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Oskar von Hinüber: "The Buddha and History"
Earlier this year David Drewes published an article entitled „The Idea of the historical Bud-dha,“ in which he reviewed the opinions of selected western Buddhologists on whether or not the Buddha was a historical person and, in conclusion, denied the existence of the Bud-dha. As D. Drewes exclusively draws on secondary literature to demonstrate his point, it seems worthwhile to go back to the sources in order to evaluate their age and to trace pos-sibly early fragments containing information on the biography of the Buddha. In doing so, linguistic arguments are used to determine a relative chronology. If texts show traces point-ing to an early date fairly near to the assumed life time of the Buddha, they might either in-dicate the historical existence, or at least the date of the creation of the person called the Buddha. Moreover, contradictions to later Buddha biographies in early texts are pointed out which might indicate the memory of a genuine person. Lastly, the literary form of early Bud-dhist texts is taken into consideration.
Oskar von Hinüber is professor emeritus for indologie of the Albert-Ludwigs Universität, Freiburg. After high school he joined the navy and as a reservist holds the rank of a commander. After studying in Tübingen, Erlangen, Mainz he got his PhD in 1966 and passed his habilitation in 1973 at the university at Mainz.
After acting as professor in Mainz (1974-1981), he took up the professorship for indology at the Albert Ludwigs–Universität, Freiburg (1981-2006). He is ordinary member of the Akademie der Wissenschaften und der Literatur, Mainz, associé étranger (Membre de l’Institut) of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres, Paris, and corresponding member of the Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna.
His publications mainly on the linguistic history of Buddhism, epigraphy and cultural history include 25 books among them: Arrian: Der Alexanderzug - Indische Geschichte. Griechisch und Deutsch (1985), Das ältere Mittelindisch im Überblick (22001), A Handbook of Pāli Literature (1996), Die Palola Ṣāhis (2004), Indiens Weg in die Moderne (2005), Die Pali-Handschriften des Klosters Lai Hin bei Lampang in Nord-Thailand (2013), Kanaganahalli Inscriptions (2014). Part of his about 150 articles and more than 450 reviews are collected in Selected Papers (22005) and Kleine Schriften (2009).