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The Christ and the Bodhisattva.

This volume contains papers from a conference held at Middlebury College in 1984. The core consists of six studies: three by Christian scholars on their understanding of "the Christ" in Christianity (Langdon Gilkey, Brother David Steindl-Rast, and Ann Bedford Ulanov) and three by Buddhist scholars on their understanding of the "Bodhisattva" in Mahayana Buddhism (Robert Thurman, Luis Gomez, and H. H. the Dalai Lama). The essays, both historical and theological in character, are each directed at a single tradition. The comparative nature of the symposium emerges principally in the introduction, in a separate essay on the development of the Buddhist-Christian dialogue by Malcolm David Eckel, and in a set of concluding remarks by the participants. References are also made to an initial panel discussion chaired by William F. Buckley, Jr.; this was taped for "Firing Line" but is not printed here. The contents are thus quite varied in character; the choice of the Bodhisattva rather than the Buddha gives the discussion added interest. Both the contribution by Eckel and the introduction do a fine job of articulating various models for representing the relationship between these two traditions. Because the core essays are largely tradition-specific, the volume accentuates divergences and avoids superficial complementarianism. A salutary dose of complexity is evident, as is the acknowledged need for further analysis of substantial differences on fundamental issues. In this respect the volume is successful, documenting a significant stage in the Buddhist-Christian dialogue, as the great variety of belief and practice within each tradition emerges to dampen any hasty judgments about wholesale similarities or divergences.

J. P. K.
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Author:Kenney, J.P.
Publication:The Journal of the American Oriental Society
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 1993
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