Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred, or of central importance to their religious tradition. Many religions and spiritual movements believe that their sacred texts are divinely or supernaturally revealed or inspired.
History of religious texts 
The oldest known religious texts are Pyramid texts of Ancient Egypt that date to 2400-2300 BCE. The earliest form of the Phoenician alphabet found to date is the inscription on the sarcophagus of King Ahiram of Byblos. ( The Sumerian Temple Hymns ). The Epic of Gilgamesh from Sumeria is also one of the earliest literary works dating to 2150-2000 BCE, that includes various mythological figures. The Rigveda of Hinduism is proposed to have been composed between 1700–1100 BCE making it possibly the world's oldest religious text still in use. The oldest portions of the Zoroastrian Avesta are believed to have been transmitted orally for centuries before they found written form, and although widely differing dates for Gathic Avestan (the language of the oldest texts) have been proposed, scholarly consensus floats at around 1000 BCE.
The majority of scholars agree that the Torah's composition took place over centuries. From the late 19th century there was a general consensus around the documentary hypothesis, which suggests that the five books were created c.450 BCE by combining four originally independent sources, known as the Jahwist, or J (about 900 BCE), the Elohist, or E (about 800 BCE), the Deuteronomist, or D, (about 600 BCE), and the Priestly source, or P (about 500 BC).
The first scripture printed for wide distribution to the masses was The Diamond Sutra, a Buddhist scripture, and is the earliest recorded example of a dated printed text, bearing the Chinese calendar date for 11 May 868 CE.
Attitudes to sacred texts differ. Some religions make written texts widely and freely available, while others hold that sacred secrets must remain hidden from all but the loyal and the initiate. Most religions promulgate policies defining the limits of the sacred texts and controlling or forbidding changes and additions. Some religions view their sacred texts as the "Word of God", often contending that the texts are inspired by God and as such not open to alteration. Translations of texts may receive official blessing, but an original sacred language often has de facto, absolute or exclusive paramountcy. Some religions make texts available free or in subsidized form; others require payment and the strict observance of copyright.
References to scriptures profit from standardisation: the Guru Granth Sahib (of Sikhism) always appears with standardised page numbering while many other religions (including the Abrahamic religions and their offshoots) favour chapter and verse pointers.
Other terms 
Terms like "Holy Writ", "Holy Scripture" or "Sacred Scripture" are often used by adherents to describe the canonical works of their religion to denote the text's importance, its status as divine revelation, or, as in the case of many Christian groups, its complete inerrancy. Christianity is not alone in using this terminology to revere its sacred book; Islam holds the Qur'an in similar esteem, as does Hinduism the Vedas and Bhagavad Gita and Buddhism the sutras.
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.
Increasingly, sacred texts of many cultures are studied within academic contexts, primarily to increase understanding of other cultures, whether ancient or contemporary. Sometimes this involves the extension of the principles of higher criticism to the texts of many faiths. It may also involve a comparative study of religious texts.
List of sacred texts of various religions 
- The writings of Franklin Albert Jones aka Adi Da Love-Ananda Samraj
- The Companions of the True Dawn Horse
- The Dawn Horse Testament
- The Heart of the Adi Dam Revelation
- Not-Two IS Peace
- Transcendental Realism
Books by Bahá'u'lláh
Ancient style of scripture used for the Pāli Canon
- Theravada Buddhism
- East Asian Mahayana
- Tibetan Buddhism
- The Donghak Scripture
- The Songs of Yongdam
- The Sermons of Master Haeweol
- The Sermons of Revered Teacher Euiam
, 1407 handwritten copy
- Traditional Christendom
- 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.
- 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
- Cerdonianism and Marcionism
- Jehovah's Witnesses
- Latter Day Saint movement
- Native American Church (Christian-leaning factions)
- See below.
- Rastafari movement
- See below.
- Seventh-day Adventists
- See below.
- Unification Church
- See below.
- Old Kingdom
- First Intermediate Period & Middle Kingdom
- Second Intermediate Period
Eternal Divine Path, Mission of Maitreya 
- The Holiest of the Holiest, THOTH, Final Testament
of Perugia, 3rd or 2nd century BCE
Main article: Hindu texts
- In Purva Mimamsa
- In Vedanta (Uttar Mimamsa)
- In Yoga
- In Samkhya
- In Nyaya
- In Vaisheshika
- Vaisheshika Sutras of Kanada
- In Vaishnavism
- Vaikhanasa Samhitas
- Pancaratra Samhitas
- In Saktism
- In Kashmir Saivism
- In Pashupata Shaivism
- Pashupata Sutras of Lakulish
- Panchartha-bhashya of Kaundinya (a commentary on the Pashupata Sutras)
- 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
- Quran (also referred to as Kuran, Koran, Qur’ān, Coran or al-Qur’ān)
- Hadith/Sunnah (Sunnah, which consists of what Muhammad did, believed, implied, or tacitly approved, was noted down by his companions in Hadith.)
Main article: Jain Agamas
- 11 Angas
- 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)
- Rabbinical Judaism
- See also: Rabbinic literature
- — Kabbalah
- Karaite Judaism
- The Tanakh, i.e. the Hebrew Bible
- Beta Israel
- 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, Coptic: Ευαγγελιον, meaning roughly "good news"). Also known as the Gospel of Mani and The Living Gospel
- the Treasure of Life
- the Pragmateia (Coptic: 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 (Κεφαλαια), "Discourses", found in Coptic translation.
- The Bible (among Christian-leaning factions only)
Various New Age religions may regard any of the following texts as inspired:
- See also: Samaritan religious texts
- Main article: Sikh scriptures
- The New Church
- The General Church
Yasna 28.1 (Bodleian MS J2)
- 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.
See also 
- ^ "Princess, priestess, poet: the Sumerian temple hymns of Enheduanna - Enheduanna, Betty De Shong Meador - Google Boeken". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2013-03-30.
- ^ The oldest mention of Rigveda in other sources dates from 600 BCE, and the oldest available text from 1,200 CE. Oberlies (1998:155) gives an estimate of 1100 BCE for the youngest hymns in book 10. Estimates for a terminus post quem of the earliest hymns are far more uncertain. Oberlies (p. 158) based on 'cumulative evidence' sets wide range of 1700–1100. The EIEC (s.v. Indo-Iranian languages, p. 306) gives 1500–1000. It is certain that the hymns post-date Indo-Iranian separation of ca. 2000 BC and probably that of the Indo-Aryan Mitanni documents of c. 1400 BCE. Philological estimates tend to date the bulk of the text to the second half of the second millennium. Compare Max Müller's statement "the hymns men of the Rig-Veda are said to date from 1500 B.C." ('Veda and Vedanta', 7th lecture in India: What Can It Teach Us: A Course of Lectures Delivered Before the University of Cambridge, World Treasures of the Library of Congress Beginnings by Irene U. Chambers, Michael S. Roth. Some writers out of the mainstream claim to trace astronomical references in the Rigveda, dating it to as early as 4000 BC, a date corresponding to the Neolithic late Mehrgarh culture; summarized by Klaus Klostermaier in a 1998 presentation
- ^ McDermott, John J., "Reading the Pentateuch: a historical introduction" (Pauline Press, 2002)p.21. Books.google.com.au. 2002-10. ISBN 978-0-8091-4082-4. Retrieved 2010-10-03.
- ^ Gordon Wenham, "Pentateuchal Studies Today," Themelios 22.1 (October 1996): 3-13.
- ^ British Library
- ^ chondogyo.or.kr
- ^ Eastern Orthodox also generally divide Baruch and Letter of Jeremiah into two books instead of one. The enumeration of the Books of Ezra is different in many Orthodox Bibles, as it is in all others: see Wikipedia's article on the naming conventions of the Books of Esdras.
External links