Peter's People

Dr Christopher V. Jones

Junior Research Fellow in Theology and Religion

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow

I originally read Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Cambridge, with an emphasis on the study of religion and the religious history of India. I was left wanting to know better the diverse and intellectually challenging traditions that originated in the Indian subcontinent, so undertook postgraduate study in Sanskrit and the classical religions of India here in Oxford. My greatest interest was in the broad and multifaceted Buddhist tradition, and after a year spent in Japan I returned to Oxford to undertake a DPhil in Buddhist Studies, in the process training to read both classical Chinese and Tibetan. I am currently funded by the British Academy to continue my research on the literature of Mahāyāna Buddhism in India as it survives in one or other Asian language.


I am affiliated to the Oriental Institute, and teach topics in Asian (predominantly Indian) religion and philosophy to undergraduate and postgraduate students both there and for the faculty of Theology and Religion. For the latter I teach undergraduate papers in the study of Buddhism, courses in Indian religion for visiting students, and papers in the study of religion more generally.


Most of my research is on Indian Buddhist literature of the early centuries CE, surviving either in Sanskrit or in translations into classical Chinese and/or Tibetan. Though interested in the Mahāyāna tradition of Indian Buddhism in general (surviving today in East and Central Asia), my specialization is the Indian tathāgatagarbha – sometimes called ‘Buddha-Nature’ – tradition that is one of the most influential contributors to later Mahāyānist thought across Asia. My current project concerns literary representations of non-Buddhist ideas and teachers in Buddhist works of the early centuries CE; I am otherwise writing a monograph on the early development of the Buddha-Nature idea in India.

Select Publications

‘Translating the Tīrthika: An Enduring ‘Heresy’ in Buddhist Studies’, in A. Collett (ed.), Translating Buddhism: Collected Essays on Translation Theory and Practice (South Asia), SUNY Press, (forthcoming, 2018)

‘A Self-Aggrandizing Vehicle: tathāgatagabha, tīrthikas and the true self’, Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies, 39, 2016 [2017], pp. 115-170.

‘Beings, Non-Beings, and Buddhas: contrasting notions of tathāgatagarbha in the Anūnatvāpūrṇatvanirdeśa and *Mahābherīsūtra, Journal of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist
, 10, 2016, pp. 53-84