Lamb Propaganda

Lamb_PropagandaSheep in the Bible

The NT is packed with sheep & lamb analogies.  “Lamb of God” is the biggest group, then there are separating sheep for goats and then saving lost sheep.  Here are some verse about how Jesus treats sheep and lambs:

My New Gospel

I have recently been thinking about how fun it would be to write a new, ‘better’ Gospel, kind of like St. Luke did (see Luke 1:1-4). My Gospel would match the story of Jesus that my everyday, theologically-naive Christian friends understand — where Jesus is simply a sweet, loving guy.  And as a perfect illustration for my Jesus-is-Love gospel I would put a picture of Jesus with a lamb and children on the cover.  Now I am not sure if this image is really based on any Gospel story, but that doesn’t matter, because the gospel in my cafeteria-Christian friends’ heads is merely an amalgam of art, movies, and bits-and-pieces of other gospels.  I think this is the gospel believed by most Christians.

As for the name of my gospel, like other gospel forgers, I should probably name my gospel after a disciple in order to give it the appearance of authority but I think all twelve names have already been used in various gospels. I certainly can’t just call my better gospel “The Gospel According to Sabio’s Nominal Christian Buddies”. Any thoughts?

Buddha and Sheep

Lamb is my favorite meat. And I imagine Jesus had no problem eating that cute lamb — another inconvenient fact about Jesus that I’d have to leave that out of my gospel. But today I felt a little guilty when I ran into the picture above of the Siddhartha (the Buddha-to-be) with a Lamb — for he certainly would not eat the little fella. But more than that disappointment, I was amazed at how similar this image appeared to the image of Jesus with a sweet lamb.  I never knew that Buddhism capitalized on cute baby lambs too.

This Buddhist lamb story is about Siddartha (before his enlightenment) saving the lamb from a sacrifice – not something Jesus would have done.  Do any readers know the Buddhist source of this story?  If you want to read the story I copied it below from a great site called BuddhaNet. Click “continue reader” to see it.

24. After his meal, Siddhartha decided to go to the mountains where many hermits (people who live alone) and sages (wise people) lived. On the way there, he came across a flock of sheep. Shepherds were driving the herd to Rajagaha to be sacrificed in a fire ceremony. One little lamb was injured. Out of compassion Siddhartha picked up the lamb and followed the shepherds back to the city.

25. In the city, the fire was burning on the altar, and King Bimbisara and a group of priests were chanting hymns. They all worshipped fire. When the leader of the fire-worshippers lifted his sword to kill the first sheep, Siddhartha quickly stopped him. He asked the king not to let the worshippers destroy the lives of the poor animals. Then Siddhartha turned to the worshippers and told them: “Life is extremely precious. All living creatures want to live, just like people.”

26. He continued: “If people expect mercy, they should show mercy. By the law of cause and effect (karma), those who kill others will, in turn, be killed. If we expect happiness in the future, we must not harm any creatures. Whoever sows suffering will reap the same fruits.” This speech completely changed the king’s mind, and the minds of the fire-worshippers. He stopped the killing ceremony and invited Siddhartha to stay and teach his people. But Siddhartha declined, as he had not yet found the truth he was seeking.


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

46 responses to “Lamb Propaganda

  1. I would have to imagine the artist in that depiction of Jesus (and similar ones) had Jesus’ words about being the good shepherd who would lay down his life for his sheep (John 10) in mind.

    I would also have to imagine that your “everyday, theologically-naive Christian friends” would think you have misrepresented their viewpoint in your post and probably misunderstand them.

    I did enjoy this post, as I do just about all of your posts – agree or disagree.

  2. Ah, right, thanks, Doug B!
    Why do you imagine that I will misrepresent the Christian viewpoints of my minimally-Christian friends? Or you seem to say I have already misrepresented them. Please do tell. [thanx for the compliments, btw]

  3. Doug B

    Obviously they would think you have misunderstood them or else they would agree with you. I’m sure they won’t agree.

    Personally, I think you have just given your characterization of them. Nothing wrong with doing that, mind you; we all do it. But we must recognize what we are doing when we do it.

  4. Wait, wait, Doug, I think you misunderstand. I would actually write that gospel hoping they would say, “Yep, that is essentially it.” Remember, these most of these folks have never read the NT to any extent — though they have listen to some sermons, seen lots of movies and done lots of holidays.

    What “characterization of them’ did you read me saying and why is it wrong?

  5. Doug B

    Back in the day when I was cafeteria-Christian myself, I would have no doubt felt you were being patronizing. I’m sure I would have thought the movies, art, and bits and pieces and so forth were reflections of what I thought was the truth and not the other way around – even if you are correct (and I really don’t disagree that you have nailed it exactly for many).

    If I misunderstood you, I’m sorry. But that seems to me like very pointed sarcasm in your post. I doubt your Christian friends will be favorably impressed with it. I wouldn’t have been.

    I especially doubt they would say “yep, that is essentially it” regarding your suggestion of gospel forgeries.

  6. Rebecca C.

    It may also refer to the parable of the shepherd with 100 sheep where one was lost and the shepherd searched tirelessly for the one. Jesus was represented by the shepherd and sinners by the sheep. At least that’s the explanation I remember growing up in a Southern Baptist home.
    That version might pass inspection for your better version Gospel 🙂

  7. Well, Doug, of course this post is patronizing, but my Gospel won’t be. Don’t confuse the two. You may dislike my pointed sarcasm here, but like other gospel writers, I would keep my real intents cloaked so as to be palatable to the masses.

    So again, the Gospel I would write and this Post are two different things. I think that when my friends read my Gospel that they would say, “Yep, that is essentially it.”

    Hopefully that will make our discussion a little clearer.
    Thanx for visiting, Doug

  8. @ Rebecca: Great! Yeah, I forgot that one too. Do you have a book/verse reference? I will add both your and Doug’s contributions to the post later. Thanks much. And I will add it to my Gospel. 🙂

  9. Doug B

    But your “better” gospel isn’t really a serious proposition, correct?

  10. “I would keep my real intents cloaked so as to be palatable to the masses” Hmmmm. What would your (or Luke’s) real intents be?

  11. @ Doug B:
    I am not sure I understand your question. My Gospel would be a simple, short gospel that casual-cultural Christians would read and say, “Yep, I that is close-enough to what I believe”. So in that sense it would be a “serious proposition”. Is that your question or are you wondering if I really intend to write this? If so, the more I talk about it, the more fun the project sounds. Like I said, I would make it really short — well. certainly the first edition would be short. That way, it would be easy to get folks to read and test for accuracy. Don’t you think that is a great idea?

    @ Don Hartness:
    Well for example, I think Matthew was trying to sell Jesus to Jews and Luke to the Gentiles. I can’t imagine that the writers of those Gospels didn’t have an audience in mind, can you? My “real” intent is given in the comment to Doug B above.

    But tell me Don, what do you think about the gist of this post? Come out, lay out your cards.

  12. ” Sabio’s Nominally Christian Buddies” – That was ripe for a good chuckle. I think you are correct about how there is a popularized gospel that many Christians believe. Often, it seems that disbelievers know more of the book than those in the faith. A sad state of affairs; yet, it is historically accurate add that is what the Catholic church would have the people do.

    Coincidence that I also posted about sheep as well today..made your post more enjoyable.

  13. Well, myrthryn, you make a point that helps me perhaps answer Don Hartness’ question better. I think you stated clearly what I am getting at. But I don’t think it is “a sad state of affairs” that most Christians don’t know more about the book of their faith. Indeed, I think many atheists often misunderstand religion and view it a propositional. I think for most believers, it is not about propositions, dogma, theology or such — it is a cultural phenomena. My Gospel would make that clear without being pejorative. Well, it would be pejorative to those who feel Christianity should be propositional. Did that make sense?

  14. Doug B

    I’m still stuck on the forgery thing. And who would believe Jesus had a disciple named Sabio? 🙂

    Nope, I think your efforts would be better spent on your blogging.

  15. @Sabio ..I only say it is a sad state of affairs as without the knowledge of what the book says, it is more difficult to progress them to the wonders of disbelief. ” You can’t reason someone out of a position that they didn’t reason themselves into.”

    And you are correct, it is a cultural phenomena..

  16. @ Doug B,
    Ah, now I see what you mean. You mean, “Do you really plan to write a gospel that will pass as a real gospel?”
    Heck no, of course not.
    It would be fun from the get-go.
    It might be: “The Common Culture view of Jesus: Spark Note edition”.
    Then I’d get theologically unschooled self-proclaiming “sure, I’m a Christian” friends to read it and see it it matches their view.
    It would be just like blogging. I was joking about the forgery stuff — you are aware that the NT gospels are not written by the people whose names are on the gospels, right?

  17. @ myrthryn,
    Ah, indeed. But you can engage people at the level they do embrace their culture. I can address parochial Cultural Christians without discussing the Bible rather easily. We talk about how we hold ideas and what purpose they serve and then show how people outside their circles do the same — even those repugnant to themselves. Sometimes it works.

  18. Doug B

    I think I understood you correctly from the get-go. It was a forceful eyepoke at your cafeteria-Christian friends. I just offered that I doubt that approach would get much more from them than an accustation that you don’t understand or are misrepresenting what they truly believe. In other words: “What we have here is failure to communicate.” But that is just about always the case when people sharply disagree. It’s easier to poke fun and dismiss out of hand than to seriously engage. I’ve been trying to do better at that with my own blogging, but I still slip from time to time, especially when I tackle politics (which I don’t do so much of anymore) or an issue I have strong feelings about. (You know, all’s fair in love and war, blah, blah, blah.)

    Likewise, I don’t think of the canonical gospels as forgeries. That is an accusation more than a statement of fact. I mean, if we can’t be certain of who wrote the works in question, how can we assess with definiteness their motives? I think there may be attribution by tradition at work there rather than outright forgery. But this is a deep subject about which there is much disagreement, and I’m not a scholar. And I want to try to be less of an eyepoker.

  19. Rebecca C.

    @ Sabio,
    I believe it is Luke 15:3-7.
    I am glad my years of indoctrination are of use. 🙂

  20. “But tell me Don, what do you think about the gist of this post? Come out, lay out your cards.”

    “Why, I’m enjoying the gist and subsequent conversation just fine Sabio; thanks for asking!”

  21. (pops another beer and reclines)

  22. @ Doug B,
    Nah, I don’t think you understood me. I was not looking to poke my cafeteria-Christian friends in the eye at all. But it does seems you are out there trying to look for offense. You aren’t really hearing me.

    And I am still not sure on what we “sharply disagree” on. Though you know me, I am certainly not afraid to sharply disagree, but I’d love to be clear on what it is.

    I am so glad you are doing so good on your blogging. I don’t think I am doing badly here at all.

    It is interesting that you really think that Jesus’ disciples Matthew, Mark and John wrote the gospels to which their names are attached. Oh, wait, you think that the writers were anonymous and someone else attached disciples names to it. But you agree that the attribution is probably false?

    You keep trying to be less of an eye-poker. And don’t get any chicken grease on you. Be sure to let those that do know that there are better ways to eat. 😉

  23. Hey Doug and Rebecca — I added the verses and fixed up the formatting of the post. Thanx.

  24. Doug B

    Sorry you feel that way, my friend. I’m not looking for offense and certainly took none. I don’t feel this post applies to me in any way. But, yes, had I read it thirty-something years ago, in my conservative Christian days, I would have been offended – even in all my theological-naivete (which I confess was abundant). And as for your blogging, in fact, I’m glad you are here more again. Oh, and I’ll keep trying to watch my eyepokes and the chicken grease. (You won’t believe this but I was eating a bowl of chicken and dumplings when your comment came.) 🙂

  25. Right, I didn’t think you felt it applied to you. You were protecting others from the overreach of atheists. And I don’t mind the eyepokes, I just put up my salute hand between my eyes and like Curly, I am protected from Mo’s pokes.

    Were you eating with your fingers when you read my comment? Personally, I think (after reading your post), that a hidden secret for personal growth for you is to force yourself to eat with your fingers everything you can for 6 months. Learn the texture of foods on your fingers and face. Or go even further if you can imagine.

  26. Doug B

    I was here at my desk with bowl and spoon in hand. As for the personal growth exercises, I think of what Scrooge told the Ghost of Christmases Yet To Come: I’m too old to change.

  27. Now you brought a tear to my eye, Doug. You might be surprised — there may be some life left yet — give change a chance. 😉

  28. rautakyy

    When the Goths fought the Danish invaders in Gotland AD 1361, the Gotish flag had an image of a lamb, the “Agnus Dei” holding a cross. The Danes had a blood red flag with a white cross, that was the copy of a flag wich alledgedly decended from heaven in a middle of a battle a few generations earlier, as they were crusading against the Estonians.

    We think the image of the symbolical innocense of the lamb is same to us sitting in a cafeteria, wether we are Christians, Buddhists, or atheists, but is it? How much does the cultural heritage bear on how we see these images? As war banners, or as symbols for peace? Is the lamb a sacrificial animal that is to be saved, and the smoke of wich is pleasing to a god, or is it a symbol for innocence never to be consumed at all, even by us? I prefer to eat my mutton, rather than to burn it as a sacrifice (like Jesus might have done) or to bury it (like Buddha might have done), but it is more enjoyable, if I think it first spent a lot of seasons giving wool for clothes of people. Am I extorting sheep, or a god?

    I think your idea of writing such a “Gospel” is a great idea, and if anyone is up to the task, it is you Sabio.

  29. Earnest

    I am one of Sabio’s nominally Christian friends, and I think this is a fantastic idea.

    As far as the author to whom it is attributed, I would suggest perhaps the gospel of Timothy? It would be great to have it be the Gospel of John the Baptist, but it would have to abruptly end when he was beheaded.

    Will there be any statistical analysis of Christian opinions of what the majority would want in their “designer gospel”? Like Komar and Melamid did with the visual arts and music?

    I think the only downside is the risk is the possibility of a Sabio personality cult! All hail Sabio, the Reborn Elijah! Lead us all in the paths of righteousness! 😉

  30. (mumbling with a mouthful of pretzels) “Nice one Earnest…” (pops another beer)

  31. By the way, the best way to cook lamb is this. It requires a few hours of preparation, cooking for several hours, by hand–do not use a motor driven device–but it’s worth the effort. Alternatively, go to this place on this Sunday, and if you choose to stay at the right hotel, they will offer the food to you for free, free wine and deserts included. (Now, with the crisis, I’m not sure though… Several people have reached starvation level…)

  32. @rautakyy,
    Thanx. Yeah, it seems for a pastoral culture, lambs are probably a pretty clear archetype.

  33. Years ago, a friend took me out to a five-star restaurant where I was told the lamb chops were very good. I ordered them, and to my shock, the waiter placed before me two very tiny chops. The lamb they came from must have been a newborn or a few days old at best. I was stricken—while I ate the lamb chops, I couldn’t help envisioning a very tiny, helpless, cute little lamb. Not long after that, I decided to become vegetarian and have remained one for most of my life.

    Oddly, everyone assumes I became vegetarian because I’m Buddhist—which I am really not. I was raised Buddhist, but the sect my parents belong to is just as rigid and superstitious in its worldview as any Christian fundamentalist church. When I tell people I became vegetarian because I care about animals, they laugh, as if the concept is silly or childish. They would never laugh if I agreed with them and said I don’t eat meat because I’m Buddhist. Apparently, faith-driven dietary choices are okay. Believing animals have the right to live as well, not so much.

  34. Earnest

    @ Doug B: “Forgery: the act of forging or producing a copy of a document, art, etc…” As far as I can tell there is no “ur-text” for us to go to other than scattered disconnected fragments. So of course every gospel is a forgery; Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Thomas, all of them must be considered pieces but not the whole. The actual events are lost and can never be truly known.

    Mark 8:29: Jesus asked: Who do you say that I am?

    I think Jesus isn’t just asking Peter that question, it’s a question for all of us to answer for ourselves.

    I half-retract the comment about Komar and Melamid, because I think that style of gospel construction would give a very interesting answer but one that I’m pretty sure would be at odds with Sabio’s self-concept of the gospel. I think the world majority opinion would also be too conservative for my taste.

  35. @ Takis,
    That Lamb looks fantastic. Maybe next spring we will spit roast in our back yard.

    @ Hangaku Gozen,
    I believe animals have the right to live as well — just for a little shorter time. 😉
    Thanx for sharing about rigid Buddhism — very common indeed.

    @ Earnest,
    I don’t think anyone has a need to figure out who Jesus was, anymore than I feel people should learn to solve Sudoku problems, play WeiQi or understand Cricket. You really think all the Shintoists, Tibetan Buddhists, and Chinese Taoist need to sit down, read a Gideon Bible and try to figure out what they think of Jesus. Well, you are in good company, lots of missionaries agree with you.

    Or were you saying something more innocuous, buddy?

  36. Doug B

    @ Earnest,

    As a non-Christian that issue is more a curiosity than a concern for me. I don’t think that it is provable with certainty that the canonical gospels were forgeries in the sense of being attempts to defraud or deceive the early Christians. I think the traditions of the early Christians that attributed these books to Jesus’ disciples are worthy of attention.

  37. Earnest

    Sorry Sabio on re-reading I admit my post sounded a bit over-the-top.

    I think everyone has their own version of Jesus inside them somewhere. Perhaps the Jesus concept is of an evil vampire sucking the blood of the proletariat. And on a certain level, I am OK with that. That is simply that person’s self concept via their particular Jesus lens.

    I think the self-exploration of one’s own Jesus version can be a very revealing exercise.

  38. Again, Earnest, I can’t imagine Taoists, Hindus, Buddhists, Shintoists or many others running about with “their own version of Jesus inside them somewhere.” Any more than I could imagine them doing the same with some version of Steven King, Mark Twain or Santa Claus inside them somewhere.

    Yes, self-reflection of our versions of anything can be “a revealing exercise” but it is no more special for those with your inner stories of Jesus than many other things. Yawn.

  39. Soe

    Hi Sabio! Hope everyone is well. I see you are all still having excellent fun!

    This post brings to mind a BBC documentary, “the Lost Gospels” I caught on youtube some weeks back. Where I first heard about Marcion of Sinope and his role in forcing the early church leaders to decide on what went into the NT.

    It also made me think about what evidence in buddhist texts show that early sangha tried to ensure survivability of the teachings. Particularly the differences in the use of both verse and prose format in account of the suttas. Where verses are believed by scholars to be the earlier source and the prose, additions. And most of what is recorded from the original oral traditions survive in written form in the various traditions. When these might have been first recorded in written form I am not sure but they do have those Gandhāran texts that date back to the 1st century CE. Personally I am interested in the reliability of memories of spoken words. I wonder if there are studies on the reliability of ancient oral traditions too. But back to the subject, the 1st buddhist council was supposedly held a year after the buddha’s passing to ensure the correct teachings and rules for monks were passed on.

    The buddhist story about the lamb, it was popularised by a poem, “The Light of Asia” penned by an Englishman, Sir Edwin Arnold. I have not come across this story in any of the suttas(though I have yet to read all of them). A quick search of sutta references to lambs and there is only one to the Upali sutta(MN 56) relating a story about Jain versus buddhist doctrinal views. And according to this monk, the poem-story seem to be a clever copy of the Christian stories.

  40. “The NT is packed with sheep & lamb analogies. ”
    Yup sure is! And it’s a BIG concept in conservative circles which makes me wonder if this would indeed appeal to your “cafeteria Christian” friends. Assuming that these friends are of the more popular conservative evangelical/catholic strain which is the majority in the US, I would say that for the following reasons they wouldn’t bite:

    1. they are in the flock and you’re not thus
    2. Jesus is nice to them and will protect them from… well you and this Buddha character you’re talking about.
    3. They understand the theme of shepherd running through both the OT and the NT which is partly why they have such a high Christology.
    4. Have you listened to much praise music? They would be over joyed to be eaten by Jesus what with all the “i will sacrifice/give myself to you/ my life is yours/ i am not my own/ etc. etc.” going on over there.. Assuming cafeteria Christians indeed listen to praise music… your word so I’m not sure if they do or not…

    Now the history part: The OT was packed with sheep and lamb analogies as well, most famously Psalm 23. So when Mark talks about Jesus greeting and feeding the people beside the Sea of Galilee, the author of Mark writes “And He commanded them all to sit down on the green grass.” (6:39) Whoa, wait a second! Where have I heard that before? What is the author of Mark trying to do here?

    The focus of a good shepherd was to be on his flock–their provision, guidance and safety. The epitome of the bad shepherds, in Ezekiel’s expose of Israel’s leaders of his day (34:1-6), These leaders were accused of slaughtering their sheep and eating them rather than feeding them. So in the NT authors various hands (John 10:11-15 comes to mind and Jesus’scathing rebuke of the Pharisees in Matthew 23.) It thematically posits the temple system as “the bad shepherds” who are in league with the wolves… AKA Rome. And Jesus is the good shepherd who dies to defend his flock. And who else is the good shepherd? Well, God. So that means Jesus is either the more authentic way to God or understands the tradition of the Jewish people better than the temple, or simply IS God.

    So with this understanding, it would seem as though there is a theological and political thing going on in the NT. Completely different from what the Buddhist narrative is trying to say. Buddha is compassionate and sort of like a vegan. Jesus is about corporate political and theological reform.

    Not much of it is nice and gentle, not in prog circles nor in conservative circles. Yet what is interesting to note is where the emphasis is placed. In prog circles, it’s on rooting out systemic injustice and corruption. In conservative circles it mainly means “we’re protected and you’re not.” So I dunno if it’ll play, but I’d read your gospel.

    For a title, how about “The Gospel of James and John, Sons of Zebedee.” For two reasons:
    1. The single author but two disciples would reflect your multiple selves theory and
    2. These dudes were zealots. Many scholars think they weren’t actually biological brothers, but part of a militant group known as “The Sons of Thunder” which is what Zeb means. Kinda like a “Hell’s Angels” or “Sons of Anarchy” of the first century. It would fit your fighting personality.

  41. TWF

    Holy sheep skins, Batman! There’s a lot of comments here. I don’t have the time to read them all. 😦

    You may be blocked out from the Apostles, but you could take one of the women’s names for your Gospel. I would call it “The Gospel of the Other Mary;” ref. Matthew 27:61. I think it’s a great idea too, because I think that would be an excellent direction for Christianity to head, shedding the baggage of the other Gospels.

    Great Buddhist tie-in with the lamb. I hadn’t heard that one before.

  42. Earnest

    So Sabio, will there be a pre-project survey for preferred content? Or only a post- project assessment on how close you got to what the members of your study set believe?

  43. Soe

    @Luke, you said “Completely different from what the Buddhist narrative is trying to say. Buddha is compassionate and sort of like a vegan. Jesus is about corporate political and theological reform.”

    Interesting, I think in the way that the buddhist texts are compiled, and that comparatively it has much more material than what there is on Jesus in the NT due to the short time he had with his disciples to the buddha’s 45 years, it wouldn’t do either justice to compare them as similar. But I guess your observation could sum up the way the two personalities are portrayed as in doing their spiritual work. There are probably more text in the tipitaka(main buddhist texts) on teachings on virtue, peace, non-violence than preaching on what those in power are doing wrong. Those do exist, but not in confrontational ways. This may have to do with the respect that most rulers may have had for holy men, even from different traditions, if the narrations are to be believed. The most common content and the bulk of the texts however revolves around instruction to the monks. The most detailed criticisms against “non-monks” deal with the beliefs of the popular sects of the day, particularly Jainism and Bhramanism(pre-Hinduism) and why they don’t/cannot work.

  44. @ Hangaku Gozen: Yeah, I don’t understand why people are so concerned about what other people eat. They always demand a story that is palatable to them. 🙂

    @@ Soe:
    Yes, I use to have a present-day Marcionite reader here. He would argue with one of my Progressive Christian readers — that was interesting. I hadn’t read too much on that until then. Marcion was a huge influence.

    Thank you kindly for the Buddhist info.

    Your comments on the complexity of the Buddhist text is fascinating. Part of my seeing through much of religion was seeing how they all do such familiar things. Yet Christians and Atheists are really only interested in their own traditions usually. They haven’t had the time to really dive into others and see these similarities. Just like traveling abroad can open a mind, truly exploring another faith outside your familiar family of religion can be eye opening — seems like you get that.

    @ Luke:
    Thanx for the Lamb sermon — ’twas fascinating. Seriously — good stuff.

    @ TWF:
    Thanx for the suggestion.

    @ Earnest:
    Nope — I won’t be taking a poll. No gospel will please everyone – history shows that. So I will just have to please some. Go ahead and write your own, though. Get a blog and share it, mate.

  45. Soe

    @Sabio, I tried the link to Buddhanet, it gets an error because of an extra “Budd” at the end of the address. Again it is interesting to note that the lamb story is only in the story of the Buddha for younger primary students but not for the “life of the buddha” for secondary students. And the life of the buddha itself, attempted to be told as a coherent story in the poem, Buddhacaritam was supposedly in the early 2nd century CE. A serious comparison of this work with the earlier tipitaka texts would have one rule out any narration that was not found in the latter. Personally I’m not sure how much that is.

    However i mentioned earlier the monk, S. Dhammika notes the lamb and the animal sacrifice story probably only came into buddhist story form about 130 years ago. There are even stories supposedly from pre-buddhism, that got incorporated into buddhist lore, in the jataka tales. Take common folklore and use it to introduce the teachings, rather clever and seemingly quite effective. Even in the tipitaka discourses, the buddha is said to have employed many analogies of common concepts familiar to the man in the street, the businessman, the housewife to teach new and somewhat tricky concepts. Some say the genius of the buddha’s work was using the old labels like karma and rebirth to teach the fundamentals of his discovery by tweaking the meanings of these concepts which were already in use(supposedly inaccurately) by other teachers.
    Sometimes there is allusion(by the buddha) to the original dharma(truth) of ancient wise ones being distorted throughout the generations and the essential message forgotten. These ideas and use of “past life” jataka-like tales could have fed the demand for a work like the Buddhavamsa, introducing 24 preceding buddhas. Although part of the buddhist pali canon, it is believed to be a later addition. Note though that these buddhas were described as seperate personalities immeasurable aeons ago, not past lives of the historical buddha.

  46. I think the Gospels were not named by the writers, but by those who came after. No matter what you call it, the proof of the pudding and all that…

    But I sure would like to taste the contents. All power to your project, friend!

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