Centre of Buddhist Studies
The University of Hong Kong
Chengzhong PU is an assistant professor of the Centre of Buddhist Studies, HKU. He trained in early Chinese Buddhism, worked in Leiden, Hong Kong, and Shanghai before joining the centre.
On ‘foshuo佛説’ in the Title of Some Chinese Buddhist Sutras
It is almost common knowledge to anyone familiar with Chinese Buddhist texts that the title of some Chinese Buddhist sutra scriptures begins with the phrase of foshuo佛説 (‘spoken by the Buddha’), a phrase emphasizing that the given scripture was preached by the Buddha. This does not appear to be the case in either the Theravadin or Tibetan tradition. As a preliminary study on this peculiar phenomenon of Chinese Buddhist literature, this paper attempts to trace when and why the phrase 'foshuo' was first added to the title of some Chinese Buddhist scriptures, authentic and dubious. It examines the formation of the title of Chinese Buddhist translation by using the ancient catalogues of Chinese Buddhist texts and the surviving hand-copied manuscripts of Chinese Buddhist texts. With the identification and analysis of the earliest datable texts entitled as such, it suggests that the cause of adding the phrase might be related to text forgery in early Chinese Buddhist history.
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HKU Centre of Buddhist Studies