The Protestant Missions — October 28, 2010 at 9:48 pm

Opposition and the first translation of the Bible in Japanese!


Patrick Lafcadio Hearn (27 June 1850 – 26 September 1904), also known as Koizumi Yakumo (小泉 八雲?) after gaining Japanese citizenship, was an author, best known for his books about Japan. He is especially well-known for his collections of Japanese legends and ghost stories, such as Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things.

Opposition, however, was not at an end. In Kyoto the local government instructed the ward officers to advise the people not to go to the houses of missionaries or to places where Christianity was preached, giving as a reason that the people already had a sufficient number of religions and those that were good enough. Two of the Japanese teachers in the Imperial High School in Osaka had been prominent workers in the churches. They were now forbidden to preach or teach Christianity, danger of overwork outside of school being the excuse for the order.

This was one of several indications that the Department of Education was then, as for many years afterwards, opposed to Christianity.

Another form of opposition was in some respects harder to bear, since it came from those who had been born in Christian lands. Some of the foreign professors in the Imperial University at Tokyo, not only ridiculed Christianity in their classrooms, but also held meetings in a public hall, where they attacked Christianity and even theism.

In the summer of 1879 the peasants in a place near Niigata attacked Dr. Palm and demolished his preaching-place. This occurred in a riot, the people having gained the idea that the cholera, which was then raging, was in some way due to the Christians.

Missions were commenced in 1879 by the English Baptists and by the Reformed Church (German) in the United States. The next year the Methodist Protestant Church of America entered the field.

April 19, 1880, a meeting was held in one of the churches of Tokyo to celebrate the completion of the translation of the New Testament as made by die Committee chosen in 1872. A large audience of Japanese Christians, together with representatives of fourteen American and English missionary societies, filled the church. . Dr. N Brown of the American Baptist Mission,

(There are many Europeans and Americans who do their best to make the Japanese think that Christianity has been outgrown by Western nations. An enthusiastic eulogy of the well-known writer, Lafcadio Hearn, that appeared in The Sun Trade Journal (Tokyo) of June 1, 1905, says that when he was teaching English in Kumamoto (about 1890), one of his pupils referred in an essay to the civilization of Christendom. Mr. Heam, in a written criticism of the paragraph, said: It is very doubtful whether the civilization of a people has any connection whatever with their religion. In Christian countries, moreover, the most learned men do not believe in Christianity, and the Christian religion is divided into countless sects which detest each other. No European scientist of note —no philosopher of high rank —no really great man is a Christian in belief.” If in after years this pupil read Mr. Heam’s “Japan, an Interpretation,” he must have been surprised to find that its opening chapter was chiefly devoted to the thought that the social conditions, industrial history, art, literature, etc of a country cannot be understood without a knowledge of its religion. The article goes on to say that Mr. Hearn’s hatred of Christianity was so great that when in his walks he came upon a church, he would not pass before it, but would turn about and go another way. Such conduct and words on the part of a popular teacher could not fail to prejudice his pupils strongly against Christianity.)

who a few months before had completed an independent translation of the New Testament, read the nineteenth Psalm in English, and Rev. J. Piper of the English Church Missionary Society offered prayer. The leading address was in English by Dr. Hepburn, who gave a historical sketch of former attempts to translate the Scriptures into Japanese, and of the way the present version was prepared. The chief work had been done by Drs. S. R. Brown, Greene, Hepburn, and Maclay; the Japanese brethren who assisted them and to whom much of the excellence of the version is due, being

Ibuka Kajinosuke (井深 梶之助?, 1854-1935) was a Japanese samurai of the late Edo period, who became a Christian during the Meiji era. He was born in Aizu, and fought in the Boshin War. In his adult life, he also became an ordained minister, and was an educator.

Messrs. Matsuyama Takayoshi, Okuno Masatsuna, Takahashi Goro, Ibuka Kajinosuke, and Miwa —Of the first of these it was said:

“He was with the Committee from the first, and throughout its whole work. He was our chief dependence, assistant, and arbiter in all cases of difficulty. Whatever virtue there is in our Japanese text is mainly, if not altogether, owing to his scholarly ability, the perfect knowledge he has of his own language, his conscientious care, and his identifying himself with the work.”

Mr. Okuno, who was with the Committee a little more than two years, “had more to do in assisting in the first work of translation than perhaps any other.”

The year that saw the completion of the translation saw also a great increase in the sale of the Scriptures, Rev. J. Goble, who was employed by the American Bible Society as a colporteur, had a small handcart made, which he stocked with books and so sold them through the streets of Tokyo and in different parts of the country. In the first month he sold about 5,500 portions of the Bible. Not only did he himself effect these large sales, but he proved to the Japanese that the people were ready to buy if approached in the right way, and many of the colporteurs, who hitherto had been too dignified to push their business, learned from him how to do successful work.

Here are some books written by Patrick Lafcadio Hearn, ordering through my affiliate account will help support my site! Thank you!


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