Just a brief note on the recent interview of Stephen Batchelor in the 2 July 2015 issue of the Barre Center’s Insight Journal—
Discussing similarities between the life story of the Buddha found in the Pali canon and in the Tibetan translation of the Mūlasarvāstivāda vinaya, Batchelor says:
The two versions don’t agree in every detail, but they’re remarkably similar. So we actually have two independent sources, pretty much, that seem to be referring to a common source, that must have predated both, that would go back I think very close to the Buddha’s time.
After an aside, the interview goes on:
IJ: It’s remarkable that we have two seemingly independent sources that agree so well.
SB: Yes, very remarkable, and I’m amazed nobody else has spotted that.
Apparently neither Batchelor nor his interviewer bothered to consider the meaning of the words used in making the claim—it seems rather obvious that if two sources are “referring to a common source” then they are not “independent.” Consider: if George tells both Pete and John about what Dave did, then Pete and John are not independent sources regarding Dave’s actions. What is amazing is that Batchelor seems to think that it is amazing that “nobody else has spotted that.” The reason “nobody else has spotted that” is that it is a fallacy.
In his quest for the historical Buddha, Batchelor seems almost determined to make the same mistakes as plagued the quest for the historical Jesus, such as the quest for a definitive original source text “behind” the three synoptic Gospels. The harder scholars looked for such a text, the more it vanished through their fingers like the chimera that it was.