Kapstein, Matthew T. (Matthew Kapstein)
Kapstein, Matthew T. (Matthew Kapstein)
Male. Education: Brown University, Ph.D.
Theologian, educator, writer, editor, and translator. University of Chicago Divinity School, Chicago, IL, faculty member, 1986-89, Numata visiting professor of Buddhist studies, 1996—; Columbia University, New York, NY, faculty member in the department of religion, c. 1990-95; also Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, Paris, France director of studies in the division of religious studies.
(Editor, with Barbara Minri Aziz) Soundings in Tibetan Civilization, Manohar (New Delhi, India), 1985.
(Author of introduction and cataloguer) The 'Dzamthang Edition of the Collected Works of Kunmkhyen Dol-po-pa Shes-rab-rgyal-mtshan, Shedrup Books (Delhi, India), 1992.
(Collector, with Gyurme Dorje, and author of introduction) Contributions to the Study of Jonang-pa History, Iconography, and Doctrine: Selected Writings of 'Dzam-than Mkhan-po Blogros-grags-pa, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (Dharamsala, India), 1993.
(Editor and contributor, with Melvyn C. Goldstein) Buddhism in Contemporary Tibet: Religious Revival and Cultural Identity, foreword by Orville Schell, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1998.
Reason's Traces: Identity and Interpretation in Indian and Tibetan Buddhist Thought, Wisdom Publications (Boston, MA), 2001.
(Translator and editor, with Gyurme Dorje) Dudjom Rinpoche and Jikdrel Yeshe Dorje, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, Its Fundamentals and History: Section One: The Translations, Wisdom Publications (Boston, MA), 2002.
(Author of introduction) The Buddhism Omnibus, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2004.
(Editor) The Presence of Light: Divine Radiance and Religious Experience, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 2004.
The Tibetans, Blackwell (Malden, MA), 2007.
Contributor to books, including Four-themed Precious Garland = Chos-bzhi rin-chen' phreng [sic] phrengba: An Introduction to Dzog-ch'en, the Great Completeness, by Long-ch'en Rb[sic]-jam-pa Dr'i-me wözer, with explanation and oral commentary by Dudjom Rinpoche and Beru Khyent, Library of Tibetan Works and Archives (Dharamsala, India), 1979.
Matthew T. Kapstein is an expert on Buddhism with his primary interests being the philosophical traditions of later Indian and Tibetan Buddhism. He is also interested in the relationship of these traditions with the practical and experiential aspects of religious life, including art, ritual, meditation, and yoga. Kapstein is the editor, with Melvyn C. Goldstein, of Buddhism in Contemporary Tibet: Religious Revival and Cultural Identity. The anthology's contributors focus primarily on Buddhism in light of China's takeover of Tibet. Kapstein's contribution examines a Tibetan Buddhist religious festival that was last held in 1956 until it was reestablished in 1991 in Lhasa. The author discusses the festival's origins as well as the Drigung Kagyu school of Buddhism, which founded the festival. "The contradictions experienced by Tibetans living under Chinese rule seem to be the organizing theme of this anthology," wrote Karma Leksh Tsomo in the China Review International. Overall, critics generally praised Buddhism in Contemporary Tibet. In a review in the Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, Marcia Calkowki wrote: "This is an important, intriguing and well-written contribution to the ethnography of Tibetan religion within political (the former theocratic state) and ethnographic Tibet (incorporated as Chinese provinces)." Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute contributor Martin Mills noted: "As a collection, Buddhism in Contemporary Tibet maintains a coherent set of interests which receive careful treatment, ensuring its place as a serious and substantive contribution to the field of Tibetan studies."
In his book The Tibetan Assimilation of Buddhism: Conversion, Contestation, and Memory, Kapstein provides a collection of his essays on the history of Tibetan Buddhism. The author focuses primarily on the seventh to the sixteenth centuries and writes about many of the key figures in Buddhism. Jose Ignacio Cabezon, writing in the Journal of Religion, noted that "it is wonderful to have within the pages of a single volume all of these essays, some of which have become classics in the field." Cabezon went on to note: "Kapstein's Tibet is, shockingly, tantalizingly, a Tibet in which the Bible, Nestorians, Manichaeans, Taoists, and Koreans all circulate."
Kapstein presents more of his essays about Buddhism in Reason's Traces: Identity and Interpretation in Indian and Tibetan Buddhist Thought. The author covers topics such as the idea of self and personal identity in Indian Buddhism. Kapstein also includes translations of key Buddhist texts and an extensive bibliography. Mark Siderits, writing in the Journal of the American Oriental Society, noted: "In summary it must be said that Kapstein has set himself a difficult but worthwhile task. For Buddhist philosophy to be taken seriously, one must convince Western philosophers that the tradition contains insights that may prove useful in solving problems of current concern, while also convincing Buddhologists that treating Buddhist texts in ways that bring out their relevance to Western philosophers can also help us better understand their role in their historical and soteriological [doctrine of salvation] context."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Canadian Review of Sociology and Anthropology, November, 2000, Marcia Calkowki, review of Buddhism in Contemporary Tibet: Religious Revival and Cultural Identity, p. 488.
China Review International, spring, 2002, Karma Lekshe Tsomo, review of Buddhism in Contemporary Tibet, p. 124.
Journal of Religion, October, 2002, Jose Ignacio Cabezon, review of The Tibetan Assimilation of Buddhism: Conversion, Contestation, and Memory, p. 679.
Journal of the American Oriental Society, October-December, 2004, Mark Siderits, review of Reason's Traces: Identity and Interpretation in Indian and Tibetan Buddhist Thought, p. 824.
Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, June, 1999, Martin Mills, review of Buddhism in Contemporary Tibet, p. 311.
University of Chicago Center for East Asian Studies Web site,http://ceas.uchicago.edu/ (March 26, 2007), brief faculty profile of author.
University of Chicago Divinity School Web site,http://divinity.uchicago.edu/ (March 26, 2007), brief faculty profile of author.
University of Chicago Personal Web Pages,http://home.uchicago.edu/ (March 26, 2007), faculty profile of author.