As an incredibly diverse religious system, Buddhism is constantly changing. The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Buddhism offers a comprehensive collection of work by leading scholars in the field that tracks these changes up to the present day. Taken together, the book provides a blueprint to understanding Buddhism's past and uses it to explore the ways in which Buddhism has transformed in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The volume contains 41 essays, divided into two sections. The essays in the first section examine the historical development of Buddhist traditions throughout the world. These chapters cover familiar settings like India, Japan, and Tibet as well as the less well-known countries of Vietnam, Bhutan, and the regions of Latin America, Africa, and Oceania. Focusing on changes within countries and transnationally, this section also contains chapters that focus explicitly on globalization, such as Buddhist international organizations and diasporic communities. The second section tracks the relationship between Buddhist traditions and particular themes. These chapters review Buddhist interactions with contemporary topics such as violence and peacebuilding, and ecology, as well as Buddhist influences in areas such as medicine and science.

REVIEWS OF The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Buddhism

Jamin A. Hübner, Reading Religion, writes: "All in all, The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Buddhism is a full and scholarly reference work, replete with bibliographical resources and helpful analysis."

Courtney Bruntz, Religious Studies Review, writes, "Overall, this handbook provides a valuable resource to students and scholars not only
within Buddhist, Religious, and/or Asian studies, but also those examining political science, history, international relations, modernization, sociology, and globalization. Contributing scholars detail the challenges that Buddhists face (changing forms of governance, secularism, capitalism) as well as opportunities available for spreading the tradition (technology and international social networks), and they importantly make note that the issues Buddhists contemporarily face are similar to those Buddhists faced in the past....

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If You Meet the Buddha on the Road addresses one important absence in the study of religion and violence: the religious treatment of violence. In order to pursue an understanding of the relationship between Buddhism and violence, it is important to first explore how Buddhist scriptures and followers understand violence. Drawing on Buddhist treatments of violence, Michael Jerryson explores the ways in which Buddhists invoke, support, or justify war, conflict, state violence, and gender discrimination. In addition, the book examines the ways in which Buddhists address violence as military chaplains, cope with violence in a conflict zone, and serve as witnesses of blasphemy to Buddhist doctrine and Buddha images.

2018 CHOICE REVIEW of If You Meet the Buddha on the Road:
With a keen and perspicuous eye, noted Buddhism scholar Jerryson (Youngstown Univ.) exposes the dark side of the Buddhist religion and its unseemly, and seemingly paradoxical, relationship to violence. Jerryson takes readers on a fascinating, probing, and troubling journey through Buddhist scriptures and Buddhist practices to demonstrate Buddhism's unsettling ability to justify violence in its various forms. The author traces Buddhist violence, both historical and contemporary, in the various "schools" of Buddhism, specifically emphasizing violence that has occurred in Myanmar, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. He highlights the various forms that violence takes in Buddhism—e.g., state violence, violence against women, blasphemy against rulers and religious relics, and violence against Muslims. Jerryson's treatment of a Buddhist attempt at a just-war theory, despite Buddhism's firm commitment to nonviolence, is fascinating, as is discussion of the Thai military's use of Buddhist chaplains. The relationship between Buddhist clergy and the state is also thoroughly examined. Jerryson writes with a firm command of Buddhist scripture, history, and contemporary events. His writing is clear, well documented, and thought provoking.--W. J. Pankey, William Rainey Harper College

Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals; general readers.

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Is religion inherently predisposed to violence? Or has religion been taken hostage by a politics of aggression? The years since the end of the Cold War have shown a noticeable shift in patterns of religious extremism, accentuating the uncomfortable, complex, and oft-misunderstood relationship between religion and violence. The essays in this succinct new volume examine that relationship by offering a well-rounded look at violence as it appears in the world's most prominent religious traditions, exploring Hindu, Buddhist, Chinese, Sikh, Jewish, Christian, Islamic, African, and Pacific Island texts and practices.

The essays in Violence and the World's Religious Traditions explore the ways in which specific religions have justified acts of destruction, in history, in scripture, and in the contemporary world. But the collection also offers an investigation of religious symbols and practices, shedding new light on the very nature of religion and confronting the question of how deeply intertwined are violence and faith.

Michael Jerryson

The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Buddhism

Oxford University Press, 2016.

Violence and the World's Religious Traditions

Oxford University Press, 2016. Co-edited with Mark Juergensmeyer and Margo Kitts

If You Meet the Buddha on the Road: Buddhism, Politics, and Violence

Oxford University Press, 2018