Early Buddhist texts

These texts were initially transmitted through oral methods. According to Marcus Bingenheimer,

The EBTs also depict a small scale local economy, during a time before the establishment of the long-distance trading networks, as noted by Brahmali and Sujato:

The Edicts of Ashoka are some of the earliest Indian historical documents and they agree with the EBTs in some respects.

Most modern scholarship has generally focused on the Pāli Nikāyas (which have been fully translated into Western languages) and the Chinese Āgamas (only partially translated). As early as the late 19th century, it was known that the Nikāyas and the Āgamas contain a great number of parallel texts. In 1882, Samuel Beal published his Buddhist Literature in China, where he wrote:

The Four Buddhist Āgamas in Chinese – A Concordance of their Parts and of the Corresponding Counterparts in the Pāli Nikāyas

Over time this comparative study of these parallel Buddhist texts became incorporated into modern scholarship on Buddhism, such as in the work of Etienne Lamotte (1988), who commented on their close relationship:

While some scholars such as Gregory Schopen are skeptical of the antiquity of the Pali texts, Alexander Wynne notes that:

Gandhara birchbark scroll fragments (c. 1st century) from British Library Collection
The Application of Mindfulness of the Sacred Dharma (Saddharmasmṛtyupasthāna,