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Buddhist Religions: A Historical Introduction (Religious Life in History) 5th Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0534558581
ISBN-10: 0534558585
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Foreword. Preface. Map: The World of Buddhism. Abbreviations. Introduction. Buddhism in India. 1. The Buddha's Awakening. 2. The Buddha as Teacher and Power Figure. 3. The Development of Early Indian Buddhism. 4. The Period of the Three Vehicles. 5. Early Medieval Indian Buddhism. 6. Late Medieval Indian Buddhism. 7. Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia. 8. Buddhism in Central Asia and China. 9. Buddhism in Korea and Vietnam. 10. Buddhism in Japan. 11. Buddhism in the Tibetan Cultural Area. 12. Buddhism Comes West. An Overview of the Buddhist Scriptures. Pronunciation Guide. Glossary. Select Bibliography. Index.

About the Author

Willard L. Johnson received his Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Wisconsin in 1973. He is now a professor emeritus of San Diego State University, where he teaches world religions, primal religions, shamanism, Asian religions, and religious experience.

Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Geoffrey DeGraff) grew up in rural New York and Virginia, and was later ordained as a monk in Thailand in 1976. He trained for ten years under Ajaan Fuang Jotiko, a member of the Forest Tradition, until the latter's death in 1986. After returning to the States to help set up Metta Forest Monastery in 1991, he was made abbot of the monastery in 1993 and was formally made a preceptor in 1995. In addition to teaching at the monastery, he teaches regularly with the John Wayne Dhamma Center in Orange County, and the Barre Center of Buddhist Studies in Massachusetts. He is the author of The Mind Like Fire Unbound, The Buddhist Monastic Code, and The Wings to Awakening. He is also translator of a number of Thai meditation guides, including the complete writings of Ajahn Fuang's teacher, Ajahn Lee Dhammadharo.
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Product Details

  • Series: Religious Life in History
  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Wadsworth; 5 edition (June 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0534558585
  • ISBN-13: 978-0534558581
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #245,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I used an earlier edition of this book and the companion Experience of Buddhism in an introductory buddhism course in college, and found (and still find) both to be exremely useful as overviews and wide-ranging sourcebooks for information about the full spectrum of buddhist practice and thought. I'm not sure what grammatical errors the previous reviewer refers to -- perhaps peculiar to the present edition -- but I grew up to be an english teacher and recall no such dramatic flaws and logical inconsistency. As textbooks, both are definitely expensive, but actually are the best resources I can think of for an overview of the whole religion rather than one specific branch of it. (Though it is true that the writing in this particular book is a bit dry -- it is a textbook, after all).
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Format: Paperback
I have taught from this book for several years, and I believe it is one of the best Buddhism survey textbooks available. The current edition is as much the work of Thanissaro Bikkhu as it is Willard Robinson. Bikkhu incorporates much of the most recent scholarship in Buddhist studies from scholars such as Gregory Schopen, Donald Lopez, etc.

There are no grammatical mistakes I am aware of in the current edition. I suspect the book's only one-star rating came from a disgruntled student. This is not a book that dumbs down the Buddhist religion, or attempts to please everyone. It uses sophisticated language and presents a definite pont of view. As such, it may not be appropriate for underclassmen at some colleges.

Strong's anthology "The Experience of Buddhism" is paired by the publisher with this text, and it too is excellent.
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Format: Paperback
The one star review below was likely made by someone who read an early edition of the book - the past two editions have been an ambitious re-write by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. The result is a book whose clarity is unmatched by any other text I've come across that addresses the history of Buddhism.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is one of the important surveys of Buddhism: origins, doctrine, history. Lots of information, and all conveyed clearly, reliably, readably. There are newer studies, of which I really can't speak, but this one is a classic I use continually for reference.
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Format: Paperback
college textbook
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Format: Paperback
Enjoyed the early parts. Becomes painfully academic later on, tracing each little twist and turn of each of the doctrinal traditions. I set it aside when I realized I was only reading it because I thought I should read it, and seldom even then.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Highly recommend this book, big fan of Willard Johnson. Found his "Riding the Ox Home: A History of Meditation" most useful. This historical outline of Buddhism brings an objective light to the most subjective religion.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Exactly what I was wanting. Informative.
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