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Liber de gestis Barlaam et Iosaphat seruorum Dei



Title Liber de gestis Barlaam et Iosaphat seruorum D

Name of the Portuguese translation

 Lenda de Barlaão e Josafate (pt.010)


Probably St. John Damascene.


Latin (the original text is in Georgian or Greek, according to Ribas 2011).


Hagiographic text with the Christianized version of Buddha's life (Smith 1993: 664). This biography was present in the works of Indian literature as Jataka, Lálita Vistara or Budacaritas. With this, Buddha was considered for centuries as a Christian saint (Borges, 2007: 68).

The first version of the text would be precisely Lálita Vistara. From here emerged translations in several languages. Probably between centuries IX and XI appeared the first Christian version of the text, which was written in Georgian language, by an unknown author. This version was translated into Greek by St. Euthymius of Athos (955-1028), a Georgian monk belonging to the Iviron monastery on Mount Athos.

There is also the possibility that the original Christian text is in Greek, with a translation into Georgian. At this point, the text was spread in other languages: Arabic, Ethiopian, Armenian, Syriac and Hebrew. By the eleventh century a translation into Latin shows up and it allows the dissemination of the text throughout Europe (Ribas, 2011: 2537-2538). Today about 150 witnesses survived (Vilches Fernández, 2010: 928). The oldest of the Latin translations is now in the Naples National Library (Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele III, Napoli - Manuscript Ms. VIII.B.10). It has 502 folios, dating from the fourteenth century. Buddha's life is between 416V-502v folios.


There are Latin versions of this text since the eleventh century A.D. The two Portuguese copies belong to the thirteenth century.


The two existing Portuguese copies belong to the Monastery of Alcobaça and the Monastery of Santa Cruz of Coimbra.

Extant witnesses

In Portugal, there are two copies. One is at the National Library (Fundo Alcobacense – Alc. 169) and has about 100 folios; the other is in the Municipal Library of Porto (Biblioteca Pública Municipal do Porto – Fundo do Mosteiro de Santa Cruz de Coimbra: Santa Cruz 45, número geral 785) and has 128 folios. The latter copy is described in the Catálogo dos Códices da Livraria de Mão do Mosteiro de Santa Cruz de Coimbra na Biblioteca Pública Municipal do Porto (between pages 225 and 228). According to Soares (1993: 664), the two copies have many similarities and were printed in the sixteenth century:

- Alc. 169: Basel, 1539;

- Santa Cruz 45: Cologne, 1546.

Some versions of the text,in various languages, are described in a document or link the National Library of France. On the site Documenta Catholica Omnia is the Greek text.


RIBAS, André A. (2011) Algumas Considerações sobre as Versões Georgiana e Grega do Romance Hagiográfico de Barlaão e Josafá. V Congresso Internacional de História, Universidade Estadual de Maringá, 21-23 de setembro de 2011, 2536-2542.

FISCHER, Matthias (2003) Versus de sanctis Barlaam et Josaphat: die anonyme Versifikation der Barlaam- und Josaphatlegende (12. Jhd.) in der Handschrift Besancon BM 94. Bern/New York: P. Lang.

CRUZ PALMA, Óscar de la (2001) Barlaam et Iosaphat, versión vulgata latina. Madrid: Bellaterra.

MAHÉ, Annie e MAHÉ, Jean-Pierre (trad.) (1993) La sagesse de Balahvar. Une vie christianisée du Bouddha. Saint-Amand: Éditions Gallimard.


Online database:

Arlima: http://www.arlima.net/ad/berlan_e_josapha.html