Early Mahayana Buddhist sutras illustrate the importance of textually produced paternal figures for organizing authority and legitimacy, drawing readers into complex realignments with the Buddhist tradition and prior representation of truth and authority. This book explores the form and content of these textual truth-fathers, and the narratives that support them. Four Mahayana texts—the Lotus Sutra, the Diamond Sutra, the Tathagatagarbha Sutra, and the Vimalakirtinirdesa—are used to delineate how their narratives gather up authority, legitimacy, and sanctity as they would have been previously constituted in the Buddhist tradition and then relocate those items within their own textual perimeters. In all four texts, the narrative offers a new figure of the Buddha, who, once established in the flow of the narrative, explains to the reader that the sum of tradition is exclusively available in the reading experience and in the sheer physical presence of the book.
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