The Doctrinal Foundations, 2nd Edition
Routledge – 2008 – 444 pages
Originating in India, Mahayana Buddhism spread across Asia, becoming the prevalent form of Buddhism in Tibet and East Asia. Over the last twenty-five years Western interest in Mahayana has increased considerably, reflected both in the quantity of scholarly material produced and in the attraction of Westerners towards Tibetan Buddhism and Zen.
Paul Williams’ Mahayana Buddhism is widely regarded as the standard introduction to the field, used internationally for teaching and research and has been translated into several European and Asian languages. This new edition has been fully revised throughout in the light of the wealth of new studies and focuses on the religion’s diversity and richness. It includes much more material on China and Japan, with appropriate reference to Nepal, and for students who wish to carry their study further there is a much-expanded bibliography and extensive footnotes and cross-referencing. Everyone studying this important tradition will find Williams’ book the ideal companion to their studies.
‘The publication of Paul Williams’ Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations in 1989 was a milestone in the development of Buddhist Studies, being the first truly comprehensive and authoritative attempt to chart the doctrinal landscape of Mahayana Buddhism in its entirety. Previous scholars like Edward Conze and Etienne Lamotte had set themselves this daunting task, but it had proved beyond them. Williams not only succeeded in finishing the job, but did it so well that his book has remained the primary work on the subject, and the textbook of choice for teachers of university courses on Buddhism, for 20 years. It is still unrivalled. This makes a second edition all the more welcome. Williams has extensively revised and updated the book in the light of the considerable scholarship published in this area since 1989, at the same time enlarging many of his thoughtful discussions of Mahayana Buddhist philosophical issues. The result is a tour de force of breadth and depth combined. I confidently expect that Williams’ richly detailed map of this field will remain for decades to come an indispensable guide to all those who venture into it.’ - Paul Harrison, Stanford University, USA
Paul Williams is Professor of Indian and Tibetan Philosophy and Co-director of the Centre for Buddhist Studies at the University of Bristol. The author of six books and an editor of a further eight, he is a former President of the UK Association for Buddhist Studies. Among his other books for Routledge is Buddhist Thought: A Complete Introduction to the Indian Tradition (2000).