Sacred Texts in World Religions
Some sacred texts form the cornerstone of a religion, instilling law, character and spirituality in its people; some are narratives of historical figures in the faith. A text might be viewed as the unchanging “Word of God;” other texts are revised and expanded by later generations. Texts can be literal, or metaphorical, or both. This guide shows you how to find online versions, commentary and historical context of scriptures for Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism.
The Buddhist canon consists of the Sutras: the words and teachings of the Buddha. There are also a ... read more »
Christianity combines the Jewish Old Testament with the New Testament to form the Christian Bible, which followers refer to as the Holy Scriptures. There are many noncanonical texts in the Christian religion as well. Protestants believe in the preeminence of the Holy Scriptures, as the Reformation was a return to the early days of Christianity prior to the policies and creeds developed by the Catholic Church hierarchy.
- The New Testaments for Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox are the same. However, the Old Testaments differ: Catholics and Orthodox use more books from the Old Testament than the Protestants do; the Catholic and Orthodox Bibles, unlike Protestant Bibles, are based on the “Septuagint” (explained in the links below).
To learn about the Bible …
The University of Notre Dame
Web site offers an outline of the history of the written Jewish and Christian Bibles, and explains the reasons behind the differing versions of the Bible used by Catholics and Protestants.
The Christian Bible Reference Site
is a nonsectarian site with a section that provides a “Summary of the Bible,” covering the New and Old Testaments and their respective books in simple terms. It also features Bible quizzes, and an alphabetical index
of questions, Bible stories and the Bible’s stance on controversial issues such as abortion and war.
For Christian holy texts …
is a powerful reference tool that gives you access to many versions of the holy texts in several languages. The quick search tool can help you find a specific passage or search for verses on a certain theme. Use the more advanced options, such as “Passage Lookup
,” to restrict your search to specific Bible versions or books.
is an educational site for Bible study. Browse and search an online version of the Bible, then explore the articles available on the site, covering all aspects of the text. This site also hosts forums
, separated into groups for men, women and pastors, that offer ideas for Christian ministry, guidance through personal crises and discussion boards.
The Holy See
is the first stop for the official versions of fundamental Catholic texts such as the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Documents of the II Vatican Council.
For Christian writings …
Christian Classics Ethereal Library
has a substantial online archive of Christian writings. Go to the “Browse Library” section on the right side of the page to search by author, title, language and more.
For Mormon texts …
allows you to read or listen to audio of Mormon Scriptures on its site. Read or listen to the Old Testament, New Testament, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
The Vedas, or “Books of Knowledge,” are the foremost sacred texts in Hinduism. These ... read more »
As the third of the Abrahamic religions, Muslims respect the Old and New Testaments, and consider ... read more »
Judaism is the oldest of the Abrahamic religions, and its primary sacred text is the Tanach, or the ... read more »
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