From Library Journal
This highly readable account of the Buddha's life begins with Siddhartha Gautama's last rebirth and guides the reader through the Buddha's seemingly infinite past lives; human ancestry, birth, and youth; spiritual quest and awakening; teachings and community; daily routines and miracles; and final "complete extinction." While clearly delineating what little is known of the historical Gautama, Strong (religion, Bates Coll.; The Experience of Buddhism) focuses on the Buddha "of story," comparing and contrasting variations in the many tales about the Buddha found in canonical and postcanonical texts. His short biography is of greatest interest to readers seeking to understand Buddhist perspectives on this seminal life and is an excellent complement to Karen Armstrong's more interpretive, widely held Buddha (LJ 1/01), which offers more comparisons to the contemporary environment and religious movements. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. James R. Kuhlman, Univ. of North Carolina at Asheville Lib.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Most scholars believe that the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama, was a historical person, but scholarly consensus about the historical Buddha ends there. Unlike Karen Armstrong's Buddha: A Biography
[BKL Ja 1 & 15 01], Strong's life doesn't begin with the Buddha's birth and end with his death. Instead, Strong's begins eons before the Buddha's incarnation as Gautama, with the Jataka
tales, a huge body of world literature that tells of the Buddha's past lives as persons, animals, and sometimes gods. Strong argues that the past lives tell us as much about the Buddha as do the stories of his final incarnation. He examines the stories of the Buddha's primary life, too, of course, and continues beyond it to the present day, considering the significance of his relics--the parts of his body enshrined throughout the world--and of the literary body of sutras that resulted from his teachings. Strong's fascinating approach to religious biography furnishes readers curious about the Buddha with a deep and broad introduction to his many lives. John GreenCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved