This article is about the Buddhist scholar. For the linguist, see Alfred Bloom.

Alfred Bloom is a pioneer of Jodo Shinshu studies in the English-speaking world.[1]

Early life and education

Born 1926 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Bloom was the youngest child of a Jewish father. At the time of Bloom’s birth, his mother had been a recent convert to a fundamentalist tradition of Christianity. After enlisting in the United States Army in 1944, Bloom studied Japanese at the University of Pennsylvania and performed his service in occupied Japan. During this time, he promoted fundamentalist Christianity and encountered the concept of Amida Buddha when a Christian minister explained a passage from the Christian scriptures by using Amida Buddha as an analogy.


Bloom began his academic life at Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (BA., Th.B.) in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania from 1947 to 1951. During this time he began to question, and then to abandon, the fundamentalist approach to the Bible which he had previously held.

He completed his theological training at Andover Newton Theological School (B.D., S.T.M.) in Newton, Massachusetts in 1953. He later encountered the teachings of Shinran while studying Japanese language and (Chinese) Buddhism at the Harvard–Yenching Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts and gained his doctorate with a thesis on Shinran’s Life and Thought in 1963.

From 1959 to 1961, Bloom was Proctor for Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard Divinity School, and Teaching Fellow in History of Religion, Harvard Divinity School. For a time, in 1961, he was lecturer in the History of religion at Newton Junior College in Newton, Massachusetts.

From 1961 to 1970, Bloom was Associate Professor of Religion, Department of religion at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Continuing his work at Manoa, he eventually took up the post of Professor of Religion there in 1974. From 1986 to 1988 he served for the Institute of Buddhist Studies, Berkeley, California, as Dean as well as Honganji Professor of Shin Buddhism.



Professor Emeritus, University of Hawaii; Dean Emeritus, Institute of Buddhist Studies, Berkeley; Institute of Buddhist Studies Scholar of Jodo Shinshu Studies; Jodo Shinshu priest: ordained at Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji-ha, Kyoto 1990 (kyoshi, 1992, kaikyoshi, 1994).


  1. ^ Takeuchi, Yoshinori (1999). Buddhist spirituality: later China, Korea, Japan, and the modern world. Crossroad. p. 222. ISBN 978-0-8245-1596-6.