Barlaam and Ioasaph

Barlaam and Ioasaph

Saint John of Damascus

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  • EAN: 9788832527018
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A well known example of hagiographic novel is the tale of an Indian prince who learns of the world's miseries & is converted to Christianity by the monk Barlaam. Barlaam & Josaphat (Ioasaph) were believed to have reconverted India after her lapse from conversion to Christianity. They were numbered among the christian saints. Centuries ago likenesses were noticed between the life of Josaphat & the life of the Buddha. The resemblances are in incidents, doctrine & philosophy. Barlaam's rules of abstinence resemble the Buddhist monk's. By the mid-19th century it was recognised that, in Josaphat, the Buddha had been venerated as a Christian saint for about 1000 years. 

The origin of the story of Barlaam & Ioasaph which in itself has little peculiar to Buddhism appears to be a Manichaean tract produced in Central Asia. It was welcomed by the Arabs & the Georgians. The Greek romance of Barlaam appears separately 1st in the 11th century. Most of the Greek manuscripts attribute the story to John the Monk. Some later scribes identify this John with John Damascene (c.676-749). There's evidence in Latin & Georgian as well as Greek that it was the Georgian Euthymius (d. 1028) who caused the story to be translated from Georgian into Greek, the whole being reshaped & supplemented. The Greek romance soon spread throughout Christendom, & was translated into Latin, Old Slavonic, Armenian & Arabic. An English version (from Latin) was used in Shakespeare's caskets scene in The Merchant of Venice.

Lang's Introduction traces parallels between the Buddhist & Christian legends, discusses the importance of Arabic versions & notes influences of the Manichaean creed. 
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