[UCP Books]: From Stone to Flesh: A Short History of the Buddha

“Donald S. Lopez, Jr., has written the most gripping intellectual detective story I have read in years. . . . Indispensable not just for the study of Buddhism but also for a more general appreciation of the unfinished and ongoing encounter of West and East.”


Jack Miles, general editor, The Norton Anthology of World Religions

 From Stone to Flesh

A Short History of the Buddha
Donald S. Lopez Jr.
Published by the University of Chicago Press

Publication date: 15 May 2013 Cloth $26.00/£17.00
International publication date: 27 May 2013 ISBN-13: 978-0-226-49320-6


Everybody likes Buddhism. And why not? It’s profound but accessible, as much an easy, adaptable lifestyle as a religion. And one of the most likable aspects of Buddhism is the Buddha himself. No tales of violence, vengeance, and punishment. He just sat under trees with his legs crossed, and talked to those who happened to be passing by. But was this really the Buddha, and how did this image become the Buddha we know and love today?
Leading historian of Buddhism Donald S. Lopez Jr. tells the story of how various idols carved in stone—variously named Beddou, Codam, Xaca, and Fo—became the man of flesh and blood that we know simply as the Buddha. He reveals that the positive view of the Buddha in Europe and America is rather recent, originating a little more than a hundred and fifty years ago. For centuries, the Buddha was condemned by Western writers as the most dangerous idol of the Orient. He was a demon, the murderer of his mother, a purveyor of idolatry. Lopez shows that centuries of hostility toward the Buddha changed dramatically in the nineteenth century, when the teachings of the Buddha, having disappeared from India by the fourteenth century, were read by European scholars newly proficient in Asian languages. At the same time, the traditional view of the Buddha persisted in Asia, where he was revered as much for his supernatural powers as for his philosophical insights. From Stone to Flesh follows the twists and turns of these Eastern and Western notions of the Buddha, leading finally to his triumph as the founder of a world religion.
Donald S. Lopez Jr. is the Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies in the Department of Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Michigan. He is the author, editor, or translator of a number of books, including, most recently, Buddhism and Science. He is available for interviews. Please contact Carrie Olivia Adams at (773) 702-4216 or cadams@press.uchicago.edu


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