The Buddhalegend’s Westward Journey

Volume 5 1995

Changing Master Narratives in Midstream: Barlaam and Josaphat and the Growth of Religious Intolerance in the Buddhalegend’s Westward Journey

Graeme MacQueen
McMaster University

As the legend of the Buddha moved into Europe in the medieval period in the form of the story of the Christian saints Barlām and Josaphat it became marked for the first time by deep religious intolerance. The article find this structural shift to have been accomplished through two separate but integrated moves: a master narrative of emancipation through enlightenment is replaced by a master narrative of salvation through faith, and a model of religions as linked and overlapping is replaced by a perception of religions as closed systems that compete with and endanger each other.

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