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"In The Defense Of Faith", Anti-Clericalism And Buddhist Apologetic In The Fourth And Early Fifth Century

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Chapter Summary

Anti-clericalism of the kind to be described in this chapter can hardly have existed among the illiterate population, and it is there that the expansion of the new creed must have been considerable: according to later sources there were in the period 265-316 AD in Luoyang and Chang’an 180 monasteries and 3700 monks and nuns. The chapter discusses some aspects of this ideological conflict between the Church and the temporal authorities: the various forms of anti-clericalism prevailing among the upper class and the stereotyped Buddhist counter-arguments. It concludes that the penetration of Buddhism into the life and thought of the gentry virtually begins with the appearance of the Chinese masters of the fourth century - in other words: when the leaders of the Buddhist Church have become Chinese literati of the purest alloy, able to defend and preach the doctrine in an adapted version with universally understood and acknowledged arguments.

Keywords: anti-clericalism; Buddhism; Buddhist apologetic arguments; Church



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