The fifth of the seven books of the Abhidhamma Pitaka. (Sometimes called the third, e.g., in Mbv.94). It seems to have been compiled when the contents of at least the Dhammasanganī, the Vibhanga and Patthāna were already accepted as orthodox. Tradition ascribes its compilation to Moggaliputta-Tissa at the end of the Third Council, held under Asoka's patronage; at Pātaliputta (Mhv.v.278; Dpv.vii.41, 56-8). It was rejected by some on the ground that it was set forth two hundred and eighteen years after the Buddha's death, and was hence only a disciple's utterance; but the Commentaries take the view that the mātikā, the principles taught therein, were laid down by the Teacher himself, and that the whole work should be regarded as the utterance of the Buddha, just as the Madhu-pindika Sutta, preached really by Mahā-Kaccāna, is considered as the Buddha's teaching. The book consists of twenty-three chapters, and is a collection of discussions (kathā) and refutations of the heretical views of various sects on matters connected with theology and philosophy. The Buddha's authority is accepted as final. See the very valuable Preface to the Points of Controversy, by Mrs. Rhys Davids, vii ff See also Rhys Davids on "Questions discussed in the Kathā-Vatthu," J.R.A.S.1892.
It has sometimes been suggested (E.g., J.R.A.S.1915, 805ff ) that Asoka's Rock Edict IX. has been influenced by the Kathā-Vatthu. The Therī Khemā, chief of the Buddha's women disciples, describes herself as being "Kathāvatthuvisāradā," (ThigA.135) thus strengthening the theory that the Kathā-Vatthu was known already in the Buddha's time.
The Udāna Commentary (UdA.94) refers to a Kathāvatthupakarana-Tika for details of certain points raised.