Paul J. Griffiths

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Paul J. Griffiths (born 1955) is an English-born American theologian. He was the Warren Professor of Catholic Thought at Duke Divinity School.


Griffiths has held appointments at the University of Notre Dame, University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Chicago. A scholar of Augustine of Hippo, Griffiths' main interests and pursuits are philosophical theology and the philosophy of religion—particularly Christianity and Buddhism. He received a doctoral degree in Buddhist Studies in 1983 from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and his early works established him as one of the most incisive interpreters of Yogācāra Buddhist philosophy.[citation needed] His works on Buddhism include On Being Mindless (Lasalle, IL: Open Court, 1991) and On Being Buddha (Albany: SUNY Press, 1994). After converting from Anglicanism to Roman Catholicism and accepting the Schmitt Chair of Catholic Studies at UIC, he has largely given up his work in Buddhist Studies. His recent books include: Problems of Religious Diversity (Oxford: Blackwell, 2001); Philosophy of Religion: A Reader (co-edited with Charles Taliaferro) (Oxford: Blackwell, 2003); and, Lying: An Augustinian Theology of Duplicity (Grand Rapids: Brazos Press, 2004). His latest book deals with curiositas and the nature of intellectual appetite; its title is: Intellectual Appetite: A Theological Grammar. According to the faculty pages at Duke Divinity School, Griffiths has been a very prolific author, publishing ten books as sole author, and seven more as co-author or editor.

Griffiths acted as an adviser for the pope during his state visit to the UK.[citation needed]

Griffiths resigned from Duke Divinity School in May 2017 after being reprimanded by Duke Divinity School administration for his strongly worded opposition to diversity training. [1]

Buddhist hybrid English[edit]

Griffiths coined the term Buddhist hybrid English as an analogy to Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit to designate the often incomprehensible result of attempts to faithfully translate Buddhist texts into English.[2] This effort often involves the creation of entirely new English phrases for Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese, or Japanese phrases, the use of English words in uncharacteristic ways, and heavy reliance on calques.

An example Buddhist Hybrid English phrase is "own-being" to translate Sanskrit svabhāva in contexts where it is used as a technical philosophical term, equivalent to English essence.[2]


  1. ^ "Duke Professor Resigns After Facing Discipline for Challenging Diversity Training". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved May 23, 2017.
  2. ^ a b Daniel Anderson Arnold (2005), Buddhists, brahmins, and belief: epistemology in South Asian philosophy of religion, Columbia University Press, p. 223, ISBN 9780231132800

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