Religious texts, also known as scripture or scriptures (from the Latin scriptura, meaning "writing") are texts which religious traditions consider to be central to their practice or beliefs. Religious texts may be used to provide meaning and purpose, evoke a deeper connection with the divine, convey religious truths, promote religious experience, foster communal identity, and guide individual and communal religious practice. Religious texts often communicate the practices or values of a religious traditions and can be looked to as a set of guiding principles which dictate physical, mental, spiritual, or historical elements considered important to a specific religion. The terms 'sacred' text and 'religious' text are not necessarily interchangeable in that some religious texts are believed to be sacred because of their nature as divinely or supernaturally revealed or inspired, whereas some religious texts are simply narratives pertaining to the general themes, practices, or important figures of the specific religion, and not necessarily considered sacred by itself. A core function of a religious text making it sacred is its ceremonial and liturgical role, particularly in relation to sacred time, the liturgical year, the divine efficacy and subsequent holy service; in a more general sense, its performance.
It is not possible to create an exhaustive list of religious texts, because there is no single definition of which texts are recognized as religious.
- 1 History of religious texts
- 2 Associated terminology
- 3 Sacred texts of various religions
- 4 References
- 5 External links
History of religious texts
One of the oldest known religious texts is the Kesh Temple Hymn of Ancient Sumer, a set of inscribed clay tablets which scholars typically date around 2600 BCE. The Epic of Gilgamesh from Sumer, although only considered by some scholars as a religious text, has origins as early as 2150-2000 BCE, and stands as one of the earliest literary works that includes various mythological figures and themes of interaction with the divine. The Rig Veda of ancient Hinduism is estimated to have been composed between 1700–1100 BCE, which not only denotes it as one of the oldest known religious texts, but also one of the oldest written religious text which is still actively used in religious practice to this day, though no actual evidence of this text exists prior to the 13th century AD.
There are many possible dates given to the first writings which can be connected to Talmudic and Biblical traditions, the earliest of which is found in scribal documentation of the 8th century BCE, followed by administrative documentation from temples of the 5th and 6th centuries BCE, with another common date being the 2nd century BCE. Although a significant text in the history of religious text because of its widespread use among religious denominations and its continued use throughout history, the texts of the Abrahamic traditions are a good example of the lack of certainty surrounding dates and definitions of religious texts.
High rates of mass production and distribution of religious texts did not begin until the invention of the printing press in 1440, before which all religious texts were hand written copies, of which there were relatively limited quantities in circulation.
A religious canon refers to the generally accepted, uniform, and often unchanging collection of texts which a religious denomination considers comprehensive in terms of their specific application of texts. For example, the content of a Protestant Bible may differ from the content of a Catholic Bible - insofar as the Protestant Old Testament does not include the Deuterocanonical books while the Roman Catholic canon does. Protestants and Catholics use the same 27 book NT canon, as well as the same 39 book OT protocanon, also shared by Jews.
The word "canon" comes from the Sumerian word meaning "standard".
The terms "scripture" and variations such as "Holy Writ", "Holy Scripture" or "Sacred Scripture" are defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as terms which specifically apply to Biblical text and the Christian tradition.[need quotation to verify]
Sacred texts of various religions
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The following is an in-exhaustive list of links to specific religious texts which may be used for further, more in-depth study.
- Pyramid Texts
- Coffin Texts
- Book of the Dead
- Book of Caverns
- Book of Gates
- Book of the Heavenly Cow
- Litany of Re
- Atenism: Great Hymn to the Aten
- Ancient Greece
- The Evangelion (Greek: Εὐαγγέλιον, meaning roughly "good news"). Also known as the Gospel of Mani and The Living Gospel
- the Treasure of Life
- the Pragmateia (Greek: πραγματεία)
- the Book of Mysteries
- The Book of Giants
- the Epistles
- Manichaean Psalter
- The Shabuhragan
- The Arzhang
- The Kephalaia (Greek: Κεφάλαια), "Discourses", found in Coptic translation.
- Bön (Tibetan folk religion): Bon Kangyur and Tengyur
- Old Norse Paganism: Edda
- Kiratism: The Mundhum of the Limbu ethnic group
- The Samaritan Torah
- Primary religious texts, that is, the Avesta collection:
- The Yasna, the primary liturgical collection, includes the Gathas.
- The Visperad, a collection of supplements to the Yasna.
- The Yashts, hymns in honor of the divinities.
- The Vendidad, describes the various forms of evil spirits and ways to confound them.
- shorter texts and prayers, the Yashts the five Nyaishes ("worship, praise"), the Sirozeh and the Afringans (blessings).
- There are some 60 secondary religious texts, none of which are considered scripture. The most important of these are:
- The Denkard (middle Persian, 'Acts of Religion'),
- The Bundahishn, (middle Persian, 'Primordial Creation')
- The Menog-i Khrad, (middle Persian, 'Spirit of Wisdom')
- The Arda Viraf Namak (middle Persian, 'The Book of Arda Viraf')
- The Sad-dar (modern Persian, 'Hundred Doors', or 'Hundred Chapters')
- The Rivayats, 15th-18th century correspondence on religious issues
- For general use by the laity:
- The true core texts of the Yazidi religion that exist today are the hymns, known as qawls. Spurious examples of so-called "Yazidi religious texts" include the Yazidi Black Book and the Yazidi Book of Revelation, which were forged in the early 20th century
- Rasa'il al-hikmah (Epistles of Wisdom)
- The Four Vedas
- Samhitas (Mantras, Prayers)
- Brahmanas (Commentaries, Instructions)
- Aranyakas (Meditation, Rituals)
- Upanishads (Essence, Wisdom)
- Puranas (List)
- Sutras (List)
- Ashtavakra Gita
- Gherand Samhita
- Gita Govinda
- Hatha Yoga Pradipika
- Yoga Vasistha
- In Vedanta (Uttar Mimamsa)
- In Yoga
- In Samkhya
- Samkhya Sutras of Kapila
- In Nyaya
- Nyāya Sūtras of Gautama
- In Vaisheshika
- Vaisheshika Sutras of Kanada
- In Vaishnavism
- Vaikhanasa Samhitas
- Pancaratra Samhitas
- In Saktism
- Sakta Tantras
- Pashupata Sutras of Lakulish
- Panchartha-bhashya of Kaundinya (a commentary on the Pashupata Sutras)
- Ratnatika of Bhasarvajna
- In Lingayatism
- Siddhanta Shikhamani
- Vachana sahitya
- Mantra Gopya
- Shoonya Sampadane
- 28 Agamas
- Karana Hasuge
- Basava purana
- In Kabir Panth
- poems of Kabir
- In Dadu Panth
- poems of Dadu
- 11 Angas
- 12 Upangas, 4 Mula-sutras, 6 Cheda-sutras, 2 Culika-sutras, 10 Prakirnakas
- Karmaprabhrita, also called Satkhandagama
- Jina Vijaya
- Tattvartha Sutra
- GandhaHasti Mahabhashya (authoritative and oldest commentary on the Tattvartha Sutra)
- Theravada Buddhism
- The Tipitaka or Pāli Canon
- East Asian Mahayana
- The Chinese Buddhist Mahayana sutras, including
- The Bible (the Old Testament and the New Testament). The Apostolic churches (Catholicism and Orthodoxy) also include the Deuterocanonicals.
- The Liturgical books. Almost each Denomination has its own Worship or Service Books within their Church. These books are also considered religious texts.
- For Catholicism, this includes seven deuterocanonical books in the Old Testament for a total of 73 books, called the Canon of Trent (in versions of the Latin Vulgate, 3 Esdras, 4 Esdras, and the Prayer of Manasseh are included in an appendix, but considered non-canonical).
- Catholic Liturgical books
- Books of the Clergy
- The Roman Missal (The Pope, Archbishops, Bishops, Priests and Deacons editions)
- The Book of the Gospels (Evangeliary/Evangelion)
- The Lectionary
- Sacramentary (For Bishops and Priests)
- Pontifical (For Bishops)
- Cæremoniale Episcoporum (For Bishops)
- Breviary (Hours/Divine Office)
- Gradual (Roman Gradual, Antiphonal, Cantatory and Mass Choir Books)
- Liber Usualis (Book of Common Use/Gregorian Chants)
- Roman Ritual (Baptism, Benedictions, Blessings, Burials, Exorcisms, etc.)
- Roman Martyrology (Saints/The Blessed)
- Books of Church attendants:
- Missal (Pew Cyclical editions)
- Missalette (Pew Seasonal editions)
- Hymnal (Pew hymnbook editions)
- Books of the Clergy
- For Nestorianism, This includes most of the Deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament which are found in the Peshitta (The Syriac Version of the Bible). The New Testament in modern versions contain the 5 diputed books (2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, and Revelation) that were originally excluded.
- For Oriental Orthodoxy, this includes the Narrower Canon and the Broader Canon which contains the entire Catholic deuterocanon, The Prayer of Manasseh, 3 Ezra, 4 Ezra, and The Book of Josippon. The New Testament contains the Sinodos, The Book of the Covenant, Clement, and the Didascalia.
- The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (and its offspring, the Eritrean Orthodox Church) adds various books but always contains the Prayer of Manasseh, 3 Esdras, 4 Esdras and The Book of Josippon. These are the Book of Jubilees, Book of Enoch, 1 Baruch, 4 Baruch, as well as 1, 2, and 3 Meqabyan (no relation to the Books of Maccabees).
- For Eastern Orthodoxy, this includes the anagignoskomena, which consist of the Catholic deuterocanon, plus 3 Maccabees, Psalm 151, the Prayer of Manasseh, and 3 Esdras. 4 Maccabees is considered to be canonical by the Georgian Orthodox Church.
- Some Syrian Churches, regardless of whether they are Eastern Catholic, Nestorian, Oriental or Eastern Orthodox accept the Letter of Baruch as scripture.
- For Protestantism, this is the 66-book canon - the Jewish Tanakh of 24 books divided differently (into 39 books) and the universal 27-book New Testament. Some denominations also include the 15 books of the Apocrypha between the Old Testament and the New Testament, for a total of 81 books.
- Protestant Liturgical books
- Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book (ELHB) 1912
- The Lutheran Hymnal (TLH) 1941
- Lutheran Book of Prayer (LBP) 1941
- Lutheran Service Book and Hymnal (SBH) 1958
- Lutheran Book of Worship (LBW) 1978
- Lutheran Worship (LW) 1982
- Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW) 2006
- Lutheran Service Book (LSB) 2006
- Numerous Hymn, Service and Guide books (Varies by Church)
- Baptist Hymnal
- Numerous Hymn, Service and Guide books (Varies by Church)
- The Sunday Service of the Methodists
- Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965)
- The Book of Hymns
- The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Church)
- The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992) (United Methodist Church)
- Book of Discipline (United Methodist) (John Wesley-1784, United Methodist Church-2016)
- Numerous Hymn, Service and Guide books (Varies by Church)
- The Bible
- Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. This textbook, along with the Bible, serves as the permanent "impersonal pastor" of the church.
- Nag Hammadi library and other Gnostic texts (not from the Bible)
- Some books of the Old Testament and New Testament
- Only the Gospel of Marcion and selected Pauline epistles accepted
- The Bible
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) uses the LDS edition of the King James Bible for English-speaking members; other versions are used in non-English speaking countries.
- The Community of Christ (RLDS) uses the Joseph Smith Translation, which it calls the Inspired Version, as well as updated modern translations.
- The Book of Mormon
- The Pearl of Great Price is authoritative in the LDS Church, rejected by Community of Christ.
- The Doctrine and Covenants
- There are significant differences in content and section numbering between the Doctrine and Covenants used by the Community of Christ (RLDS) and the LDS Church.
- Other, smaller branches of Latter Day Saints include other scriptures, such as the Book of the Law of the Lord used by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite) or The Word of the Lord used by Fettingite branches.
- The Bible
- The writings of Ellen White are held to an elevated status, though not equal with the Bible, as she is considered to have been an inspired prophetess.
- The Quran (also referred to as Kuran, Koran, Qur’ān, Coran or al-Qur’ān) – Four books considered to be revealed and mentioned by name in the Qur'an are the Quran (revealed to Muhammad), Tawrat (revealed to Musa), the Zabur (revealed to Dawud) and the Injil (revealed to Isa)
- Hadith Books
- More Hadith Books
- Books on biography of Prophet Muhammad
There are thousand of book written about the biography of Prophet Muhammad. Mentioning all of them are very difficult. So, some of the most authentic and famous Books on biography of Muhammad will mention.
- Al-Sira Al-Nabawiyya.
- The Making of the last prophet by Ibn Ishaq
- The Life of Prophet Muhammad by Ibn Ishaq
- Sira Manzuma.
- al-Mawahib al-Ladunniya.
- al-Zurqani 'ala al-Mawahib.
- Sirah al-Halabiyya.
- I`lam al-Nubuwwa.
- Madarij al-Nubuwwa.
- Shawahid al-Nubuwwa.
- Nur al-Safir.
- Sharh al-Mawahib al-laduniyya.
- al-Durar fi ikhtisar al-maghazi was-siyar.
- Ashraf al-wasa'il ila faham al-Shama'il.
- Ghayat al-sul fi Khasa'is al-Rasul.
- Ithbat al-Nubuwwa.
- Nihaya al-Sul fi Khasa'is al-Rasul.
- Al Khasais-ul-Kubra, al-Khasa'is al-Sughra and Shama'il al-Sharifa.
- al-Durra al-Mudiyya.
- The Tanakh i.e. Hebrew Bible
- The Talmud
- Early texts:
- Foundational texts of various Hasidic sects:
- The Tanakh
- Aztec religion
- The Borgia Group codices
- Maya religion
New religious movements
- The writings of Franklin Albert Jones a.k.a. Adi Da Love-Ananda Samraj
- The Companions of the True Dawn Horse
- The Dawn Horse Testament
- The Heart of the Adi Dam Revelation
- Not-Two IS Peace
- Transcendental Realism
- Aetherius Society
- The Nine Freedoms
- Kinh Thiên Đạo Và Thế Đạo (Prayers of the Heavenly and the Earthly Way)
- Pháp Chánh Truyền (The Religious Constitution of Caodaism)
- Tân Luật (The Canonical Codes)
- Thánh Ngôn Hiệp Tuyển (Compilation of Divine Messages)
- Creativity Movement: The writings of Ben Klassen
- Nature's Eternal Religion
- White Man's Bible
- Salubrious Living
- Raëlism: The writings of Raël aka Claude Vorilhon
- Rastafari movement
- Unarius Academy of Science
- The Pulse of Creation Series
- The Infinite Concept of Cosmic Creation
- Kramer, Samuel (1942). "The Oldest Literary Catalogue: A Sumerian List of Literary Compositions Compiled about 2000 B.C.". Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research. 88: 10–19.
- Sanders, Seth (2002). "Old Light on Moses' Shining Face". Vetus Testamentum. 52: 400–406 – via EbscoHost.
- Enheduanna; Meador, Betty De Shong (2009-08-01). Princess, priestess, poet: the Sumerian temple hymns of Enheduanna. University of Texas Press. ISBN 9780292719323.
- George, Andrew (2002-12-31). The Epic of Gilgamesh: The Babylonian Epic Poem and Other Texts in Akkadian and Sumerian. Penguin. ISBN 9780140449198.
- "The Yahwist". Contradictions in the Bible. 2012-12-23. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
- Jaffee, Martin S. (2001-04-19). Torah in the Mouth: Writing and Oral Tradition in Palestinian Judaism 200 BCE-400 CE. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198032236.
- "The History Guide". www.historyguide.org. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
- Ulrich, Eugene (2002). "The Notion and Definition of Canon". The Canon Debate. pp. 21–35.
- "scripture - definition of scripture in English | Oxford Dictionaries". Oxford Dictionaries | English. Retrieved 2016-12-06.
- Eastern Orthodox also generally divide Baruch and Letter of Jeremiah into two books instead of one. The enumeration of the Books of Ezra is different in many Orthodox Bibles, as it is in all others: see Wikipedia's article on the naming conventions of the Books of Esdras.
- "Caodaism In A Nutshell".
- chondogyo.or.kr Archived February 18, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
- "Sacred Scripture (Kyoten) - KONKOKYO".
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