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The Other Jesus

Christology in Asian Perspective

Series:

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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IV. Jesus, the Cross and Emmanuel

Extract

Topass from the religious world of India to that of Japan is to move from amonis- tic world view to an avowedly polytheistic one. Hinduism can comprehend dei- ties as refractions of an unknowable Absolute, but the original religion of Japan shares in the primal world view generally in its concept of kami. Japanese reli- gions put to monism and monotheism the question, ‘Why should there be only one God?’ There is another difference also. Hinduism is a religion which absorbs all other world views and claims them for itself so that they become part of the complex fabric of social as well as religious Hinduism. Japan, though it has in the past instigated periods of vicious persecution of both Buddhism and Christianity, seems now content to allow other religions to coexist without amalgamating them into one system, without exclusivity of claims or (generally) practice. Catholic missions were introduced into Japan in 1549, but effectively obliterated by perse- cution. It was three hundred years before they, along with Protestants from Amer- ica, were able to return. Japanese Christian theology began to emerge in the latter half of the 19th century, and chistology was at the centre of the first real theologi- cal debate (see Dohi 1997:24-35 on the controversy between Ebina and Uemura). From the beginning of the 20th century the influence of German liberalism and subsequently neo-orthodoxy began to be felt, and a number of leading Japanese theologians studied in Germany and later in America. In this...

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