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The Samurai and the Cross: The Jesuit Enterprise in Early Modern Japan
The Samurai and the Cross: The Jesuit Enterprise in Early Modern Japan

The Samurai and the Cross: The Jesuit Enterprise in Early Modern Japan

M. Antoni J. Ucerler
  • Contains extensive translations of hitherto unpublished or rare primary sources in Japanese and a variety of European languages
  • Analyzes both European and Japanese debates over religion, law, and "reason of state" to provide a new and original interpretation of Christianity in Japan from the perspective of comparative intellectual history
  • Includes an abundance of illustrations of rare European and East Asian primary sources, as well as artwork that reflects intellectual and religious traditions of the East and West
In 1614 the shogunate prohibited Christianity amidst rumors of foreign plots to conquer Japan. But more than the fear of armed invasions, it was the ideological threat--or "spiritual conquest"--that the Edo shogunate feared the most. This book explores the encounter of Christianity and premodern Japan in the wider context of global and intellectual history. M. Antoni J. Ucerler examines how the Jesuit missionaries sought new ways to communicate their faith in an unfamiliar linguistic, cultural, and religious environment--and how they sought to "re-invent" Christianity in the context of samurai Japan. They developed an original "moral casuistry" or "cases of conscience" adapted to the specific dilemmas faced by Japanese Christians.
This volume situates the European missionary "enterprise" in East Asia within multiple geopolitical contexts: Both Ming China and "Warring States" Japan resisted the presence of foreigners and their beliefs. In Japan, where the Jesuits were facing persecution in the midst of civil war, they debated whether they could intervene in military conflicts to protect local communities. Others advocated for the establishment of a "Christian republic" or civil protectorate. Based on little-known primary sources in various languages, The Samurai and the Cross explores the moral and political debates over religion, law, and "reason of state" that took place on both the European and the Japanese side.

List of Abbreviations
List of Illustrations
Part I: Re-inventing Christianity
Chapter 1: Aristotle and Aquinas come to Japan
Chapter 2: Japanese Cases of Conscience
Chapter 3: Jesuit Casuistry: from Rome to Nagasaki
Part II: Re-imagining the Enterprise
Chapter 4: The Politics of Accommodation
Chapter 5: Alonso Sánchez' and his 'Empresa de China'
Chapter 6: The Cross, the Sword, & 'Just War'
Chapter 7: Gómez vs. Sánchez: 'Compel them to enter'?
Part III: Re-interpreting 'Reason of State'
Chapter 8: Jesuit Debates on Japanese 'Reason of State'
Chapter 9: The Mechanics of Jesuit Obedience
Chapter 10: Japanese Reactions to Christian 'Reason of State'
Chapter 11: The End of the Missionary 'Enterprise'
Chapter 12: Temporal vs. Spiritual Conquest
Epilogue: Some Further Reflections
Select Bibliography

About the author: 

M. Antoni J. Ucerler, S.J., is the Director of the Ricci Institute for Chinese-Western Cultural History and Provost's Fellow at Boston College. He has also taught at Sophia University in Tokyo, Georgetown University, the University of San Francisco, and the University of Oxford, where he is an Associate Fellow of Campion Hall. His interests and publications focus on the history of Christianity in Japan and the global histories of East Asian engagement with Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He is also Co-Editor in Chief of the Brill monograph series, Studies in the History of Christianity in East Asia.

Product details

ISBN : 9780195335439

M. Antoni J. Ucerler
472 Pages
156 x235 mm
Pub date
Jul 2022
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The Samurai and the Cross: The Jesuit Enterprise in Early Modern Japan

The Samurai and the Cross: The Jesuit Enterprise in Early Modern Japan

The Samurai and the Cross: The Jesuit Enterprise in Early Modern Japan