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Barlaam and Ioasaph by John Damascene
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Barlaam and Ioasaph

by John Damascene

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Barlaam and Josaphat is a Christianized version of the story of Siddharta Gautama, who became the Buddha. In the Middle Ages the two were treated as Christian saints, being entered in the Greek Orthodox calendar on 26 August, and in the Roman Martyrology in the Western Church as "Barlaam and Josaphat" on the date of 27 November.

According to the legend, King Abenner or Avenier in India persecuted the Christian Church in his realm, founded by the Apostle Thomas. When astrologers predicted that his own son would some day become a Christian, Abenner had the young prince Josaphat isolated from external contact. Despite the imprisonment, Josaphat met the hermit Saint Barlaam and converted to Christianity. Josaphat kept his faith even in the face of his father's anger and persuasion. Eventually Abenner converted, turned over his throne to Josaphat, and retired to the desert to become a hermit. Josaphat himself later abdicated and went into seclusion with his old teacher Barlaam.

Cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barlaam_and_Ioasaph
  gmicksmith | Aug 17, 2011 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
John Damasceneprimary authorall editionscalculated
Lang, David M.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mattingly, HaroldTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woodward, George RatcliffeTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The romance of Barlaam and Ioasaph exists in several versions. The Byzantine Greek version was traditionally attributed to St John of Damascus, but this attribution is usually rejected in modern scholarship.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0674990382, Hardcover)

One of the best known examples of the hagiographic novel, this is the tale of an Indian prince who becomes aware of the world's miseries and is converted to Christianity by the monk Barlaam. Barlaam and Josaphat (Ioasaph) were believed to have re-converted India after her lapse from conversion to Christianity, and they were numbered among the Christian saints. Centuries ago likenesses were noticed between the life of Josaphat and the life of the Buddha; the resemblances are in incidents, doctrine, and philosophy, and Barlaam's rules of abstinence resemble the Buddhist monk's. But not till the mid-nineteenth century was it recognised that, in Josaphat, the Buddha had been venerated as a Christian saint for about a thousand years.

The origin of the story of Barlaam and Ioasaph—which in itself has little peculiar to Buddhism—appears to be a Manichaean tract produced in Central Asia. It was welcomed by the Arabs and by the Georgians. The Greek romance of Barlaam appears separately first in the 11th century. Most of the Greek manuscripts attribute the story to John the Monk, and it is only some later scribes who identify this John with John Damascene (ca. 676–749). There is strong evidence in Latin and Georgian as well as Greek that it was the Georgian Euthymius (who died in 1028) who caused the story to be translated from Georgian into Greek, the whole being reshaped and supplemented. The Greek romance soon spread throughout Christendom, and was translated into Latin, Old Slavonic, Armenian, and Arabic. An English version (from Latin) was used by Shakespeare in his caskets scene in The Merchant of Venice.

David M. Lang's Introduction traces parallels between the Buddhist and Christian legends, discusses the importance of Arabic versions, and notes influences of the Manichaean creed.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:19:35 -0400)

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