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How We Japanese Become Christians

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Title: How We Japanese Become Christians
Authors: Sasaki, Kei Browse this author →KAKEN DB
Issue Date: Mar-2007
Publisher: Graduate School of Letters, Hokkaido University
Journal Title: Journal of the Graduate School of Letters
Volume: 2
Start Page: 31
End Page: 45
Abstract: I have studied the Bible "academically," namely according to the method of Biblical Criticism. It was traditionally called "historical-critical" claiming simply that it could be "objective." But recently it has a new trend, which takes into consideration the various readers, even including "I myself" as a "real reader." In my opinion, this trend is not accidental, but hermeneutically inevitable. It is useful to do a case study of this new trend of Biblical Criticism,examining the thought of Uchimura Kanzo (内村鑑三; 1861-1930), a famous scholar and founder of a very Japanese Christianity "Mukyoukai [無教会]" = "Non-Church" movement in the Meiji era, especially his commentary on the Gospel of John in the Bible. From today's viewpoint, we can find many interesting, rather bizarre, comments in it. We might say that his commentaries are simple introductions to European or American Biblical academism. Ironically, they have a kind of academic exoticism, which probably his contemporaries could have accepted willingly. Also we could say that his interpretations about the verses of the Gospel are sometimes very manly and moralistic in a Confucian sense. His interpretations of the Bible have a close connection with many aspects of his thought. He wanted to exclude not only local but also impure elements of American or European Christianity to extract "the most purely spiritual" Christianity. And he had a conviction that only the Japanese can do it, in fact that it was Japan's calling to do so. But in reality Uchimura made a kind of amalgamation with Christianity and some Japanese ideals or mentalities at that time: Nationalism, (Confucian) Authoritarianism, Uprightness (especially with his hatred for money), Spiritualism (as opposed to materialism in the U.S.), and also probably a kind of Pragmatism (even if he doesn't like the word and concept in a sense).
Type: bulletin (article)
Appears in Collections:Journal of the Faculty of Humanities and Human Sciences > Volume 2

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