It is thus both pleasing and appropriate to have this revised translation by the editor, Keiko Ikegami, from her 1990 Tokyo edition and study of Barlaam and Josaphat, in which, incidentally, the reproductions of the plates, one in colour, are far superior to those in this AMS edition.
Although the origin and early history of Barlaam and Josaphat is nothing if not conflicted, the great interest of the present volume lies in its examination of the Japanese version, which appeared, transliterated into the Roman alphabet, in a 1591 collection of saints' lives produced by Jesuit missionaries in Japan, Sanctos no Gosagveono Vchinvqigaqi (`Compendium of the Acts of Saints'), the first Japanese book printed with movable type.
In China, this would lead to the Chinese Rites Controversy and difficulties with Rome, but it may be more than a detail that the entry of Barlaam and Josaphat into Japan took place under the auspices of an order sensitive to cultural nuance, even if, as seems probable, in this case the Buddhist associations were contested.
The question remains, however, as to whether the Sanctos version of Barlaam and Josaphat was used not only as a `text for missionaries to learn Japanese' and `to teach the Japanese students the importance of conversion and the meaning of martyrdom' (p.
Laurent has chosen a subset of lives, and although one could quibble over the criteria used for selection, the twenty-five lives included (of Margaret, Nicholas, Lawrence, Edward the Confessor (two versions), Thais, Giles, Thomas of Canterbury by Benoit, Catherine, Edmond the Martyr (two versions), George, Osith, Faith, Modwenna, Andrew, Audrey, Barlaam and Josaphat
, Eustace, John the Almsgiver, Mary Magdalene, the Seven Sleepers, Alban, Edmond Rich, and Richard) constitute almost half of the extant lives written in England.