Barlaam and Josaphat: A Transcription of MS Egerton 876 with Notes, Glossary and Comparative Study of the Middle English and Japanese Versions

The popular medieval Barlaam and Josaphat tells of an Indian prince's conversion to Christianity under the guidance of a hermit, Barlaam. The story was actually based on the the enlightenment of Gautama Buddha and travelled West by way of the Arabs, with name changes along the way: Bodhisattva becoming Josaphat. Among the versions that resulted were Georgian, Greek, Latin, Ethiopic, Hebrew, and Middle English, and in the 16th century a Portuguese version entered Japan, with the Jesuits, intended as a teaching device for converts. Professor Ikegami offers us a comparative study of Barlaam and Josaphat in its ME and Japanese versions, a semi-diplomatic transcription of the ME MS Egerton 876 with notes and glossary, and select bibliography. Her scholarship will be of particular value to students interested in comparative literature and the transmission of texts, especially lives of early saints.