Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Comparative Religion

First Advisor

Dr. Timothy Light

Second Advisor

Dr. E. Thomas Lawson

Third Advisor

Dr. David Ede

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


This thesis will trace the evolution and modification of the Chinese concept of retribution, or paoying, with the Buddhist concept of karma through three periods of Chinese history: (1) the indigenous phase which comprises the time until Buddhism was introduced to China, (2) the period in which Buddhism was introduced to China and its immediate aftermath, and (3) the post-Buddhist phase in which there was a conscious effort to equate Chinese concepts with non-Chinese concepts, culminating in something that was not singularly Chinese nor wholly Buddhist To illustrate the concepts of retribution I will draw upon folk, or popular literature, although philosophical literature, especially for the earlier periods, will be discussed. In the final chapter I will provide a detailed analysis of syncretism, examine factors which may contribute to its formation, and present a developmental theory which may account for phenomenon of syncretism.