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.

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  • Detail from the illuminated Cnut Gospels.

    Manuscripts of the Christian Bible

    Dr Scot McKendrick looks at manuscripts of the Bible prior to the invention of printing, exploring their contents and uses and answering the question of why there are so few manuscripts of the whole Bible.

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    The Qur’an

    The Qur’an, the sacred text of Islam, is believed to be the Word of God as revealed to the Prophet. Here Dr Mustafa Shah describes the historical context of its revelation, its transmission and codification and its shared spiritual heritage with the other main Abrahamic faiths.

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    The Torah being read with the aid of a 'yad' which often referred to as a Torah pointer

    The Torah

    The Torah has central importance in Jewish life, ritual and belief. Maryanne Saunders describes what the Torah is, what it includes and how it is used in worship and ritual.

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    An image of the Buddha from a Japanese Lotus Sutra

    The Buddha and Buddhist sacred texts

    Professor Peter Harvey recounts the life and teachings of the Buddha, as well as considering the role that the Buddha plays in the different branches of Buddhism and how his teachings have been collected.

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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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    Sikh prayer and worship

    The Guru Granth Sahib plays an integral part in the lives of Sikhs. Eleanor Nesbitt describes the rituals that surround it and its role in the daily lives and life cycle rites of Sikhs, also exploring Sikh daily prayer, devotional songs and festivals.

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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 their origins in 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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Explore the sacred texts of the world’s great faiths.