Table of Contents
by Michael Radich
On November 9 2017, I announced on this list the launch of an online reference work to help scholars track scholarship and evidence pertaining to attributions (and, by implication, dates) of Chinese Buddhist texts —the Chinese Buddhist Canonical Attributions database (CBC@).
The database may be found here:
I write to draw your attention to significant expansion in our coverage.
With the support of generous funding from the Chiang Ching-kuo Research Foundation (RG003-P-16), Dr Atsushi Iseki has worked fulltime over the past year adding content to the database. That phase of our work has just drawn to a close. Through this work, we were able to survey several major works of modern Japanese scholarship, in addition to a range of scholarly articles. The principal works covered in this most recent work were:
Ono Genmyō 小野玄妙, Maruyama Takao 丸山孝雄, eds. Bussho kaisetsu daijiten 佛書解說大辭典. Tokyo: Daitō shuppan, 1933-1936 [縮刷版 1999].
Sakaino Kōyō 境野黄洋. Shina Bukkyō seishi 支那佛教精史. Tokyo: Sakaino Kōyō Hakushi Ikō Kankōkai, 1935.
Kamata Shigeo 鎌田茂雄. Chūgoku bukkyō shi, dai ikkan: Shodenki no bukkyō 中国仏教史 第一巻 初伝期末の仏教. Tokyo Daigaku Shuppankai, 1982.
Ōno Hōdō 大野法道, Daijō kai kyō no kenkyū 大乗戒経の研究 (Risōsha 理想社, 1954).
This work has yielded a large quantity of new database content. Sakaino alone, for example (the richest source we have processed this year) yielded 242 new entries. A good sample of these new entries may be seen here:
which shows all entries added to date on the basis of the abovementioned study by Ōno.
Through this funded work, we have added a total of over 400 new manual entries to the database, with a total content of approximately 53,896 words (an average of 141 words per entry), or the equivalent of half an average scholarly monograph. These new entries thus add information on around 45% of the “translation portion” of the canon (texts presented in the tradition as “translations”, 1768 texts in total, i.e. T1-1692, T2030-2049, T2865-2920).
In addition to automatically generated entries summarising the information contained in the Taishō (as represented by the header information in CBETA xml files), CBC@ now contains, at a rough count, over 2500 manually generated entries—entries generated by humans, indexing evidence or arguments in primary sources or secondary scholarship that problematises, complicates or outright overturns the traditional ascriptions for texts as still carried in the Taishō. These manual assertions pertain to a total of more than 1300 distinct canonical and paracanonical texts. The content of the database is already approximately equivalent to that of a sturdy volume, were it to be published in paper format. It is also beginning to achieve a scale of coverage that realises our ambitions of providing a supplement to Jan Nattier’s seminal A Guide to the Earliest Chinese Buddhist Translations: Texts from the Eastern Han 東漢 and Three Kingdoms 三國 Periods (Tokyo: The International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology, Soka University, 2008), extending coverage of similar problems to later periods in Chinese Buddhist history.
I dare say, then, that CBC@ should be regarded as a basic reference. I therefore hope that scholars on this list will make ample use of it, and encourage their students to do the same.
However, this database was always intended to operate on a user-contributor model, and will only truly come into its own when scholars not only avail themselves of its content, but contribute fresh content on the basis of their expertise. I therefore appeal to scholars working in Chinese Buddhism to please consider contributing new entries. One group in particular that might consider contributing is doctoral students, who can be expected to already be surveying relevant works as part of their literature surveys for their research projects, and who might thereby convert some of that work into small but useful additional contributions to our collective knowledge.
As is well known, the texts of the received Chinese canon, and other Chinese Buddhist texts, are rife with problems of incorrect attribution and dating. Scholars must exercise vigorous critical awareness in handling them. However, relevant information can be copious, and scattered in far-flung and sometimes obscure locations in numerous languages. It is therefore often difficult for individual scholars to keep abreast of relevant evidence, arguments and judgments in both primary and secondary sources. CBC@ is intended as a resource to help us all manage this aspect of our work better and more efficiently, by coordinating our collective efforts and pooling our knowledge. I hope that colleagues will be inspired by the significant work already achieved to join our efforts and help the database realise its true potential.
Michael Radich, Professor of Buddhist Studies, Heidelberg University