Review:

Buddhist Texts Through the Ages - Edward Conze

The blurb of this book promises the following:

 

“This unique anthology of Buddhist scripture traces the development of Buddhism through the ages and around the world. Designed to serve scholars and students, this classic text has become a valuable resource for Buddhists and all those who wish to explore for themselves the original sources of one of the world’s great religions.

 

Accessible and jargon-free, these translations from the original Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese, Tibetan and Japanese are presented in plain English by four leading experts on the language and literature of Buddhism, while a glossary of foreign terms completes a thoroughly comprehensive and timeless introduction to the subject.”

 

What utter rubbish.

 

What the book contains are excerpts of translated texts that have been translated and complied by academics for academics. There is a short introduction to the texts dating back to 1953 but this gives no indication of how the texts were selected or what their significance is.

For a book that presumes to be a comprehensive and timeless introduction to the subject, there is a remarkable lack of explanations. In fact, there are none.

 

So what the book really is, is a collection of nondescript texts that are presented without any context, relevance, time lines, or anything else that could serve to gain an understanding of the text and how they relate to the subject. Unless, of course, you consult a variety of additional reference works.

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