Everipedia Logo
Everipedia is now IQ.wiki - Join the IQ Brainlist and our Discord for early access to editing on the new platform and to participate in the beta testing.
Religious text

Religious text

Religious texts (also known as scripture, or scriptures, from the Latin scriptura, meaning "a writing") are texts which religious traditions consider to be central to their religious practice or set of 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

One of the oldest known religious texts is the Kesh Temple Hymn of Ancient Sumer, a set of inscribed clay tablets which scholars typically date around 2600 BCE. [undefined] 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. [undefined] 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.

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, [undefined] followed by administrative documentation from temples of the 5th and 6th centuries BCE, [undefined] with another common date being the 2nd century BCE. [undefined] 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, [undefined] 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".

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. [undefined]

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

The following is an in-exhaustive list of links to specific religious texts which may be used for further, more in-depth study.


  • 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


  • Havamal

  • Eddur


  • Omnidoxy


  • Great Hymn to the Aten


  • The Akilathirattu Ammanai

  • The Arul Nool

Aztec religion

  • The Borgia Group codices

Bahá'í Faith

Books by Bahá'u'lláh

  • The Four Valleys

  • The Seven Valleys

  • The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh

  • The Hidden Words of Bahá’u’lláh

  • Gems of Divine Mysteries

  • The Book of Certitude

  • Summons of the Lord of Hosts

  • Tabernacle of Unity

  • Kitáb-i-Aqdas

  • Tablets of Bahá’u’lláh Revealed After the Kitáb-i-Aqdas

  • Epistle to the Son of the Wolf

  • Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh


  • Bon Kangyur and Tengyur


Ancient style of scripture used for the Pāli Canon

Ancient style of scripture used for the Pāli Canon

  • The Tipitaka or Pāli Canon Vinaya Pitaka Sutta Pitaka Digha Nikaya, the "long" discourses. Majjhima Nikaya, the "middle-length" discourses. Samyutta Nikaya, the "connected" discourses. Anguttara Nikaya, the "numerical" discourses. Khuddaka Nikaya, the "minor collection". Abhidhamma Pitaka

East AsianMahayana
  • The Chinese Buddhist Mahayana sutras, including Diamond Sutra and the Heart Sutra Shurangama Sutra and its Shurangama Mantra Great Compassion Mantra Pure Land Buddhism Infinite Life Sutra Amitabha Sutra Contemplation Sutra other Pure Land Sutras Tiantai, Tendai, and Nichiren Lotus Sutra Shingon Mahavairocana Sutra Vajrasekhara Sutra

Tibetan Buddhism
  • Tibetan Kangyur and Tengyur


  • 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) [undefined]


  • The Donghak Scripture

  • The Songs of Yongdam

  • The Sermons of Master Haeweol

  • The Sermons of Revered Teacher Euiam [undefined]


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 Library.

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 Library.

Christian Bible, 1407 handwritten copy

Christian Bible, 1407 handwritten copy

Traditional Christianity
  • The Bible (the Old Testament and the New Testament). Some denominations also include the Apocrypha. For Protestantism , this is the 66-book canon - the Jewish Tanakh of 24 books divided differently (into 39 books) and the universal 27-book New Testament. Some denominations also include the 15 books of the Apocrypha between the Old Testament and the New Testament, for a total of 81 books. For Catholicism , this includes seven deuterocanonical books in the Old Testament for a total of 73 books, called the Canon of Trent (in versions of the Latin Vulgate, 3 Esdras and 4 Esdras are included in an appendix, but considered non-canonical). For the Eastern Orthodox Church , this includes the anagignoskomena , which consist of the Catholic deuterocanon, plus 3 Maccabees, Psalm 151, the Prayer of Manasseh, and 3 Esdras. 4 Maccabees is considered to be canonical by the Georgian Orthodox Church. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (and its offspring, the Eritrean Orthodox Church) adds various additional books depending on the specific enumeration of the canon (see Ethiopian Biblical canon), but always includes 4 Esdras, the Book of Jubilees, 1 Enoch, 4 Baruch, and 1, 2, and 3 Meqabyan (no relation to the Books of Maccabees). Some Syriac churches accept the Letter of Baruch as scripture.

Christian Scientists
  • The Bible

  • Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. This textbook, along with the Bible, serves as the permanent "impersonal pastor" of the church.

  • Nag Hammadi library and other Gnostic texts (not from the Bible)

  • Some books of the Old Testament and New Testament Cerdonianism and Marcionism

  • Only the Gospel of Marcion and selected Pauline epistles accepted

Jehovah's Witnesses
  • The Bible (The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures is their preferred translation.)

  • The Bible The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) uses the LDS edition of the King James Bible for English-speaking members; other versions are used in non-English speaking countries. The Community of Christ (RLDS) uses the Joseph Smith Translation, which it calls the Inspired Version, as well as updated modern translations.

  • The Book of Mormon

  • The Pearl of Great Price

  • The Doctrine and Covenants There are significant differences in content and section numbering between the Doctrine and Covenants used by the Community of Christ (RLDS) and the LDS Church.

  • Other, smaller branches of Latter Day Saints include other scriptures, such as the Book of the Law of the Lord used by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite) or The Word of the Lord used by Fettingite branches.

Native American Church(Christian-leaning factions)Seebelow.
Rastafari movementSeebelow.
  • The Bible

  • The writings of Ellen White are held to an elevated status, though not equal with the Bible, as she is considered to have been an inspired prophetess.

Unification ChurchSeebelow.
  • The Five Classics

  • The Four Books

  • The Thirteen Classics

  • The Three Commentaries


  • The Principia Discordia


  • The Mabinogion

  • Lebor Gabála Érenn


  • Rasa'il al-hikmah

Ancient Egyptian religion

Old Kingdom
  • Pyramid Texts

First Intermediate Period and Middle Kingdom
  • Coffin Texts

Second Intermediate Period
  • Book of the Dead

  • Book of Caverns

  • Book of Gates

  • Amduat

  • Book of the Heavenly Cow

  • Litany of Re

Etruscan religion

The Bible (left) and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (right) serve as the pastor of the Christian Science church.

The Bible (left) and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (right) serve as the pastor of the Christian Science church.

  • Liber Linteus

  • Pyrgi Tablets

  • Theogony

  • Homeric Hymns

  • Iliad and Odyssey

  • The golden verses of Pythagoras


  • Hermetica, Kybalion, Emerald Tablet and associated writings


Cover page of The Book of Mormon from an original 1830 edition, by Joseph Smith, Jr. (Image from the U.S. Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division.)

Cover page of The Book of Mormon from an original 1830 edition, by Joseph Smith, Jr. (Image from the U.S. Library of Congress Rare Book and Special Collections Division.)

  • Vedas Rig Veda Sama Veda Yajur Veda Atharva Veda

  • Brahmanas

  • Aranyakas

  • Upanishads

InPurva Mimamsa
  • Purva Mimamsa Sutras

InVedanta(Uttar Mimamsa)
  • Brahma Sutras of Vyasa

  • Yoga Sutras of Patanjali

  • Samkhya Sutras of Kapila

  • Nyāya Sūtras of Gautama

  • Vaisheshika Sutras of Kanada

  • Vaikhanasa Samhitas

  • Pancaratra Samhitas

  • Divyaprabandam

  • Sakta Tantras

InKashmir Saivism
  • 64 Bhairavagamas

  • 28 Shaiva Agamas

  • Shiva Sutras of Vasugupta

  • Vijnana Bhairava Tantra

InPashupata Shaivism
  • Pashupata Sutras of Lakulish

  • Panchartha-bhashya of Kaundinya (a commentary on the Pashupata Sutras)

  • Ganakarika

  • Ratnatika of Bhasarvajna

InShaiva Siddhanta
  • 28 Saiva Agamas

  • Tirumurai (canon of 12 works)

  • Meykandar Shastras (canon of 14 works)

InGaudiya Vaishnavism
  • Brahma Samhita

  • Jayadeva's Gita Govinda

  • Chaitanya Bhagavata

  • Chaitanya Charitamrita

  • Prema-bhakti-candrika

  • Hari-bhakti-vilasa

  • Siddhanta Shikhamani

  • Vachana sahitya

  • Mantra Gopya

  • Shoonya Sampadane

  • 28 Agamas

  • Karana Hasuge

  • Basava purana

InKabir Panth
  • poems of Kabir

InDadu Panth
  • poems of Dadu


Pyramid texts from Teti I's pyramid.

Pyramid texts from Teti I's pyramid.

  • The Quran (also referred to as 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, reports of the deeds and sayings of Muhammad.

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

  • Karmaprabhrita, also called Satkhandagama

  • Kashayaprabhrita

  • Jina Vijaya

  • Tattvartha Sutra

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


Rabbinic JudaismSee also:Rabbinic literature
  • Kabbalah: Primary texts

  • Zohar

  • Early texts: Noam Elimelech (Elimelech of Lizhensk) Kedushat Levi (Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev)

  • Foundational texts of various Hasidic sects: Likutei Moharan (Breslov) Me'or Einayim (Chernobyl) Mei Hashiloach (Izhbitza – Radzin) Tanya (Chabad) Vayoel Moshe (Satmar)

Karaite Judaism
  • The Tanakh with several Jewish apocrypha


  • Konkokyo Kyōten (Sacred Scriptures of Konkokyo) Oshirase-Goto Obobe-Chō Konko Daijin Oboegaki Gorikai I Gorikai II Gorikai III [undefined]


  • 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

  • the Psalms and Prayers.

  • A Coptic Manichaean Psalter, discovered in Egypt in the early 1900s, was edited and published by Charles Allberry from Manichaean manuscripts in the Chester Beatty collection and in the Berlin Academy, 1938–9.

  • The Shabuhragan

  • The Arzhang

  • The Kephalaia (Greek: Κεφάλαια), "Discourses", found in Coptic translation.

Maya religion

  • The Popol Vuh

  • the Dresden Codex

  • the Madrid Codex

  • the Paris Codex

  • countless destroyed codices

Meher Baba

  • God Speaks

  • Discourses

Native American Church

  • The Bible (among Christian-leaning factions only)

New Age religions

Various New Age religions may regard any of the following texts as inspired:

  • A Course in Miracles

  • Conversations with God

  • Oahspe

  • The Urantia Book

  • Isis Unveiled


  • Orphic Poems


  • The writings of Raël aka Claude Vorilhon Intelligent Design: Message from the Designers Sensual Meditation Yes to Human Cloning

Rastafari movement

  • The Bible (Ethiopian Orthodox canon)

  • the Holy Piby

  • the Kebra Nagast

  • The speeches and writings of Haile Selassie I (including his autobiography My Life and Ethiopia's Progress)

  • Royal Parchment Scroll of Black Supremacy


The Cippus of Perugia, 3rd or 2nd century BCE

The Cippus of Perugia, 3rd or 2nd century BCE

  • The Amritbani Guru Ravidass Ji


  • The Samaritan Torah


  • The Satanic Bible

  • The Satanic Rituals

Science of Mind

  • The Science of Mind

  • Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health

  • List of Scientology texts

  • The Kojiki

  • The Rikkokushi, which includes the Nihon Shoki and the Shoku Nihongi

  • The Fudoki

  • The Jinnō Shōtōki

  • The Kujiki


The Bhagavad Gita is Lord Krishna's counsel to Arjuna on the battlefield of the Kurukshetra.

The Bhagavad Gita is Lord Krishna's counsel to Arjuna on the battlefield of the Kurukshetra.

  • The Guru Granth Sahib

  • The Dasam Granth


  • The Spirits Book

  • The Book on Mediums

  • The Gospel According to Spiritism

  • Heaven and Hell

  • The Genesis According to Spiritism


  • The Barton Cylinder


The New Church
  • The Bible (several books omitted)

  • The works of Emanuel Swedenborg (not considered equal to the Bible)

TheGeneral Church
  • The Bible (several books omitted)

  • The works of Emanuel Swedenborg (considered equal to the Bible)

  • Tao Te Ching

  • Zhuangzi (book)

  • Daozang


  • The Ofudesaki

  • The Mikagura-uta

  • The Osashizu

Unarius Academy of Science

  • The Voice of Venus

Unification Church

  • The Divine Principle

  • The Bible as illuminated by more recent revelation


  • The Urantia Book


  • Book of Shadows

  • Charge of the Goddess

  • Threefold Law

  • Wiccan Rede


  • Kalâm-e Saranjâm


  • Yazidi Black Book

  • Yazidi Book of Revelation

  • The true core texts of the Yazidi religion that exist today are the hymns, known as qawls.


  • Odù Ifá

  • Jaap Verduijn's Odu Ifa Collection

11th Century North African Qur'an in the British Museum

11th Century North African Qur'an in the British Museum

  • 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


Citation Linken.wikipedia.orgThe original version of this page is from Wikipedia, you can edit the page right here on Everipedia.Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.Additional terms may apply.See everipedia.org/everipedia-termsfor further details.Images/media credited individually (click the icon for details).
Jul 17, 2016, 3:31 AM
Citation Linkholybooks.comReligious full text online library
Nov 29, 2017, 4:08 AM
Citation Linkancienttexts.orgAncient texts library
Nov 29, 2017, 4:08 AM
Citation Linksacred-texts.comInternet Sacred Text Archive
Nov 29, 2017, 4:08 AM
Citation Linkbooks.google.comThe Epic of Gilgamesh: The Babylonian Epic Poem and Other Texts in Akkadian and Sumerian
Nov 29, 2017, 4:08 AM
Citation Linkcontradictionsinthebible.com"The Yahwist"
Nov 29, 2017, 4:08 AM
Citation Linkbooks.google.comTorah in the Mouth: Writing and Oral Tradition in Palestinian Judaism 200 BCE-400 CE
Nov 29, 2017, 4:08 AM
Citation Linkhistoryguide.org"The History Guide"
Nov 29, 2017, 4:08 AM
Citation Linken.oxforddictionaries.com"scripture - definition of scripture in English | Oxford Dictionaries"
Nov 29, 2017, 4:08 AM
Citation Linkrelated.springerprotocols.comBiggs, Robert D., Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische, Archäologie, Volume 61 (2), de Gruyter – Jan 1, 1971 - Springerprotocols
Jul 17, 2016, 3:31 AM
Citation Linkbooks.google.comPrincess, priestess, poet: the Sumerian temple hymns of Enheduanna - Enheduanna, Betty De Shong Meador - Google Boeken
Jul 17, 2016, 3:31 AM
Citation Linkweb.archive.org1998 presentation
Jul 17, 2016, 3:31 AM
Citation Linkbooks.google.comThe Indo-Aryans of Ancient South Asia: Language, Material Culture and Ethnicity
Jul 17, 2016, 3:31 AM
Citation Linkbooks.google.comIranian Entomology: An Introduction, Volume 1
Jul 17, 2016, 3:31 AM
Citation Linkbooks.google.comMcDermott, John J., "Reading the Pentateuch: a historical introduction" (Pauline Press, 2002)p.21
Jul 17, 2016, 3:31 AM
Citation Linkwww.biblicalstudies.org.ukPentateuchal Studies Today
Jul 17, 2016, 3:31 AM
Citation Linkbl.ukBritish Library
Jul 17, 2016, 3:31 AM
Citation Linkweb.archive.orgArchived
Jul 17, 2016, 3:31 AM
Citation Linkdaotam.infoLink on daotam.info
Jul 17, 2016, 3:31 AM
Citation Linkchondogyo.or.krchondogyo.or.kr
Jul 17, 2016, 3:31 AM