Shi Huifeng: Numata series reading group & lecture

Buddhism around the World Buddhist Studies Education Events Hamilton Numata Toronto


SHI HUIFENG (Fo Guang University)

READING GROUP: Literary Parallelism. Connecting Criticism and Hermeneutics in an Early Mahayana Sutra
THURSDAY, January 22, 2015, 3-5 pm, UTSG, JHB 317

LECTURE: Chiasmus Methodology for Buddhist Textual Studies
FRIDAY, January 23, 2015, 4-6 pm, McMaster, University Hall 122

The modern discovery of chiasmus in ancient religious and secular literature has provided new and potentially radical insights into this literature. Chiasmic methodology analyses a text into two parallel halves, identifying complementary prologue (A) and conclusion (A?), and highlighting the critical central point (X), with sub-themes paralleled in the two halves (A-B-C-?X?-C?-B?-A?). Discovery of chiasmus in a text has potential critical and hermeneutic implications. Critically, the alignment and relative structure of the paired passages provides an objective criterion for acceptance or rejection of a passage as authentically part of the original text. Hermeneutically, passages must be read not just in near adjacent context, but also across the text, e.g. A with A?, B with B?, etc. More importantly, the three points of the prologue and conclusion frame and set the entire scope of the text, while the climax point X contains the central message. This talk will first introduce chiasmus theory and its established uses and results; followed by its preliminary application to this Buddhist bodhisattva literature; and conclude with future studies and their possible implications.

Ven. HUIFENG is originally from New Zealand. Having been introduced to Buddhism at a young age, he committed himself to full time Buddhist practice in the late 1990s, studying at several of Fo Guang Shan Monastery’s Buddhist Colleges and Universities, receiving full ordination in 2004. From 2006 to 2011 he studied first a Masters and then a PhD degree at the University of Hong Kong, with his PhD dissertation entitled Chiasmus in the Early Prajnaparamita: Literary Parallelism Connecting Criticism & Hermeneutics in an Early Mahayana Sutra. From 2011 to the present he has been an Assistant Professor at Fo Guang University, Ilan, Taiwan, teaching at the Department of Buddhist Studies. His areas of academic focus include Indian Buddhism, in particular early Mahayana sutra and shastra, translation and hermeneutics, and practices of contemporary Taiwanese Buddhism.

For further information and for the reading group materials, please contact Christoph Emmrich at

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