The Life of Buddha as Legend and History – Edward J Thomas (1927) (1st ed)


The Life of Buddha as Legend and History – Edward J Thomas (1927) (1st ed)


A classic biography of the Buddha, by a Pali scholar working in the University of Cambridge library.

Title: The Life of Buddha as Legend and History

Author: Edward J. Thomas

Publisher: Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co. London. 1927. First edition.

Condition: Hardcover, no dust jacket. Very good. Slight wear to cover. Spine sunned, with very slight fraying. Foxing to prelims and index, but pages are clean, tight, and unmarked. With 4 black-and-white plates. 297pp., 9″x6″.

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From the Preface:

Since the appearance of the epoch-making works of Rhys Davids, Kern, and Oldenberg, the sources for the history of Buddha and Buddhism have been greatly increased. The accessions to our knowledge of the Pali texts are indeed chiefly due to Rhys Davids, but these new data have never been incorporated with precious results, nor has an estimate been made of the extent to which they modify earlier conclusions.

The present work attempts to set forth what is known from the records, and to utilise information that has never yet been presented in a Western form. Even now much of the material is accessible only in works published in Burma, Siam, and Ceylon, but the great work begun by Rhys Davids in establishing the Pali Text Society is still vivified by his spirit, and continues in the fruitful labours of his successors.

Contents include:

Introduction – the srouces
The ancestry of Buddha
The home and family of Buddha
The birth of Buddha
Infancy and youth
The Great Renunciation
Austeries and Enlightenment
The first preaching
Spread of the Doctrine
Legends of the 20 years’ wandering
Rival schools – Devadatta and Ajatasattu
The last days
The Order
Buddhist as a religion
Buddhist as a philosophy
Buddha and myth
Buddha and history
Buddhism and Christianity
Appendix. The Buddhist Scriptures
The Theravada (Pali) Canon
Canonical works of other schools


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)