Dhammapada - an EBT?

Is the Dhammapada considered an Early Buddhist Text ?
Was the Buddha a poet able to produce all these poems?


Generally, yes, we treat the Dhammapada as an EBT. The verses don’t display the typical metrical style and distinctive doctrinal shifts characteristic of post-Ashokan Buddhism; moreover, very similar verses and collections are widely distributed in the various traditions.

Given the nature of the text as a compilation, it is natural to think that the collection itself has been subject to evolution. However this was probably mainly to do with the selection and arrangement of verses rather than their content.

Of course this doesn’t mean that the Buddha himself spoke all of these verses. The collection itself has no background or context by which to make such judgements. However they are mostly very similar or sometimes identical with verses that are attributed to the Buddha elsewhere.

Sure, why not? Being a poet is fairly easy compared to most of the things that he did!

Unlike today, where poetry is considered an arcane art, in those days it seems to have been much more common, and to have been made according to well-understood rules. Improvising or adapting poetry is by no means impossible. When I was a muso, I used to make up whole songs on the spot! I’m sure they weren’t as good as the Buddha’s, though…