Little Known Christian History of Japan

16 01 2009

This article makes many claims I take with a grain of salt, and am interested in doing more research on to prove or disprove the claims.

Some of the claims are

Joseph’s research has shown:
1. The tea ceremony (chado) is derived from Christianity’s communion service, and the master of the Ura senke School of Teas, Sen no Rikyo, was a Christian.

2. An Assyrian helmet with a cross is at the Gojikai Temple Museum in Fukuoka.

3. A Nestorian monument stands in the old cemetery on Mount Koya which was once the site of the Eastern Church. Monks continue to make the sign of the cross at the beginning of their early morning ceremonies.

4. Remnants of the New Testament, brought back from China in the 8th century can be seen in a temple in Kyoto.

article here



5 responses

16 01 2009

This is rather odd. I did a little looking to find out what I can about this man’s claim to having discovered a Christian church in Sian, China. His institute seems to think that this rewrites Chinese history, and as interesting a possibility as it is, I can’t help but want a bit more corroboration. The article I saw seems to have been on the Internet three years ago; so why isn’t there more information on it? Wikipedia doesn’t even know about it (and even the most unreliable stuff seems to make its way there eventually).

I don’t completely reject what he’s writing. But he seems to me to find in Eastern history, culture, and religion, too much influence of Christianity. Skimming one of his papers (books?), for example, he suggests that the “juzu” (Buddhist rosary-like beads) were actually adopted originally from Christian practices in the 5 and 600’s.

It’s highly intriguing, and by all means enough for a Dan Brown-esque popular novel, if someone needs material for such a book. But I’m not sure it has yet risen to the level of scientific historical inquiry.

16 01 2009
Adam S.

This is not some kind of joke. There was a very large presence of Christianity in the Middle East, North Africa, the Asian Steppes, China, and Japan. Due to Muslim invasions, bureaucratic intransigence, and sheer whimsy on the part of leaders, these empires died out from neglect, where not put to the sword. One may even read a Nestorian account of their elimination from Asia: “The Monks of Kublai Khan”, conveniently available on the internet. This story is like most of Christian history, a deliberate whitewash to make the rational secular forces good, and Christianity bad.
(Catholicism will conquer Islam by the Virgin Mary, and it will conquer Japan via the Sacraments and sacred music. )
The most recent book on this is “The Lost History of Christianity”, so it is a fertile area for inquiry. Yet we don’t hear about it because it isn’t PC. I assure you that if there were even a rumor that Muslims visited Japan in the 700’s, there would be teams of experts flying over there on Lear Jets, in order that they may lord the superiority of Islam upon us. I hope that many Christians take this seriously and probe it deeply. It would be very profitable for Catholics to have a firm, historical basis for dialog with the Japanese.

18 01 2009

I agree. As long as it is supported by sound evidence. We owe allegiance to the truth even if the truth is that there is somewhat less historical influence by Christianity (say, in ancient Kyoto) than Mr. Joseph wishes to find.

Again, I am not rejecting these claims. They are just very surprising and I would prefer to see more support from other sources before making a conclusion.

11 03 2009
De bende van

This article is right on. There is a great book called a History of Christianity in Japan that has some of this good stuff. It is out of print now but authored by Dr. Otis Cary (google has it here: ). A highly readable but more narrowly focused source is C.R. Boxer’s Christian Century in Japan (Berkeley, 1951?)

18 03 2009

Another book that delves into the Nestorian Christian in ancient China is The Jesus Sutras by anthropologist Martin Palmer.

We also know Jesuits arrived in the 16th century in Japan, at a time when the tea ceremony was in development.

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