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Buddhist anthologies in English

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There are two main types of Buddhist anthologies in English:

  1. general anthologies of Buddhist literature
  2. anthologies from the Pali Canon

A third section in this article covers miscellaneous anthologies not falling into these two categories.

General anthologies of Buddhist literature

These never seem to divide Buddhist literature into scriptures and non-scriptures.

  • The Teaching of Buddha, Bukkyo Dendo Kyokai (Buddhist Promotion Foundation), Japan, 1934 (originally in Japanese, 1925); 410th revised edition (1985) online at [2]; includes lots of Pali material in addition to Mahayana writings, presumably those of importance in Japan, Tibetan Buddhism seems to be largely ignored
  • Buddhism, ed Clarence R. Hamilton, Liberal Arts Press, 1952; online at [3]
  • Buddhist Texts through the Ages, ed & tr Edward Conze et al, Bruno Cassirer, Oxford, 1954: intended for those with previous knowedge of Buddhism, more specifically as a sequel to Conze's book Buddhism, and primarily for academic use; in 4 parts:
    1. The Teaching of the Elders [Theravada], ed & tr I. B. Horner
    2. The Mahayana, ed & tr Edward Conze
    3. The Tantras, ed & tr David L. Snellgrove
    4. Texts from China and Japan, ed & tr Arthur Waley
  • The Teachings of the Compassionate Buddha, ed E. A. Burtt, Mentor Classics, 1955: excludes Tibetan Buddhism (page 204); the editor balances different qualities in translations, sometimes choosing readability over accuracy, or even a free version conveying the spirit and substance; 2 of the 3 parts of the Theravada half of the book are explicitly about the spirit, so this seems to be an emphasis of the book as a whole
  • Buddhist Scriptures, ed & tr Edward Conze, Penguin Classics, 1959 (now replaced, 2004, and no longer listed on the Penguin Classics webpage, but Amazon seem to have no difficulty obtaining new copies): concentrates on what Conze considers the "central tradition", but nevertheless manages to represent the major forms of Buddhism (Theravada, Pure Land, Lotus, Zen and Tantra); selected mainly from the early centuries of the Christian era, which Conze considers "the Golden Age of Buddhist literature"; he identifies himself as a Buddhist (page 181); he chooses accuracy over readability; online at [4]
  • The Wisdom of Buddhism, ed Christmas Humphreys, Michael Joseph, London, 1960; online at [5]; edited by a Buddhist
  • World of the Buddha, ed Lucien Stryk, Doubleday, New York, 1968; seems to make no mention of Pure Land, which is the most popular form of Buddhism ([6])
  • The Buddhist Tradition, ed William Theodore de Bary, Modern Library, New York, 1969: in 3 parts, covering India, China and Japan, respectively
  • The Buddhist Experience, ed & tr Stephan Beyer, Dickenson, Encino, California, 1974: intended as a companion volume to Robinson & Johnson, The Buddhist Religion, 3rd ed (replaced by Strong, 1995)
  • The Experience of Buddhism, ed John Strong, 1995: replacement for Beyer, 1974
  • Buddhism in Practice, ed Donald S. Lopez, Jr., Princeton University Press, 1995: emphasizes aspects such as ritual that the editor considers unjustly neglected
  • Buddhist Scriptures, ed Donald S. Lopez, Jr., Penguin Classics, 2004: more balanced, but still includes more such material than usual
  • Original Buddhist Sources, ed Carl Olson, Rutgers University Press, 2005: intended as a companion volume to his book The Different Paths of Buddhism
  • Norton Anthology of World Religions: Buddhism, ed Donald S. Lopez, Jr., 2015
  • [7]

Anthologies of the Pali Canon

There are many of these, since the Pali Canon is generally recognized by historians as being, in a rough sense, the earliest source for the Buddha's teachings.[1] This does not mean that these are representative of Buddhism as a whole. The majority of Buddhists follow the Mahayana, which regards the Pali Canon as a sort of "Old Testament".

  • Buddhist Suttas, ed & tr T. W. Rhys Davids, Sacred Books of the East, volume XI, Clarendon/Oxford, 1881; reprinted by Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi (& ?Dover, New York)
  • Some Sayings of the Buddha, ed & tr F. L. Woodward, Oxford World Classics, 1924
  • The Life of Gotama the Buddha, ed E. H. Brewster, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., London, 1926
  • Buddhist Scriptures, ed & tr E. J. Thomas, Wisdom of the East Series, John Murray, London, 1931
  • The Word of the Buddha, ed & tr Nyanatiloka, 1935
  • The Vedantic Buddhism of the Buddha, ed & tr J. G. Jennings, pub Geoffrey Cumberlege, London, 1947: the editor starts with the early texts and then eliminates all references to gods, demons, ghosts, heaven, hell, rebirth, psychic powers, altered states of consciousness etc., ending up (unsurprisingly) with a pure ethical humanism
  • The Living Thoughts of Gotama the Buddha, ed Ananda K. Coomaraswamy & I.B. Horner, Cassell, London, 1948
  • The Lion's Roar, ed & tr David Maurice, Rider, London, 1962; the only one to include selections from all three pitakas; online at [8]
  • Early Buddhist Poetry, ed I. B. Horner, Ananda Semage, Colombo, 1963
  • The Life of the Buddha, ed & tr Nanamoli, Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy, Sri Lanka, 1972
  • The Buddha's Philosophy of Man, ed Trevor Ling, Everyman's Library, 1981, now out of print
  • The Book of Protection, tr Piyadassi, Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy, Sri Lanka, 1981; translation of paritta
  • In the Buddha's Words, ed & tr Bodhi, Wisdom Pubns, 2005
  • Early Buddhist Discourses, ed & tr John J. Holder, 2006
  • Basic Teachings of the Buddha, ed & tr Glenn Wallis, Modern Library, New York, 2007
  • Sayings of the Buddha, ed & tr Rupert Gethin, Oxford University Press, 2008
  • The Buddha's Teachings on Social and Communal Harmony, ed & rev Bodhi, Wisdom Publications [2016?]

Miscellaneous anthologies

  • A Catena of Buddhist Scriptures from the Chinese, ed & tr Rev. Samuel Beal, 1871
  • The Gospel of Buddha, ed Paul Carus, 1895: selected to represent the editor's beliefs, not give a representative picture of Buddhism
  • Buddhism in Translations, ed & tr Henry Clarke Warren, Harvard University Press, 1896: selection of Theravada literature, by no means confined to the Pali Canon
  • A Buddhist Bible, ed Dwight L. Goddard: the 1st edition was subtitled The Four Favorite Scriptures of the Zen Sect; the later revision added other material, but the Zen emphasis remained
  • Early Buddhist Scriptures, ed & tr Edward J. Thomas, pub Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co., 1935: not entirely from the Pali Canon
  • Selected Sayings from the Perfection of Wisdom, ed & tr Edward Conze, Buddhist Society, London, 1955: from a collection of Mahayana texts
  • Buddhist Meditation, ed Edward Conze, Harper, New York, 1969


  1. Schopen, Bones, Stones, and Buddhist Monks, University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu, 1997, pages 23f; reprinted from Studien zur Indologie und Iranistik, volume 10 (1985), page 9; also quoted in "The Historical Authenticity of Early Buddhist Literature: A Critical Evaluation" Vienna Journal of South Asian Studies Vol XLIX (2005)/[1], page 37