I read in a book at my library today titled The Wisdom of the Early Buddhists, by Geoffrey Parrinder. In the first few pages, he mentions the Dhammapada being the earliest collection of the sayings of the Buddha found to this day. Is there any evidence to back this up? Being more of a newcomer to the specifics of the Pali Canon, I figured I'd be better off asking the more experienced members.
Likewise, I found the same thing mentioned here : http://www.austincc.edu/adechene/Dhammapada.pdf
Right at the top it is written:
The Dhammapada is the earliest collection of the sayings of the Buddha...
Just curious if these are more vague references to the Pali Canon as a whole beings the earliest texts, or if the Dhammapada is actually the earliest known writing found.