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A New Look at the Earliest Chinese Buddhist Texts [27]

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Chapter Summary

This chapter presents a summary of the purely linguistic features of early Chinese Buddhist texts, and concentrates on matters of terminology and style. One can assume that the vernacular character of the scriptural idiom was weakened by the very fact of its being written down in a script which had become fully adapted to a largely artificial monosyllabic literary language. In spite of occasional terminological borrowings from Confucian and Daoist lore, the most striking aspect of Han Buddhism is its novelty. In many cases these may have been variations within a common fund of religious and magical lore without any special affinity either to Confucianism or to Daoism. In fact, the terminology of Buddhist texts contains a number of quaint Chinese "equivalents" that look like borrowings from unknown sources of Chinese religious lore.

Keywords: Chinese religious lore; Confucianism; Daoism; early Chinese Buddhist texts; Han Buddhism; monosyllabic literary language; scriptural idiom; terminological borrowings



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