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Review of Biblical Literature Blog

Jesus in Asia
Sugirtharajah, R. S.

Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2018 pp. vi + 312. $29.95


Description: Reconstructions of Jesus occurred in Asia long before the Western search for the historical Jesus began in earnest. This enterprise sprang up in seventh-century China and seventeenth-century India, encouraged by the patronage and openness of the Chinese and Indian imperial courts. While the Western quest was largely a Protestant preoccupation, in Asia the search was marked by its diversity: participants included Hindus, Jains, Muslims, Catholics, and members of the Church of the East. During the age of European colonialism, Jesus was first seen by many Asians as a tribal god of the farangis, or white Europeans. But as his story circulated, Asians remade Jesus, at times appreciatively and at other times critically. R. S. Sugirtharajah demonstrates how Buddhist and Taoist thought, combined with Christian insights, led to the creation of the Chinese Jesus Sutras of late antiquity, and explains the importance of a biography of Jesus composed in the sixteenth-century court of the Mughal emperor Akbar. He also brings to the fore the reconstructions of Jesus during the Chinese Taiping revolution, the Korean Minjung uprising, and the Indian and Sri Lankan anti-colonial movements. In Jesus in Asia, Sugirtharajah situates the historical Jesus beyond the narrow confines of the West and offers an eye-opening new chapter in the story of global Christianity.

Subjects: Methods, Reception History

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Review by D. N. Premnath
Published 9/12/2019
Citation: D. N. Premnath, review of R. S. Sugirtharajah, Jesus in Asia, Review of Biblical Literature [http://www.bookreviews.org] (2019).


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