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The Monk and the Heretics: A Reappraisal of Sessō Sōsai’s Anti-Christian Documents (Mid-Seventeenth Century)

Abstract : By examining the dynamic interactions between the authorities, the Buddhist clergy, and the hidden Christians, this article aims to deepen our understanding of the Tokugawa anti-Christian policy in the aftermath of the Shimabara-Amakusa revolt (November 1637–April 1638), a period of international tension for Japan as the Iberian threat was not over. It focuses on Sessō Sōsai (1589–1649), a Rinzai monk who was summoned by the authorities of Nagasaki in mid-1647 to preach to the populace. Some of his writings and his working papers have survived. These firsthand sources enable us to bring together fields that previous scholarship has generally tackled separately: intellectual, institutional, and social history. This essay argues that around 1640, Sessō Sōsai and his patrons in Nagasaki felt that the religious inquiry had reached a deadlock as the alleged apostates could suddenly (and violently) return to their previous faith. They understood that, in order to be more efficient and obtain sincere apostasies, their fight against the forbidden cult should focus more on the actual beliefs of the hidden Christians. They paid particular attention to the belief in miracles and in the omnipotence of God.
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Contributor : Martin Nogueira Ramos <>
Submitted on : Thursday, April 22, 2021 - 7:08:55 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, June 2, 2021 - 4:26:43 PM


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  • HAL Id : halshs-03133995, version 1


Martin Nogueira Ramos. The Monk and the Heretics: A Reappraisal of Sessō Sōsai’s Anti-Christian Documents (Mid-Seventeenth Century). Japan Review, 2021, 35, pp.59-90. ⟨halshs-03133995⟩



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