Buddhist Studies Forum
Jonathan Silk, Leiden University

How to Access a Native Speaker’s Reading of Medieval Chinese: Tibetan Translations of Chinese from Dunhuang

Abstract

Among the materials preserved in Dunhuang are several Tibetan translations of scriptures made not from Sanskrit Indian sources but from Chinese. Among other things, these precious materials allow us access to contemporary educated readings of Chinese sources. This presentation introduces these materials and explores some aspects of their value.

Speaker

Jonathan Silk studied East Asian Studies at the Oberlin College in Ohio and subsequently Buddhist Studies at the University of Michigan. At the latter university he obtained his PhD in 1994 with the thesis: The Origins and Early History of the Mahāratnakūţa Tradition of Mahāyāna Buddhism, With a Study of the Ratnarāśisūtra and Related Materials. During his studies, Silk spent several years in Japan. After his PhD, he became Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Grinnell College in Iowa and in 1995 at the Department of Comparative Religion of the Western Michigan University. From 1998 until 2002 he taught in the Department of Religious Studies at Yale University, and from 2002 in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Since 2007 he has been Professor in the study of Buddhism at Leiden. In 2010 he was awarded a VICI grant from the NWO (Dutch National Science Foundation) for project: “Buddhism and Social Justice.” In 2016 he was elected as a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen [KNAW]). Currently, Silk is Professor of Buddhist Studies at the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies.

Cosponsored by South Asian Studies Asia Center, Reischauer Institute of Japanese Studies, South Asia Institute, Fairbank Center, and Harvard Divinity School.