n Journal for Semitics - The many faces of the Buddha : colloquium article

Volume 17, Issue 2
  • ISSN : 1013-8471


The Buddha's story is the story of Buddhism. When Buddhists go for refuge to the three jewels, they begin their refuge prayer with refuge in the Buddha. He sits at the crown of the tradition, embodying the ideals subscribed by the literature, pointing the way to their attainment. But who is this character, really? Is he an historical figure, locked in time and space or does he stand outside such boundaries? Does his death spell extinction or does he continue to function in the world despite it? Is he one or many, or none at all? Buddhist scholarship is currently wrestling with these questions and is emerging with new and refreshing answers. This article provides a bird's-eye view of some of the more important themes that have been culled concerning these questions, with particular attention paid to his role in the Theravada tradition.

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