The History of Chinese Buddhist Bibliography: Censorship and Transformation of the Tripitaka

by Tanya Storch


"Storch offers a lucid and lively history of the development of scriptural catalogs from their murky origins in the third century up through the high Tang Dynasty (618-907) at the end of the eight century, a few centuries before print canons 'took on the [role of catalogs] in shaping the canon and defining its ideolofical and scriptural parameters' (xxiii). In attending to early catalogers' interest in producing catalogs, as well as noting formal innovations in the very structure of these catalogs with every successive iteration, Storch offers a comprehensive tour of medieval Chinese Buddhist catalog-thought, a discourse that had important effects not onl on Buddhist reading and other practices, but also on eventual reification and printing of East Asian Buddhist canons. ... Altogether the volume is a versatile guide to some of the earliest reference works in the Chinese Buddhist tradition. Additionally, dozens of tables outline each catalog's structure, rendering them comparable at a glance ...Storch's history provides a strong account for Chinese Buddhist catalogs' role in the evolution of that tradition's canon." — Review of Religion and Chinese Society

"This clearly organized, well-researched book on the medieval catalogs of Buddhist writings in China illuminates the shaky foundations of modern Buddhist research. Storch exposes how the Chinese Buddhist corpus was shaped—and even censored—by generations of catalogers, the guardians of the canon. At the same time, Storch probes the catalogs for what they reveal about standards of authenticity; the assignment of value to some scriptures over others; and the history of books, libraries, and learning in pre-modern China. Moreover, Storch argues convincingly that the history of Chinese Buddhist catalogs should be incorporated into comparative discussions of scripture and canon in world history. As the first general study of Chinese Buddhist bibliography in English by an author who demonstrates a thorough command of the material, this book is the first place scholars should turn to for information about the structure and formation of the Chinese Buddhist canon. This book deserves a place on the bookshelf of every specialist in pre-modern Chinese, Korean, and Japanese Buddhism." – John Kieschnick, Stanford University

“This volume brings forward the importance of the cataloging of the many versions of the Chinese Buddhist canon. Given that these compilations are the source for much of the written history of Buddhism in East Asia, they deserve the careful study that has been given to them by Tanya Storch in this book. Her research advances the understanding and provides much new data about this genre of literature and its impact on Chinese religion and culture.” – Lewis Lancaster, University of California, Berkeley

“Offers insight into wide-ranging issues of how religious ideas are transmitted between cultures. Although the focus here is on the ways in which Buddhism, in both oral and written forms, was assimilated into Chinese literary society, Storch’s comparative approach will also be of interest to scholars specializing in the comparative analysis of sacred scriptures.” – E. Ann Matter, University of Pennsylvania

"Cataloging is an essential step toward canon formation in East Asian Buddhism. However, current scholarship has not yet revealed the mysteries behind the collection of the enormous corpus of Buddhist texts, which is called the Buddhist canon, let alone the process of catalog making. Dr. Storch’s work is pioneering in this direction and touches the core of the rich textual tradition in East Asian Buddhism. In addition, her meaningful contribution will be of interest to researchers of a global history of scriptural catalogs because she brings in a comparative perspective to the subject matter and puts the Chinese Buddhist catalogs on a par with the Confucian textual tradition and Western cataloging practices. This book is highly recommended for scholars and students studying Buddhism, history of the Chinese book, and comparative religion." – Jiang Wu, University of Arizona

“This highly accessible book is not only helpful to the nonspecialists in Buddhism but also to Buddhist scholars who are interested in how and why differing versions of the Buddhist canon came into existence. Much Buddhist sectarianism stems from different assessments of what should be counted as a reliable Buddhist scripture. This account of the long and complex history of Chinese Buddhist ideas about what should be included in a catalogue of authentic Buddhist scriptures sheds much light on the process of canon formation in Buddhism. It also demonstrates that Chinese Buddhists played a leading role in dividing Buddhism into so-called ‘Hinayana’ and ‘Mahayana,’ which is at the root of much Buddhist sectarianism. – Rita M. Gross, University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire


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