Page:Barlaam and Josaphat. English lives of Buddha.djvu/20

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xiv
INTRODUCTION.

upon his public career, a Buddhistic Sage from India created a great sensation throughout the Hellenistic world by causing himself to be burnt alive at Athens (Strabo, XV. i. 73).[1] And the fame of this self-immolation must have reached Judea, for Josephus refers to it in a speech which he, following the example of Livy, put in the mouth of Eleazar (Wars, VII. viii. 7). But it must be confessed that no other evidence can be adduced of the actual spread of Buddhistic doctrines in Western Asia, and the whole case for the dependence of Christianity on Buddhism would have to be solved on Folklore principles. In other words, till Folklore become so much of a Science as to be able to discriminate between foreign and independent origin, this question must remain an open one.

But there is one piece of evidence, though of much later date, which has at least a reflex bearing on the question. If we can show that in the fifth or sixth century Buddhistic legends and doctrines percolated as far at least as Syria, and there became inextricably combined with Christian dogmas and legends, it becomes

  1. See my Bidpai, p. xlviii.