About the book:
This selection is in every way representative. It furnishes authentic documentation of all aspects of early Pali Buddhism, among which may be mentioned the main items of the ” Buddha ” biography ; the practice of the doctrine in the Order as well as by the lay-adherent ; the principal tenets in respect of the enlightenment striven after by the seeker of the truth ; the goal of life ; the time-honoured accessory doctrines of karma, causation, and reincarnation ; and the monastic organization.
We may trust to Dr. Thomas’s able judgment, which is the result of many years’ painstaking study of the Buddhist Scriptures, as regards the pieces chosen for translation into English. They are from the historian’s point of view as authentic and reliable as can be expected at the present day and in regard to them the author’s own book, The Life of the Buddha, is the best exposition available.
That the author pays due attention to the wider connections of Pali Buddhism is shown by the inclusion of several Buddhist Sanskrit texts which throw some light on the Pali tradition. and also by a group of passages which illustrate the influence of other schools of thought (chiefly Brahmanism and Jainism) on Pali Buddhism. As to the translation itself, it is in perfect accordance with Dr. Thomas’s high repute as a Pali scholar. We do not expect, nor do we find, any renderings which might be objected to from the linguistic point of view.
His style approaches the Pali idiom as nearly as possible, viz. it is popular, fluent, and to the point. I am not familiar with Dr. Thomas’s Pegasean gifts, but think that it is as well that he has not. exercised them to the full in the translation of poetical passages, which has saved him from the danger of perhaps going beyond the mark (i.e. beyond the sense) of the original.
– a review from the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies / Volume 9 / Issue 02 / June 1937, pp 439-439
About the author:
Edward Joseph Thomas (1869–1958) was a librarian in India and author of several books on the history of Buddhism. His works, mainly concerned with Theravada Buddhism and reflecting Western scholarship, nonetheless remain widely cited for their clarity and accuracy. The Life of Buddha as Legend and History is inevitably cited in Buddhist research. Thomas’s ability as a Pali scholar and translator was noted in his time. (from wikipedia)