Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/228496
Title: A MISSIONARY IDEOLOGY: EXAMINING MEIJI CHRISTIANITY AND CIVLIZATION RHETORIC THROUGH THE EYES OF WILLIAM ELLIOT GRIFFIS
Authors: YEO MAY EN, DEBORAH
Issue Date: 30-Mar-2022
Citation: YEO MAY EN, DEBORAH (2022-03-30). A MISSIONARY IDEOLOGY: EXAMINING MEIJI CHRISTIANITY AND CIVLIZATION RHETORIC THROUGH THE EYES OF WILLIAM ELLIOT GRIFFIS. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Consensus amongst historians of Meiji Christianity is that the introduction of Christianity did exert a large influence on the socio-cultural transformation of Meiji Japan. However, many have portrayed that change as largely the work of Japanese Christians alone while side-lining the role of the Western missionaries and Christian workers. Missionaries, if they are ever featured, are usually presented as representing Western ideas to the Japanese, with Christianity being part of the amalgam that was ‘Western civilization. Yet, what ‘Christianity’ and ‘Western civilization’ were to the Japanese, and what they were to the missionaries were often entirely different beasts, and most scholars either ignore or struggle for a narrative reconciling these differences. Much work remains to be done in examining the intellectual perspectives of these missionaries, and what it meant for them for Japan to be ‘Christianized’. Answering this would not just insert missionaries into the history of Japanese Christianity, but would reveal the contexts in which Christianity and ‘The West’ were even conceived of in Japan. To examine this, I will examine the writings and rhetoric of William Elliot Griffis (1843 – 1928), an American pastor, oyatoi and author formerly renowned as an expert on all things Japanese to the West. I examine the three topics Griffis primarily wrote about – the Christianization of Japan, the civilizing of Japan, and Japan’s relation to the West – in order to examine how Christian-Western thinkers such as himself viewed Japan’s eventual modernization. I argue that Griffis’ views show he possessed a ‘missionary ideology’ – a fervent desire to proselytize not just Christianity, but also modernity and Western civilization – which could help us understand why Christian missionaries exerted such a strong influence on Japan’s modernization thought.
URI: https://scholarbank.nus.edu.sg/handle/10635/228496
Appears in Collections:Bachelor's Theses

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