Buddha and Christ: Images of Wholeness

By Robert Elinor

An introduction to Buddhism and Christianity through visual images, making accessible the world’s most significant religious art by iconographic comparison.

ISBN: 9780718830113


This is the first book to bring together visual images of Buddha and Christ in the same volume. Drawing on over twenty years of college teaching in religious studies and several research expeditions in Europe and Asia, the author deals with much of the common ground between these two religions, as well as the distinctiveness of each, from an unusual and fascinating perspective.

Almost 140 illustrations, two-thirds of them in colour, taken from sources as diverse as ancient manuscript, masterpieces of art, coins, film, advertisements, and children’s drawings, are accompanied by a commentary of 55,000 words together with explanatory notes. The text ranges from biographical sketches of Gautama and Jesus to description of the way in which visual images embody the history, myth, and doctrine of the Buddhist and Christian faiths.

The work has a threefold purpose: to provide a unique introduction to Buddhism and Christianity through visual images; to contribute to the growing Buddhist-Christian dialogue; and to make some of the world’s most significant art more accessible through an explanation of its patterns, symbols, and styles. It will be invaluable not only to art-lovers and students of comparative religion, but also to those wishing to gain a greater understanding of a culture which dominates much of the world that we share and seems very distinct from our own but which, as we are becoming ever more aware, has many points of contact with it.

Additional information

Dimensions 279 × 216 mm
Pages 256
Illustrations b&w and colour

Trade Information LGEN

About the Author

Robert Elinor, a minister of the Presbyterian Church, has had a distinguished academic career in both American and British universities and has been lecturing on the subject of this book since 1988. He is a member of the Buddhist Society, London, the Society for Buddhist-Christian Studies, and the American Academy of Religion.


List of Illustrations
Map of Image Sources
Preface & Acknowledgements
Prologue: Lords of East and West

Part I: The Cage of Form
1. The Lives of Gautama the Buddha and of Jesus the Christ
2. The Paradox of Incarnation
3. Images of Incarnation
4. The Threat of Images
5. Resurgent Symbols

Part II: Transformations
6. Early Images
7. “Into All the World”
8. At the Limits of Representation and Abstraction


Endorsements and Reviews

Beautiful without being showy, erudite without being pedantic, complex without being complicated. Surely it will help Christians better understand their Christianity, while making an appreciation of Buddhism accessible to a wider Western audience.
Revd Dr William F. Fore

An extraordinary accomplishment which will be valued not just by Buddhists and Christians but by all who acknowledge the need for truth and beauty in the life of the world. Robert Elinor writes with a deep and insightful knowledge of his subject, presenting his material with skill, balance, sensitivity, truthfulness, and understanding.
Ronald C. Maddox, General Secretary, The Buddhist Society