Jens Braarvig

Image of Jens Braarvig
Norwegian version of this page
Visiting address Blindernveien 31 Georg Morgenstiernes hus 0313 OSLO
Postal address Postboks 1020 Blindern 0315 OSLO
Other affiliations Philosophy

Jens Braarvig’s main subject is the history, literature and languages of Buddhism.

Among his publications on Buddhism are “The Akṣayamatinirdesasūtra and The Tradition of Imperishability in Buddhist Thought,” the main topic of which is the morality of Mahāyāna Buddhism, and ”Buddhist Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection,” containing a rather recent find of manuscript fragments from Bamiyan, Afghanistan.

He also works with other Indian religious and philosophical traditions, as well as Greek and Mesopotamian religion in a comparative perspective and in a general setting of global and macrohistoric cultural study. His studies are based on comparative and philological methods, and he works with a number of classical and archaic languages from the Mediterranean areas, from early Middle Eastern cultures, as well as classical languages of South, Central and East Asia.

He is also developing methodologies for making philological reasearch relevant for cultural studies, and he has thus created an analytical internet tool – as now available on the internet as Bibliotheca Polyglotta – for understanding the role of linguae francae and multilingualsm in the global diffusion of knowledge.

He is also active as an editor and organizer of popular science.


  • Religious Studies in a global and diachronic perspective, History of Knowledge
  • Historical and comparative philologies, including several historical languages like Sanskrit, Tibetan, Chinese; Greek, Latin, Arabic, et cetera
  • Palaeography

Higher education and employment history

  • Jens Braarvig is a Professor of Religious Studies at the Department of Cultural Studies and Oriental Languages at the University of Oslo since 1st of May 1995,
  • born in Oslo 17th of January 1948;
  • Master degree, Religious Studies, University of Oslo 1978;
  • Doctoral degree, University of Oslo, 1989.


  • Founder and director of Network for University Co-operation Tibet-Norway from 1992 until 2001;
  • founder of Akkado-Sumerian Seminar 1997;
  • editor in chief of Buddhist Manuscripts in the Schøyen Collection from 1998;
  • founder and director of the Norwegian Institute of Palaeography and Historical Philology from 2003;
  • member of the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters from 2004.
  • Doctor Honoris Causa, Mahachulalongkorn University, 2011.

Current research projects

1) Bibliotheca Polyglotta, internet application for historical multilingual studies and comparative philology, of which the Thesaurus Literaturae Buddhicae is a part;

2) Edition of ancient Buddhist manuscripts;

3) The project Multilingualism, Linguae Francae and the Global History of Religious and Scientific Concepts;

4) The Cambridge Handbook of Human Dignity (now recently  completed), further research on the topic planned;

5) Edition if the Bodhisatvapiṭaka, a Buddhist text from the 2nd century A.D, with editorial team; Bibliotheca Polyglotta.

7) War and Dignity in Classical Indian legal, epic, philsophical and religious literature.

Tags: History of Religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, Language contact
Published June 24, 2010 10:51 AM - Last modified Apr. 3, 2020 11:25 AM