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, ... read more »
The Vedas, or “Books of Knowledge,” are the foremost sacred texts in Hinduism. These books, written from around 1200 BCE to 100 CE, began with four vedas, or mantras: Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda. These expanded over time to include Brahmanas, Aranyakas and Upanishads.
- There are two kinds of Hindu texts: sruti ("heard") or smruti ("remembered"). According to ReligionFacts, sruti are “considered divinely inspired and fully authoritative for belief and practice, while smruti are recognized as the products of the minds of the great sages.”
To learn about Hindu texts …
has a concise overview of the Hindu sacred texts, describing the Vedas, Upanishads, Samhitas, Bhagavad Gita and Ramayana.
To access Hindu texts and commentary …
The Internet Sacred Texts Archive
does a great job digitizing the sacred Hindu texts. Not every available interpretation and transcription is provided here, but you’ll find a variety of options. Look for English and Sanskrit versions of the Vedas, Upanishads and Puranas, in addition to the Mahabharata and Ramayana epics, some further texts and the Bhagavad Gita.
Celextel’s Online Spiritual Library
has English versions of the sacred Hindu texts. The graphic design isn’t the best, but the site is fairly user friendly: to access the material, just click on the text of your choice on the left sidebar.
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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