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Early Buddhist Oral Tradition

Textual Formation and Transmission

Published by Wisdom Publications
Distributed by Simon & Schuster
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A fascinating investigation into the formation and transmission of the early Buddhist oral tradition.

For hundreds of years after his death, the Buddha’s teachings were transmitted orally, from person to person. In this volume, acclaimed scholar-monk Bhikkhu Analayo examines the impact of such oral transmission on early Buddhist texts, be these monastic rules, verses, or prose portions of the early discourses. He scrutinizes various oral aspects of these texts, surveying evidence for memory errors, the impact of attempts at systematization, and instances of additions and innovations. Finally, he explores the implications of the nature of these texts as the final product of centuries of oral transmission and evaluates the type of conclusions that can—and cannot—be drawn based on them. 

In-depth but still accessible, Early Buddhist Oral Tradition is an engrossing and enlightening inquiry into the early Buddhist oral tradition.

Bhikkhu Analayo is a bhikkhu (Buddhist monk), scholar, and meditation teacher. He was born in Germany in 1962 and went forth in 1995 in Sri Lanka. He is best known for his comparative studies of early Buddhist texts as preserved by the various early Buddhist traditions. He’s the author of Rebirth in Early Buddhism and Current Research.

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