Heinrich (Heinz) Walter Cassirer (9 August 1903 – 20 February 1979) was a Kantian philosopher, the son of a famous German philosopher, Ernst Cassirer. Being Jews, the Cassirer family fled the Nazis in the 1930s. Heinz went to University of Glasgow working with Professor H. J. Paton, who persuaded him to write a book on Kant's third Critique, the Critique of Judgment. Following Paton, he moved to Oxford, lecturing at Corpus Christi College.
He was a noted scholar on the thought of Kant. He thought highly of Karl Barth's understanding of Kant. Cassirer, a "translator and interpret of Kant, is reliably reported to have asked, ‘Why is it that this Swiss theologian understands Kant far better than any philosopher I have come across?’" (Gunton 2002: xvi). While at Glasgow, his observations of society in Scotland led him to speak of "'Highland ravings' - the obsessive clinging on to what is wholly illusory" (Weitzman 1997: 30).
As a middle-aged adult, reading the New Testament for the first time, Cassirer was struck by the writings of St. Paul in relation to ethics. As he studied, he committed himself to the Christian faith and was baptized in the Anglican Church in 1955. He produced a translation of the New Testament from the Greek sources, titled God's New Covenant: A New Testament Translation. His own Jewish heritage and knowledge of Jewish customs is said to have given a unique insight into familiar Bible texts. His translation is also noted for its formal language. Below is a sample passage, Matthew 7:24-25.
"What, then, is the nature of the person, whoever he may be, who hears these words of mine and acts on them? He is like a man of prudence who built his house on a rock. The rain descended, the floodwaters rose, the winds blew and hurled themselves against that house. But it did not fall because it was on rock that its foundations were laid."
Writings by Heinz Cassirer
- 1989. God's New Covenant: A New Testament Translation. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
- 1988. Grace and Law: St. Paul, Kant, and the Hebrew Prophets. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
- Chamberlin, William. 1991. Catalogue of English Bible Translations: A Classified Bibliography of Versions and Editions Including Books, Parts, and Old and New Testament Apocrypha. Greenwood Press.
- Gunton, Colin. 2002. Introduction to Protestant Theology in the Nineteenth Century: its background and history by Karl Barth. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.
- Paul, William. 2003. English Language Bible Translators. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company.
- Weitzman, Ronald. 1997. MacMillan's 'Inés de Castro' at the Edinburgh Festival. Tempo No. 199: 29-32.