World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts

Editor, Andrew Wilson


Scripture And Tradition

Every religion has its store of received truth. This truth is recorded in scriptures and in the accumulated wisdom and tradition of the generations. The passages in this section recommend the study of scripture and received tradition as the way to reliable knowledge of truth, wisdom for living, and understanding of the way to approach God.

Neglect not study of the Vedas.

Hinduism. Taittiriya Upanishad 1.11.1

O how I love thy law! It is my meditation all the day.

Judaism and Christianity. Psalm 119.97

Lo! it is an unassailable Scripture. Falsehood cannot come at it from before it or behind it. It is a revelation from the Wise, the Owner of Praise.

Islam. Qur'an 41.41-42

Absorbed in the Scriptures and their purport, he transcends the cycle of birth and death.

Jainism. Acarangasutra 5.122

Hillel said, "He who has acquired words of Torah has acquired for himself the life of the world to come."

Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 2.8

I am leaving you a trust. So long as you cling to it you can't go wrong. That is the rope God has extended from heaven to earth. That is the Qur'an.

Islam. Hadith of Darimi 1

Know that he who reads and recites the Law-flower Sutra--that man has adorned himself with the adornment of the Buddha, and so is carried by the Tathagata on his shoulder.

Buddhism. Lotus Sutra 10

Taittiriya Upanishad 1.11.1: On study of the Vedas as an offering, see Satapatha Brahmana, p. 864. Psalm 119.87: Cf. Menahot 110a, pp. 864f. Hadith of Darimi 1: Cf. Qur'an 3.103, p. 271. Lotus Sutra 10: Cf. Dhammapada 79, p. 789.

The work which the sages saw in the sacred sayings Are manifestly spread forth in the triad of the Vedas. Follow them constantly, you lovers of truth! This is your path to the world of good deeds.

Hinduism. Mundaka Upanishad 1.2.1

This age stands in need of the holy Preceptor's teaching. The holy Word is the Preceptor; by devoted meditation on it am I its disciple. By absorbing the discourse of the Inexpressible I remain free from the taint of illusion.

Sikhism. Adi Granth, Ramkali Siddha Goshti, M.1, p. 943

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I [Moses] teach you shall be upon your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. And you shall bind them for a sign upon your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Judaism. Deuteronomy 6.5-9

We have sent down the Qur'an in Truth, and in Truth has it descended: and We sent you [Muhammad] but to give glad tidings and to warn sinners. It is a Qur'an which We have divided into parts from time to time, in order that you might recite it to men at intervals; We have revealed it by stages. Say: Whether you believe in it or not, it is true that those who were given prior insight, when it is recited to them, fall down on their faces in humble prostration, and say: "Glory to our Lord! Truly has the promise of our Lord been fulfilled!" They fall down on their faces in tears, and it increases their earnest humility.

Islam. Qur'an 17.105-9

Tradition endures.

African Traditional Religions. Akan Proverb (Ghana)

Ramkali Siddha Goshti, M.1: From the decree of Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru, Sikhism has relied on Scripture as the embodiment of the Guru's wisdom. Hence the Adi Granth is called the Guru Granth Sahib and is the central object of veneration. Deuteronomy 6.5-9: For Jews, this central text of the Torah commands teaching and study. In addition, it is the basis for the ritual use of passages of the Torah wrapped inside the phylacteries worn on the forehead and the arm at times of prayer, and inside the mezuzzah affixed to the doorframes of every home. Cf. Psalm 19.7-10, p. 160. Qur'an 17.105-09: Cf. Qur'an 75.16-19, 42.51-53, p. 631.

Without proverbs [traditional wisdom], the language would be but a skeleton without flesh, a body without a soul.

African Traditional Religions. Zulu Proverb (South Africa)

The superior man acquaints himself with many sayings of antiquity And many deeds of the past, In order to strengthen his character thereby.

Confucianism. I Ching 26: Taming Power of the Great

On Thee alone we ever meditate, And ponder over the teachings of the loving mind, As well as the acts of the holy men, Whose souls accord most perfectly with truth.

Zoroastrianism. Avesta, Yasna 34.2

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

Christianity. 2 Timothy 3.14-17

O leaders of religion! Weigh not the Book of God with such standards and sciences as are current among you, for the Book itself is the unerring Balance established among men. In this most perfect Balance whatever the peoples and kindreds possess must be weighed, while the measure of its weight should be tested according to its own standard, did you but know it.

Baha'i Faith. Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, 128

Yasna 34.2: Cf. Yasna 45.5, pp. 159f. 2 Timothy 3.14-17: On scripture, see Matthew 7.24-27, p. 161. On tradition, cf. Jeremiah 6.16, p. 673.

The Book of Changes contains the fourfold Tao of the holy sages. In speaking, we should be guided by its judgments; in action, we should be guided by its changes; in making objects, we should be guided by its images; in seeking an oracle, we should be guided by its pronouncements.

Therefore the superior man, whenever he has to make or do something, consults the Changes, and he does so in words. It takes up his communications like an echo; neither far nor near, neither dark nor deep exist for it, and thus he learns of the things of the future. If this book were not the most spiritual thing on earth, how could it do this?

Confucianism. I Ching, Great Commentary 1.10.1-2

The Taoist priest... looked around the middle hall and said, "You have a rare gem in your house; for when I entered I saw the radiance of a holy light. Where do you keep your treasure?"

Wan Teh-Hs answered, "In this poor dwelling there is nothing worthy of the name of a treasure."

The priest then took him by the hand and led him to the place where the Treatise on Response and Retribution lay, saying, "This holy book is the treasure. All the holy men of the three religions selected and compiled it to point out the way of virtue on which every one should walk. If a man disciplines himself according to its instructions, the truth will shine forth in all its glory, and every letter in the sacred writing will emit rays of divine light. But if you recite the sacred text with a sesire for profit or reward, selfishness will darken its native glory, and the writing will show no illumination."

Taoism. Treatise on Response and Retribution, appended tales

Treatise on Response and Retribution: The 'three religions' are Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism, which, by the time of the Sung dynasty, came to coexist in China. They each have contributed aspects to the formation of Chinese culture. None insists on exclusive allegiance, and it is quite natural for people to believe in the truth of all three simultaneously. On the spiritual illumination of holy scriptures, cf. Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 36, p. 271; Abot 3.2, p. 271; Perfection of Wisdom in Eight Thousand Lines 7.1, p. 152; Menahot 29b, p. 664.


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