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Talk by Michael Radich: "A triad of anomalous Buddhist scriptures from fifth-century China"

23. Apr 2018 04:15 Uhr bis 06:00 Uhr
Veranstalter: Department of Cultural and Religious History of South Asia
SAI, room E11

Michael Radich (Professor, Buddhist Studies, Heidelberg Center for Transcultural Studies): "A triad of anomalous Buddhist scriptures from fifth-century China"


As is well known, the Chinese Buddhist canon is riddled with
problematic texts. For various complex reasons, some genuine
translations are ascribed to the wrong translators or teams; other
texts (often referred to as "apocrypha"), presented as translations,
were actually composed in China; on a spectrum between genuine
translation and full-blown Chinese composition, various hybrids are
also possible. All these problems often entail incorrect dating of
texts. In the present state of our knowledge, we arguably do not know
the full extent of these problems, and yet, despite the explosion of
interest in recent years in para- and extracanonical sources, including
non-textual evidence, such texts and their dates often constitute the
bedrock (or quicksand) upon which the edifice of our knowledge stands.
In this talk, I will consider a triad of texts exemplifying several
problems of this type, probably stemming from South China in the first
half of the fifth century---an historical context that increasingly
shows itself to have been a hotbed of groundbreaking textual
creativity, and an almost perfect storm of problems and opportunities
for research. I consider these text using new computer-assisted
techniques of analysis that I have developed in collaboration with
programmer colleague Jamie Norrish, and the talk will therefore also
function as a showcase for some of the potential of those tools. With
the assistance of these methods, our texts provide open new windows on
several facets of Chinese Buddhism, at a formative moment of great
ferment in its history


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