Marcus Bingenheimer's texts on the Dhamma in Chinese translation


I thought I would share two very wonderful texts that are highly relevant to exploring the English translations hosted on SuttaCentral of the 別譯雜阿含經 (Bié Yì Zá Ā Hán Jīng), named SA-2 here.

These translations are by Marcus Bingenheimer, whose work I am just now becoming familiar with, and in addition to being a translator, he also publishes academic articles about his field.

His paper, Studies in Āgama Literature: with Special Reference to the Shorter Chinese Saṃyuktāgama, is available for free on the internet (hopefully with the authors consent!) and I can confirm that it is a very engaging text that is rather accessible for being about textual criticism. It is also a good resource for Dhamma explorers taking advantage of the functionality of this site in particular because it deals directly with the specific translations of the 別譯雜阿含經 which are hosted on this very site currently.

There is another paper, that might be interesting for SuttaCentral staff and programmers to look at. It is his freely available paper entitled Collaborative Edition and Translation Projects in the Era of Digital Text which contains some very compelling ideas for how to present translations of Buddhist scripture in a entirely digital context. I will include a small excerpt here, from page 23:[quote]Imagine now that these text are part of a database. The presentation of the text is mediated through an interface that the user can manipulate in certain ways, but is nevertheless always limited- the interface might for example allow a maximum of two texts to be viewed at the same time. This would make it difficult to assess the merits of the two English versions against the Chinese. On the other hand the interface might provide us with additional information on individual terms. Hovering over the word gatha we would learn when the word was first translated as 偈, be shown a list of synonyms, or perhaps the interface might tell us if the term- in this context- appears in any Sanskrit fragments.[/quote]

EDIT: I forgot to add that in order to find the copy of Collaborative Edition and Translation Projects in the Era of Digital Text that is hosted online one has to search first for the collection that it is the first article in, this collection is called Translating Buddhist Chinese by Marcus Bingenheimer.

The editor of the collection, Konrad Meisig, has this interesting section of his opening preface: [quote]Competent research on the early history of the Buddhist canon can no longer afford to neglect the Chinese tradition which stands more often than not independent from the lndic sources. The comparison of these Chinese parallels with their Indian counterparts is an indispensable, if not the only possible way to reliably reconstruct the beginnings of Buddhist religion and literature. [/quote]



A Digital Comparative Edition and Partial Translation of the Shorter Chinese Saṃyukta Āgama (T.100)

The Digital Comparative Edition of the Bieyi za ahan jing 別譯雜阿含經 (BZA) is a project undertaken by the Dharma Drum Buddhist College 法鼓佛教研修學院 and funded by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation for International Scholarly Exchange 蔣經國國際學術交流基金會.

This comparative digital edition:

  • provides new punctuation for the BZA and the Za ahan jing 雜阿含經 (ZA) sutras
  • corrects and documents mistakes in previous editions
  • distinguishes and visualizes parallel and non-parallel passages between the BZA and other Chinese and Pāli versions, enabling the user to conveniently compare the different texts of a cluster
  • refines and expands the contents of the 364 text clusters
  • provides an annotated English translation of selected sections of the BZA
  • enables statistical linguistic analysis by creating aligned parallel corpora (not online)
  • is extensible and allows for further material to be added
  • provides a basis for future digital editions of Buddhist literature with regard to markup and content management

The Bieyi za ahan jing 別譯雜阿含經 (BZA) consists of 364 sutras and belongs to the early Chinese Buddhist texts collectively called Ahan (Āgama) sutras 阿含經. Ahan literature constitutes the earliest stratum of Buddhist literature. The originals (in Buddhist Sanskrit) are largely lost, only a few fragments have survived. Next to the Chinese tradition only the Theravāda tradition has preserved a comprehensive set of these sutras in Pāli. While the Nikāyas, as the Ahan sutras are called the Theravāda tradition, have been extensively studied and fully translated into English, Japanese and German, there are extremely few translations or critical editions of the Chinese Ahan sutras.

Generally, all of the 364 short sutras contained the BZA have at least one parallel in Chinese and one Pāli parallel (with commentary). Often there are several parallels in Chinese and Pāli, at times even a fragment in Buddhist Sanskrit[1] has survived. This project has created a digital comparative edition of the BZA, which connects these text-clusters. The source files of the edition are freely available. Moreover, we have studied several aspects of the text and translated parts of the BZA into English with extensive annotation.[2] Textbase for the Chinese is the CBETA edition, for the Pāli data the Vipassana Research Institute has kindly granted us permission to use the text of the Chaṭṭha Saṅgāyana CD.

The markup of the XML files uses the encoding scheme of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) which is transformed into HTML for the user.[3] The markup expresses the basic dialogic structure of the content, names, differentiates between prose and verse parts, and connects them to the authoritative printed versions. For the Pāli and longer Chinese parallels the markup distinguishes between larger parallel and non-parallel passages.

Each of the 364 BZA sutras is presented within a cluster of its parallels. All texts within a cluster are linked through a comparative catalog. Middleware between the source files and the user application is eXist, a native XML database. The end-user selects the cluster s/he wants to view online and can further select which of the texts in the cluster to display, in a two- or three column layout. The project was started in summer 2005 and concluded in autumn 2008.

The database output is best viewed with Firefox, Mozilla or Opera though basic functionality is provided for inferior browsers as well. There is a bug in IE 6 that scrambles some unicode characters (this seems fixed in IE 7).

Project Directors: Marcus Bingenheimer, Aming Tu 杜正民
Editors: Jung Hsi-chin 戎錫琴, Shi Zhanghui 釋章慧, Chueh Huichen 闕慧貞
Editorial Assistant: Shu Hui-yu 疏惠郁, Wang Ruixiang 王瑞鄉, Zheng Baolian 鄭寶蓮
Punctuation of BZA and ZA: Shi Zhanghui 釋章慧
Translation: Marcus Bingenheimer
Search Interface: Simon Wiles
Programming: Jen-Jou Hung 洪振洲, Marcus Bingenheimer