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religious text
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{{short description|Texts which religious traditions consider to be central to their practice or beliefs}}{{redirect|Sacred Texts|the web site|Internet Sacred Text Archive}}File:Codex Vaticanus B, 2Thess. 3,11-18, Hebr. 1,1-2,2.jpg|thumb|The Septuagint: A page from Codex VaticanusCodex VaticanusReligious 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.

History of religious texts

{{See also|History of religions|Timeline of religion|History of writing}}One of the oldest known religious texts is the Kesh Temple Hymn of Ancient Sumer,JOURNAL, 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, JOURNAL, Sanders, Seth, 2002, Old Light on Moses' Shining Face, Vetus Testamentum, 52, 400–406, EbscoHost, a set of inscribed clay tablets which scholars typically date around 2600 BCE.BOOK,weblink Princess, priestess, poet: the Sumerian temple hymns of Enheduanna, Enheduanna, Meador, Betty De Shong, 2009-08-01, University of Texas Press, 9780292719323, en, 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.BOOK,weblink The Epic of Gilgamesh: The Babylonian Epic Poem and Other Texts in Akkadian and Sumerian, George, Andrew, 2002-12-31, Penguin, 9780140449198, en, 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,NEWS,weblink The Yahwist, 2012-12-23, Contradictions in the Bible, en-US, 2016-12-06, followed by administrative documentation from temples of the 5th and 6th centuries BCE,BOOK,weblink Torah in the Mouth: Writing and Oral Tradition in Palestinian Judaism 200 BCE-400 CE, Jaffee, Martin S., 2001-04-19, Oxford University Press, 9780198032236, en, 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,WEB,weblink The History Guide,, 2016-12-06, before which all religious texts were hand written copies, of which there were relatively limited quantities in circulation.

Associated terminology

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".BOOK, The Canon Debate, Ulrich, Eugene, 2002, 21–35, The Notion and Definition of Canon, 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.WEB,weblink scripture - definition of scripture in English {{!, Oxford Dictionaries|website= Oxford Dictionaries {{!}} English|access-date= 2016-12-06}}{{qn|date=January 2017}}Hierographology (Ancient Greek: ἱερός, hieros, "sacred" or "holy"; γραφή, graphe, "writing"; λόγος, logos, "word" or "reason") (archaically also 'hierology') is the study of sacred texts.

Sacred texts of various religions

{{Unreferenced section|date=March 2012}}The following is an in-exhaustive list of links to specific religious texts which may be used for further, more in-depth study.

The ACIM Movement


  • The writings of Franklin Albert Jones a.k.a. Adi Da Love-Ananda Samraj
    • Aletheon
    • The Companions of the True Dawn Horse
    • The Dawn Horse Testament
    • Gnosticon
    • The Heart of the Adi Dam Revelation
    • Not-Two IS Peace
    • Pneumaton
    • Transcendental Realism

Aetherius Society

  • The Nine Freedoms




Aztec religion

Bahá'í Faith

Books by Bahá'u'lláh


  • Bon Kangyur and Tengyur


File:Tipitaka scripture.jpg|thumb|Ancient style of scripture used for the Pāli CanonPāli Canon{{see also|Buddhist texts}}
Theravada Buddhism

East Asian Mahayana
File:Jingangjing.jpg|thumb|The Chinese Diamond Sutra, the oldest known dated printed book in the world, printed in the 9th year of Xiantong Era of the Tang Dynasty, or 868 CE. British LibraryBritish Library

Tibetan Buddhism


  • 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)WEB,weblink Caodaism In A Nutshell,


  • The Donghak Scripture
  • The Songs of Yongdam
  • The Sermons of Master Haeweol
  • The Sermons of Revered Teacher {{webarchive |url= |date=February 18, 2005 }}


{{Further|Biblical canon|Christian biblical canons|Books of the Bible}}File:Bible.malmesbury.arp.jpg|thumb|Christian BibleBible
Traditional Christianity
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)

Christian Scientists
missing image!
- Bible and science and health.JPG -
right|The Bible (left) and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (right) serve as the pastor of the Christian Science church.


Jehovah's Witnesses

Latter Day Saint movement
{{Further|Standard Works|Biblical canon#Latter Day Saint canons}} File:The Book of Mormon- An Account Written by the Hand of Mormon upon Plates Taken from the Plates of Nephi.jpg|thumb|Cover page of The Book of Mormon from an original 1830 edition, by Joseph Smith, Jr.Joseph Smith, Jr.

Native American Church (Christian-leaning factions)
See below.
Rastafari movement
See below.
Seventh-day Adventists

See below.
Unification Church
See below.


Creativity Movement

  • The writings of Ben Klassen
    • Nature's Eternal Religion
    • White Man's Bible
    • Salubrious Living





Ancient Egyptian religion

File:Hieroglyph Text from Teti I pyramid.jpg|thumb|Pyramid textsPyramid texts
Old Kingdom

First Intermediate Period and Middle Kingdom

Second Intermediate Period

Etruscan religion

File:Cippo perugino, con iscrizione in lingua etrusca su un atto giuridico tra le famiglie dei velthina e degli afuna, 02.jpg|thumb|The Cippus of Perugia, 3rd or 2nd century BCE]]

Ancient Greece



File:Bhagavad Gita, a 19th century manuscript.jpg|thumb|The Bhagavad Gita is Lord Krishna's counsel to Arjuna on the battlefield of the KurukshetraKurukshetra

In Purva Mimamsa

In Vedanta (Uttar Mimamsa)

In Yoga

In Samkhya
  • Samkhya Sutras of Kapila

In Nyaya

In Vaisheshika
  • Vaisheshika Sutras of Kanada

In Vaishnavism
  • Vaikhanasa Samhitas
  • Pancaratra Samhitas
  • Divyaprabandha

In Saktism

In Kashmir Saivism

In Pashupata Shaivism
  • Pashupata Sutras of Lakulish
  • Panchartha-bhashya of Kaundinya (a commentary on the Pashupata Sutras)
  • Ganakarika
  • Ratnatika of Bhasarvajna

In Shaiva Siddhanta
  • 28 Saiva Agamas
  • Tirumurai (canon of 12 works)
  • Meykandar Shastras (canon of 14 works)

In Gaudiya Vaishnavism


In Lingayatism

In Kabir Panth

In Dadu Panth


File:IslamicGalleryBritishMuseum3.jpg|thumb|11th Century North African Qur'an in the British MuseumBritish Museum
  • The Quran (also referred to as {{Not a typo|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 (List_of_hadith_collections)


  • 11 Angas
    • Secondary
      • 12 Upangas, 4 Mula-sutras, 6 Cheda-sutras, 2 Culika-sutras, 10 Prakirnakas


  • Jina Vijaya
  • Tattvartha Sutra
  • GandhaHasti Mahabhashya (authoritative and oldest commentary on the Tattvartha Sutra)


  • Aionomica
  • Rammahgon


File:Torah and jad.jpg|thumb|A Sefer Torah opened for liturgical use in a synagoguesynagogue
Rabbinic Judaism
See also: Rabbinic literature

  • (Kabbalah: Primary texts)
  • Zohar


Karaite Judaism



Each four Kirati people have their own Scripture.
  • The Mundhum of the Limbu ethnic group


  • Konkokyo Kyōten (Sacred Scriptures of Konkokyo)
    • Oshirase-Goto Obobe-Chō
    • Konko Daijin Oboegaki
    • Gorikai I
    • Gorikai II
    • Gorikai IIIWEB,weblink Sacred Scripture (Kyoten) - KONKOKYO,


  • The Ginza Rba
  • Book of the Zodiac
  • Qolusta, Canonical Prayerbook
  • Book of John the Baptizer
  • Diwan Abatur, Purgatories
  • 1012 Questions
  • Coronation of Shislam Rba
  • Baptism of Hibil Ziwa
  • Haran Gawaita


  • 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.

Maya religion

Meher Baba

Native American Church

  • The Bible (among Christian-leaning factions only)

(Oahspe: A New Bible|Oahspe Faithism)

  • (Oahspe: A New Bible)




Rastafari movement



{{See also|Samaritans#Religious texts}}

LaVeyan Satanism

Non-LaVeyan Satanists may not use any specific holy book.

Science of Mind




File:Sri Guru Granth Sahib Nishan.jpg|thumb|Illuminated Guru Granth folio with Mul Mantar(basic religion mantra) with signature of Guru Gobind SinghGuru Gobind Singh




The New Church

The General Church




Unarius Academy of Science

  • The Pulse of Creation Series
    • The Voice of Venus
    • The Voice of Eros
    • The Voice of Orion
    • The Voice of Hermes
    • The Voice of Muse, Unarius, & Elysium
  • The Infinite Concept of Cosmic Creation

Unification Church





  • 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



File:Bodleian J2 fol 175 Y 28 1.jpg|thumb|''YasnaYasna
  • 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 Zend (lit. commentaries), various commentaries on and translations of the Avesta.
    • The Khordeh Avesta, Zoroastrian prayer book for lay people from the Avesta.



External links

{{religion topics}}{{History of religions}}{{religious books}}

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