Westar Institute

Institutional Affiliation
Charter Member

John D Caputo

Institutional Affiliation

Syracuse University, Villanova University


B.A., LaSalle University (1962) M.A., Villanova University (1964) Ph.D., Bryn Mawr College (1968)


John D. Caputo is a hybrid philosopher/theologian who works in the area of radical theology. Prof. Caputo has spearheaded a notion he calls “weak theology,” by which he means a “poetics” of the “event” that is harbored in the name (of) God, or that “insists” in the name (of) “God,” a notion that depends upon a reworking of the notions of event in Derrida to theological ends. In his majors works he has argued that interpretation goes all the way down (Radical Hermeneutics, 1987), that Derrida is a thinker to be reckoned with by theology (The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida, 1997), that theology is best served by getting over its love affair with power and authority and embracing what Caputo calls, taking a phrase from St. Paul, The Weakness of God: A Theology of the Event (2006), which won the American Academy of Religion award for excellence in the category of constructive theology.

In The Insistence of God: A Theology of Perhaps (2013), Caputo argues that God does not exist, God insists, and that God’s existence depends upon us. He has also a special interest in addressing more general audiences, which can be seen in books like On Religion (1971), What Would Jesus Deconstruct? (2006), Philosophy and Theology, and Truth (2013), which is part of the Penguin Books “Philosophy in Transit” series celebrating the 150th anniversary of the London Underground. Since retiring in 2011, he has been speaking to various church and community groups interested in a more progressive concept of religion.

Academic Appointments

Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion Emeritus, Syracuse University

David R. Cook Professor of Philosophy Emeritus, Villanova University

Professional Service