The Myōtei Dialogues

A Japanese Christian Critique of Native Traditions


The Myōtei Dialogues is the first complete English translation one of the most important works of early Japanese Christianity. Fukansai Habian’s Myōtei mondō (1605) presents a sharp critique of the three main Japanese traditions, Buddhism, Shintō, and Confucianism, followed by an explanation of the main tenets of Christianity specifically aimed at a Japanese audience. Written by a convert, it is of importance not merely because it shows us how the Christian message was presented by a Japanese to other Japanese, but also for what it reveals about the state of the three native traditions at the beginning of the seventeenth century.

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Richard Bowring, Ph.D. (1973), is Professor Emeritus of Japanese Studies at the University of Cambridge. His books include Mori Ogai and the Modernization of Japanese Culture (1979), The Diary of Lady Murasaki (1996) and The Religious Traditions of Japan, 500–1600 (2005).

James Baskind, Ph.D. (2006), is Associate Professor of Japanese Intellectual History at Nagoya City University. A specialist in Japanese Buddhist history, recent publications have dealt with the theme of Buddhist-Christian polemics during the early Edo period.

With contributions by John Breen and Hans Martin Krämer
"The Myōtei Dialogues is a long-awaited work. With the excellence of its translation and introduction, this book makes a substantial contribution to scholarship in many fields."
Higashibaba Ikuo, Tenri University, Japan, Journal of Religion in Japan 5

"The publication of this English translation is an event worthy of celebration—not only because it is the first but because it is very good. It expresses an accurate understanding of the piece’s dizzying range of Buddhist, Confucian, Daoist, Shintō, and Christian references in a smooth style which wears its erudition lightly."
Patrick Schwemmer, Sophia University, Journal of Jesuit Studies 3

"In addition to its importance for everyone interested in the early history of Christianity in Japan (but also of neo-Confucianism, Shinto, and Buddhism in the sixteenth century) it is of great value for everyone who deals with problems of transcultural religious exchange and the way religions emerge and grow in a totally foreign surrounding."
Franz Winter, University of Graz, Religious Studies Review Volume 43, Number 1
All students and teachers interested in Japanese culture, with special reference to the impact of Christanity in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.