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Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Ex-library Reference set (2 volumes) with usual markings and labels. Pages are clean and bindings are tight. An excellent set.
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Encyclopedia of Buddhism Hardcover – October, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

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Buddhism, according to the editor in chief of this encyclopedia, "is one of the three major world religions, along with Christianity and Islam." Unlike the other two, however, Buddhism lacks substantial reference works in Western languages. The majority are single-volume works, defining terms, concepts, deities, etc. The Encyclopedia of Buddhism, on the other hand, "seeks to document the range and depth of the Buddhist tradition in its many manifestations."

The nearly 500 entries are alphabetically arranged, signed by their authors, and conclude with see references and supplemental bibliographies. Article length ranges from 50 to 4,000 words. There are illustrations throughout, including three maps on the diffusion of Buddhism in Asia as well as an eight-page insert of color plates in each volume. The set ends with several time lines of Buddhist history and a good index. Given the long history Buddhism has enjoyed and the many different cultural regions and national traditions in which it has developed, two volumes are not enough to do the subject justice. Consequently, the entries tend to be thematic and inclusive in nature, with specific mention of, say, an individual or place being made within a broader survey article. While the cosmological, doctrinal, and ritual aspects of Buddhism are covered extensively, entries also treat the cultural, social, and political contexts that have shaped and been shaped by Buddhist thought (e.g., Economics, Education, Law). Entries for geographic locations provide nice historical surveys of the development of Buddhism to the present day and include the U.S and Europe. Buddhism's interaction with other world religions and philosophies (e.g., Christianity and Buddhism, Communism and Buddhism, Jainism and Buddhism) is treated. Finally, recognizing that Buddhism is a force in the world today, the editor has included entries that provide Buddhist perspectives on issues of contemporary concern (e.g., Abortion, Gender, Modernity and Buddhism).

The editor is correct to point out that covering Buddhism in its entirety is impossible in so short a work. Nevertheless, the Encyclopedia of Buddhism is a welcome addition to the reference literature for the tradition itself and, more broadly, Buddhist and Asian studies. Public and academic libraries serving readers with interest in these areas would do well to acquire it. RBB
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"The Encyclopedia of Buddhism is a welcome addition to the reference literature for the tradition itself and, more broadly. Buddhist and Asian studies. Public and academic libraries serving readers with interest in these areas would do well to acquire it." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 1000 pages
  • Publisher: Gacl (October 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0028657187
  • ISBN-13: 978-0028657189
  • Product Dimensions: 11.2 x 8.7 x 2.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #767,081 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By James S. Taylor on August 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There are only two serious contenders around these days if you are limited to the English language and are looking for a serious encyclopedia of Buddhism. This one and the one-volume set by Keown [9780415556248]. The subject of this review has sadly gone out of print, however, since you may get one used or look it up at a library, I am going to review both encyclopedias here.

I bought each when they were first released and have been using them for many years at this point. One cannot complain about either the editors or contributors chosen for both works. They are stellar and represent a who's who of established and rising scholars working in the field of Buddhist studies. Either product is an excellent choice and the publishers should be commended for making them available.

Both encyclopedias clock in at just under a thousand pages. Buswell's contains around 470 entries, while Keown's is closer to 340. However, a great deal of this difference is due to the fact that the first breaks out into separate articles many things that are covered within larger-range articles in the second. The coverage is fairly comparable overall, in my experience. Both projects represent a critical Western approach to Buddhism, as should be expected. Don't look here for warm devotional insights or a thoughtless repetition of standard histories. These books represent the current edge of scholarship at the first decade of the twenty-first century, not a mere repetition of Asian sources that have been handed on to the West. This criticism is mostly limited to correcting historical issues, not engaging Buddhist thought critically, a project for another book, which is long past due.

A key content difference is the result of how the contributors were asked to work.
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