Thanks to Simon for pointing out this article:
Most of what he says is obviously true. I don’t understand, however, what he has against the three life idea: the twelve links clearly acknowledge two births, at vinnana and jati, so what’s the problem? The only grounds the author criticizes this interpretation on is the Upanisa Sutta, but that simply doesn’t say what he says it does, namely, that all the factors are in ‘this life’. On the contrary, the Balapandita Sutta, for example, clearly does imply a sequence of lives.
I particularly like his suggestion that the use of ‘nama’ is connected with the patriarchal notion of preserving the family ‘name’. It is a complex matter, but it is true that ones’ ‘name’ is often felt to be the only thing that is immortal. This is felt especially among the patriarchs: because of the uncertainty of paternity, a ‘father’ can never be sure if he really ‘survives’ in his children biologically, so the ‘name’ is all he has. The connection between this and dependent origination, if any, is however very abstract. It is important, however, to do as the author has done, and burrow down ‘underneath’ dependent origination to see where the roots of it lie in Indic culture.