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The Journey of the Suffering Servant: The Vulnerable Hero, the Feminine Godhead and Spiritual Transformation in Endō Shūsaku’s Deep River

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AbstractThis study aims to investigate how the Biblical view of the Suffering Servant transforms a basic pattern of the hero’s journey into a narrative of spiritual growth in modern literature. In this article, especially, I will examine the novel Deep River by the 20th-century Japanese Catholic novelist, Endō Shūsaku, paying special attention to his use of Jungian archetypes. Unlike the beautiful and gracious Holy Mother of Christian belief, the image of Endō’s feminine divinity is what we think as ordinary, depressing, shameful, and even ugly. As the very embodiment of this motherly divine Love, the hero of the novel eventually figures out that his journey should be structured analogously to the narrative of the Suffering Servant. This hero helps people discover the mother-like God and invites them into their own spiritual journey in which they accept the vulnerability, ineffectiveness and helplessness of human existence.

Affiliations: 1: Heythrop College, University of London United Kingdom, Email:, URL:


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