Layers - early/late - of suttas/Pali canon

As a “newbie” here I resisted the temptation to reopen several fraught discussions that might have occurred in the past - or to cause repetitions.

My question relates to the known works (academic/non-academic) which date the layers of the Pali canon, esp. what are called EBTs here. So, I am not looking for the ages of the texts themselves, but what several reputed authors and academics term, rather blithely, as the “earlier/later layers” of the nikayas, for instance.

I have read Ven. Sujato’s opinions on the supposed “earliness” of the Sutta Nipata etc and the text-critical method of looking for internal references to determine age.
I have also read various discussions on early/late suttas etc on this forum.

But if someone can point me to papers/pieces which seem to reflect on the composition, layering, structure of the Pali texts (the EBTs), I would be obliged. I assume these would be largely philological exercises, on the lines of the scholarship of K.R. Norman, Oskar von Hinuber etc.

Maybe also passages in one of the “Pali Language & Literature” books such as those by Winternitz, Geiger, Law etc?

An example discussed here -
On the use of internal references to date the Sutta Nipata

My purpose is to understand what I find is a rather large field of studies that seek to demonstrate the Vedic (incl. Brāhmaṇas/Upāniṣads etc) influence on Buddhism.

Sutta Central relevant threads -

How much of Buddhism is Uniquely Buddhist?

The early Upanishads: a nice introduction to the pre-Buddhist tradition

Background reading for the EBTs

I know that even the “The Authenticity of the Early Buddhist Texts” has a section titled “Vedic influence on the EBTs.”

A considerable body of works - not in the least by scholars such as Joanna Jurewicz, Richard Gombrich, Ch. Lindtner, Lauren Bausch, M. Witzel, Toshifumi Goto et al - attempts to show some kind of direct continuation between the Vedic traditions/philosophic-concerns and the early Buddhist analyses (Buddha as a ‘Vedic muni’ etc). I have serious reservations about such claims…

So, if someone can point me to the research articles that seek to establish the layers of (or within) the EBTs, I would be much obliged. Then I can see for myself how those “earlier layers” are claimed to be continuations of Vedic material (I am not denying influence and the diffusion of earlier ideas; just the claims of derivative-ness of the Buddha-vacana).


Actually this is exactly the topic of my thesis. The bureaucracy here at Warsaw University is unbelievably slow, so I still didn’t have my defense even though I finished writing it already a year ago. Hopefully I can make the thesis accessible in June.

To make it short, there is less influence on early suttas than one would think. There are polemics against Brahmanism which are late. Descriptions of rituals are wrong, polemic, or corrupted. There is almost no direct references to the Upanisads.

The older sutta references to Vedic Brahmanism are to the Vedas and the Brahmanas (i.e. Vedic texts considerably older than the suttas).

Particularly old are sutta references to the Vedic deities (mostly Sakka/Indra, Yama, Yakkhas, Gandhabbas, Nagas), brahmacarya, dakkhina/daksina, Brahman (not the deity!).

Another simple rule (with caution) is: Benevolent references to Brahmins = older vs. disparaging polemic references = later.

Again, that’s just the gist of my summary, you will be able to make up your mind about the sources yourself when I publish it.