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  1. Dec 2021
    1. I invited Jonathan Silk to give a guest lecture, and aware of my interests, he obliged by delivering a wonderful paper entitled What Can Students of Indian Buddhist Literature Learn from Biblical Text Criticism?
    2. At the most elemental level, these building blocks comprise well established fundamental Dharmic categories, such as ‘The Three Jewels’, ‘The Four Activities’, ‘The Hundred Peaceful and Wrathful Deities’, and so on. Some Hebraists call such fundamental categories ‘lemmata’.

      Hebraists call small fundamental building blocks of knowledge "lemmata". They are simple and easily remembered.

    3. Firstly, the word ‘tradent’ indicates a producer of text who sees as his main project the passing on of existing spiritual truths, rather than the invention of new ones ex nihilo.

      definition of tradent

    4. Talmudic scholars no longer depend on the conventional modernist language of ‘authorship’ and ‘work’. Instead, they can speak of ‘tradents’, who  ‘re-anthologise’ existing ‘lemmata’ and ‘microforms’, sometimes anonymously, within the context of a culture of extraordinary textual memorisation and the ubiquitous synchronous interactions of written and oral modes of text.  We have a lot to learn from them, because Tibetan religious literature is in some important respects closer to Medieval Hebraic literature than to modern literature.

      The idea of tradents, authors who re-anthologize prior work and scholarship, explicitly without attribution of authorship, is incredibly similar to the ideas behind oral mnemonic traditions seen in Greek epic poetry and Yugoslavian guslars as discovered by Milman Parry.

    5. Much is also recycled, within a literary culture that normatively envisions contributors as tradents rather than innovators: in other words, the person producing a text sees himself as passing on existing knowledge, rather than creating new knowledge from nothing (I will elaborate further on the term tradent below).

      Tradents in Tibetan religious literature often copied unattributed texts forward and backward in time without attribution. They often weren't inventing new material, but copying it forward.

      This seems incredibly similar to the traditions of oral cultures as explored by Milman Parry and Albert Lord in the work on orality which was followed up by Walter Ong and others. Examples include the poets known as Homer in the Greek Tradition and the guslars of Yugoslavia.