THE TRANSMISSION OF THE TEACHINGS
Rather than getting lost in the debate between Buddhists and scholars about the authenticity of the texts, please first understand the main points, that pleasure and also wanting lead to repetition, and panoramic sensing is completely here and now, and neutralises desire.
Traditional Buddhists maintain that the texts record the actual spoken words of Buddha accurately, even though they were written down over 400 years after his death and were subject to multiple translations.
They explain that the Hindu oral tradition had perfected the memorising of texts, and this is true; once the texts had a form, they were, and are still, passed orally, accurately through generations.
Method of Memorising and Transmitting the TeachingMaybe some monks had an almost photographic memory for some phrases, but it seems highly doubtful that any single person could spontaneously remember for example, one entire Sutra.
I believe the texts took a period of time till they found a form. And in this time, texts were developed and arranged, labelled and sometimes numbered, so they could be easily remembered.
We have almost certainly some phrases which are Buddha's words – and then a mix from peoples memories of what they had understood.
It took a period of time before one person could remember a sutra with the same wordings every time, and when he could do this, then he could teach it to others.
But during this process and afterwards were all the translations, which in an oral tradition were undoubtably more flexible than when written. It is doubtful that any monks were fluent in Buddha's native language, and all the other languages into which it was translated.
And, from Wikipedia (Wikipedia keeps changing, quotes are from Feb 6th 2020, and Jan 30th 2023) : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pāli_Canon
Between 3 months and 80 yrs. (in 2023) and 30yrs. (in 2020) after Buddhas death, Ananda and Upali recited the texts to a group of Arhats (monks).
If scholars are correct (see infotip in 2023) in placing the first Buddhist council at 80 yrs. after Buddha's death, then the idea that Ananda and Upali, actual students of Buddha, recited these texts, would be pure wishful thinking.
The texts were then subject to several oral translations before they were committed to writing during the Fourth Buddhist Council in 29 B.C. – (in which language? previous to being translated into Pali).
Early paper was fragile, would deteriorate, and texts needed rewriting. There were further translations... so that the earliest fragments of the Pali Cannon are in Chinese from 400 C.E. (A.D.) The Sri Lankan version is most complete from the 5th and 6th century C.E.
(India didn't have papyrus as in Egypt. Paper started being made around 100 B.C. in China.)