This article investigates how the state and the Buddhist establishment negotiated their respective jurisdictions in China between the fourth and early twentieth centuries, focusing particularly on the legal procedures for adjudicating ordained Buddhist offenders. Scholars have proposed three theories on how ordained Buddhist offenders' cases were assigned to different trial venues: the internal vs. external offences distinction, the grave vs. light offences distinction, and the civil vs. criminal offences distinction. Most scholars concur that state lay courts have jurisdiction over grave external criminal cases, while Buddhist monastic courts oversee light internal civil offences. However, their theories only reveal some aspects of the battle over the jurisdictional boundaries of the Buddhist establishment and the state. In this article, I demonstrate that the state and the Buddhist clergy reformed the existing legal infrastructure collaboratively by creating hybrid laws and courts in a tripartite legal system to replace existing dichotomous lay and monastic courts and laws. By creating this tripartite legal infrastructure, rulers in imperial China gradually tightened the state's jurisdictional control over the Buddhist establishment, compromising somewhat, but never completely giving up jurisdictional control over the Buddhist establishment in their negotiation with eminent monks who demanded more jurisdictional autonomy for the Buddhist clergy.




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pp. 153-193
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