The Philosophy of Giving by the Wise: Third Talk
The meaning of the four circles marked on the picture above:
1. 弥师诃 Messaiah
2. 上悬高 hung up high
3. 有墓自开 The tombs broke open
4. 活起向人people who had died were raised to life and appeared to many people.
A literature translation of “世尊布施论第三” will be “The Philosophy of Giving by the Wise : Third Talk”. The print was discovered in Dunhuang敦煌 in 1912. Dunhuang is a point that was thought to be a major point of interchange between ancient China and Central Asia. The page above recorded the message of Matthias 27, the incident of the cross, and the resurrection too.
The Mogao Caves, “Caves of a Thousand Buddhas” had been collecting scriptures from the west. Interestingly along the discoveries, there were a few manuscripts that recorded the story of Jesus and Messaiah were found, which then marked the presence of Keikyo景教 in the East. With more and more evidences and scholarly review as well as research on these materials, Keikyo 景教 now is widely accepted as early Christians in the East, China.
The more cultural related discovery in Japan is the monument found in Kouyasan 高野山 in Wakayama 和歌山, which was presented by a British lady name Mrs. Gordon in Meiji 44. The monument was the replicate of the original in Xi-an 西安 in China.
This Keikyo monument 大秦景 教流行碑 recorded the statement of Trinity, and the account of the birth of Jesus. The scripture on the monument had also recorded that the Scripture reached Chang-an长安 in 635 year.
The importance of this finding does not only tell us about the step of the early Christians, it also raised issues such as (i) if Christianity is foreign to Chinese or Japanese at all if this was introduced in China during Tang Dynasty; (ii) if the culture has an influence of Christian teaching; (iii)how far could we trace back for the presence of Christianity in both China and Japan; (iv) if Christianity was presence so early and being accepted, why it had been seen so much as a foreign God in today’s evangelism, (v) if the scripture was in Hebrew order or Greek order; etc.
Among all these to be explored, a big question that we need to identify is that, what is this to do with Gospel in Japan?
Things that we need to keep in mind are: how can this discovery help us to preach Good News to the people in Japan? To which group of people that this piece of information will be helpful? And how can we use it as not to offend or destroy, but to build the people that we are reaching out to?
Koyasan in the northern part of the prefecture is known as a sacred place of the Shingon sect founded by Kobo Daish. The Keikyo Monument at Koyasan (Kongobuji金剛峯寺) could probably excite us as it seemed to have some possible connection with early Christianity in Japan. Yet whether the monument actually represent an evidence of early Christianity in Japan is still in debate. Various literature in the internet with regards to Keikyo are interesting. Adding all these together and by our active good will “imaginations”, we might be able to create stories of the connections of Christianity and Japanese believes system. Yet, if we do that, we will lost our Christian Dignity, and we would not be able to travel far with this piece of information. Again, we need to examine the facts carefully and check our motivations when we use this valuable information whether as a tool of “redemptive analogy” or “syncretism”.
Christian dignity on presenting the notes as “Yes” be “yes”, and “No” be “no”, is important.
In this case, if we can be careful with the evidences and have a firm grip on what we understand, be open to the opposite site of the stories if you ever encounter one when you try to use this piece of information, listen more, and keep all these into spiritual prayers, allow the move of the Holy Spirit, and let the Lord guide us into His heart for Japan.
With the limited knowledge that I have, yet tracing into the thread of Keikyo through these years by reading the internet presentation of Keikyo in Japan, meeting with a few people who had been crazy in this piece of evidence, and the interview with Kazuhiko Kawaguchi, I would be more comfortable to introduce you to the work on Keikyo by Kazuhiko Kawaguchi川口一彦. His strong understanding of Buddhism background, genuine interest in Kanji, his research spirit and firm ground of bible knowledge is convincing.
Kazuhiko brought up an interesting fact that: a missionary (Arahon 阿羅本 ) from Persia brought the Syrian Bible during Tang Dynasty, but it does not mean that it was the very first time for Christian to come to China. And the early Christians (Keikyo followers) have been persecuted by Buddhism during that period of time, During the time of Buso emperor（武宗皇帝）, Confucianism follower had deported all the other religions including Keikyo, Buddhism and Manichean from China....... ( ^^ a lot of interesting facts.....)
If you like to know more about Keikyo in Japan, please do not hesitate to be connect with E-grape Publisher, or Pastor Kazuhiko himself.
川口一彦 Kazuhiko Kawaguchi