Modern scholarship has revealed that many of the most important Chinese Buddhist scriptures are not translations of Indian texts, as they purport to be, but actually were composed in China by Chinese authors.
These indigenous scriptures are the subject of an exciting new field of study that promises to reshape our sense of the development of Chinese Buddhism. The variety of apocryphal texts now known to exit in China will compel scholar to see the Buddhist canon not as a fixed repository but as a fluctuating, tension-filled institution—one that can now be understood in relation to its social, historical, and religious contexts. The contributors to the volume are: Stephen Bokenkamp, Ronald Davidson, Antonino Forte, Kotatsu Fujita, Paul Groner, Whalen Lai, Mark Lewis, Michel Strickmann, and Kyoko Tokuno.
“The consistently fine and broad ranging studies assembled in this volume signal a new turn in Buddhology by demonstrating how the traditional questions of textual transmission can best be answered, by moving beyond the Buddhist canon to consider the political, ecclesiastical, social, and economic forces that helped to shape that canon.”
“Because of the careful documentation by its editor and authors, this volume contains the resources for establishing Buddhist apocrypha as a viable and exciting new field of study. All courses on Chinese Buddhism should begin with reference to this book.”
Robert E. Buswell, Jr. is associate professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles.
This volume began to take shape in 1982 among several people at the
University of California, Berkeley, who were working in the area of
Buddhist apocryphal studies. The volume was conceived as a broad-
based survey of the indigenous scriptural literature of the non-Indian
traditions of Buddhism, with chapters ranging from East Asian apocryphal sutras and sastras, to Tibetan gter-ma (treasure) texts and visionary
cycles, to Southeast Asian apocryphal Jatakas. It was originally planned
for the book to appear in the Berkeley Buddhist Studies Series, but with
that series now unfortunately moribund, there was little hope that the
volume would ever see the light of day. Stuart Kiang, editor at the University of Hawaii Press, was enthusiastic about the project, however,
and in 1988 finally convinced me to submit the book to Hawaii. The economic realities of academic publishing in this country, however,
demanded that the volume be pared down to more manageable size.
After much agonizing, we finally decided to focus on Chinese sutra
materials, while maintaining Davidson's chapter as an appendix. I
would like to offer my deepest regrets to several of our original contributors whose works had to be deleted from the final collection, including
William Grosnick (La Salle University), Janet Gyatso (Amherst College), Padmanabh Jaini (University of California, Berkeley), Matthev
Kapstein (Columbia University), and Alex Wayman (Columbia University). Most of those articles have since appeared elsewhere. I would
like to express my gratitude to all the contributors for their patience
during the long process of bringing this book to press.
We were extremely fortunate to have had two assiduous readers-
Bernard Faure of Stanford and Stephen Teiser of Princeton-who evaluated the manuscript for the Press. Both offered thorough and trenchant critiques of each of the chapters-which went far beyond the call
of this often thankless duty-and the volume has benefitted greatly from
their many suggestions and advice. I also received many valuable suggestions on the volume and its coverage from Lewis Lancaster and useful comments on my own chapter from Daniel Overmyer. I would also
like to thank Victoria Scott, who did a superb job of copyediting the
manuscript, and Susan Sugar, who prepared the index to the volume,
with funding provided by an Academic Senate Research Grant from
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