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Born in Hamburg on October 31, , the son of a Protestant clergyman, Hermann Oldenberg completed doctoral studies in classical and Indic philology in at the University of Berlin with a dissertation on the Arval Brothers, an ancient Roman cult fraternity. Rhys Davids, founder of the Pali Text Society. The signal publication of this period of intense research on Buddhism is his Buddha: Sein Leben, seine Lehre, seine Gemeinde , written when he was only twenty-six, and "perhaps the most famous book ever written on Buddhism" J.
While Oldenberg's active interest in Buddhist studies never flagged, Buddhism was for him one dimension of what was to be his Lebenswerk: nothing less than the systematic examination of India's earliest religious history. Indeed, his achievements in Vedic studies are — if this is possible — even more consequential than his contributions to Buddhist studies.
Through Hermann Oldenberg's efforts, the sustained historical and literary inquiry into Vedic and Buddhist religions attained maturity.
His concern to penetrate to the historical foundations of Buddhism and Vedism, which was representative of contemporary trends of German historical scholarship in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, may seem somewhat naive to scholars today. Oldenberg died little more than a year before the first productive season of archaeological investigations in the Indus Valley, work destined to alter decisively many then-prevailing conceptions of the earliest stages of Indian civilization and religion.
One can only conjecture how he would have responded to these discoveries. It seems altogether certain, however, that he would have dealt with them in that same clear-sighted, unsentimental, and critical fashion that characterized all his scholarly work. His persisting efforts to unveil the earliest stages of India's religious thought and history, his rigorous philological method, and the degree to which he integrated insights from other disciplines, stand as important monuments that will continue to inform and guide research.
Unhappily, the direct impact of Oldenberg's scholarship on investigations in the English-speaking world has been limited by the paucity of translations.
Also, three of his general essays have been published together as Ancient India Chicago, Of inestimable value is Klaus Janert's careful two-volume edition of Oldenberg's Kleine Schriften Wiesbaden, , which includes not only full texts of more than one hundred articles but also an exhaustive bibliography.
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Home Environment Encyclopedias almanacs transcripts and maps Oldenberg, Hermann. Oldenberg, Hermann gale. Bibliography Unhappily, the direct impact of Oldenberg's scholarship on investigations in the English-speaking world has been limited by the paucity of translations. Welbon and Learn more about citation styles Citation styles Encyclopedia. More From encyclopedia. Because employment of the term canon usually as a synonym for scripture in comparative religious studies is both commonplace and sub… Bon , BON.
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