Download A Life of Jesus, by Shusaku Endo
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A Life of Jesus, by Shusaku Endo
Download A Life of Jesus, by Shusaku Endo
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A simple and powerful retelling of the life of Christ as seen through the eyes of a Japanese novelist.
- Sales Rank: #315705 in Books
- Published on: 1978-01-01
- Original language: Japanese
- Number of items: 1
- Dimensions: 8.48″ h x .60″ w x 5.46″ l, .53 pounds
- Binding: Paperback
- 192 pages
Text: English, Japanese (translation)
From the Back Cover
Translated By Richard A. Schuchert; My book called A Life of Jesus may cause surprise for American readers when they discover an interpretation of Jesus somewhat at odds with the image they now possess.
About the Author
Shusaku Endo was born in Tokyo in 1923 and died in 1996. After his parents divorced, he and his mother converted to Catholicism a faith which is central to many of his tales. He is widely regarded as Japan’s leading writer and has won all his country’s major literary prizes, including the Akutagawa, the Noma, the Shincho, and the Tanizaki.
Most helpful customer reviews
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful.
Speculative (non)fiction or heartfelt plea?
Apparently Shusaku Endo wrote “A Life of Jesus” in an attempt to better communicate the Christian faith to his countrymen. In his view the Japanese have not embraced Christianity because of the highly judgmental “paternal” aspects found in the Bible. As a remedy to that he tries to paint a picture of Jesus Christ the man, a simple character that unconditionally loved all whom he encountered. For the most part he succeeds and presents a comprehensive narrative that vividly describes the world Jesus lived in.
It’s unforunate then that he should spend so much time trying to downplay the supernatural aspects of Jesus’ life and Christianity in general. In conclusion he states that “the human condition is not to be curcumscribed by tangible facts” – yet for much of the book he tries on a number of admitedly speculative theories in an effort to rationalize events recounted in the synoptic texts. Considering that many Japanese people are comfortable with Buddhist concepts such as transmigration or Shinto ideas concerning ancestors and spirit worship it’s hard to imagine that they would need pages and pages of exposition to arrive at the simple message “love your neighbour as you love yourself”. Western critics are quick to point out that the Japanese are not religious simply because they don’t practice in a fashion comparable to those in the West. While this may be true their acceptance of a supernatural realm cannot be argued. Why then does Endo spend so much time on this issue?
It almost seems as if he’s trying to rationalize his own faith and gets sidetracked with his intended goal. Issues like the virgin birth, stating that Jesus was John the Baptist’s “disciple”, the feeding of 5000, the account of Lazarus and countless other literal interpretations do little to serve his ultimate goal. The most baffling apology of all is Endo’s account of the resurrection which states that the disciples merely concocted this story out of guilt for selling out Jesus to the Sandhedrin. Again he further dilutes his message to embolden his narrative.
Harsh criticism aside, this book is very well written and paints a unique picture of the man Jesus Christ. If nothing else it’s thought provoking and well paced. Considering the miniscule impact it seems to have had on Japanese society, Endo would probably consider this work a failure. On the whole though it’s another voice and another opinion. If Japan is to ever embrace Christianity they’ll likely need more Endos delivering impassioned pleas such as that found in “A Life of Jesus”.
62 of 64 people found the following review helpful.
Mallowcups for Shusaku
By Tracy Groot
Shusaku Endo, in his own words a “solitary novelist in the Orient”, has given us a singular gift in “A Life of Jesus.” This novelist employed his talent to put a soundtrack and lighting to the gospels, complete with the dimensions of smell, taste, and touch. While I feel he used the word ’emaciated’ one too many times in reference to Jesus, the point he makes is clear; Jesus was not what anyone expected a Messiah to be.
Endo takes a good portion of the book to explore the POV’s of the disciples. His is the first account I have seen that presents a compassionate portrait of Judas Iscariot, a man who, in the end, hated himself to death. Toward the end of the book, Endo hammered the perplexing question of what changed the cowardly disciples, who had abandoned Jesus to his fate…the conclusion Endo reached did indeed resonate with this particular reader, though I could not help feel a bit of restless frustration with the end…his conclusions about the ‘electrifying change’ he saw in the disciples not once suggested the beginning of the book of Acts, where a once denying Peter is now empowered to not only hold forth, but to do so boldly.
The point Endo labors is more about the power of resurrection…he says “Regarding other miracles in the life of Jesus, the Gospel record is soft, compared to the resurrection.” Indeed, it was fascinating to get inside the brains of Endo’s disciples–the word ‘resurrection’ has new meaning for me.
I greatly admired this work, am still thinking about it, and had the feeling it ended too soon. In Endo’s own words, because I cannot say it better, “Regarding those who deserted him, those who betrayed him, not a word of resentment came to his lips…he prayed for nothing but their salvation. That’s the whole life of Jesus. It stands out clean and simple, like a single Chinese ideograph brushed on a blank sheet of paper. It was so clean and simple that no one could make sense of it, and not one could produce its like.”
35 of 38 people found the following review helpful.
A Compelling Account
By A Customer
I would have never discovered this book had it not been tucked away in a box of books given to us by an elderly friend…Endo wrote this book in the 70s and it deserves to be revived in connection with the recent interest in “the Historical Jesus”.
Endo provides a speculative historical account of the life of Jesus based on the New Testament. His attention to Scriptural detail is remarkable and he provides many compelling interpretations of the words of Jesus and the events of the gospels. His goal in writing this account was to explain Christianity to a Japanese culture that views a fathers as stern and judgemental figures. Hence, his challenge is to re-define God the Father as a loving and compassionate figure in contrast to the God often portrayed in the Old Testament. His thesis, in my own words, is that Jesus came not to tell everybody that He is God, but rather to tell us who God is. At a time in history when Jesus’ countrymen were looking for a violent revolutionary to lead them from Roman occupation, Jesus was rejected as weak and ineffective. Only in dying with dignity and showing faith and forgiveness in his dying words were his followeres able to understand that his message was indeed revolutionary.
He is careful to distinguish “fact” from truth” and hence “A Life of Jesus” is convincing and historically plausible as well as faith inspiring. He never asks the reader to place blind faith in unprovable accounts of miraculous events. Nonetheless, he ends with his account of the resurrection which argues that the transformation in Jesus disciples after the crucifixion is as miraculous as the corporal resurrection of Jesus from the dead, regardless of whether or not such a resurrection is historically factual.
If this book were more well known, Endo would undoubtedly be attacked by evangelical conservatives for suggesting that acceptance of the factuality of the New Testament is not a prerequisite for faith. In fact, he doesn’t even touch on the birth narratives because of the historical speciousness. His account may not convince skeptics to run out and join a church, but they may reconsider their notions of the meaning of Jesus and the nature of the Divine.
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