Discovering Sacred Texts provides access to the richness and diversity of the texts from some of the world’s greatest faiths. Discover more about the sacred texts from Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism and the Baha’i Faith, Jainism and Zoroastrianism.

Featured articles

  • miniature of Abraham being thrown into the furnace by Nimrod - from the Golden Haggadah

    The Abrahamic religions

    Dr Anna Sapir Abulafia looks at three of the Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and explores the role and narrative surrounding the figure of Abraham in their sacred texts and traditions.

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    Origins and development of Sikh faith: The Gurus

    Gurus are central to the Sikh faith. Eleanor Nesbitt looks at the founder of the Sikh faith – Guru Nanak, the concept of Guru in Sikhism, the central principles of the Gurus’ teachings and the sacred scripture – the Guru Granth Sahib.

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    Discovering Sacred Texts: Hinduism

    Discovering Sacred Texts: Hinduism

    Discover the diversity and richness of Hinduism, from the ancient oral tradition of the Vedic texts, the colourful stories of the Ramayana and Mahabharata, and the ways in which gods and goddesses are worshipped today.

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    An image of the Buddha on a red background

    The development of the Buddhist 'canon'

    The Buddhist ‘canon’ is vast, complex and difficult to define. Here Professor Tim Barrett outlines some of the key works for the different branches of Buddhism.

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  • A close up image of the face of a Hindu Deity

    Hindu deities

    The multiple gods and goddesses of Hinduism are a distinctive feature of the religion. However, Professor Julius Lipner explains that Hinduism cannot be considered polytheistic and discusses the way in which Hindu culture and sacred texts conceptualise the deities, as well as their role in devotional faith.

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    From sacred scriptures to the people’s Bible

    The Bible as we know it today was shaped by events of the 15th and 16th centuries. Professor Alec Ryrie discusses the transformation of the Bible, looking at humanism, the reformation and key theological figures such as John Wycliffe and William Tyndale.

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    An illustrated Videvdad Sadah, rspa 230, folios 151v-2r

    An introduction to Zoroastrianism

    Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest living world-religions. Professor Almut Hintze explores its history and some of the key components of the religion: its beliefs, sacred texts and rituals.

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    A intricately patterned and highly coloured detail from Or 7852, a collection of Baha’i tablets

    An introduction to the Baha’i Faith

    Peter Smith looks at the central features of the Baha’i Faith, including its history, and the key beliefs, organisation and world-view of the Baha’i community.

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    An introduction to the Jain faith

    Professor Nalini Balbir introduces the Jain religion, describing its key features, practices and expressions of faith.

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    Henry VIII and the Reformation

    Professor Susan Doran discusses Henry VIII and the Reformation, looking at the Catholic devotional texts that were owned by the king, his break with the Catholic Church and the development of the English Bible following the Reformation.

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    A pair of hands holding a printed Hebrew prayer book.

    Jewish prayer at home and in the synagogue

    Rabbi Johnny Solomon explores the role of prayer within Jewish tradition, looking at its history, development and use within worship and rituals.

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    Painting of the Muharram Festival. This festival starts on the first day of Muharram, the first month of the Islamic calendar, and lasts for ten days.

    Islamic pilgrimages and sacred spaces

    Hajj is the most well-known pilgrimage in Islam. Here Dr Sophia Arjana discusses its role in the religion, whilst also looking at Shi‘a and regional pilgrimages, sainthood and sacred space in Islam.

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Explore the sacred texts of the world’s great faiths by theme.

Sacred texts

All faiths have a rich history of texts, be they the word of God as revealed to prophets, oral stories retold by one generation to another over centuries, or written down in books. Explore the origins and developments of the world’s major faiths.

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Illuminated texts

The British Library’s collection comprises some of the most beautiful, handwritten and illuminated sacred texts from many of the world’s religions.

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The Book of Common Prayer, title page

Devotional texts

From medieval Christian Books of Hours to the Sikh empress Rani Jindan’s prayer book, explore how devotional texts have helped believers make a personal connection with their faith.

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Women and angels as depicted in the Holkham Bible Picture Book, Add MS 47682, f. 35r

Women, texts and faith

Explore the lives of women in the sacred texts of the world’s major faiths, and the changing ways in which women contribute to religious practice in contemporary society.

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Collection items

Explore the sacred texts of the world’s great faiths.