Jan Nattier

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Jan Nattier

Jan Nattier is a translator and scholar of Mahāyana Buddhism. She earned a PhD in Inner Asian and Altaic Studies from Harvard University (1988), and subsequently taught at Stanford, Indiana University (1992–2005), and the International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology, Soka University (2006–2010).[1]

As a translator, she has worked in most of the Buddhist source languages.[2]


Nattier published a book based on her PhD thesis which looked at the Chinese Doctrine of the Three Ages with a focus on the third i.e. Mofa (Chinese: 末法; pinyin: Mò Fǎ) or Age of Dharma Decline. She showed that the latter was a Chinese development with no India parallel. The translation and study of the Ugraparipṛcca [3] published as A Few Good Men: The Bodhisattva Path according to The Inquiry of Ugra (Ugraparipṛcchā) in 2003 also contained an extended essay on working with ancient Buddhist texts, particularly in Chinese.

Nattier's notable articles include a study of the Akṣobhyavūhya pureland texts,[4] which asserts the early importance of this strand of Mahāyāna ideology; an evaluation of early Chinese Translations of Buddhist texts and the issue of attribution[5] (which summarises several earlier articles on the subject); and a detailed re-examination of the origins of the Heart Sutra (1992) which proposes that the sutra was composed in China.

Since officially retiring, Professor Nattier has held numerous short-term academic posts.[6]

Private Life

Nattier married scholar John R McRae (1947–2011) who has been called "one of the most important US researchers in the area of Chinese Chan-Buddhism." [7]


  1. Academia.edu profile. https://berkeley.academia.edu/JanNattier
  2. Proto-History of Buddhist Translation (YouTube)
  3. Nattier 2003
  4. Nattier 2000
  5. Nattier: 2008
  6. Academia.edu profile. https://berkeley.academia.edu/JanNattier
  7. "Remembering John R. McRae". mb-schiekel.de. Retrieved 2018-04-11. 

Selected Bibliography

Other Works Cited


Search for videos:

Selected videos:

  • The Proto-History of Buddhist Translation: From Gāndhārī and Pāli to Han-Dynasty Chinese - Jan Nattier
    Description: Translation & Transmission Conference 2017 – Keynote Lecture by Jan Nattier, June 2, 2017: Discussions of the history of Buddhist translation usually begin with China, where in the middle of the second century Buddhist scriptures were translated into a non-Indian language for the first time. Yet the process of translation itself began many centuries earlier, when the words of the Buddha were rendered into a multitude of Indian vernaculars. Beginning with a brief sketch of these intra-Indian translations, I will then turn to the earliest Chinese Buddhist translations, focusing on the variety of “translation policies” used by their second-century translators and comparing them with the strategies subsequently employed in Tibet and elsewhere. I will conclude with a few remarks on the special challenges posed by translating these foundational works into English, in particular how best to proceed when “translating a translation.”
  • Stages of the Path: The Origins of the Bodhisattva Bhumis-Jan Nattier
    Description: Lecturer: Prof. Jan Nattier, International Research Institute for Advanced Buddhology, Soka University. The first lecture from the conference "Buddhism in Asia", that took place at the East Asian Studies Department, Tel Aviv University, 2010
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