A different slant and actually a brisk rehursal of the inevitable introductory "Is Mahayana Fake?" discussion.
Jason on September 12, 2012 at 10:49 am said:
I really appreciate the interesting philological work you are doing here. I am not an expert on Buddhism but I am a philologist of ancient Greek texts. I just want to point out that the question of a “real” or “fake” quote is really just a matter of whether it authentically goes back to an ancient text. Whether the ancient text was an accurate representation of the original speaker is really a totally different issue. In most cases, it’s unverifiable. For example, we can prove whether someone is quoting the gospel of John or not, but there is no way to be sure that “John” was quoting Jesus accurately. I practice in a Mahayana tradition, and while I certainly accept that historically speaking the Theravada canon is more likely to go back to the historical Buddha, it is reasonable to assume that there was at least some evolution in the memory of the Buddha’s words before they were written down in the form we know them. I have watched similar debates about the historical Jesus for many years now and have observed that there is a danger when people get too worked up over who has access to the most authentic historical information. All Buddhist traditions have taken on a life of their own ever since Gautama first spun the wheel of the dharma.