Originally published in 1979, Tales and Teachings of the Buddha aims to further the work done by scholars like Gombrich, Spiro and Tambiah in their field studies of lay Buddhism in Sri Lanka, Burma and Thailand. But whereas they highlight the syncretistic mix of imported Buddhist with indigenous animistic beliefs, Tales and Teachings demonstrates that within the Buddhist tradition itself there is, in the immensely popular Jātaka tales, a vast fund of folkloric material that is much more congenial to the average layman than the more austere teaching found in the canon proper. In this book, the two aspects of Buddhist tradition are thoroughly explored, revealing the extent to which concessions have been made by the monks to the laity and also the extent to which the monks themselves have been influenced by the folk tradition in which they were reared. The author has completely revised the book for this new edition, correcting minor errors in the original, pruning dead wood, and incorporating some helpful observations gleaned from reviews and correspondence.
The author is in perfect command of his subject, is never pretentious, tedious, confused or confusing. Mr Jones is well-versed in both Jātaka and Canon, and is thus able to draw on both not only with apparent ease but also with aptness and accuracy and dependable documentation. The result of Mr Jones's findings on the discrepant attitudes that may be taken by the Jātaka and the Nikāyas are always revealing and sometimes surprising. - I. B. Horner, President of the Pāli Text Society
Jones's thorough work in collecting and classifying examples of stories relating to each point makes the volume a useful port of entry into the vast Jātaka literature for both students and scholars. - James P. McDermott, Journal of Asian Studies
This is a most readable account of one of the most influential sources of Theravāda Buddhism. Mr Jones applies literary critical, historical and psychological instruments to the essentials of the 547 Jātaka stories and compares them with the canonical doctrine of the Four Nikāyas..... This highly amenable scholarship is a most delightful introduction to a great and influential ethical tradition. - The Tablet
This scholarly book should provoke lively debate on matters relating to the practice of Buddhism in lay life, and will moreover serve a very useful purpose if it alerts a wider readership to the quality of the Jātaka Tales. - John Snelling, The Middle Way
John Jones has worked in Tamil villages as a pastor, taught New Testament Greek in an Indian Theological College, lectured in philosophy of religion at an English college of education and taught Buddhist Studies at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. His Faiths of the World was published in 1976.
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