Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

A study of the Catholic priest in Shusaku Endo's novels
by Toma, Johnny Victor, M.A.L.S., Georgetown University, 2011, 91; 1494290
Abstract (Summary)

This thesis was inspired by Professor William J. O'Brien's Theological Issues in 20th and 21st Century Fiction class in 2008, and the Roman Catholic Church's Year of the Priest which began in 2009 and ended in 2010. It was born out of a desire to study the character of the Catholic priest in literary works of fiction in order to learn new ways of understanding them and the God they serve in a rapidly changing world. Much has already been written about priests in the Western hemisphere in works such as Graham Greene's The Power and the Glory and Georges Bernanos' The Diary of a Country Priest but much less is known of books about priests from other parts of the globe. Through a process of elimination, it was decided to consult the works of the revered Shusaku Endo because he is considered by many scholars to be Japan's, if not Asia's, foremost Catholic writer. In an attempt to reconcile his Catholic faith with this Japanese identity, Endo ultimately produced a series of fictional stories that provided a rare glimpse into the lives of Catholic priests in a non traditional Catholic setting.

Four of Endo's novels were chosen for this study because of the prominent roles that the Catholic priests played in them. Each book was read and analyzed in chronological order according to the year in which it was written. The intent was to follow the development of Endo's analysis and portrayal of the priest throughout the years of his writing career. Consequently, a chapter of this volume was dedicated to each book's priests and entitled according to their main functions in the plots.

The results of this study are as follows. Volcano introduced some of the differences between the local Japanese pastor and the foreign missionary priest which hinted at Japan's long history of hostility and mistrust of the West and its religious beliefs. In Silence Endo took his reader back in time for a history lesson to get at the root of the problem and to see why Japan still treats Christianity like an unwanted foreign wife. In it he exposed the moral dilemmas facing the foreign priests whose acts of apostasy were never before seen as acts of love. Then came The Samurai to remind the reader that not all Western priests were to be blamed for the sour treatment of Christianity by the Japanese. Finally, Deep River unveiled Endo's ultimate religious vision for his beloved Japan and the kind of priest that most closely resembled the companion and compassionate God that he and his countrymen long and hunger for.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: O'Brien, William J.
School: Georgetown University
Department: Theological & Religious Studies
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: MAI 49/06M, Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Asian literature, Religion, Theology
Keywords: Catholic priest, Endo, Shusaku, Japan, Japanese Catholic, Japanese Christianity, Theological fiction, Theological issues
Publication Number: 1494290
ISBN: 978-1-124-68545-8
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