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Nozomu Miyahira's
Towards a Theology of the Concord of God

A Review by
Rev. Ralph Allan Smith


Unfortunately, Miyahira's discussion of the Fourth Gospel, while thoughtful and thought-provoking, is marred. Even more unfortunately, it is marred by nothing other than his central thesis. For the invention of a new and remarkably awkward terminology for the doctrine of the Trinity obscures more than it facilitates the discussion. Although it is not altogether clear to me, especially in the light of the Japanese title of his book, whether Miyahira intends to add his "three betweenesses, one concord" to the traditional "three persons, one being" formula, or whether he offers it as an alternative, the formula does not seem to stand by itself. Nor does it, placed beside the traditional formula, offer much in the way of illumination. Rather than searching the annals of Japanese history and linguistics to discover terms that are supposed to communicate more effectively in the Japanese context, Miyahira could have offered a more helpful discussion of John's Gospel by phrasing his insights in the language to which Japanese, no less than Western, Christians have become accustomed. Of course, that might not make a very interesting doctoral thesis!


The Thesis

Though we have referred to his thesis already, we need to offer a brief statement of the central points. Miyahira's proposal is that the second character of the Japanese word for humanity (ningen / ) — which is said to refer to the "betweenness" that characterizes humanity — and the Japanese word for concord (wa / ) may be used to express the doctrine of the Trinity in a way that will better communicate the mystery of God to the Japanese people. The character for "betweenness" () communicates the fact that God is a relational God and "concord" the fact that Father, Son, and Spirit live in a perfect harmony of mutual understanding.


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