The Buddha, the Rabbis, and the Philosophers: Rejections and Defenses
This chapter focuses on the “Buddha-Jesus Literature,” the large corpus of works that discuss possible links between Buddha and Jesus or Buddhism and Christianity. This discourse, which was immensely popular between 1890 and 1914, produced hundreds of articles and books and was noticed by Jewish rabbis and philosophers. Often, it was seen as a tool for delegitimizing Judaism, and the concurrent arrival of Buddhism in German mainstream culture was thus perceived as a threat. The author shows how rabbis, community leaders, and philosophers warned against Buddhism or how a negative perception of Buddhism was imbued in their work. Famous thinkers like Theodor Lessing, Franz Rosenzweig, Leo Baeck, and Martin Buber are featured alongside lesser-known figures.