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Title: The Buddha as a Historical Person
Author(s): VON HINÜBER, Oskar
Journal: Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies
Volume: 42    Date: 2019   
Pages: 231-264
DOI: 10.2143/JIABS.42.0.3287480

Abstract :
In an article published in this journal (40.2017 [2018]), entitled 'The Idea of the Historical Buddha', David Drewes reviewed the opinions of a number of western Buddhologists on whether or not the Buddha was a historical person and in conclusion claimed that the Buddha never existed. As D. Drewes exclusively draws on secondary literature to demonstrate his point, it seems worthwhile to go back to the sources in order to evaluate their age and to trace possibly early texts containing information on the biography of the Buddha. In doing so, the literary form of early Buddhist texts is taken into consideration and linguistic arguments are used to determine their relative chronology. If texts show traces pointing to an early date fairly near to the assumed life time of the Buddha, this might either indicate the historical existence or at least the date of the creation of the person called the Buddha. Moreover, details preserved in ancient texts which contradict later Buddha biographies are pointed out in order to trace possible memories of a genuine person.

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