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The Other Jesus

Christology in Asian Perspective


John Parratt

Standard works on Christology seldom give much consideration to the way Christ is perceived outside the Western tradition. The Other Jesus is an in depth study of understandings of the person of Jesus Christ by major Asian Christian theologians of the 20th century. Taking examples mainly from India and Japan, the author shows how the religious and social contexts of these countries have shaped the way in which Jesus has been understood. The final chapters examine how new approaches to Jesus have emerged from people movements in Asia in Dalit, Minjung, and feminist perceptions. Throughout the author seeks to relate Asian perspectives to Western Christologies, and to suggest ways in which they present challenges to the world wide church.


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I. Jesus outside Christianity


5 ‘The lives of all of us have, in some greater or lesser degree, been changed by his presence, his actions and the words spoken by his divine voice … and because the life of Jesus has had the significance and transcendence to which I have alluded, I believe that he belongs not solely to Christianity but to the entire world’ (Mahatma Gandhi Modern Review, Calcutta 1941). Paradoxically the earliest explorations of the significance of Christ in India came not from an Indian converts but from westernised Hindus who had been con- fronted with the person of Jesus through missionary outreach, and who struggled to encompass him within their Hindu world-view. The fascinating story of ‘Christ within Hinduism’ has been comprehensively examined in M.M. Thomas’ classic The Acknowledged Christ of the Indian Renaissance and my task here is not to re- peat his work. However the development of Indian christologies cannot be prop- erly understood without some consideration of the prologue to Indian Christian theology in the writings and work of Ram Mohan Roy and of his successor Kes- hab Chandra Sen. United in their attraction towards the person of Jesus (though not towards institutional Christianity) their responses to him were very differ- ent. Roy was a self-confessed ‘ethical monotheist’ whose approach to religion in general and to Christianity in particular veered towards rationalism. Sen’s was a much more personal and emotional approach to Jesus, which deeply influenced several subsequent Christian theologians. Christ within Hinduism: Ram Mohan Roy Ram Mohan Roy6...

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