MacArthur Fellows Program

Gregory Schopen

Historian of Religion | Class of 1985

Historian of Religion
Bloomington, Indiana
38 at time of award
Published July 1, 1985

About Gregory's Work

Gregory Schopen is an historian of religions, specializing in Indian Buddhism, who combines the philological study of canonical, literary texts with the study of inscriptional, archaeological, and art historical sources.

Schopen’s use of epigraphical and archaeological data has been directed towards restructuring the way religions are studied by showing that literary sources reflect only the normative ideals of a small, atypical group of literate men and, which frequently had little influence on what religious people actually did or actually believed.  His work has produced revisions in our understanding of the history of both early Buddhism and of the beginnings of the Mahayana.


Schopen is a professor of Sanskrit and Buddhist Studies and chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles.  He served previously as a professor at the Center for Asian Studies at the University of Texas.  He is the author of Bones, Stones, and Buddhist Monks: Archaeology and Texts of Monastic Buddhism in India (1996), Buddhist Monks and Business Matters: Still More Papers on Monastic Buddhism in India (2004) and Figments and Fragments of Mahayana Buddhism in India (2005).

Schopen received a B.A. (1970) from Black Hills State College, an M.A. (1975) from McMaster University, and a Ph.D. (1979) from the Australian National University.

Last updated January 1, 2005.

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