Understanding Shinran

A Dialogical Approach

Hee-Sung Keel

Fremont, CA: Asian Humanities Press, 1995.

Understanding Shinran offers a sensitive and balanced examination of the life and teachings of Shinran Shonin (1173-1262), the founder of True Pure Land Buddhism and one of the greatest religious teachers of all time. Throughout the centuries, the story of his anguished ascent to faith in Amida has lost none of its power to inspire and challenge.

Probing the implications of Shinran’s thought for the interreligious, intercultural world in which we find ourselves today, the author shows how the ongoing drama of salvation through the grace of Amida—a mutual engagement of form and the formless, of ignorant humans and the awakened Buddha—can be read as a message of hope by Buddhists and Christians alike.

Understanding Shinran is a truly ‘strong’ book, an ‘engaged and sustained hermeneutical effort at understanding’ that never loses itself in irrelevant details. It probes deeply into the main points that appear to separate Shinran’s thinking from Christian thinking, and honestly challenges the respective doctrines when the light emanating from the other seems to warrant it.

Jan Van Bragt

With the appearance of Professor Keel’s book, the development of Shin studies has reached a major milestone.… He has opened wide the door for serious dialogue between Shin Buddhism and Christianity, a process long dominated by the challenge of Zen Buddhism.

Alfred Bloom

Hee-Sung KEEL is Professor of Comparative Religion and Buddhist Studies at Sogang University in Seoul, Korea. He did graduate work at Yale Divinity School and Harvard University, and is the author of numerous works in Korean and English on Buddhism and interreligious studies.