Critical Notes -- By: Anonymous

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 046:182 (Apr 1889)
Article: Critical Notes
Author: Anonymous

Critical Notes

I. The Use Of Mythic Phrases In Modern Mission-Fields

In the Expositor, for January, 1888, Dr: Cheyne has an article on “The Use of Mythic Phrases by the Old Testament Writers.”

On the critical question discussed in that paper, the present writer claims no right to speak. When, however, he read its title, there at once occurred the thought, as the religion of Jehovah in the times of Abraham, Moses, David, and Isaiah existed under circumstances not greatly different from those in which Christianity finds itself at the present day as it wins its way among the ethnic religions of India, China, or Japan, the progress of the latter ought to throw some light upon the development of the former.

A study of the present growth of Christianity among people whose whole life is permeated by the precepts and traditions of other religions ought greatly to aid in understanding—what to those born and bred under exclusively Christian influences is so difficult—the tremendous difficulties which the religion of Jehovah had to encounter in those primitive times. It is with the thought of calling attention to some of these difficulties, as well as the desire of casting a side light upon the question discussed by Dr. Cheyne, that I propose to speak briefly on the Use of Mythic Phrases in Mission Work in Japan.

1. The names of persons and places in Japan are to a considerable extent derived from the prevailing religion, and therefore “mythic” in their origin. When some future generation comes to study the origin and growth of the Christian church in Japan, not a few strange phenomena will present themselves. Among the leading Christian preachers will be found the names, Shinto-Temple-River, Great-Shinto-Temple, Second-Shinto-Temple, Front-Shinto-Cod, and many other names of Shinto origin. From Buddhism come the personal names, Little-Buddhist-Temple, Within-the-Buddhist-Temple, Buddhist-Temple-Lake, etc. There will be a Buddhist-Temple-Street-Church, Church-of-the-Western-Shinto-Temple, Church-of the-God-of-War, Church-of-the-God-of-Wealth-Street, Church-on-the-H ill-of-the-Goddess-of-Mercy, etc. How easy for such a future scholar, from such a name as “Church of the God of War.” to miss the point that Hachiman, “God of War,” is really the name of a place, and so to infer the existence of an impure Christianity.

2. There are many terms, mythic in their origin, which have now be come so much a part of the language and life of the people, that they are used daily and hourly, with no thought as to their origin. For example: A Japanese brother, educated in America and loved and honored in two hemispheres, referring in a sermon to the story of Luth...

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