Voice of the Buddha

Voice of the Buddha : Buddhaghosa on the Immeasurable Words

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How did ancient Buddhists read and interpret the Buddha's words? In Voice of the Buddha, Maria Heim reads the early Buddhist scriptures with Buddhaghosa, the principal commentator, editor, and translator of the Theravada intellectual tradition. Buddhaghosa considers the Buddha to be omniscient and his words "oceanic." Every word, passage, bookindeed, the corpus as a wholeis taken to be "endless and immeasurable." Commentarial practice thus requires
disciplined methods of expansion, drawing out the endless possibilities for meaning and application. Heim considers Buddhagohsa's theories of scripture and follows his practices of exegesis to yield fresh insight into all three collections of the early Pali texts: Vinaya, the Suttas, and the Abhidhamma.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 288 pages
  • 164 x 242 x 24mm | 524g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0190906650
  • 9780190906658
  • 1,267,488

Table of contents




Part One: Building Blocks for an Interpretative Program
Chapter One: The Buddha's Omniscience and the Immeasurability of Scripture
Chapter Two: Scripture, Commentary, and Exegetical Distinctions

Part Two: Interpreting the Three Pitakas
Chapter Three: Interpreting the Contexts and Conditions of Buddhavacana in the Suttanta
Chapter Four: Disentangling the Tangle: Abhidhamma as Phenomenological Analysis
Chapter Five: The 'Completely Pleasing' Exegesis on the Vinaya


Appendix A: The Recollection of the Dhamma
Appendix B: Commentary on the Section on Veranja Starting the Vinaya
Appendix C: Four Oceans and Three Pitakas

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Review quote

Heim's skillful writing makes the highly technical subject of commentarial studies very accessible and a pleasure to read. * Upali Sraman, Philosophy East & West * Primary text Pali excerpts in the footnotes are useful for students and scholars of Pali. This book would be an excellent read for an advanced undergraduate or graduate seminar on Buddhism and its textual traditions. Heim's work is a significant contribution to the study of Buddhaghosa as well as ancient South Asian and early Buddhist Studies scholarship more broadly. * Andrew Dade, University of Toronto, Religious Studies Review * The broad contours and fine grain of Heim's book are equally admirable ... Heim's exquisite book would provide wonderful stimulation for ethical philosophers, scholars thinking about scriptural exegesis in other traditions, or those working on comparative reading practices * Amy Paris Langenberg, Reading Religion * This study will be of much interest to advanced scholars of Buddhism * J. H. Sniegocki, CHOICE * Voice of the Buddha is a superb book. There is no other work quite like it, and the discipline of Buddhist Studies needs more books of this sortat once philologically careful and philosophically astute. * Richard Nance, Associate Professor of South Asian Buddhism, Indiana University, Bloomington * Buddhaghosa is unparalleled among Buddhist commentators because he teaches not only what a text means but also how to read that text; Maria Heim is unparalleled among Buddhaghosa scholars because she teaches us not only what Buddhaghosa said, but also how to read Buddhaghosa. This beautiful study illuminates Buddhist commentarial practice and Buddhaghosa's contribution to that practice, and is an invaluable contribution to our understanding of Buddhist literature. * Jay L. Garfield, Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities, Smith College, Harvard Divinity School * By reading over the shoulder of the great Theravada commentator Buddhaghosa, Maria Heim brings to light an ingenious and even astonishing understanding of the traditional Buddhist scriptural genres of Sutta, Vinaya, and Abhidhamma. This erudite and eloquent exposition of Buddhaghosa's profound and moving approach will appeal to all students of Buddhist scripture. * Jonathan C. Gold, Associate Professor of Religion, Princeton University *
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About Maria Heim

Maria Heim is Professor of Religion and Elizabeth W. Bruss Reader at Amherst College. She is the author of The Forerunner of All Things and Theories of the Gift in South Asia.
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