Endo's Life of Jesus


#1

This maybe isn't the ideal space for this question, but I saw an old post on it in the archive, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

I am not the sort of person who will only read Christian novelists or poets, though I do tend to favor them a bit. Yet when I want to read a book by a Christian writer, specifically on a topic like The Life of Jesus, I want to make sure in advance that the author is really orthodox, even if unconventional (like Flannery O'Connor, for example).

From what I have read, Endo's life of Jesus emphasizes Jesus's humanity and de-emphasizes his divinity. I have no problem with that, in itself - indeed, I think many on CAF could do with putting more emphasis on his humanity. But there is a difference between de-emphasis and outright denial. I have heard some say that the book seems to suggest that the Resurrection was probably not a historical reality, and perhaps that it need not be.

On the other hand, I asked the priest at a diocese I went to, a Paulist who I very much respected, who told me that Endo was orthodox and there was no need to worry about him. I also know that more traditional Christians would probably be dissatisfied with any presentation of Jesus's life that took any liberties with the Gospels whatsoever. But still, I would like to hear from someone who has read the book if there is reason for concern or not.


#2

[quote="Kevin12, post:1, topic:326010"]
This maybe isn't the ideal space for this question, but I saw an old post on it in the archive, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

I am not the sort of person who will only read Christian novelists or poets, though I do tend to favor them a bit. Yet when I want to read a book by a Christian writer, specifically on a topic like The Life of Jesus, I want to make sure in advance that the author is really orthodox, even if unconventional (like Flannery O'Connor, for example).

From what I have read, Endo's life of Jesus emphasizes Jesus's humanity and de-emphasizes his divinity. I have no problem with that, in itself - indeed, I think many on CAF could do with putting more emphasis on his humanity. But there is a difference between de-emphasis and outright denial. I have heard some say that the book seems to suggest that the Resurrection was probably not a historical reality, and perhaps that it need not be.

On the other hand, I asked the priest at a diocese I went to, a Paulist who I very much respected, who told me that Endo was orthodox and there was no need to worry about him. I also know that more traditional Christians would probably be dissatisfied with any presentation of Jesus's life that took any liberties with the Gospels whatsoever. But still, I would like to hear from someone who has read the book if there is reason for concern or not.

[/quote]

I read it, and I loved it. I don't know if it is orthodox or not, but a beautiful, deeply moving book. In fact, it's been awhile, I think I'll go back and read it again.

"Shusaku Endo in 1973 wrote A Life of Jesus, in which he intended "to make Jesus understandable in terms of the religious psychology of my non-Christian countrymen and thus to demonstrate that Jesus is not alien to their religious sensibilities". He argued that his people would be more open to the motherly side of Jesus.

This maternal Jesus is important to Endo because he is one who came to stress the message of God's love and forgiveness for our failures, as well as one who desires to suffer with us in our weakness and poverty. Endo presents Jesus as coming on the scene of first-century Palestine during a time when the average Jewish person must have felt deeply the seeming silence of God: four hundred years of political and religious persecution, their hopes for a political Messiah seemingly unanswered, the average person living a life of economic hardship, illness, and desperation. Against such a backdrop, where most were stressing the judgment of God on sin, Jesus came stressing the compassion of God and the fellow-suffering of God."

from
www3.dbu.edu/mitchell/endojesu.htm


#3

[quote="CHRISTINE77, post:2, topic:326010"]
I read it, and I loved it. I don't know if it is orthodox or not, but a beautiful, deeply moving book. In fact, it's been awhile, I think I'll go back and read it again.

"Shusaku Endo in 1973 wrote A Life of Jesus, in which he intended "to make Jesus understandable in terms of the religious psychology of my non-Christian countrymen and thus to demonstrate that Jesus is not alien to their religious sensibilities". He argued that his people would be more open to the motherly side of Jesus.

This maternal Jesus is important to Endo because he is one who came to stress the message of God's love and forgiveness for our failures, as well as one who desires to suffer with us in our weakness and poverty. Endo presents Jesus as coming on the scene of first-century Palestine during a time when the average Jewish person must have felt deeply the seeming silence of God: four hundred years of political and religious persecution, their hopes for a political Messiah seemingly unanswered, the average person living a life of economic hardship, illness, and desperation. Against such a backdrop, where most were stressing the judgment of God on sin, Jesus came stressing the compassion of God and the fellow-suffering of God."

from
www3.dbu.edu/mitchell/endojesu.htm

[/quote]

I haven't read his Life of Jesus yet, but I have read (and loved and was shocked by) his novel Silence. The section here in your comment that I highlighted would seem consonant with his primary concern in Silence (and from what I've heard, in most of his work) that Japan has something about it that makes it very difficult, nearly impossible, to evangelize. He calls Japan a "swamp" and puzzles over the question of what makes it so difficult to get Christianity to take root there. Perhaps his Life of Jesus is an effort to answer the question of evangelization.

-ACEGC


#4

[quote="edward_george, post:3, topic:326010"]
I haven't read his Life of Jesus yet, but I have read (and loved and was shocked by) his novel Silence. The section here in your comment that I highlighted would seem consonant with his primary concern in Silence (and from what I've heard, in most of his work) that Japan has something about it that makes it very difficult, nearly impossible, to evangelize. He calls Japan a "swamp" and puzzles over the question of what makes it so difficult to get Christianity to take root there. Perhaps his Life of Jesus is an effort to answer the question of evangelization.

-ACEGC

[/quote]

That was a very chilling book about the Jesuit missionaries and the Japanese Christians who were persecuted during the 1600s.

I suspect that they were not so against Christianity as Westerners.

On a side note, did you know that Martin Scorsese is going to make it into a movie in 2014?


#5

[quote="CHRISTINE77, post:4, topic:326010"]
That was a very chilling book about the Jesuit missionaries and the Japanese Christians who were persecuted during the 1600s.

I suspect that they were not so against Christianity as Westerners.

On a side note, did you know that Martin Scorsese is going to make it into a movie in 2014?

[/quote]

I heard about Scorsese's film, and I'll be really interested to see how he treats it. That novel was beyond chilling--the end was a total shocker for me, I couldn't see it coming. I guess in retrospect it makes sense, but it was a brilliantly crafted and suspenseful book altogether. Endo was a genius.

-ACEGC


#6

[quote="edward_george, post:5, topic:326010"]
I heard about Scorsese's film, and I'll be really interested to see how he treats it. That novel was beyond chilling--the end was a total shocker for me, I couldn't see it coming. I guess in retrospect it makes sense, but it was a brilliantly crafted and suspenseful book altogether. Endo was a genius.

-ACEGC

[/quote]

I know you will love The Life of Jesus. I actually liked it better than The Silence, but both were fantastic. I really need to read them again!


#7

[quote="Kevin12, post:1, topic:326010"]
This maybe isn't the ideal space for this question, but I saw an old post on it in the archive, so I thought I'd give it a shot.

I am not the sort of person who will only read Christian novelists or poets, though I do tend to favor them a bit. Yet when I want to read a book by a Christian writer, specifically on a topic like The Life of Jesus, I want to make sure in advance that the author is really orthodox, even if unconventional (like Flannery O'Connor, for example).

From what I have read, Endo's life of Jesus emphasizes Jesus's humanity and de-emphasizes his divinity. I have no problem with that, in itself - indeed, I think many on CAF could do with putting more emphasis on his humanity. But there is a difference between de-emphasis and outright denial. I have heard some say that the book seems to suggest that the Resurrection was probably not a historical reality, and perhaps that it need not be.

On the other hand, I asked the priest at a diocese I went to, a Paulist who I very much respected, who told me that Endo was orthodox and there was no need to worry about him. I also know that more traditional Christians would probably be dissatisfied with any presentation of Jesus's life that took any liberties with the Gospels whatsoever. But still, I would like to hear from someone who has read the book if there is reason for concern or not.

[/quote]

Finally, someone else who knows the book! :D

In a sense, you are right. Endo's picture of Jesus might prove a bit troubling for a number of more conservative people in the West, especially a number of folks here in CAF, given his general downplaying of the supernatural. For instance, he understands the darkness at the crucifixion as a symbolic description of the grief of the disciples, and rationalizes the temptation at the desert as signifying the antagonism between Jesus and the sectarians at Qumran. He also deemphasizes certain details of Jesus' life, such as the question of whether or not Jesus was really born in Bethlehem or whether the resurrection should be taken literally, something that might make a few go up in arms.

In fact, Endo's Jesus is somewhat of a mundane, lowly, powerless figure, a far cry from the triumphant, divine Christ of the West. And that's exactly what he was going for: he felt that the glory and the grandeur of traditional Western Christianity is precisely what is alienating the Japanese from it. He was of the idea that Japan had not accepted (the Christian) God because He has been too frequently presented as an authoritative Father - this of course being the country where the four most dreadful things on earth are considered to be "earthquakes, thunders, fires, and fathers." Philip Yancey said it much better than I could:

His own life story reads like the plot of an Endo novel. As a Christian teenager in prewar Japan, where the church comprised far less than 1 percent of the population, he suffered what he calls "the anguish of an alien." Classmates bullied him for his association with a Western religion. The war only magnified this sense of alienation: Endo had always looked to the West as his spiritual homeland, but these were the people now vaporizing the cities of Japan.

After the war, he traveled to France to pursue the study of such French Catholic novelists as Francois Mauriac and Georges Bernanos. Yet France hardly made him feel welcome either: as one of the first Japanese overseas exchange students, and the only one in Lyons, he was spurned this time on account of race, not religion. The Allies had cranked out a steady stream of anti-Japanese propaganda, and Endo found himself the target of racial abuse from fellow Christians.

During his three years in France, Endo fell into a depression. To complicate matters, he contracted tuberculosis, had a lung removed, and spent many months laid up in hospitals. He concluded that Christianity had, in effect, made him ill. Rejected in his homeland, rejected in his spiritual homeland, he underwent a grave crisis of faith.

Before returning to Japan, though, Endo visited Palestine in order to research the life of Jesus, and while there he made a transforming discovery: Jesus, too, knew rejection. More, Jesus' life was defined by rejection. His neighbors laughed at him, his family questioned his sanity, his closest friends betrayed him, and his fellow citizens traded his life for that of a common criminal. Throughout his ministry, Jesus purposely gravitated toward the poor and the rejected: he touched those with leprosy, dined with the unclean, forgave thieves, adulterers, and prostitutes.

This new insight into Jesus hit Endo with the force of revelation. From the faraway vantage point of Japan he had viewed Christianity as a triumphant, Constantinian faith. He had studied the Holy Roman Empire and the glittering Crusades, had admired photos of the grand cathedrals of Europe, had dreamed of living in a nation where one could be a Christian without disgrace. Now, as he studied the Bible, he saw that Christ himself had not avoided "dis-grace."

Jesus was the Suffering Servant, as depicted by Isaiah: "despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.

Like one from whom men hide their faces..." Surely this Jesus, if anyone, could understand the rejection Endo himself was going through.

Endo returned to Japan with his faith intact, yet sensing the need to reshape it, to fashion a suit of clothes that would better fit. "Christianity, to be effective in Japan, must change," he decided. He became a novelist, in fact, in order to work out these issues in print. A lean, sickly man, wearing thick glasses, on the fringe of society, he slipped easily into the bookish life of a writer. He began cranking out novels at the rate of one per year, and his pace has not slowed since the mid-1950s.


#8

[quote="edward_george, post:3, topic:326010"]
I haven't read his Life of Jesus yet, but I have read (and loved and was shocked by) his novel Silence. The section here in your comment that I highlighted would seem consonant with his primary concern in Silence (and from what I've heard, in most of his work) that Japan has something about it that makes it very difficult, nearly impossible, to evangelize. He calls Japan a "swamp" and puzzles over the question of what makes it so difficult to get Christianity to take root there. Perhaps his Life of Jesus is an effort to answer the question of evangelization.

-ACEGC

[/quote]

Like I said in the last post, there are a number of elements which makes Christianity (or at least, the Western expression of it) unpalatable to Japanese sensibilities. One of these, as Endo points out, is the traditional Western image of God as an authoritative Father. The traditional Japanese mentality is that fathers are stern, harsh and punitive; on the other hand, kindness and mercy are seen as to be the preserve of the mother.

In fact, the founder of Jōdo Shinshū (True Pure Land sect), Shinran (1173-1263), wrote that "Like the mother protecting her child in her deep love, so do a thousand Nyorai remember the living in their deep love and compassion." In fact, it has been commented by a fellow novelist (Shiba Ryōtarō) that Endo's theology of a merciful, motherly God smacks of Pure Land Buddhism: "It is possible to replace his God with Amida." Endo himself commented about Silence: "I wrote in a postscript that Rodrigues's last words smacked of Protestantism, but to tell the truth I feel that in those words is to be found a kind of reconciliation of Catholicism and Pure Land Buddhism."

This is the portrait which appears in A Life of Jesus. Endo explains in the preface to the American edition of the book:

Jesus as I depict him is a person who lived for love and still more love; and yet he was put to death, for he chose to live without violent resistance. My way of depicting Jesus is rooted in my being a Japanese novelist. I wrote this book for the benefit of Japanese readers who have no Christian tradition of their own and who know almost nothing about Jesus. What is more, I was determined to highlight the particular aspect of love in his personality precisely in order to make Jesus understandable in terms of the religious psychology of my non-Christian countrymen and thus to demonstrate that Jesus is not alien to their religious sensibilities.

The religious mentality of the Japanese is — just as it was at the time when the people accepted Buddhism— responsive to one who "suffers with us" and who "allows for our weakness," but their mentality has little tolerance for any kind of transcendent being who judges humans harshly, then punishes them. In brief, the Japanese tend to seek in their gods and buddhas a warm-hearted mother rather than a stern father. With this fact always in mind I tried not so much to depict God in the father-image that tends to characterize Christianity, but rather to depict the kind-hearted maternal aspect of God revealed to us in the personality of Jesus.

If my American readers will keep this point of view in mind as they move through A Life of Jesus, they will (I believe) gain deeper insight into just where the religious psychology of the Japanese and other Orientals coincides with their own, and they will better appreciate those points at which the two psychologies perhaps diverge.

The career of Jesus as it is presented in this book does not include the image of Jesus as the One who fulfills the Jewish Old Testament. On this point I agree to the dissatisfaction expressed by many theologians and clergymen. Furthermore, because I have written the book in my profession as a novelist, it contains no theological interpretations of the prophetic messages contained in the Bible. These interpretations lie beyond the design of the book in an area to which my competence does not attain.

(Incidentally, there was an anecdote by the 16th century Jesuit missionary and historian Luís Fróis describing a convert who prayed with Buddhist beads despite having a rosary by his side. When asked, the man answered: "Padre, I have been a very sinful person, and I prayed with Christian beads, asking our Lord to have mercy for my soul. In a sermon, however, I learned that the Lord is very strict in his judgment. Since my sin is so great, I may not deserve the glory of Deus. I am therefore praying to Amida Buddha too so that I will able to go to the Pure Land in case I cannot go to heaven.")

We can apparently see it in the way Catholic belief and practices evolved among the Kakure Kirishitan or the 'Hidden Christians'. In what is a de facto Bible among the Kakure Kirishitan, the Tenchi Hajimari no Koto (天地始之事 "The Beginning of Heaven and Earth"), Mary is apparently the central figure, much more so than Jesus I think. In fact, in the version preserved among us today, when Mary is assumed to heaven she becomes one of the holy Trinity along with God (Deus) and her Son!


#9

I know, not a huge amount, but still I know a bit about Japan and its spiritual sensibilities to look a bit askance and Endo's words. In the first place, Buddhism wasn't really as pervasive into Japanese society as we think, and there were many periods when it when repressed by the ruling class as subversive of Japanese ideals. Then when I read this paragraph as you have quoted it:
*
The religious mentality of the Japanese is — just as it was at the time when the people accepted Buddhism— responsive to one who "suffers with us" and who "allows for our weakness," but their mentality has little tolerance for any kind of transcendent being who judges humans harshly, then punishes them. In brief, the Japanese tend to seek in their gods and buddhas a warm-hearted mother rather than a stern father. With this fact always in mind I tried not so much to depict God in the father-image that tends to characterize Christianity, but rather to depict the kind-hearted maternal aspect of God revealed to us in the personality of Jesus.*

It seems to me that Endo was describing the trends of his own time, that looked back on the state-Shinto that backed up Japanese imperialism with distaste for being almost exactly what Endo describes Western religious ideas as embodying. Indeed, if this way of looking at the universe was truly part of the Japanese mindset, I doubt Himmler would have pronounced them honorary Aryans.

Another thing is that, you say:

"In a sense, you are right. Endo's picture of Jesus might prove a bit troubling for a number of more conservative people in the West, especially a number of folks here in CAF, given his general downplaying of the supernatural. For instance, he understands the darkness at the crucifixion as a symbolic description of the grief of the disciples, and rationalizes the temptation at the desert as signifying the antagonism between Jesus and the sectarians at Qumran. He also deemphasizes certain details of Jesus' life, such as the question of whether or not Jesus was really born in Bethlehem or whether the resurrection should be taken literally, something that might make a few go up in arm."

But I'm not sure how to interpret this. If Endo believed that the Resurrection need not have literally taken place, then I don't see how he can be called a Christian at all. I don't see this as a matter of being very conservative or not - I am pretty sure even Catholics who support gay marriage, women priests, contraception, etc. would agree that if the Resurrection didn't happen we have all been duped into believing a lie. Of course, he may just leave it open ended, where the reader can interpret it according to their preferences, then I see nothing wrong with that. But on the other hand, if the implication is quite clear that the Resurrection probably did not happen, then I am not sure how Endo is much different from, say, John Shelby Spong.


#10

[quote="Kevin12, post:9, topic:326010"]
I know, not a huge amount, but still I know a bit about Japan and its spiritual sensibilities to look a bit askance and Endo's words. In the first place, Buddhism wasn't really as pervasive into Japanese society as we think, and there were many periods when it when repressed by the ruling class as subversive of Japanese ideals. Then when I read this paragraph as you have quoted it:
*
The religious mentality of the Japanese is — just as it was at the time when the people accepted Buddhism— responsive to one who "suffers with us" and who "allows for our weakness," but their mentality has little tolerance for any kind of transcendent being who judges humans harshly, then punishes them. In brief, the Japanese tend to seek in their gods and buddhas a warm-hearted mother rather than a stern father. With this fact always in mind I tried not so much to depict God in the father-image that tends to characterize Christianity, but rather to depict the kind-hearted maternal aspect of God revealed to us in the personality of Jesus.*

It seems to me that Endo was describing the trends of his own time, that looked back on the state-Shinto that backed up Japanese imperialism with distaste for being almost exactly what Endo describes Western religious ideas as embodying. Indeed, if this way of looking at the universe was truly part of the Japanese mindset, I doubt Himmler would have pronounced them honorary Aryans.

[/quote]

You're correct; modern Japan is very secular (I should know; I live here), and there were indeed times when Buddhism was persecuted - albeit the actual reasons seem to be mainly political in nature. However, I don't think that you could downplay the Buddhist influence on Japanese culture.

I would in fact say that Japanese culture is syncretistic in nature (almost like India), as history itself shows us: to the animism of ancient times were added layers of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, resulting in a mix which had reconciled apparently contradictory beliefs. Whereas the West likes to see things in a clear-cut, black-and-white way, the Japanese preference is for the ambiguous, the "maybe" (this is the reason why the Japanese word for "No" isn't used too often). In fact, to be frank is to be rude.

This mentality explains the fad of holding 'Christian' weddings, even if the participants have no real interest in Christianity. (The Church in Japan actually has official permission to wed non-Catholic couples in churches, "to clearly show that the Church continually prays for God's abundant blessings for the happiness of all.") If all gods are valid (in a country that boasts eight million kami), any style of wedding is as good as another. Form precedes function.

It also explains the brand of Christianity that the Kakure Kirishitan held: many of the prayers (originally in Latin or Portuguese or Spanish) and some of the sacraments are preserved in a much-altered, corrupted form, even if the meaning behind them is lost. There were no priests to celebrate the Mass, but soon some communities developed a ceremony where rice is ritually consumed from the palm of the hand, somewhat evoking the Eucharist. Still, there is no idea of transubstantiation or any of the sort apparently involved; the ritual is just that, a simple ritual. Holy objects like rosaries or the clothing of venerated martyrs became treated like lucky charms (omamori). In fact, ancestor worship had shifted some ways to martyr veneration. Even if persecution of Christianity has officially stopped, some of the 'Hidden Christians' are still hiding their faith nowadays like an esoteric cult (no, not all of them rejoined the Church): being 'hidden' is as much a part of their identity as being 'Christian'.

In fact, many of the later generations no longer had any hesitation to tread on the fumi-e or to register themselves as Buddhists - there's no problem, since one could always ask forgiveness via Konchirisan (Contrition). Sometimes even the Christian God (or Deus, to use the Latin/Portuguese word with which He was originally introduced to the Japanese) is lost sight of - some merely address their prayers to Buddhist or Shinto deities. The Buddhist and Shinto camouflage adopted out of necessity in the earliest years soon became integrated into the religion. Form is preserved at the expense of function; aestethics above ethics.

This is another element of Western Christianity which is said to be unpalatable to Japanese: its overabundance of logic and its 'excessive' clarity and directness.


#11

But I'm not sure how to interpret this. If Endo believed that the Resurrection need not have literally taken place, then I don't see how he can be called a Christian at all. I don't see this as a matter of being very conservative or not - I am pretty sure even Catholics who support gay marriage, women priests, contraception, etc. would agree that if the Resurrection didn't happen we have all been duped into believing a lie. Of course, he may just leave it open ended, where the reader can interpret it according to their preferences, then I see nothing wrong with that. But on the other hand, if the implication is quite clear that the Resurrection probably did not happen, then I am not sure how Endo is much different from, say, John Shelby Spong.

Actually, Endo leaves the question open-ended. When speaking of the Resurrection, he does not write so much of what it really was as its effect on the disciples. He examines a few possible explanations, but concludes that they never really fully solve the problem: how did the cowardly disciples who abandoned Jesus at His death suddenly begin to be bold in their faith? At best, Endo concedes that something unexplainable did happen which so moved the disciples to proclaim Jesus as Christ and Son of God.

Endo surmised that those who fell away when Jesus was arrested were not just Judas and Peter; in his thinking, all of the disciples betrayed Jesus and apostatized in some way, the two merely being the ones who were singled out as representative examples. They must have wondered, he muses, if Jesus died angry at them, since "[n]o hero can be expected to forgive anyone who betrays him." But when they finally find out that Jesus spoke no words of hatred - something inconceivable - that for him is the moment that produces a radical change in the disciples. Hearing about Jesus asking God to forgive those involved in His death and dying with words of complete trust (even when God Himself had kept silent in the face of His torments) makes the discples see the light and understand the depth of all that they have been taught.

Still, Endo goes on to stress that the disciples would have remained cowards who admired Jesus as "a man of supreme moral virtue and as a loving person" if something more than that hadn't happened. (This is where he admits the limits of Bultmann's rationalizing the Resurrection as just this Bultmann-esque 'Jesus living in the hearts of His disciples'-type thing as not being totally able to answer the problem.)

It was beyond the power of mere human nature to return the disciples’ cowardly betrayal of him without anger and resentment but with just the opposite, with love for them. At least until that time, they had never in all their living days seen a human being like that. Not only in their own lives, but not once in Jewish history had there ever been such a person even among their prophets and kings. The disciples’ amazement was overwhelming. They began to feel that Jesus might still be close to their side. Their state of mind was like the feeling of a child bereaved of its mother, when the child can still feel how the mother, even after her death, always remains close by.

The psychology of the disciples as I have stated the case, is not explicit in the New Testament, but between the lines we cannot escape the feel of it. Even I as a solitary novelist in the Orient can sense that much.

With no more than that, however, we are still at a loss to understand the impact made on the disciples by the resurrection. The reason is that the event referred to as the resurrection can never be thought of by one who is not a believer as being anything but simply preposterous, intrinsically impossible, no more than a chimera or an hallucination. Not even those scholars who devote themselves to the history of the New Testament can offer any corroborative proof, and strictly as historians they can tell us nothing except to say with Bultmann that “Jesus rose from the dead in virtue of [his disciples’] faith.”

But we are once again caught in a quandary. The disciples’ compunction, which I have portrayed, plus their deep emotional attachment to Jesus for having forgiven them—by itself, this psychological state of their does not satisfactorily account for the way in which they overcame all tribulations in devoting the entire remainder of their lives laboring to spread the Gospel. But even being in that frame of mind, cowards like the disciples could not be capable of maintaining their emotional high pitch indefinitely. The passage of time, more often than not, tends to dilute our enthusiasm and causes us to forget our initial resolve. It is more authentic to suppose that what exercised such a commanding control in their lives was not merely their emotional state born of the death of Jesus, their surprise and their consequent fond attachment to him.

As Endo notes, after Jesus' death, something changed in disciples: something happened of "electrifying intensity" that led them to call Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Even if we grant ("merely for the sake of discussion") that the empty tomb narratives were pure fiction, we are still forced to believe that what hit the disciples was some other event. For our author, that something amazing did happen which led the disciples to change within their minds the 'powerless' Jesus into the 'all-powerful' is an inescapable conclusion.


#12

I see, that answers my question quite nicely, thank you.


#13

[quote="patrick457, post:11, topic:326010"]
Actually, Endo leaves the question open-ended. When speaking of the Resurrection, he does not write so much of what it really was as its effect on the disciples. He examines a few possible explanations, but concludes that they never really fully solve the problem: how did the cowardly disciples who abandoned Jesus at His death suddenly begin to be bold in their faith? At best, Endo concedes that something unexplainable did happen which so moved the disciples to proclaim Jesus as Christ and Son of God.

Endo surmised that those who fell away when Jesus was arrested were not just Judas and Peter; in his thinking, all of the disciples betrayed Jesus and apostatized in some way, the two merely being the ones who were singled out as representative examples. They must have wondered, he muses, if Jesus died angry at them, since "[n]o hero can be expected to forgive anyone who betrays him." But when they finally find out that Jesus spoke no words of hatred - something inconceivable - that for him is the moment that produces a radical change in the disciples. Hearing about Jesus asking God to forgive those involved in His death and dying with words of complete trust (even when God Himself had kept silent in the face of His torments) makes the discples see the light and understand the depth of all that they have been taught.

Still, Endo goes on to stress that the disciples would have remained cowards who admired Jesus as "a man of supreme moral virtue and as a loving person" if something more than that hadn't happened. (This is where he admits the limits of Bultmann's rationalizing the Resurrection as just this Bultmann-esque 'Jesus living in the hearts of His disciples'-type thing as not being totally able to answer the problem.)

It was beyond the power of mere human nature to return the disciples’ cowardly betrayal of him without anger and resentment but with just the opposite, with love for them. At least until that time, they had never in all their living days seen a human being like that. Not only in their own lives, but not once in Jewish history had there ever been such a person even among their prophets and kings. The disciples’ amazement was overwhelming. They began to feel that Jesus might still be close to their side. Their state of mind was like the feeling of a child bereaved of its mother, when the child can still feel how the mother, even after her death, always remains close by.

The psychology of the disciples as I have stated the case, is not explicit in the New Testament, but between the lines we cannot escape the feel of it. Even I as a solitary novelist in the Orient can sense that much.

With no more than that, however, we are still at a loss to understand the impact made on the disciples by the resurrection. The reason is that the event referred to as the resurrection can never be thought of by one who is not a believer as being anything but simply preposterous, intrinsically impossible, no more than a chimera or an hallucination. Not even those scholars who devote themselves to the history of the New Testament can offer any corroborative proof, and strictly as historians they can tell us nothing except to say with Bultmann that “Jesus rose from the dead in virtue of [his disciples’] faith.”

But we are once again caught in a quandary. The disciples’ compunction, which I have portrayed, plus their deep emotional attachment to Jesus for having forgiven them—by itself, this psychological state of their does not satisfactorily account for the way in which they overcame all tribulations in devoting the entire remainder of their lives laboring to spread the Gospel. But even being in that frame of mind, cowards like the disciples could not be capable of maintaining their emotional high pitch indefinitely. The passage of time, more often than not, tends to dilute our enthusiasm and causes us to forget our initial resolve. It is more authentic to suppose that what exercised such a commanding control in their lives was not merely their emotional state born of the death of Jesus, their surprise and their consequent fond attachment to him.

As Endo notes, after Jesus' death, something changed in disciples: something happened of "electrifying intensity" that led them to call Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Even if we grant ("merely for the sake of discussion") that the empty tomb narratives were pure fiction, we are still forced to believe that what hit the disciples was some other event. For our author, that something amazing did happen which led the disciples to change within their minds the 'powerless' Jesus into the 'all-powerful' is an inescapable conclusion.

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I agree. In fact, Endo makes it clear that Christ was resurrected, just as clear as the empty tomb and the sense of wonderment in the Gospels. How else could such belief and empowerment come to his disciples, and how sure they were of his resurrection. And how quickly the news spread and Christianity took hold!


#14

I would like to let you know that Silence movie will open in theaters on December 23, 2016.


#15

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