Here is a rough time line of dates to get some sense of proportion as to the earliness of EBT works, such as the approximate dates of the Agama parallels. We’re also interested in rough milestones in the Abhidhamma, since some early Dhamma is coherent with EBT, and when it does diverge, it’s helpful to have an idea when that happened, and how long of a period that’s been going on.
(Anyone is welcome to edit this wiki page, but don’t edit anything below this line since it is a ‘cut and paste’ of data from a spreadsheet updated periodically)
Timeline of important EBT events
Important dates related to EBT events. This article will also include such works that are only partially EBT, for the purpose of getting a relative sense of time of how EBT diverged from core principles. For example, early Abhidhamma works often are very congruent and compatible with core EBT principles, while late Abhidhamma can diverge greatly.
CE = Common Era, and counts by increments of "years" forward. Example: Today is year 2017 CE, next year is 2018, previous year was 2016 CE.
BCE = Before common era, and counts in increments going backwards in time but expressed as a positive integer equal to the distance from year CE 1. I'm not sure how the exact border condition works. Is there a BCE 0 and CE 0? Is the amount of time between BCE 1 and CE 1 two years, or one year? Will have to research this later.
The Buddha's birthdate was 480 BCE. So that was 481 years before the year one CE.
History of the use of the CE/BCE abbreviation
Wikipedia syas: Although Jews have their own Hebrew calendar, they often use the Gregorian calendar.
As early as 1825, the abbreviation VE (for Vulgar Era) was in use among Jews to denote years in the Western calendar.
Common Era notation has also been in use for Hebrew lessons for "more than a century". Some Jewish academics were already using the CE and BCE abbreviations by the mid-19th century, such as in 1856, when Rabbi and historian Morris Jacob Raphall used the abbreviation in his book Post-Biblical History of The Jews.[f]
”EBT age” definition
Using the date of Buddha’s parinibbana as a reference point, “EBT age” is the number of years elapsed from that time.
Sujato and Brahmali: Authenticity of Buddhist Texts
Sujato: Sects and Sectarianism
480 BCE: Birth of the Buddha
He taught for 45 years, so that would put the time of his Nibbāna realization around age 35.
400 BCE: Pari-nibbāna of the Buddha
350 BCE: AN 5.50/EA 32.7
near BCE 350: Sutta with King Munda (AN 5.50) may mark final date acknowledged in EBTs.
237 BCE: KN Ps = Paṭi-sambhidā-magga
around BCE 237: KN Ps = Paṭi-sambhidā-magga (discrimination-path)
Composed perhaps after sabbatthivada schism.
101 BCE(?) KN Pe = Peṭakopadesa
Included in the Tipitaka as canonical in Burma, but not in Sri Lanka.
Composition date: Perhaps as late as KN Mil ( Questions to Milinda )
100 BCE KN Mil = Milinda Pañha
(wikipedia says:) Milinda Pañha (Pali: मिलिन्द पञ्ह; translated as "Questions of Milinda") is a Buddhist text which dates from approximately 100 BCE. Milinda Pañha purports to record a dialogue between the Buddhist sage Nāgasena, and the Indo-Greek king Menander I (Pali: Milinda) of Bactria, who reigned from Sagala (modern Sialkot, Pakistan).
Milinda Pañha is included in the Burmese edition of the Pāli Canon of Theravada Buddhism as the book of Khuddaka Nikaya. An abridged version is included as part of Chinese Mahayana translations of the canon. The Milinda Pañha does not appear in the Thai or Sri Lankan versions of the Pāli Canon, however.
1 CE Vimt. = Vimutti-magga
between 40 BCE and 1 CE: Vimt. = Vimutti-magga (liberation-path)
The author, Arahant Upatissa. Ven. Upatissa may have been the first legendary "sariputta", from whom Abhidhamma often attributes authorship of various commentaries.
The Vimuttimagga ("Path of Freedom") is a Buddhist practice manual, traditionally attributed to the Arahant Upatissa (c. 1st or 2nd century). It was translated into Chinese in the sixth century as the Jietuo dao lun 解脫道論 by Sanghapala. The original text (possibly Pali or Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit) is no longer extant, but the work has survived in Chinese. The book was probably written in India and then later brought to Sri Lanka. According to Bhikkhu Analayo, some doctrines of the Vimuttimagga seem to be associated with those attributed to the Abhayagiri monastery by Dhammapāla.
500 CE Vism = Visuddhi-magga
From 400+ CE: Vism = Visuddhi-magga (purification-path)
Composed by eminent scholar monk Buddhaghosa. More likely he was an editor in chief in charge of scores of scholar monks collating and translating Theravada commentaries and Abhidhamma text, from which Vism. was ultimately based on.