The Newsletter 51 Summer 2009

Re-thinking Christianity in Japan

Hans Martin Krämer

Paramore, Kiri. 2009. Ideology and Christianity in Japan. London: Routledge. 230 pages. ISBN 978 0 415 44356 2

A stunning 40 years have passed since George Elison submitted the PhD thesis which became the basis for his 1973 book Deus Destroyed: The Image of Christianity in Early Modern Japan. Since then, our understanding of the Japanese Christian century or the fate of Christianity in the Tokugawa Period has not been seriously challenged by new Western-language publications. The image of Christianity in Japan between 1550 and 1850 presented to us in Elison’s work, and by and large shared by the profession over the last decades, has been Christianocentric not only because the narrative was informed largely through reliance on Jesuit sources, but also in the sense that there has never been any doubt that historical documents from that period dealing with Christianity were in fact about, well, Christianity.