Department Chair:
Cynthia Chapman

Administrative Assistant:
Brenda Hall

Department Email:

Phone: (440) 775-8866
Fax: (440) 775-6910

Rice Hall 316
10 N. Professor St.
Oberlin, OH, 44074

James Dobbins

James Dobbins

James H. Fairchild Professor

Contact Information


Rice Hall 16
(440) 775-8533

Personal Office Hours:
Mon 1:30-2:30; Tue 2:00-3:00; Thu 11:00-12:00; and by appointment

James Dobbins

James Dobbins

Educational Background

  • Bachelor of Arts, Rhodes College, 1971
  • Master of Arts, Yale University, 1976
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Yale University, 1984

Selected Publications

Expanded List of Publications


  • Letters of the Nun Eshinni: Images of Pure Land Buddhism in Medieval Japan. Honolulu: University of HawaiÕi Press, 2004. xiv + 259 pp.
  • Jodo Shinshu: Shin Buddhism in Medieval Japan. Paperback edition: Honolulu: University of HawaiÕi Press, 2002. Hardcover: Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989. Award: A Choice Outstanding Academic Book of 1989. xiv + 242 pp.

Edited Volumes

  • The Legacy of Kuroda Toshio. Special issue of Japanese Journal of Religious Studies 23.3-4 (Fall 1996). 252 pp. Guest editor.

    Articles and Book Chapters

    • "The Many Faces of Shinran: Images from D.T. Suzuki and The Eastern Buddhist."  The Eastern Buddhist (N.S.) 42.2 (2011): 1-24.
    • "The evil person is the primary recipient of the Buddha's compassion': The  Akunin Shōki Theme in Shin Buddhism of Japan."  In Sin and Expiation: Perspectives from Asian Religions. Leiden: Brill, forthcoming, pp. 93-112.
    • "Precepts in Japanese Pure Land Buddhism: The Jodoshu." In Going Forth: Visions of Buddhist Vinaya, ed. William M. Bodiford. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2005, pp. 236-54.
    • "Portraits of Shinran in Medieval Pure Land Buddhism." In Living Images: Japanese Buddhist Icons in Context, ed. Robert Sharf and Elizabeth Horton Sharf. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001, pp. 19-48.
    • "Envisioning Kamakura Buddhism." In Re-Visioning Kamakura Buddhism, ed. Richard Payne. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1998, pp. 24-42.
    • "A Brief History of Pure Land Buddhism in Early Japan." In Engaged Pure Land Buddhism, ed. Kenneth K. Tanaka and Eisho Nasu. Berkeley: Wisdom Ocean Publications, 1998, pp. 113-65.
    • "Women's Birth in Pure Land as Women: Intimations from the Letters of Eshinni." The Eastern Buddhist (N.S.) 28.1 (Spring 1995): 108-22.
    • "The Biography of Shinran: Apotheosis of a Japanese Buddhist Visionary." History of Religions 30.2 (November 1990): 179-96.
    • "From Inspiration to Institution: The Rise of Sectarian Identity in Jodo Shinsho." Monumenta Nipponica 41.3 (Autumn 1986): 330-43.


    • "The Origins and Complicated Development of Shin Buddhism as an Area in Religious Studies." The Pure Land (N.S.) 22 (December 2006): 1-27.
    • "Chinese Buddhist Stele: Religious Meanings in Buddhist Iconography." Allen Memorial Art Museum Bulletin, Oberlin College 53 (2003): 60-64.
    • "Buddhism in Japan." In A Thousand Cranes: Treasures of Japanese Art. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum, 1987, pp. 24-41.


    • "The Original Bomori: Husband-and-Wife Congregations in Early Shin Buddhism," by Endo Hajime. In Engendering Faith: Women and Buddhism in Pre-Modern Japan. Ann Arbor: Center for Japanese Studies, University of Michigan, 2002, pp. 501-35.
    • "Rennyo's Rules." In Sources of Japanese Tradition, Second Edition, vol. 1, ed. Wm. Theodore de Bary, Donald Keene, George Tanabe, and Paul Varley. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001, pp. 228-29.
    • "Buddhist Liberation and Birth in the Heavens: The Significance of the Earliest Buddhist Icons Found Among Grave Objects in China's Yangtze River Region," by Yamada Meiji. In Wisdom, Compassion, and the Search for Understanding: The Buddhist Studies Legacy of Gadjin M. Nagao, ed. Jonathan A. Silk. Honolulu: University of HawaiÕi Press, 2000, pp. 369-96.
    • "Deathbed Nembutsu Ritual in Pure Land Buddhism" (translation from Genshin's Ojoyoshu) and "Faith as Immediate Fulfillment in Pure Land Buddhism" (translations from the writings of Shinran). In Religions of Japan in Practice, ed. George Tanabe. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999, pp. 166-75, 280-88.
    • "Buddhism in the Kamakura Period," by Osumi Kazuo. In The Cambridge History of Japan, Vol. III. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990, pp. 544-82.
    • Translation (with Suzanne Gay): "Shinto in the History of Japanese Religion," by Kuroda Toshio. The Journal of Japanese Studies 7.1 (Winter 1981): 1-21. Reprinted in Religions of Japan in Practice, ed. George Tanabe, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1999, pp. 451-67.