Academic Buddhism

How is everybody doing.

I was wondering if Buddhism and Buddhist teachings are currently explored scientifically at University level anywhere in the world?

Also, I would be very interested to know if textual criticism has ever been used to layer the Suttas in the Pali canon, and how to tell which teachings are most likely to go back to the historical Buddha and which could have been added later.

Thanks !


This topic comes up pretty regularly. The following is from “Buddhist India” by T.W. Rhys Davids and represents his best guess as to the order of Buddhists documents were composed.

This article Aṭṭhakavagga and Pārāyanavagga - Wikipedia has some names of scholars that have weighed in as well. @sujato and @Brahmali wrote The Authenticity of the Early Buddhist Texts - Bhikkhu Sujato & Bhikkhu Brahmali (

No doubt others on this site can chime in with more names of scholars.

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Hmm, not really sure TBH.

It’s not an exact science, but scholars use a variety of methods to investigate authenticity. Check out the book by myself and Ven Brahmali, The Authenticity of early Buddhist Texts.


There is a good post by “assaji” over on dhamma wheel:

Dr. Bimala Churn Law wrote a good article (in the 30s) that updated the one linked to earlier by Rhys Davids that can be read here:

Around the middle of the century G C Pande wrote a good book on the subject called Studies in the Origins of Buddhism which can be downloaded here:

The Oxford Centre for Buddhist studies offers a 2 year masters course that may be of interest:

They also have a journal the older articles from which are freely available:

Our own @Khemarato.bhikkhu has the excellent Open Buddhist University at:

@sujato of course runs the amazing:

There is also the equally amazing digital pali reader:

As for your question on chronology and stratification you may be interested in the thread:

Oh! And of course @cdpatton has the fantastic:

One thing i would caution you about is that this topic can be a contentious one, and despite its focus on the early Buddhist texts this forum tends to accept that they are all from a relatively homogeneous period and more or less all go back to the buddha, so if this is of particular interest to you you may want to engage with other forums to balance perspectives.

It would be wonderful if we can get more people to contribute to this thread, there has been rather a lot of threads recently that don’t really directly relate to the EBT’s except in the loosest way of being discussion about Buddhism from a “non-Mahayanan” perspective.

Good luck!!


Your question is about the formation of early Buddhist texts. The following discussions on angas may be useful:

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Would be really keen to hear from others about resources and research in this area - lets keep this going!!

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