Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara : Santa Clara University, 2017.

Degree Name

Doctor of Sacred Theology (STD)


Thomas Cattoi


This work conducts a comparative study of the hypostatic union of Christ and the theory of the Buddha body in Shin Buddhism, focusing on the personal and cosmic dimensions of salvation in the two traditions. The goal of this approach is ultimately to gain new insights into Christ's hypostatic union and thereby elucidate the salvific dimensions of the union for the entire cosmos.

Founded by Shinran (1173-1263) in Japan, Shin Buddhism is a branch of the Pure Land School of Mahayana Buddhism. Christianity and Shin Buddhism share certain core elements in terms of their faith in a personal divinity (God or Buddha), their soteriologies, and their theologies of grace. This study is located within the broader context of the dialogue between Shin Buddhism and Christianity in Japan. The dissertation is the first comparative research on the points of contact between the hypostatic union of Christ and the fulfilled Buddha body. Thus, it breaks new ground on the horizon of comparative research on these core elements of both religious traditions.

Regarding methodology, the study employs the "fulfillment" model of interreligious dialogue proposed by Paul Knitter. This model recognizes the soteriological value of other religions and their capacity to enhance the Christian revelation itself through dialogue, while understanding Christ as the summit of God's saving revelation in history. Regarding structure and content, the study first elucidates the personal dimensions of the hypostatic union of Jesus Christ. Secondly, it considers the cosmic dimensions of the hypostatic union through an investigation of the cosmic dimensions of salvation. Thirdly, it explores the structure of the cosmic Buddha body of Amitabha Buddha and the Pure Land, which is realized by Dharmakara bodhisattva's fulfillment of his vow to save all sentient beings. Fourthly, it examines the structure of Dharmakara ~· individual subjectivity. Finally, the study elucidates new perspectives on the hypostatic union of Christ that emerge in the dialogue with the Buddha body theory in Shin Buddhism.

In my conclusions, I will point to some concrete implications of this cosmic vision of interdependence for social and environmental praxis and pedagogy, as well as solidarity with those who suffer. These insights will bring a new appreciation of the hypostatic union not only for the individual, but for the entire cosmos, affirming the interdependence of all things within the cosmic web of life.

Included in

Religion Commons