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Kanzo Uchimura's "Insistence on Purity"

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Title: Kanzo Uchimura's "Insistence on Purity"
Authors: Sasaki, Kei Browse this author →KAKEN DB
Issue Date: Mar-2008
Publisher: Graduate School of Letters, Hokkaido University
Journal Title: Journal of the Graduate School of Letters
Volume: 3
Start Page: 39
End Page: 53
Abstract: A representative Christian thinker mainly in the Meiji (明治, 1868-1912) and Taisho (大正, 1912-1926) eras of Japan, Kanzo Uchimura (内村鑑三, 1861-1930)wrote so many articles and essays that his Complete Works consist of 40 volumes, through which we can know his religious or Christian thought. He didn’t write much about“purity”itself thematically. But in my theory,in the foundation of his thought,what I call his“insistence on purity”does exist. Throughout the main part of my essay, I will demonstrate that this “insistence on purity”is pervasive, or even to say, ubiquitous in his entire works, by citing his writings which were originally written in English and also by introducing his other writings with my own translations. In my demonstration,we find, in Uchimura’s huge body of writings,not only that the word “purity”itself and related words are frequent, but also that his particular way of thinking about some of the topics on his mind has a very close connection with “purity.” At the same time we recognize that a few Japanese characters,namely,“清,”“潔,”and “聖,”have much importance for him. These three characters have slightly different meanings, all of which are related to the concept “purity”and have the same Japanese sound “Kiyo-.” This last linguistic fact, I think, is the most interesting to consider in the development of Uchimura’s thought. Uchimura’s “insistence on purity,”which will be confirmed in my essay, also gives us a starting place to analyze the very unique aspects of his Christian thought. In my opinion, he asserted fiercely that Christianity should be“pure”in a sense. But his Christianity, at least for me, still looks like an amalgamation influenced by traditional Japanese religious,Confucian and even Shintoist,thought. The most essential question is whether Uchimura’s Christianity itself is really“pure.”
Type: bulletin (article)
Appears in Collections:Journal of the Faculty of Humanities and Human Sciences > Volume 3

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