Dr. James Ford

Portrait of Dr. James Ford, Professor, Religious Studies


Office: 119 Divinity and Religious Studies Building

Phone: 336.758.4191

Email: fordj@nullwfu.edu

  • Bio

    Jay Ford received his PhD from Princeton University (1998). He teaches courses in the areas of East Asian religions, Buddhism, comparative religion, and interreligious dialogue. He is author of Jōkei and Buddhist Devotion in Medieval Japan (Oxford University Press, 2006), the first book-length study in any language of Jōkei (1155-1213), a prominent Buddhist cleric of the Hossō school, whose life bridged the momentous transition from Heian (794-1185) to Kamakura (1185-1333) Japan. His most recent book, The Divine Quest, East and West (State University of New York Press), is a comparative study of Jewish, Christian, Hindu and Buddhist traditions, how they conceptualize Ultimate Reality (God, gods, Brahman, Nirvana, emptiness, etc.), and the effects and evolution of those conceptualizations over time. He is now working on his next book with Wiley Blackwell, tentatively titled Mahāyāna Buddhism: A Socio-Cultural History.

    In 2019, Dr. Ford was awarded the College Board of Visitors’ Faculty Leadership Award for his leadership and service to the College and University over many years, including:

    • Chair, College Curriculum Review Committee, 2017-19
    • Department Chair, 2010-17
    • Chair of Chairs, 2012-13
    • Faculty Senate, 2015-19 (Chair, Resources Committee)
    • Committee on Academic Planning, 2010-14 (Chair, 2013-14)
    • Committee on Orientation & Lower Division Advising, 2003-09 (Chair, 2006-09)
    • University QEP Planning Committee, 2005-06
    • Reynolds Leave Selection Committee, 2004-07
  • Education and CV

    Ph.D., Princeton University (East Asian Religions), 1993-98

    M.A., Princeton University (Religion), 1996

    Research Fellow, Tokyo University, 1997-98

    Inter-University Center for Japanese Language Studies, Yokohama, Japan, 1992-93

    M.T.S., Vanderbilt Divinity School (History of Religions), 1989-91

    B.A., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Mathematics), 1979

    Dr. Ford’s CV

  • Publications


    • The Divine Quest—East and West: A Comparative Study of Ultimate Realities. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2016. (Amazon)
    • Jōkei and Buddhist Devotion in Early Medieval Japan. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. (Oxford)

    Articles/Chapters (selection)

    • “Il kōshiki nel Buddhismo giapponese.” In LE DONNE NELL’ORDINE MONASTICO BUDDHISTA La cerimonia dedicata ad Ānanda come rito di affermazione. Ed. Barbara Ambros. Italy: Myo Edizioni, 2019, pp. 7-15. Co-authored with Barbara Ambros and Michaela Mross.
    • “Jōkei: Revisioning Hossō Doctrine in Early Medieval Japan.” Dao Companion to Japanese Buddhist Philosophy. Dao Companions to Chinese Philosophy, vol 8. Ed. Gereon Kopf. Dordrecht: Springer, 2019, 347-360.
    • “Jōkei.” Brill’s Encyclopedia of Buddhism. Vol. II. Editor-in-Chief, Jonathan A. Silk. Lieden: Brill, 2019, 1006-1010.
    • “Introduction.” Special issue on kōshikiin Medieval Japan for the Japanese Journal of Religious Studies, schedule for publication Spring 2016. Co-editors Barbara Ambros (UNC, Chapel Hill), James Ford (WFU), and Michaela Moss (UC, Berkeley). Spring, 2016.
    • “Japanese Buddhists.” Encyclopedia of Religious Controversy, 2nd Bill Leonard and Jill Crainshaw, eds. ABC-CLIO: Santa Barbara, CA, 2013.
    • “Japanese Internments in WW II.” Encyclopedia of Religious Controversy, 2nd Bill Leonard and Jill Crainshaw, eds. ABC-CLIO: Santa Barbara, CA, 2013.
    • “Exploring the Esoteric in Nara Buddhism.” In Esoteric Buddhism and the Tantras in East Asia. Eds. Charles D. Orzech, Richard K. Payne and Henrik H. Sørensen. Leiden: Koninklijke Brill, 2010, pp. 776-793.
    • “The Religions of Japan—Shinto.” In Introduction to World Religions: Communities and Cultures. Ed. Jacob Neusner. Abingdon Press, 2009, 267-83.
    • “Jōkei and Kannon: Defending Buddhist Pluralism in Medieval Japan.” The Eastern Buddhist, (39/1), 2008, 11-28.
    • “Buddhist Ceremonials (kōshiki) and the Ideological Discourse of Established Buddhism in Early Medieval Japan.” In Discourse and Ideology in Medieval Japanese Buddhism. Eds. Richard Payne and Taigen Daniel Leighton. New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2006, pp. 97-125.
    • “Competing With Amida: A Study and Translation of Jōkei’s Miroku kōshiki.” Monumenta Nipponica (60/1), Spring 2005, pp. 43-79.
  • Courses
    • REL 104: Introduction to Asian Religions
    • REL 109: Introduction to Buddhist Traditions
    • REL 280: God, Gods, and the Ultimate
    • REL 300: Approaches to the Study of Religion
    • REL 361: Topics in Buddhism
    • REL 363: The Religions of Japan
    • REL 381: Zen Buddhism
    • REL 382: Religion and Culture in China
    • REL 390: Explorations in Buddhist-Christian Dialogue
    • REL 391: Topics in East Asian Religions
    • REL 704: Conceptions of the Ultimate