This website brings together texts from different spiritual traditions. The selection reflects my own journey: I grew up in the Christian tradition, studied theology, and I am interested in Buddhism and Chinese philosophy.
What seems to unify different religions in our global civilization is a search for religious experience, and a scepticism towards the codified and dogmatic "truth" of traditional religions. We are witnessing modern forms of religious wars, and at the same time, religion merges with consumerism. People can choose the messages they want to hear and what they want to believe. "Spirituality" itself has become a product in our pluralistic mass culture, which likes to be addicted to something. The global situation for religion and spirituality is confusing today: Traditional religions face off with atheistic science-based nihilism, while new-age spirituality produces new practices and beliefs: Vision quests, Gaia, drum circles, Ayahuasca journeys, shamanism, and even the fans of Star Wars feel passionate about a Sci-Fi future without limits.
A reflection on religious history and texts may help sort things out for the interested reader. The historical period of the dominance of Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) is coming to an end. Will the future forms of religiosity awaken us to more social and ecological justice, and more peace? The growing hunger for spiritual experience points to mysticism as a new unifying discourse for humanity's search for ultimate meaning.
What are Religious Texts?
Before we can say what religious texts are, we have to define the concept of religion. The idea of a "religious text" is already an interpretation, unless we declare that a particular text in question is central to a specific tradition of faith. Texts like the Torah, the Bible, or the Vedas "anchor" religions, because they are considered to be the words of God, or based on divine inspiration. In this function, the texts create religions, and they are considered to be intrinsically sacred.
Here are some of the oldest known religious texts:
Pyramid texts of Ancient Egypt, 2400-2300 BCE.
The Sumerian Temple Hymns (also the earliest form of the Phoenician alphabet) are inscriptions on the sarcophagus of King Ahiram of Byblos.
The Epic of Gilgamesh from Sumeria is one of the earliest literary works, 2150-2000 BCE.
The Rigveda of Hinduism, between 1700–1100 BCE. (The world's oldest religious text still in use.)
The Zoroastrian Avesta has been transmitted orally for centuries before written down, roughly estimated around 1000 BCE.
The Torah's composition also took place over centuries. Scholars suggest that the five books were created c.450 BCE by combining four independent sources: 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 printed scripture for wide distribution was the Buddhist Diamond Sutra, published on May 11, 868 CE