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5 - Saint Josaphat, the Buddha of Christendom

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 November 2023

Philip C. Almond
Affiliation:
University of Queensland
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Summary

Chapter 5 describes how the story of the life of the Buddha travelled from India via the Manichees and the Islamic Middle East to the West to become the life of Saint Josaphat. As Saint Josaphat, the Buddha had become a saint in the Eastern Church by the tenth century and in the Catholic Church by the thirteenth. As a result of the many translations of the story in Western vernaculars, the story of the Buddha was one of the most popular Western legends. The story of Saint Josaphat demonstrates how, unbeknownst to the West, the life of the Buddha and the ascetic ideal that it symbolised were incorporated into the ‘spiritual’ life of Christianity. That Saint Josaphat was none other than the Buddha was not recognised in the West until the ‘historical’ Buddha emerged in the nineteenth century.

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Chapter
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The Buddha
Life and Afterlife Between East and West
, pp. 169 - 202
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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