T&T Clark: What particular areas or themes of Theology interest you and why?
JW: I’m particularly interested in the ways theology opens for thinking about what the world is like, and what it is to be human. ‘If we claim this or that about God, what does that mean for our understanding of a good life, or free will, or our relationship to nature?’ And conversely, ‘if we pay close attention to human experience, what can it teach us about the possibility of knowing God?’ Theology in this sense cannot be strictly separated from what philosophers or literary scholars do; rather, it’s a way of pursuing the same questions with the freedom and the scholarly tools to take seriously the role that the question of God plays in those pursuits.
T&T: How would you describe your book in one sentence?
JW: What it says on the package: it aims to give readers a thorough understanding, based on the latest research, of Heidegger’s relationship to theology – in his life, in his thought & writings, and in the theological reception of his work.
T&T: When did you start researching for this book?
JW: I’ve been reading Heidegger and his theological friends and enemies for a long time, but began research for this book in earnest during a two-year visiting fellowship in Berlin from 2009 to 2011. The libraries of Humboldt University and the state collections, as well as the archives of Freiburg University, have wonderful resources which have never been used by English-speaking scholars, including Heidegger’s various correspondences and the Minutes of his faculty board meetings during the 1930’s and 40’s.
T&T: Which part of writing this book have you enjoyed most?
JW: One of the great things about working on Heidegger is that it involves both serious philosophical and theological questions and real biographical problems (such as the details of his ‘conversion’ from Roman Catholicism to Protestantism, or his relationship to Nazism). I love both detective work in archives and very abstract thought, so perhaps the most fun thing about writing this book was the chance to see what light they throw on each other.
T&T: Any tips for people reading the book?
JW: Having a big glass of gin and tonic to hand?
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