- Barlaam and Josaphat
Eastern Orthodox Church
caption=Saint Josaphat preaching Christianity. 12th century Greek manuscript
Barlaam and Josaphat are said to have lived and died in the
3rd centuryor 4th centuryin India. In the middle ages, they were often considered to be Christian saints, but Josaphat's story appears to be in many respects a Christianized version of the story of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism.
The Greek legend of "Barlaam and Ioasaph", sometimes mistakenly attributed to the 7th century
John of Damascusbut actually written by the Georgian monk Euthymios in the 11th century, was ultimately derived, through a variety of intermediate versions (Arabic and Georgian) from the life story of the Buddha. The king-turned-monk Ioasaph (Georgian "Iodasaph", Arabic "Yūdhasaf" or "Būdhasaf") ultimately derives his name from the Sanskrit Bodhisattva, the name used in Buddhist accounts for Gautama before he became a Buddha. Barlaam and Ioasaph were placed in the Greek Orthodox calendar of saints on 26 August, and in the West they were entered as " Barlaam and Josaphat" in the Roman Martyrology on the date of 27 November.
According to legend, a King Abenner or Avenier in India persecuted the Christian Church in his realm, founded by the
Apostle Thomas. When astrologers predicted that his own son would some day become a Christian, Abenner had the young prince Josaphat isolated from external contact. Despite the imprisonment, Josaphat met the hermit Saint Barlaam and converted to Christianity. Josaphat kept his faith even in the face of his father’s anger and persuasion. Eventually, Abenner himself converted, turned over his throne to Josaphat, and retired to the desert to become a hermit. Josaphat himself later abdicated and went into reclusion with his old teacher Barlaam.
The story of Barlaam and Josaphat was popular in the
Middle Ages, appearing in such works as the " Golden Legend". Although Barlaam and Josaphat were never formally canonized, they were included in earlier editions of the Roman Martyrology (feast day 27 November) - though not in the Roman Missal- and in the Eastern Orthodox Churchliturgical calendar ( 26 August).
Origins and spread of the legend
It seems that St. Josaphat is actually a Christianized version of the Buddha.
Wilfred Cantwell Smithtraced the story from a 2nd to 4th century Sanskrit Mahayana Buddhisttext, to a Manicheeversion, which then found its way into Muslimculture as the Arabic "Kitab Bilawhar wa-Yudasaf", which was current in Baghdadin the 8th century. The first Christianized adaptation was the Georgian epic "Balavariani" dating back to the 10th century. A Georgian monk Euthymius of Athostranslated the story into Greek, some time before he was killed while visiting Constantinoplein 1028. There the Greek adaptation was translated into Latin in 1048and soon became well known in Western Europe as "Barlaam and Josaphat".
Recent linguistic and geographic research of the spread of Buddha’s tale across Asia and Europe also points toward the saint’s name and tale originating with Buddha. Josaphat’s name may be traced to the
Sanskritterm " bodhisattva" via the Middle Persian "bodasif". Investigation by researchers at the Korean Seoul National Universityindicates that the name "Buddha" or "Bodhisatta" in Sanskritchanged to "Bodisav" in Persian texts in the sixth or seventh century, then to "Budhasaf" or "Yudasaf" in an eighth-century Arabic document (Arabic initial "b" could become initial "y" by duplication of a dot in handwriting), and "Iodasaph" in Georgia in the 10th century. That name was then adapted to "Ioasaph" in Greece in the 11th century, and "Iosaphat" or "Josaphat" in Latin since then. Besides their names, the stories of the two individuals are strikingly similar. [http://times.hankooki.com/lpage/culture/200507/kt2005070420024111680.htm] ]
Holger Kerstenproposes an alternate explanation: that "Josaphat" is derived from the Arabic "Judasaf" or "Budasaf", as written in an Urdu version of the tale. He ties this name to that of a sage 'Yuz Asaf' entombed in Kashmir, the name being thus understood as Kashmiri for "Son of Yuz," i.e. Joseph, and which Kersten (following an old story ) interprets as evidence that Jesuslived and died in India. However, "Yuz Asaf" is simply the Persian and Urdupronunciation of the Arabic Yūdhasaf, and does not go back any farther than the Arabic story, which is itself demonstrably derived from Buddhist stories.
The story of Josaphat was re-told as an exploration on
free willagainst fate in the 17th century Spanish play " La vida es sueño" ("Life is a dream") by Pedro Calderón de la Barca. In "The Romantic School", [ [http://www.heinrich-heine.net/schule/schuled1.htm] ] Heinrich Heinecalled it the "blood of the holy poetic arts in the German Middle Ages."
Barlaam and Josaphat (book)
Gautama Buddha in world religions
Thomas the Apostle
*Abraham and Brahman
Buddhism and Christianity
* [http://www.worldwideschool.org/library/books/relg/historygeography/BarlaamandIoasaph/toc.html Barlaam and Ioasaph] (Legend in form attributed to
St John of Damascus)
* [http://www.catholic-forum.com/saints/golden329.htm Version in "Golden Legend"]
* [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02297a.htm Barlaam and Josaphat] in
* [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=296&letter=B Barlaam and Josaphat] in Jewish Encyclopedia
* [http://bible.tmtm.com/wiki/BARLAAM_AND_JOSAPHAT_(Jewish_Encyclopedia) Barlaam and Josaphat (Jewish Encyclopedia)]
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Barlaam and Josaphat — • Main characters of a seventh century Christian legend. Barlaam, a hermit, converted the prince Josaphat to Christianity, despite the efforts of Josaphat s father Abenner to prevent such a thing. Although Barlaam and Josaphat are included in the … Catholic encyclopedia
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Barlaam and Josaphat (book) — Barlaam and Josaphat (also called Barlaam and Ioasaph ) is the title given to a large number of different books in various languages, all dealing with the lives of Saints Barlaam and Josaphat in India. In this hagiographic novel, the life and… … Wikipedia
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