The Historical Authenticity of Early Buddhist Literature: A Critical Evaluation

Textual analysis and comparative discussion on early Buddhist sects and texts.
Post Reply
User avatar
Ceisiwr
Posts: 10556
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: United Kingdom

The Historical Authenticity of Early Buddhist Literature: A Critical Evaluation

Post by Ceisiwr »

Paññaṃ nappamajjeyya, saccamanurakkheyya, cāgamanubrūheyya, santimeva so sikkheyyā’ti

“One should not neglect wisdom, should preserve truth, cultivate relinquishment and train for peace.”

Dhātuvibhaṅga Sutta
User avatar
Assaji
Posts: 1798
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 7:24 pm

Re: The Historical Authenticity of Early Buddhist Literature: A Critical Evaluation

Post by Assaji »

Ceisiwr wrote: Tue Jan 12, 2021 10:15 am By Alexander Wynne:
Let me suggest a workable URL: http://ocbs.org/wp-content/uploads/2015 ... 05wzks.pdf
User avatar
Ceisiwr
Posts: 10556
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: United Kingdom

Re: The Historical Authenticity of Early Buddhist Literature: A Critical Evaluation

Post by Ceisiwr »

Assaji wrote: Tue Jan 12, 2021 11:18 am
Ceisiwr wrote: Tue Jan 12, 2021 10:15 am By Alexander Wynne:
Let me suggest a workable URL: http://ocbs.org/wp-content/uploads/2015 ... 05wzks.pdf
:thumbsup:
Paññaṃ nappamajjeyya, saccamanurakkheyya, cāgamanubrūheyya, santimeva so sikkheyyā’ti

“One should not neglect wisdom, should preserve truth, cultivate relinquishment and train for peace.”

Dhātuvibhaṅga Sutta
User avatar
SDC
Posts: 6590
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:08 pm

Re: The Historical Authenticity of Early Buddhist Literature: A Critical Evaluation

Post by SDC »

Not trying to be a square or anything, but has the author made this text freely available?
"As fruits fall from the tree, so people too, both young and old, fall when this body breaks." - Raṭṭhapāla (MN 82)
Pārāpariya | Phussa | Subhā of Jīvaka’s Mango Grove | Kappa
User avatar
retrofuturist
Site Admin
Posts: 23515
Joined: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:52 pm
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Contact:

Re: The Historical Authenticity of Early Buddhist Literature: A Critical Evaluation

Post by retrofuturist »

Greetings,
SDC wrote: Tue Jan 12, 2021 9:53 pm Not trying to be a square or anything, but has the author made this text freely available?
Assaji's link/url to Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies seems legit.

So, we'll assume so... unless anyone comes forth with specific claims to the contrary.

Metta,
Paul. :)
"The uprooting of identity is seen by the noble ones as pleasurable; but this contradicts what the whole world sees." (Snp 3.12)

"It is natural that one who knows and sees things as they really are is disenchanted and dispassionate." (AN 10.2)

"Overcome the liar by truth." (Dhp 223)
User avatar
SDC
Posts: 6590
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:08 pm

Re: The Historical Authenticity of Early Buddhist Literature: A Critical Evaluation

Post by SDC »

retrofuturist wrote: Tue Jan 12, 2021 10:01 pm Greetings,
SDC wrote: Tue Jan 12, 2021 9:53 pm Not trying to be a square or anything, but has the author made this text freely available?
Assaji's link/url to Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies seems legit.

So, we'll assume so... unless anyone has claims to the contrary.

Metta,
Paul. :)
Thanks, Paul. :thumbsup:
"As fruits fall from the tree, so people too, both young and old, fall when this body breaks." - Raṭṭhapāla (MN 82)
Pārāpariya | Phussa | Subhā of Jīvaka’s Mango Grove | Kappa
User avatar
Ceisiwr
Posts: 10556
Joined: Sun Jan 11, 2009 2:36 am
Location: United Kingdom

Re: The Historical Authenticity of Early Buddhist Literature: A Critical Evaluation

Post by Ceisiwr »

SDC wrote: Tue Jan 12, 2021 9:53 pm Not trying to be a square or anything, but has the author made this text freely available?
Yeah. This is what I was trying to link to: https://www.academia.edu/9209369/The_Hi ... Evaluation
Paññaṃ nappamajjeyya, saccamanurakkheyya, cāgamanubrūheyya, santimeva so sikkheyyā’ti

“One should not neglect wisdom, should preserve truth, cultivate relinquishment and train for peace.”

Dhātuvibhaṅga Sutta
User avatar
SDC
Posts: 6590
Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 11:08 pm

Re: The Historical Authenticity of Early Buddhist Literature: A Critical Evaluation

Post by SDC »

Ceisiwr wrote: Tue Jan 12, 2021 10:04 pm
SDC wrote: Tue Jan 12, 2021 9:53 pm Not trying to be a square or anything, but has the author made this text freely available?
Yeah. This is what I was trying to link to: https://www.academia.edu/9209369/The_Hi ... Evaluation
Nice! I was just about say that neither link was working.
"As fruits fall from the tree, so people too, both young and old, fall when this body breaks." - Raṭṭhapāla (MN 82)
Pārāpariya | Phussa | Subhā of Jīvaka’s Mango Grove | Kappa
User avatar
Kim OHara
Posts: 5396
Joined: Wed Dec 09, 2009 5:47 am
Location: North Queensland, Australia

Re: The Historical Authenticity of Early Buddhist Literature: A Critical Evaluation

Post by Kim OHara »

The OCBS link worked for me.
:shrug:

It's a good article, too. even though Wynne does allow his narkiness towards other scholars to shine out in his last paragraph. :smile:

:namaste:
Kim
coffeendonuts
Posts: 117
Joined: Thu Dec 17, 2020 6:26 pm

Re: The Historical Authenticity of Early Buddhist Literature: A Critical Evaluation

Post by coffeendonuts »

The question is how much authenticity? Tantalizing read. I needed more. Interestingly, Wynne writes in the introduction of his The Origins of Buddhist Meditation:
The biggest problem in Buddhist Studies is that nobody knows what the Buddha taught. This is not because of an absence of early literary sources (in Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese, Tibetan, etc.) that claim to contain his teachings. The problem rather, is that recent studies have shown that the early texts appear to contain a number of doctrinal differences, and it is not clear which formulations might be authentic and go back to the Buddha. The historical claims of the early Buddhist sects only add to the general scepticism. All claim that their canonical literature was compiled at the first council of Rajagrha, shortly after the Buddha’s death. Unfortunately, however, there are numerous differences between the various canons, even in the details about the extent and classification of the canon supposedly compiled at the first council.
...Richard Gombrich has pointed out that humorous statements attributed to the Buddha are probably authentic. As he puts it: ‘Are jokes ever composed by committees?’ But it is one thing to establish historical facts and another to identify teachings of the Buddha. Jokes or facts about the Buddha’s death do not establish whether the Buddha taught the Noble Eightfold Path, or even the Four Noble Truths. In short, then, it is difficult to see how the passages of outstanding historical significance—and there are not many obvious examples—could be used as the criterion by which to attribute any of the early doctrinal formulations to the Buddha.
...I will attempt to prove that facts about the Buddha’s early life are historically authentic and can be used to identify some of his teachings in the early literature... This text does not say anything about the content of the earliest Buddhist teachings, but I will use it to provide a historical background to early Buddhist thought in another way. I will attempt to show correspondences between the early literature on the two teachers and some of the speculations contained in the philosophical literature of early Brahminism
...A basic presupposition of this book is that the early Buddhist literature is heterogeneous. Despite this, I see no reason to deny the historicity of the literature as a matter of course, although nowadays scholars are generally sceptical of the antiquity and authenticity of early Buddhist literature.
In his article, Who was the Buddha?
Indeed, in the Pali Mahāpadāna Sutta, one of the most important sources for early Buddhist myth, the story of the Buddha’s youth is attributed to the entirely mythical figure of the former Buddha Vipassī, said to have lived 91 aeons ago (an inconceivably long time). This text is not a reliable source for the life of Siddhattha Gotama; to build up a more reliable picture, we must consider older parts of the Pali canon. In none of these is the Buddha ever called Siddhattha. Indeed, since this word means ‘one who has fulfilled [siddha] his purpose [attha]’, it looks very much like a mythic title, and in fact is used in only late mythic texts such as the Pali Apadāna.
I get the picture that much in the Pali canon is indeed mythic, heterogenous, normative, but Wynne manages to persist in mucking around and extracting bits and pieces that are likely historical accounts. Like he says, there's not much, but what he reveals is convincing and well-argued.

The very essence of good scholarship like this is the revelation that these great thinkers and their movements were just another human endeavor.
Post Reply