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202Journal of Korean Studies The Formation of Ch'an Ideology in China and Korea: The Vajrasamadhi-Sutra, A Buddhist Apocryphon. By Robert E. Buswell, Jr. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1989. Pp. xviii, 315. Bibliography, index. Korea: A Religious History. By James Huntley Grayson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989. Pp. xii, 319. Appendixes, bibliography, index. AU of us involved in teaching Korean civilization and culture to undergraduate audiences are painfully aware of the paucity of acceptable material in English on the religions of Korea. If our students are going to understand the values and beliefs that over the centuries have inspired much of Korea's art and literature, and have motivated much Korean political and popular behavior, they need to know something about Korea's religious tradition. Yet there are only a few specialized studies dealing with particular facets of Korea's religious life that we can assign our students. Such works as Kendall's work on shamanism and both Kalton's and Janelli's studies of Confucian thought and practice are useful in undergraduate surveys. However, up to now the Korea field has lacked an Overmyer, a Yang, a Kitagawa, or an Earhart to provide a broad overview of the religious attitudes, beliefs, and values of the Korean people, their development over time and their manifestation in an ever increasing variety of religious institutions and practices. Many of us have also experienced the frustration of having only a limited number of titles to recommend to colleagues in related fields who would like to read something substantial in English on some feature in Korean religion related to their own research interests. Buddhism is one glaring example. Scholars of Chinese and Japanese Buddhism who do not read Korean, for example, have limited access to research on developments in Korean religious history that may have reflected or affected developments in their own cultures of interest. James Grayson has stepped in to fill that first gap. His survey of the history of religion in Korea from pre-history up to the present day is intended to serve as an introductory textbook and general reference rather than make an original scholarly contribution by providing a new interpretation of some specific event or phenomenon in Korean history. Robert Buswell addresses the second bibliographical Book Reviews203 weakness of our field. His tightly focused study of Silla Buddhism offers new scholarly insights into not only the history of Korean Buddhism but of East Asian Buddhism and East Asian cultural interaction, in general. His monograph will attract an audience far beyond the relatively narrow confines of Korean studies. Grayson, by bringing together in one coherent volume information on shamanism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, and even the new relations in Korea, and by placing those religious traditions in their appropriate historical contexts, has rendered a significant service to the teaching of Korean studies in the English-speaking world. Unfortunately, this book is available only in hardcover at a very high price (over $60), so few of us are likely to ask students in general survey classes to purchase their personal copies. However, it should be on every Korea studies-reserve library shelf so that we can assign readings in it. Grayson provides for students a conventional narrative account of Korea's religious history, with names and dates for all major events and personalities. He places his story within the standard chronological framework, with chapters covering early Korea, the Koryö dynasty, the Chosön dynasty, and the modern era, respectively. Such political divisions for a religious history make it relatively easy to integrate Grayson's history with standard surveys such as Han Woo-keun's and Lee Ki-baik's. In works of such a grand scope, mistakes are almost inevitable. This book is no exception. Grayson's history of religion in Korea is unfortunately marred by more than a few factual errors, as well as errors of interpretation. Since it will become an essential part of our teaching resources, and is the only book of its kind available, it should be and will be widely used. However, these flaws make it necessary for those who read it or use it in their courses to do so with caution. There is not...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2158-1665
Print ISSN
0731-1613
Pages
pp. 202-210
Launched on MUSE
2011-03-30
Open Access
No
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