The History of Buddhism
Facts and Fictions
by Geoffrey C. Goble
October 2019, 157pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, ABC-CLIO

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-6404-9
$65, £50, 57€, A90
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eBook Available: 978-1-4408-6405-6
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Buddhism is one of the world’s most followed religions.

One of the world's most popular religions, Buddhism is also one of the most misunderstood. This reference overviews misconceptions related to Buddhism and reveals the truths behind the myths.

Buddhism is practiced by millions of adherents around the world. Originating in ancient India, it spread throughout Asia and then to the West, and it exists in multiple traditions. Despite its popularity, it is also the subject of many misconceptions. This book examines those misconceptions along with the historical truths behind the myths.

The book begins with an introduction that places Buddhism in its historical and cultural contexts. This is followed by chapters on particular erroneous beliefs related to the religion. Chapters explore whether Buddhism is a singular tradition, if it is a religion or a philosophical system, if it is rational and scientific, whether the Buddha was an ordinary human, and other topics. Each chapter summarizes the misconception and how it spread, along with what we now believe to be the underlying truth behind the falsehood.

Quotations and excerpts from primary source documents provide evidence for the mistaken beliefs and the historical truths. The book closes with a selected, general bibliography.


  • An introduction places Buddhism in its historical and cultural contexts.
  • Chapters discuss both misconceptions related to Buddhism and historical truths behind the mistaken beliefs.
  • Excerpts from primary source documents provide evidence for what scholars now believe to be the historical facts.
  • A selected, general bibliography directs users to additional sources of information.
Geoffrey C. Goble is assistant professor of religious studies at the University of Oklahoma. He was a postdoctoral fellow in East Asian religion at Washington University in St. Louis and previously taught at DePauw University and Indiana University. His articles have appeared in such journals as Pacific World: Journal of the Institute of Buddhist Studies, and he has contributed to scholarly books and reference works.

Historical Facts and Fictions

Did Nero really fiddle while Rome burned? Did the Egyptians really worship animals and gods with animal heads? History is full of misconceptions that have been passed down as historical facts and become rooted in the popular imagination. This series explores historical fictions and what we now believe to be historical truths. Each book focuses on a particular topic, such as a period, event, civilization, movement, religion, or person, and explores roughly 10 misconceptions. Chapters summarize the misconception, discuss how it arose and was propagated, and explain what is now taken as historical fact. The series helps readers think critically about the past and prepares them to be equally critical of the present.
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