Monday, January 10, 2011

The Buddhist Q Quest, Part 2

We now offer part 2 of our item on a claim by a “copycat” theorist that the NT texts were derived from Buddhist texts, in which the theorist claims that Matthew 1:1 (“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”) provides such evidence. How?

I should first note that because the article did not name an author, I was not aware of who it was until today. The author is apparently Christian Lindtner – who has made “Jesus = Buddha” one of his personal hobbyhorses.

Unfortunately, there is little to suggest that Lindtner is anything but a quack. In addition to his odd ideas about Jesus and Buddha, he is also a Holocaust denier (see links below). I am therefore thoroughly inclined to distrust any claim he makes automatically if it cannot be verified by a more credible source. This will be important below.

The first argument of Lindtner is to try to make the text incoherent as it is. It is said:

One person cannot possibly be the son of two different fathers belonging to two widely different periods of time. The son of David, the son of Abraham not only has two fathers.

Quite frankly, this is a grade school error. The word for “son” (huios) has long been recognized, as any lexicon will indicate, to be able to refer to any male descendant – on through grandson, great-grandson, and so on. This is so elementary that it indicates that Lindner has little interest in serious Biblical scholarship (but his stance on the Holocaust could have told us that too).

Once past this, an alleged solution to this non-problem is offered. It is claimed that Matthew is imitating a Buddhist document called the Mûlasarvâstivâdavinaya, which also offered a listing of persons that is numerically identical with Matthew’s. But even if he were not a manifest quack, Lindtner would have much more he needs to prove for this argument to be accepted. By his own admission, this document is not available in translation yet. I have confirmed that this remains the case. As it is, we only have his word that this is what the document says. We also have nothing to show that this document pre-dates the New Testament. Lindtner hints that it is part of the Gilgit collection of manuscripts, but these date to the 5th or 6th century AD.

But would it matter if it was true? Not really. It seems that Lindtner arrives at his total of 42 for the Buddhist document by combining a list of 35 kings with a list of 7 Buddhas. That’s clearly an artificiality to reach the Matthean total.

Following this, Lindtner offers some commentary about alleged numeric value correspondences and alleged correspondences between Matthew’s Greek and Sanskrit in terms of “syllables and consonants.” For example, we are told that a “king” in Sanskit is deva, and that this “is nicely is nicely assimilated [sic] to the king David.” “Abraham” is also connected to the Sanskrit word “Brahma”. Since this all relies upon Lindtner’s supposed expertise in Sanskrit to be proven, and his own word regarding the contents of the Buddhist document, and since Lindter is a proven quack, there is little reason to accept his authority on this connection, especially since there is no indication that he has any authority in the Greek language. Moreover, it is patent that this is an attempt to prove a correspondence using English translations from both languages.

In sum: Lindtner’s conclusions should be ignored unless verified by a more credible authority.

Here -- article by Lindtner is which he frankly aligns himself with the revisionist camp as though he were just picking daisies

Here – site for countering anti-semitism that lists Lindtner among Holocaust deniers. One of several instances I found documenting his stance.


  1. Since I grew up in India in a Hindu monastery, I studied Sanskrit. Deva does not = King. It more accurately means divinity. Now kings, often considered great and close to or even representative of the divine are often given the term Deva, but that would more directly coralate to the English term Majesty and has nothing to do with David (of which only the English pronunciation sounds like Deva). As for Brahma, he is so far off as to be beyond foolish and is not deserving of more words to refute.

  2. I'd love to see what else you might have to say about Lindtner's material...!

  3. The Mûlasarvâstivâdavinaya is a collection of texts. The information I find places it around the time of Kanishka - in the 2nd century CE. That's far too late to have influenced the Gospel writers.