Historio-Critical Hermeneutics in the Study of Women in Early Indian Buddhism

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Abstract

Modern scholarly study of women in early Indian Buddhism began over a hundred years ago, towards the end of the nineteenth century. In this article, I assess strategies that have been prominent in scholarly engagement with the texts from the period that are pertinent to this debate. The article is focused around discussion of four historical-critical hermeneutic strategies which either have figured within the debate or, as is the case in the final section, are suggested as pertinent to the debate. The four strategies are: a hermeneutics of resonance; gender-construct hermeneutics; comparativist hermeneutics; and finally revisionist hermeneutics. The first three comprise strategies which have featured significantly in the debate, from its origins to changes that have arisen particularly during the last two decades. The final strategy is, essentially, my own assertion.

Numen

International Review for the History of Religions

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