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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 are texts related to a religious tradition. They differ from literary texts by being a compilation or discussion of beliefs, mythologies, ritual practices, commandments or laws, ethical conduct, spiritual aspirations and by creating or fostering a religious community.JOURNAL, Charles Elster, Authority, Performance, and Interpretation in Religious Reading: Critical Issues of Intercultural Communication and Multiple Literacies, Journal of Literacy Research, 35, 1, 2003, 667-670, , Quote: "religious texts serve two important regulatory functions: on the group level, they regulate liturgical ritual and systems of law; at the individual level, they (seek to) regulate ethical conduct and direct spiritual aspirations."JOURNAL, The Sociolinguistics of Translating Canonical Religious Texts, Eugene Nida, 1994, TTR: traduction, terminologie, rédaction, 7, 1, 195–197, Érudit: Université de Montréal, , Quote: "The phrase "religious texts" may be understood in two quite different senses: (1) texts that discuss historical or present-day religious beliefs and practices of a believing community and (2) texts that are crucial in giving rise to a believing community."JOURNAL, Ricoeur, Paul, Philosophy and Religious Language, The Journal of Religion, University of Chicago Press, 54, 1, 1974, 10.1086/486374, 71–85, The relative authority of religious texts develops over time and is derived from the ratification, enforcement, and its use across generations. Some religious texts are accepted or categorized as canonical, some non-canonical, and others extracanonical, semi-canonical, deutero-canonical, pre-canonical or post-canonical.BOOK, Lee Martin McDonald, James H. Charlesworth, 'Noncanonical' Religious Texts in Early Judaism and Early Christianity,weblink 5 April 2012, A&C Black, 978-0-567-12419-7, 1–5, 18–19, 24–25, 32–34, A Scripture is a subset of religious texts considered to "especially authoritative",JOURNAL, Charles Elster, Authority, Performance, and Interpretation in Religious Reading: Critical Issues of Intercultural Communication and Multiple Literacies, Journal of Literacy Research, 35, 1, 2003, 669-670, BOOK, John Goldingay, Models for Scripture,weblink 2004, Clements Publishing Group, 978-1-894667-41-8, 183–190, revered and "holy writ",BOOK, Scripture, The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Encyclopaedia Britannica,weblink 2009, "sacred, canonical", or of "supreme authority, special status" to a religious community.BOOK, Wilfred Cantwell Smith, What is Scripture?: A Comparative Approach,weblink 1994, Fortress Press, 978-1-4514-2015-9, 12–14, BOOK, William A. Graham, Beyond the Written Word: Oral Aspects of Scripture in the History of Religion,weblink 1993, Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-44820-8, 44–46, The terms 'sacred text' and 'religious text' are not necessarily interchangeable in that some religious texts are believed to be sacred because of the belief in some theistic religions such as the Abrahamic religions that the text is divinely or supernaturally revealed or inspired, or in non-theistic religions such as some Indian religions they are considered to be the central tenets of their eternal Dharma. Many religious texts, in contrast, are simply narratives or discussions pertaining to the general themes, interpretations, practices, or important figures of the specific religion. In some religions (Islam), the scripture of supreme authority is well established (Quran). In others (Christianity), the canonical texts include a particular text (Bible) but is "an unsettled question", according to Eugene Nida. In yet others (Hinduism, Buddhism), there "has never been a definitive canon".JOURNAL, The Sociolinguistics of Translating Canonical Religious Texts, Eugene Nida, 1994, 7, 1, 194–195, JOURNAL, "Scripture" in India: Towards a Typology of the Word in Hindu Life, Thomas B. Coburn, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 52, 3, 1984, 435-459, Oxford University Press, 1464202, While the term Scripture is derived from the Latin scriptura, meaning "writing", most sacred scriptures of the world's major religions were originally a part of their oral tradition, and were "passed down through memorization from generation to generation until they were finally committed to writing", according to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.BOOK, William A. Graham, Beyond the Written Word: Oral Aspects of Scripture in the History of Religion,weblink 1993, Cambridge University Press, 978-0-521-44820-8, ix, 5–9, JOURNAL, The Influence of Oral Tradition Upon Exegesis and the Senses of Scripture, Carroll Stuhlmueller, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, 20, 3, 1958, 299-302, 43710550, Religious texts also serve a 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.{{cn|date=August 2019}}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.{{cn|date=August 2019}}

Etymology and nomenclature

The adjective "religious" is traceable to about 1200 CE, when it meant "devout, pious" from Anglo-French "religius", itself from the 12th-century Old French term "religious", Latin "religiosus" (from "religio", i.e. a faith, cult, mode of worship, reverence or fear of gods, divine service, related to monastic life). The earliest use of the term religious in the sense of "pertaining to religion" is from about 1530 CE, according to Douglas Harper.Douglas Harper (2017), Religious, Etymology Dictionary; For primary sources: See According to Peter Beal, the term scripture – derived from "scriptura" (Latin) – meant "writings [manuscripts] in general" prior to the medieval era, then became "reserved to denote the texts of the Old and New Testaments of the Bible".BOOK, Peter Beal, A Dictionary of English Manuscript Terminology: 1450 to 2000,weblink 2008, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-926544-2, 367, Beyond Christianity, according to the Oxford World Encyclopedia, the term "scripture" has referred to a text accepted to contain the "sacred writings of a religion",BOOK, The World Encyclopedia,weblink 2004, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-954609-1, while The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions states it refers to a text "having [religious] authority and often collected into an accepted canon".BOOK, John Bowker, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions,weblink 2000, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-280094-7, Some religious texts are categorized as canonical, some non-canonical, and others extracanonical, semi-canonical, deutero-canonical, pre-canonical or post-canonical. The term "canon" is derived from the Greek word "kανών", "a cane used as a measuring instrument". It connotes the sense of "measure, standard, norm, rule". In the modern usage, a religious canon refers to a "catalogue of sacred scriptures" that is broadly accepted to "contain and agree with the rule or canon of a particular faith", states Juan Widow.BOOK, Juan Carlos Ossandón Widow, The Origins of the Canon of the Hebrew Bible,weblink 2018, BRILL Academic, 978-90-04-38161-2, 22–27, The related terms such as "non-canonical", "extracanonical", "deuterocanonical" and others presume and are derived from "canon". These derived terms differentiate a corpus of religious texts from the "canonical" literature. At its root, this differentiation reflects the sects and conflicts that developed and branched off over time, the competitive "acceptance" of a common minimum over time and the "rejection" of interpretations, beliefs, rules or practices by one group of another related socio-religious group.BOOK, Gerbern Oegema, Lee Martin McDonald and James H. Charlesworth, 'Noncanonical' Religious Texts in Early Judaism and Early Christianity,weblink 2012, A&C Black, 978-0-567-12419-7, 18–23 with footnotes, The earliest reference to the term "canon" in the context of "a collection of sacred Scripture" is traceable to the 4th-century CE. The early references, such as the Synod of Laodicea mention both the terms "canonical" and "non-canonical" in the context of religious texts.BOOK, Edmon L. Gallagher, John D. Meade, The Biblical Canon Lists from Early Christianity: Texts and Analysis,weblink 2017, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-879249-9, xii–xiii,

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 BCE,BOOK, Stephanie Dalley, Myths from Mesopotamia: Creation, The Flood, Gilgamesh, and Others,weblink 2000, Oxford University Press, 978-0-19-953836-2, 41–45, 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’’ – a scripture of Hinduism – is dated to between 1500–1200 BCE. It is one of the oldest known complete religious texts that has survived into the modern age.Sagarika Dutt (2006). India in a Globalized World. Manchester University Press. p. 36. {{ISBN|978-1-84779-607-3}}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.

Sacred texts of various religions

{{Unreferenced section|date=March 2012}}{{cleanup-section|reason=unreferenced listcruft|date=May 2019}}{{split-section|date=May 2019}}The following is an in-exhaustive list of links to specific religious texts which may be used for further, more in-depth study.

Bronze Age

Ancient Egyptian religion
File:Hieroglyph Text from Teti I pyramid.jpg|thumb|Pyramid textsPyramid texts

Classical antiquity

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]]
  • Mandaeanism
    • 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
  • Manichaeism
    • 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.

Ancient China

Ethnic religions


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.


  • 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: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: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


  • 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)


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


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



{{Further|Biblical canon|Christian biblical canons|Books of the Bible}}File:Bible.malmesbury.arp.jpg|thumb|Christian BibleBible
The Liturgical books. Many denominations each have their own Worship or Service Books within their Church. These books may also considered religious texts.

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.


File:IslamicGalleryBritishMuseum3.jpg|thumb|11th Century North African Qur'an in the British MuseumBritish Museum There are thousands of books 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.

Pre-Columbian Americas

New religious movements

{{see|New religious movements}}
  • 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
  • Caodaism
    • 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,
  • Cheondoism
    • The Donghak Scripture
    • The Songs of Yongdam
    • The Sermons of Master Haeweol
    • The Sermons of Revered Teacher {{webarchive |url= |date=February 18, 2005 }}
  • Konkokyo
    • Oshirase-Goto Obobe-Chō
    • Konko Daijin Oboegaki
    • Gorikai I
    • Gorikai II
    • Gorikai IIIWEB,weblink Sacred Scripture (Kyoten) - KONKOKYO,
  • (Oahspe: A New Bible|Oahspe Faithism)
    • (Oahspe: A New Bible)



External links

{{Commons category|Religious texts}} {{-}}{{religion topics}}{{History of religions}}{{religious books}}

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