Universiteit Leiden

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Rafal Felbur


R.J. Felbur Ph.D.
+31 71 527 6432

As a researcher, I combine philology with a cultural-historical approach to key ideological developments in Buddhism, with a particular focus on the literary stratum of the “Great Tradition” of early medieval Chinese Buddhism: scriptural translations, commentaries, prefaces, catalogues, apologetic writings, indigenous tracts, etc. As a teacher, my main goal is to train students to think critically about the persistent religiousness of our supposedly secular world.

More information about Rafal Felbur

Fields of interest

  • Buddhist literature in Chinese, Sanskrit, Tibetan 
  • Chinese Buddhist commentarial and philosophical texts
  • Hhistory of the Chinese Buddhist canons

Description of my research

At present I work as a member of the "Open Philology" research project, under the directorship of Prof. Jonathan Silk. The goal of our work is to develop a groundbreaking software environment for research on Buddhist scriptural literature, and not only. More about our work can be found here
My second main interest is in the history of Chinese Buddhist canon(s), with a particular focus on the ways in which Buddhists in China imagined new conceptions of truth and textual authority as they worked to establish the imported religion as a coherent "thing out there" in the 3rd to 5th centuries.
I am also involved in a long-term study of Chinese Buddhist philosophy in the early medieval period, when questions still far outnumbered the answers, and am interested in the related problems of method that arise when we late moderns attempt to study, and want to take seriously, the ideas of people from distant times and distant cultures.

Curriculum Vitae

  • MPhil in Sinology, Warsaw University
  • MA in Chinese Studies, Universiteit Leiden
  • PhD in Religious Studies, Stanford University


  • Faculty of Humanities
  • Leiden Institute for Area Studies
  • SAS India en Tibet

Work address

Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 3
2311 BZ Leiden
Room number 0.06b


No relevant ancillary activities

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