Edith Stein’s Phenomenology and Christian Philosophy
Edith Stein and John of the Cross: An Intellectual and Spiritual Relation from Husserl’s Lecture in 1918 to the Gas Chamber of Auschwitz in 1942
← 466 | 467 →HARM KLUETING
ABSTRACT: When in 1921 Edith Stein answered the question about the reason for her conversion by ‘secretum meum mihi’ she did not quote Isaiah 24. 16 (Vulgata) but more probably referred to St John of the Cross. However, she only explicitly mentioned John of the Cross in 1927, but this reference indicates that she probably knew him, and quite well, since 1918, where Husserl gave a lecture on Rudolf Otto’s Das Heilige. In her 1942 finished manuscript of Science of the Cross, she worked out a study of St John of the Cross as well as her own theology of the imitation of Christ by the following of him who carried and died on the Cross.
Talking about Edith Stein’s phenomenology and Christian philosophy we have to realize that Edith Stein was not only a philosopher. She also was – or better to say: she became – a theologian. By academic standards she really was a philosopher,2 qualified by her doctoral dissertation3 completed ← 467 | 468 →under Edmund Husserl’s supervision and her other philosophical works.4 In her life5 she was a religious person, a religious seeker, seeking the true faith,6 a pious believer, by some people understood as a mystic.7 Coming from Jewry through years of radical unbelief, Edith Stein did not call herself ‘an atheist’,8 but she bewailed her former ‘radical unbelief’9 – converting to Catholicism, and finally becoming a Carmelite nun.10 The person who led her to conversion and into the...
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