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Sacred 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.

It is important to note that in defining what constitutes a religious text, one necessitates a definition of religion, which is an extremely varied and indefinite topic. As the religious scholar Bradley Herling states in his book entitled A Beginner’s Guide to the Study of Religion, “the study of religion spans the breadth of human experience and the full range of cultures, from ancient times to our present day. It is an exploration of some of the most powerful ways human beings discover meaning, significance, and depth”. Scholar Paul Griffin offers an equally broad definition of religion and religious texts, stating that they must be a comprehensive, unsurpassable, central account of belief in order to qualify as religious. The same expansiveness of thought and definition must be applied to the understanding of religious texts, as religious texts take as many different forms as religions themselves. It is not possible to create an exhaustive list of religious texts, especially considering the fact that there is no singular definition of which texts may be recognized as religious. There is an immense quantity of scholarly debate surrounding this topic, creating a variety of discourses within the field.


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