ (an originally-Greek term, part of messianic thinking throughout the Mediterranean—neo-Platonist, specifically, which conceals the True meaning of “Being,” i.e., being).
Christianity concealed the original interest of Jesus (emancipating—> enabling) —concealed “your” potential for being, concealed our enowning a glory of being. Christianity confounded prospects for being, relative to the life of Jesus, i.e., concealed access to the originality of the Gospels.
Retrieving being is a post-Christian matter (thereby post-post-Judaic). Yet, enabling potentials of being is not about going back to the Gospel literature about their character named “Jesus.” Getting back to Jesus would be a key interest for Jesus-ist or “jesuit” Christian “being.” But that would not be an appeal to we who are non-Christian (humanistically pre-Christian or post-Christian). For non-Christians, poets of being—of being might appeal.
Anyway, within Germany during Heidegger’s time (teaching very conflicted Christians), there was nothing like a venturing into original Jesus available. Recent decades have spawned the “historical Jesus” literature, particularly in the U.S. through the authoritative Jesus Seminar (which I cite only as exemplary of venturing beyond Christianity through retrieving its originality; I’m not involved with that kind of venture).
Besides, all in all, Heidegger was not working to retrieve a religiosity. He was not only working toward a post-Christian sense of belonging, but also a post-religious sense of belonging. The trope-work of the fourfold was a handy model for thinking holistically relative to inside/outside, high/low mapped into each other through the figures of Earth, sky, divinities, and mortals. Especially relevant here is his poetic sense of divine presencing.
A child—the “royal child” (as Heidegger indicates near the end of the lecture series on The Principle of Reason), the “divine” being of every child, the royalty intrinsic to each of us—a child is born already in a glory of being, like children of the “blue” “Language in the Poem” essay on Trakl’s poetry, On the Way to Language. Enabling the potential of the child—creativity, empathy, self-efficacy—prevents need for retrieving the Inner Child later. The last public work of Heidegger’s life, on a passage by Parmendes, is about retrieving the Inner Child.
Primordially, enabling being belongs to our ownmost potential, in a sense belonging with everything, of every thing.
Heidegger was not seeking to focus on a sense of divine presencing more than other senses of presencing. Yet, of course, he was ultimately interested—among many “ultimate” appeals (of earth, of sky, of mortality)—in being of divine.
• next: with being | July 2