Robert Trent Pomplun (Ph.D., University of Virginia), Associate Professor of Theology at Loyola University Maryland, is a Catholic theologian, a Tibetologist, and the author of Jesuit on the Roof of the World: Ippolito Desideri’s Mission to Tibet (Oxford 2010).
Ippolito Desideri (1684-1733), an Italian Jesuit missionary to Asia who resided in Tibet from 1715 until 1722, was the progenitor of the western study of Tibetan language, culture, and religion and the first Christian theologian to master the Tibetan language well enough to delve deeply into Tibetan traditions of Buddhist thought and to engage in serious philosophical and theological dialogue, in their own tongue, with Tibetan Buddhist thinkers. Whereas the 2010 book on Desideri was a historical account of the Jesuit’s mission, Prof. Pomplun is now engaged in the study and translation of Desideri’s theological and apologetic writings in Tibetan, most especially those treatises in which he analyzed the dominant strain of Tibetan Buddhist thought, the Madhyamaka tradition, and its cardinal teaching of emptiness (śūnyatā, stong pa nyid). It is this doctrine of emptiness, as seen through the lens of Desideri’s Thomism, that will be the focus of Professor Pomplun’s Notre Dame lecture.
Presented by the Department of Theology.