Japanese theologian Kosuke Koyama

Theology rooted in the experiences of ordinary people
Kosuke Koyama, a Japanese Christian theologian who was a proponent of contextual theologies rooted in the experiences of ordinary people, is being lauded for his far-sighted commitment to religious pluralism and dialogue.

Koyama, who taught for 16 years at Union Theological Seminary in New York and was the school’s John D. Rockefeller Jr. professor emeritus of ecumenical studies, died at 79 on March 25 in Springfield, Massa chusetts, where members of his family live.

The Japanese academic is perhaps best remembered for his 1974 book, Water Buffalo Theology, whose title underscores Koyama’s belief that the starting point of theology must be people’s own experience. The book grew from the author’s efforts to communicate the Christian message to farmers in Thailand—who cultivate fields with water buffalo—while he was a missionary and teacher there from 1960 to 1968.


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