Hunter's World Religions Page

Sacred Texts:

This semester in World Religions we have studied many different religions, and just about all of the different components to each religion. The religion that I have studied the most this semester were sacred/holy texts. All of the 5 major religions (Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and Judaism) all have different religious texts, yet some are very similar. Some of the non-mainstream religions also have religious texts, but some do not. Some of these non-mainstream religions either have the same texts as the mainstream religions, and some have none at all. The religions with no sacred/holy texts usually have oral traditions, and stories that have been passed down from ancestors, and these stories serve as their "texts". Mostly the sacred texts are made up of stories, that teach lessons, and rules or guidelines. The rules and guidelines serve as the restrictions that the followers must follow in order to be a true follower.
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Buddhist sacred texts are commonly divided into the categories of canonical and non-canonical.
Tripitaka (Pali Canon) - the Tripitaka is the earliest collection of Buddhist teachings and the only text recognized as canonical.
The categorization of these texts is not universally accepted; there will always be texts that go into both categories.
Zen Buddhists reject all scriptures and see them as an ineffective path to enlightenment.

Buddhism is not like most of the other main religions, it doesn't have a main religious text. Buddhists follow many different religious texts, or scriptures, and most are thought of as the actual words of Buddha.

Differently from Buddhism, Christianity has one, and only one sacred text. This sacred/holy text is known as The Bible. The Bible itself has two different parts to it: the Old Testament and the New Testament. Many different divisions of Christianity use the one part more then the other, so over time it has been debated which book should be used more.

It is said that the Christian Church borrowed the Old Testament from Judaism. People actually argued that Christianity did not need to know about the Jews, since Christianity believed that God had rejected them and replaced them with the Christians. But the dominant position was the reply that Christianity needed to know about God's work on earth prior to Jesus, and that information was contained in the Old Testament. The Old Testament is about the Jews, so this somewhat brings Judaism and Christianity closer together and tie them together; it is somewhat like Christianity evolved from Judaism. This is also another reason why it is debated on which part of the Bible should be more dominant.

It took several centuries for a canon of the New Testament to be agreed upon. Part of the problem was that during the first few centuries, there was not unified Christianity, but instead many different versions and theologies of Christianity in cities across the Mediterranean world. Over the next few centuries there were four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John), Acts, the 14 letters of Paul (including Hebrews), letters by the other early apostles such as John, Peter and Jude, and Revelation. All of these became parts of the New Testament, and all of the different forms of Christianity would eventually adopt the New Testament.


There are two main sacred texts in Islam: The Qur'an (Koran) and the Hadith (Hadeeth).

The Qur'an is the primary and most sacred text in the Islamic religion. The Qur'an is believed to be the literal word of God as revealed to Muhammad.The Qur'an is required reading for anyone who wants to understand Islam. Qur'an means "The Recital" in Arabic. the Qur'an is also the highest authourity in both religous and legal matters.

The Hadith is Islamic tradition: it is a record of the words and dees of the Prophet, his family and his companions.The Hadith is an important sourcre of doctrine, law and practice. It is revered in Islam as a major source of religous law and moral guidance.

There are a few sacred texts in Hinduism, and they are the Vedas, Bhagavad Gita, the Ramayana, and the Upanishads. Unlike most religions there are many sacred texts, and unlike Buddhism these texts are all important, with different teachings. Many of the Hindu texts are stories, poems or myths.

The Vedas are the most ancient religious texts, these define truth for the Hindus. Hindus believe that the texts were received by scholars direct from God and passed on to the next generation by word of mouth. These texts are sometimes called Shruti. Shruti means hearing, and all of this time the religion was passed on orally from generation to generation. There are four vedas: Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda
- Rig-Veda (Royal Veda): mythology
- Yajur-Veda: Sacrifices to gods
- Sama-Veda: Chants for worship
- Atharva-Veda: Magic spells, healing the sick
There are four compostitions that make up the Vedas (Samhitas, the Brahmanas, the Aranyakas, and the Upanishads). The Samhitas are the most ancient part of the Vedas, consisting of hymns of praise to God. The Brahmanas are rituals and prayers to guide the priests in their duties. The Aranyakas concern worship and meditation. The Upanishads consist of the mystical and philospphical teachings of hinduism.

The Bhagavad Gita is also known as the "song of the Lord", and it is the world's largest poem. In the poem Krishna says that knowledge, work and devotion are all parths to salvation.

The Ramayana is one of India's best known tales. It is a story, and one of the most important Hindu myths.

The Jewish sacred texts consist of the same books as the Christian Old Testament, known as the Jewish Bible or the Hewbrew Scriptures.

The Torah is the most holy sacred text/writings in the Jewish religion. There are 5 books of the Torah: Genesis (creation), Exodus (departure), Leviticus (the regulations that apply to their presence and service in the Temple), Numbers (contains a record of numbering of the Isrealites in the wilderness os Sinai and later on the plain of Moab), and the Deuteronomy (Second Law).

There are also other texts that are used in Judaism. The Talmud is rabbinical writings that explain the Torah scriptures, and is also known ast the Oral Torah. The Midrash is a large body of rabbinical materials derived primarily from sermons, and contains legal and explanatory matter. and the Responsa are thousands of columes of answers to specific questions on Jewish law.

Greek Paganism:
Greek Paganism has no sacred texts which means that all of their taditions and stories are passed down orally. Most of the Greek Paganism stories are Myths.

Just like Greek Paganism, the Cherokee do not have sacred texts, and they also pass down stories orally, and they have many myths. In the Cherokee religion some followers use wampum belts to pass myths and stories. These belts are made from the Cherokee medicine man, and contain stories.

Just like the Cherokee and Greek Paganism, the followers of Santeria also have no sacred text and they also pass down stories orally.

For the followers of Scientology there is a Scientology handbook. This is used as their form of sacred text.

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