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Neither Monk nor Layman:
Clerical Marriage in Modern Japanese Buddhism
Richard Jaffe

Hardcover | 2002 | $95.00 | £79.95 | ISBN: 9780691074955
320 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 6 halftones, 1 line illus.
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Buddhism comes in many forms, but in Japan it stands apart from all the rest in one most striking way--the monks get married. In Neither Monk nor Layman, the most comprehensive study of this topic in any language, Richard Jaffe addresses the emergence of an openly married clergy as a momentous change in the history of modern Japanese Buddhism. He demonstrates, in clear and engaging prose, that this shift was not an easy one for Japanese Buddhists. Yet the transformation that began in the early Meiji period (1868-1912)--when monks were ordered by government authorities to adopt common surnames and allowed to marry, to have children, and to eat meat--today extends to all the country's Buddhist denominations.

Jaffe traces the gradual acceptance of clerical marriage by Japanese Buddhists from the premodern emergence of the "clerical marriage problem" in the Edo period to its widespread practice by the start of the Second World War. In doing so he considers related issues such as the dissolution of clerical status and the growing domestication of Japanese temple life. This book reveals the deep contradictions between sectarian teachings that continue to idealize renunciation and a clergy whose lives closely resemble those of their parishioners in modern Japanese society. It will attract not only scholars of religion and of Japanese history, but all those interested in the encounter-conflict between regimes of modernization and religious institutions and the fate of celibate religious practices in the twentieth century.


"Jaffe does a masterful job of weaving together into a compelling narrative his extensive and well-documented historical sources. . . . This is an important contribution to modern Japanese religious history."--Choice

"[A] richly detailed and clearly written work. . . Jaffe provides abundant material for anyone interested in state-religion issues. . . . A must read for anyone interested in Japanese religious history, Buddhism, or Japanese history."--Stephen G. Covell, Japanese Journal of Religious Studies

"This work carefully integrates a deep understanding of Buddhist doctrine with historical detail and ethnographic description. On the issue of clerical marriage in Japanese Buddhism, not only is Jaffe's book the only show in town, but it is a show that no one interested in Japanese Buddhism, Meiji history, church-state relations, religious celibacy, modernization, or secularization would want to miss."--John S. LoBreglio, Journal of Asian Studies

"One of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of Japanese Buddhism involves the marriage of clerics. Buddhists from most other countries consider this a sign of the overall decline of Buddhism in Japan and think that Japanese clerics are simply incapable of controlling their desires. . . . Both sides of this complex issue are presented clearly, and the idea of over-all decline is thoroughly debunked. This cross-disciplinary book is important not only to studies of religion but also to those of anthropology and history."--Sarah Horton, Religious Studies Review

"Jaffe's work is beautifully referenced and composed, full of illuminating sidelights and contextual explorations, and displaying powerful detail and tireless pursuit of textual evidence. . . . Jaffe's research performs a quite groundbreaking synthesis in any language."--Galen Amstutz, Journal of Japanese Studies


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File created: 7/11/2017

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