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Open Philology: The Composition of Buddhist Scriptures

Open Philology: The Composition of Buddhist Scriptures

Objective

Buddhist sūtras are fundamental sources for understanding the beliefs that once dominated, and largely continue to dominate, Asian societies. But classical philological approaches to these texts, assuming an Ur-text and linear development, misrepresent their nature and obscure their history. Like oral literature the sūtras are authorless and textually fluid, their content formulaic and modular, and the situation complicated by their huge volume and the linguistic diversity of their extant versions. Their fluidity and the absence of an Ur-text makes traditional stemmatic editing inappropriate. Other options are also unacceptable: eclectic editions conflate distinct sources, creating texts which never existed historically, while exclusive focus on a single version ignores the tradition’s true richness.
Utilizing the tools of Digital Humanities, Open Philology offers a revolution in approaching the composition of these scriptures, and other literatures with common features, such as the Homeric corpus or Rabbinic literature. Given the vastness of the Buddhist canons, we will focus on a traditional subset of texts, and produce electronic editions which preserve their diachronic and synchronic fluidity, revealing the intertextuality inherent in their formulaic composition. Our editing environments will allow one to easily view the diversity of sources, in different versions of ‘the same text’ and in parallels in other texts, and permit one to view data at any level of granularity, according to one’s interests.
The project will produce corpora of sūtras mutually aligned in their Chinese, Tibetan and, when available, Sanskrit versions, a map of formulaic content, annotated text editions and translations, a general study of the corpus, and a series of scholarly publications on methodological and content-oriented issues. The tools and results we produce will bring our historical understanding of Buddhism, the most formative influence on Asian cultures, to a new level.
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Host institution

UNIVERSITEIT LEIDEN

Address

Rapenburg 70
2311 Ez Leiden

Netherlands

Activity type

Higher or Secondary Education Establishments

EU Contribution

€ 2 498 296

Beneficiaries (1)

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UNIVERSITEIT LEIDEN

Netherlands

EU Contribution

€ 2 498 296

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 741884

Status

Ongoing project

  • Start date

    1 January 2018

  • End date

    31 December 2022

Funded under:

H2020-EU.1.1.

  • Overall budget:

    € 2 498 296

  • EU contribution

    € 2 498 296

Hosted by:

UNIVERSITEIT LEIDEN

Netherlands