Khuddaka Nikaya: Which Parts are EBT?

I was re-reading “The Authenticity of the Early Buddhist Texts,” and I was reminded that the Venerable authors’ definition of the EBTs contains this tantalizing reference that a “small portion” of the Khuddaka Nikaya was EBT, consisting of “significant parts” of various books therein. (See pp. 9-10).

Just for curiosity’s sake, does anyone know of anywhere I can find more information about what these “significant parts” are? As a beginner, I know this isn’t important to my budding practice. But as a philology nerd (as I imagine many of the people on here are), I’m intrigued.

Thank you!

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The old parts of Khuddaka Nikaya (pali) are:

  1. The Dhammapada
  2. The Sutta Nipata
  3. The Udana
  4. The Ittivuttaka
  5. Theragatha
  6. Therigatha

Did I miss something?
Jataka is mixed between old and later materials.
Petavatthu and Vimanavatthu seems latter
Khuddakapatha while containing old materials, seems to be late compilation.
Patisambhida is Abhidhamma material. Milinda Panha is very late.


I don’t want to be pedantic, but it would be great if people could show the support they have for the age of texts, not just opinions/common knowledge.


The passage in “The Authenticity of the Early Buddhist Texts” suggested that the Venerable authors didn’t view the entirety of those books as early, only portions. I was hoping they or someone else with knowledge had written on this or at least explained what portions they saw as early. I’m just interested in how scholars do this kind of work.

I don’t know @prajnadeva, but I’m guessing he just took the list from the text I mentioned because they have the same list. But if not, I’d love to hear his reasoning!

If you are able to read Chinese, the following book, The Formation of Early Buddhist Texts, Chapter 11, by Ven. Yinshun, can be useful for your question:

Here I try to enumerate the dating of KN texts according to scholars from Wikipedia articles:

  • Dhammapada

it is possible that the very source of the Dhammapada in the third century B.C.E. is traceable to the need of the early Buddhist communities in India to laicize the ascetic impetus of the Buddha’s original words. (Wallis, 2004)

  • Sutta-nipata

There’s no specified dating given for Sutta-nipata by scholars, but some scholars regard the Aṭṭhakavagga and Pārāyanavagga as being considerably earlier in composition than the bulk of the canon, and as revealing an earlier form of Buddhism.

  • Udana (no specific dating given)

  • Itivuttaka (no specific dating given)

  • Theragatha

Most of the monks in the Theragatha lived during the time of the Buddha, but the collection seems to have continued to grow until at least the Third Buddhist Council [3rd century BCE]. (K.R. Norman, 1983)

  • Therigatha (no specific dating given, perhaps it’s the same as Theragatha)

  • Jataka

The Jataka tales are dated between 300 BC and 400 AD. (D. L. Ashliman, 2002)

  • Petavatthu

It ostensibly reports stories about and conversations among the Buddha and his disciples, but in fact dates to about 300 BC at the earliest.(Langer, 2007)

  • Patisambhidamagga

According to German tradition of Indology this text was likely composed around the 2nd century CE. AK Warder suggested that some form of the text may date to the 3rd Century BCE, the traditional date ascribed to the schism with the Mahasanghikas. L. S. Cousins associated it with the doctrinal divisions of the Second Buddhist Council and dated it to the first century BCE.

  • Niddesa

This text is believed to have been most likely composed no later than the 1st century BC. (Hinüber, 2000)

  • Buddhavamsa, Apadana, and Cariyapitaka

Along with the Apadāna and Cariyāpiṭaka, the Buddhavaṃsa is considered by most scholars to have been written during the 1st and 2nd century BCE. (Abeynayake, 1984)

  • Nettipakarana

The structure of the text- where the later verses are constructed as commentaries on a summary verse- became popular in the first centuries CE, while the āryā meter used for its verses was already being used for such verses around 150 BCE. (Hinüber, 2000)

  • Milindapanha

The earliest part of the text is believed to have been written between 100 BC and 200 AD (Hinüber, 2000)

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It’s really important for a conversation like this to watch out for the “p” words and the “s” word: possible, probable, seems, etc etc.

I won’t deny that the scholars quoted are more knowledgeable than I am, but they are also just making guesses and giving opinions, albeit more informed opinions.

It’s important as well to know how they came to their conclusions. Unfortunately although it may seem like the history of the critical study of these texts has been long, it’s still relatively short with not that many people involved. Their conclusions may very well turn out to be correct, but I don’t think we can regard them as definitive necessarily.


Yes, to know this you can read their work which is referenced in the corresponded Wiki pages :grin: