During the age of European colonialism, Jesus was first seen by many Asians as a tribal god of the firangis, or white Europeans. But as his story circulated, Asians remade Jesus, at times appreciatively and at other times critically. In a recently published book called Jesus in Asia, Professor RS 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.
Sugirtharajah demonstrates “how Buddhist and Taoist thought, combined with Christian insights, led to the creation of the Chinese Jesus Sutras, 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”, the synopsis for the book explains.
Sugirtharajah, emeritus professor of Biblical Hermeneutics at the University of Birmingham, spoke to Firstpost about the need to salvage Jesus from Western scholars, the revolutionary approach in theology that postcolonial study has meant and why he apologized for a statement he had earlier made about Hinduism’s interactions with Jesus.
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