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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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V. Jesus and the Saviour Figures


‘The difference between Jesus Christ and other human beings (including the founders of world religions) is not one of kind but of degree, and this is to acknowledge that there must be some affinity. But this is far from saying that one must adopt a thoroughgoing relativism. (John MacQuarrie Jesus Christ in Modern Thought, 1991) MacQuarrie’s suggestion that the difference between Jesus Christ and the central figures of some of the other great world religions (including Krishna and the Buddha) ‘is not one of kind but of degree’ (1991:414) reflects perhaps a common modern approach to the difficulty of relating the claims of Christianity to those of faiths. The term ‘saviour’, MacQuarrie thinks, is problematic (though he uses it as a chapter title) and he prefers to call them ‘mediators.’ This point is well taken. Salvation means different things in different religions, and to use the term saviour may be to impose a Christian category upon other faiths. Though comparisons between Christ and other mediators is frequently raised in discussions of christol- ogy in Asia, systematic and extended treatments of this issue are less common. In this chapter I shall examine two attempts to situate Jesus among other saviour or mediator figures, one from Hinduism, the other from Buddhism. Stanley Samartha: situating Christ within religious pluralism Samartha (1920-2001) was born in Karnakaka in south India. He studied in In- dia and in America (where ironically he seems first to have been seriously at- tracted to Hindu thought) and Europe....

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