Diamond Sutra Narratives

Textual Production and Lay Religiosity in Medieval China


Author: Chiew Hui Ho
Contextualizing the sutra within a milieu of intense religious and cultural experimentation, this volume unravels the sudden rise of Diamond Sutra devotion in the Tang dynasty against the backdrop of a range of social, political, and literary activities. Through the translation and exploration of a substantial body of narratives extolling the efficacy of the sutra, it explores the complex social history of lay Buddhism by focusing on how the laity might have conceived of the sutra and devoted themselves to it. Corroborated by various sources, it reveals the cult’s effect on medieval Chinese religiosity in the activities of an empowered laity, who modified and produced parasutraic texts, prompting the monastic establishment to accommodate to the changes they brought about.

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Chiew Hui Ho, Ph.D. (2013), Stanford University, is Lecturer in East Asian Buddhism at the University of Sydney. He specializes in the social history of medieval Chinese Buddhism, with a focus on Buddhist narratives.
"Ho has produced an exemplary piece of research that deserves to be widely read and appreciated. This is a substantial work and the writing is dense, detailed, and nuanced.(...) Reading it forced me to rethink some of my approaches to and understandings of Buddhist narrative materials from premodern China. (...) I think anyone working on Buddhist narrative literature will find this book essential reading. I look forward to spending many more hours with it and discussing it with my graduate students." - James A. Benn, McMaster University, JAOS 141/3 (2021).

"Given that scholarship pertaining to the Diamond Sutra is a vast field, it is rather refreshing to see it examined from the perspective of lay empowerment. Few scholars of religion would dispute the importance of the Diamond Sutra in (and beyond) Chinese Buddhism. What Ho has provided in this volume is a most welcome line of inquiry that will hopefully generate fruitful further dialogue." - Joseph Chadwin, University of Vienna, Religious Studies Review 47/3 (2021).

List of Illustrations
List of Abbreviations


Part 1: Study

1 Buddhism on the Ground: Parasutraic Narratives and Lay Religiosity
2 Parasutraic Narratives as Collective Memories: Underpinnings and the Rhetoric of Persuasion
3 Parasutraic Representations: The Religiosity of the Diamond Sutra Cult
4 Religious Innovations: Lay Autonomy in Textual Production
5 The Impact of the Cult of the Diamond Sutra and Its Parasutraic Narratives

Part 2: Translation

6 A Record of Collected Proofs of the Efficacy of the Diamond Sutra, Jin’gang bore jing jiyanji 金剛般若經集驗記, Composed by Meng Xianzhong 孟獻忠, Adjutant of Zizhou 梓州司馬
7 Collected Marvels of the Diamond Sutra, Jin’gang jing jiuyi 金剛經鳩異, Compiled by Kegu 柯古, Duan Chengshi 段成式of Linzi 臨淄 [Commandery], Junior Chamberlain for Ceremonials, Tang Dynasty
8 A Record of the Proven Efficacy of the Diamond Sutra and the Merit to Be Gained from Upholding and Reciting It, Chisong Jin’gang jing lingyan gongde ji 持誦金剛經靈驗功德記, Compiled by Zhai Fengda 翟奉達

All interested in the history and literature of medieval China and the Tang dynasty, and anyone concerned with Chinese religion of this period, Buddhism in particular.