Sunday, April 1, 2012

Buddha and Jesus: Could Solomon Be the Missing Link?

There have been a number of books putting forth the theory that the teachings and ministry of Jesus was influenced by Buddhism.  The theory suggests that during the period of His life that is not discussed in the Gospel accounts, Jesus traveled to India where he studied under Eastern sages.  It is an interesting theory, but one that can not be proven definitively.  Granted, there are a number of parallels in their teachings, but there are  a number of parallels between most religions.

R.E. Sherman has put forth a different theory for the many parallels between the teachings of Jesus and those of Buddha.  In is book Buddha and Jesus: Could Solomon Be the Missing Link, Sherman puts forth the idea that Buddha could have been influenced by the writings of Solomon.  During the diaspora, the Jews could have settled in India and brought scrolls of Solomon's teachings with them where Buddha could have been exposed to them.  Since Jesus was a Jew and often quoted Old Testament scripture, it would have been natural for his teachings to be influenced by Solomon.

In the first part of the book, Sherman introduces the reader to Buddha and Buddhism.  He devotes a good bit of time laying out Buddha's Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold path and argues that you can see precursors of Buddha's teachings in the Proverbs of Solomon and the Book of Ecclesiastes.  Starting with a proverb of Solomon, Sherman then shows similar proverbs and teachings from both Buddha and Jesus to make his case that rather than Jesus being influenced by Buddha, both were influenced by Solomon.

The second half of the book, Sherman devotes to comparisons of the similarities and differences between Buddha and Christ.  He discusses the idea of whether or not somebody could be both fully Christian and at the same time be a Buddhist.  He argues that while there are a great many similarities between Buddhism and Christianity, there differences are so profound that they can not be reconciled to be both Christian and Buddhist.

For his part, Sherman is a Christian.  However, he see the benefit of recognizing the good and having respect for those of divergent faiths.  He feels that there is much that can be learned from others and that we should not have an arrogance in our own faith that makes us think we are superior to others.  He points out the positives and negatives involved in both Christianity and Buddhism.

The book was a very thorough examination of the subject matter.  There was a bit of repetition of a lot of materials.  The one drawback that I had in reading the book on my Kindle is that there were a number of charts in the book.  A lot of the charts would not fit on the screen of my Kindle so I could not read the full quotes of the proverbs being discussed.  Other times, the text was so small that I could not read the charts.  All in all though, a very informative and interesting book.
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1 comment:

  1. sounds interesting. At least, for once, there's a theory that doesn't just discount Christianity. Thanks for the review.



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