Spirit of Christ Inculturated- A Theological Theme Implicit in Shusaku Endo's Literary Works

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


Shusaku Endo (1923-1996) is a Roman Catholic, Japanese novelist. From 1950 to 1953, he studied French literature in Lyon, France. Returning from Lyon, Endo began his career as a novelist. His early works include: White Men, Yellow Men(1954), A Wonderful Fool(1959), The Women in the Bible(1960), Foreign Studies(1965), etc.

The present study analyses his work from the perspective of the inculturation of Christianity in Japan. Central works such as Silence (1966), The Samurai (1980) and Deep River (1996) are interpreted from a theological point of view as documents of inculturation. This is a major theme of his literature, its character is interpreted in the social and religious context of Japan, as well as in a global perspective. By means of theoretical frameworks from the Japanese Kiyoko Takeda and the American Stephan Bevans, the present study identifies his inculturation as basically anthropological in character. His recognition of Japanese apostates as genuine Christian believers qualifies his mode of inculturation as an "apostate model" in the terms of Takeda.

The present study illustrates the author's concern for a theo-centric orientation of Christianity, together with the embrace of religious pluralism during his later years, against a background of Japanese religiousity. This turn is also seen in a wider context of contemporary internationalization and globalization.

This study identifies a central role for koshinto -a traditional Japanese ethos- in Endo's thought on inculturation. His change from a critical to a positive acceptance of the koshinto tradition partly accounts for his move from a pessimistic attitude to Christian inculturation in his early years to the growing theo-centric and pneumatic concerns of later years.


  • Emi Masé-Hasegawa
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Religious Studies


  • Kristen teologi (allmän, systematic and practical Christian theology, General, Christ., religious pluralism, multiple religious affiliation, spirituality, koshinto, literature, Japanese religions, Japanese literature, Japan, Christianity, Japanese Christianity, Endo, inculturation, systematisk och praktisk), Paleo-Siberian languages and literatures, Korean, Japanese, Koreanska, japanska och paleosibiriska språk, Non-Christian religions, Världsreligioner (ej kristendom)
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
  • [unknown], [unknown], Supervisor, External person
Award date2004 Dec 17
  • Centre for Theology and Religious Studies, Lund University
Print ISBNs91-628-6350-9
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2004-12-17 Time: 14:15 Place: Edens Hörsal External reviewer(s) Name: Thelle, Notto R. Title: Professor Affiliation: Oslo University --- The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Missiology and Ecumenics (015017074)