Ben wrote:Thank you gentlemen
The reason I started this thread was to assist a very good friend of mine who is an academic in the field of arts and literature. Over the last few years he has been developing a paper that refutes a modern romanticised vision of Gautama's life that has appeared in the works of another Australian poet. My understanding is that there are elements of the Buddha's life captured in the suttas and the ancient commentaries but it was really the later scholars who compiled and edited the life of the Buddha, such as the work by Narada Thera and Bhikkhu Nanamoli. I think also it is the Noble Search Sutta in the Majjhima which contains some excellent material concerning Gautama's life pre-enlightenment but may not be complete.
Thanks for your help.
If you are looking at sutta / vinaya only, then there is really not that much.
The "later" material is often not that late at all. (Remember: Buddhaghosa is 99% compiler, not author.) Judicious comparison amongst a range of post-canonical material, from numerous sources, not just Theravada, will find a wealth of information with much internal consistency.
The Noble Search Sutta, when compared with other versions, may have a few little bits which were added later. This is consistent with the notion that early on, there may not have been a strict line dividing "sutta" from "gloss".
Much of the earlier Romanticized stuff may come from works like Carus, and others. Largely reflecting European Romantic philosophy and arts of the time. Nowadays it all seems a little too much. But we also have our own biases and conditioning, too.
For your friend, refuting is no problem. All the best. Be careful not to "over-refute", too!
Rockhill, Life of Buddha, 1884.
Kern, Manual of Indian Buddhism, 1896.
Thomas, LIfe of the Buddha, 1931.
Foucher, La vie du Bouddha a'apres les texts et monuments de l'Inde, 1949.
Coomaraswamy & Horner, Living Thoughts of Gotama the Buddha, 1948.
Lamotte, La legende du Buddha, 1947.
Lamotte, History of Indian Buddhism, pp. 13ff.