- Dec 2021
<small><cite class='h-cite via'>ᔥ <span class='p-author h-card'> Dr. Tamar Marvin </span> in "I went looking for work on tradents in Bavli, found this! "Anyone who has read...Tibetan literature will be familiar with...the ubiquitous verbatim repetition of phrases, sections, literary structures, and even entire chapters, across many different texts" https://t.co/eeN4qoTqss" (<time class='dt-published'>12/09/2021 09:33:48</time>)</cite></small>
Our local personnel are Vesna Wallace and Cathy and myself, while our international partners and consultants include Janet Gyatso, Sarah Jacoby, Matthew Kapstein, Jonathan Silk, Lopon P. Ogyan Tanzin, and Antonio Terrone. Part of the project is simply to minutely track all the processes, over several generations, that gave us some of the terma literature we know so well today, while another part will be to achieve critically-aware knowledge transfers from Hebrew studies and the English medievalists into Tibetology. Through this, we aspire to help catalyse a broader debate on what authorship really means in Tibetan religious writing as a whole, in other genres beyond terma, so that our analysis might contribute to the understanding of Tibetan religious writings as a whole.
Researchers looking into the ideas of inventio with respect to Tibetan religious literature...
This was published in 2010, so it should have some resultant articles worth reading with respect to their work. I'm curious to compare it to the work of Parry & Lord.
Longer passages, such as a paragraph or chapter comprising composites of such lemmata, are also legitimately reproducible either approximately or verbatim, according to Tibetan norms. Some Hebraists would call such reproducible composites that are not yet a complete work ‘microforms’.
"Microforms" are combinations of lemmata which could often be reproduced verbatim, but are longer and similar to our modern ideas of paragraphs or even a chapter.
Much is also recycled, within a literary culture that normatively envisions contributors as tradents rather than innovators: in other words, the person producing a text sees himself as passing on existing knowledge, rather than creating new knowledge from nothing (I will elaborate further on the term tradent below).
Tradents in Tibetan religious literature often copied unattributed texts forward and backward in time without attribution. They often weren't inventing new material, but copying it forward.
This seems incredibly similar to the traditions of oral cultures as explored by Milman Parry and Albert Lord in the work on orality which was followed up by Walter Ong and others. Examples include the poets known as Homer in the Greek Tradition and the guslars of Yugoslavia.
Texts can be substantially modified by other hands in subsequent re-publications, even while still retaining their original authorial (or revelatory) attribution. At other times, modification can be generated silently and less deliberately via the subtly transformative medium of memorisation: we must recall that Tibetan scholars carry huge tracts of literature around in their minds, which they can access instantly without recourse to a written book, but sometimes it comes out in a form ever so slightly different from other or previous iterations. I think one can even say that the Buddhist tradition often understands authorial attributions as a conventional shorthand indicating the accepted presiding spiritual authority in a given literary instance, rather than as the sole or exclusive literary agency that created it.
Tibetan literature seems to exhibit strong signs of a prior oral tradition despite having the technology of literacy. Tibetan scholars have memorized huge amounts of literature, but when written down it can vary slightly from other versions.