The even in communities that were highly literate

The
worldwide view and definition of scriptures is often very general and can be
misleading for the most part. Scriptures
are usually defined as texts that are revered as authoritative and sacred in many
religious traditions (Graham 8194). The author enforces the fact
that scriptures constitute a lot more than just sacred writings. He does this
by further breaking down the definition by discussing the use of spoken word in
scriptures, analyzing them as a general concept and how they have shaped modern
day culture. Throughout this paper the true complexity of scriptures will be
explored and light will be brought to the fact that scriptures are more than
just religious and sacred texts.

One
common misconception about scriptures is that they were and are still all
written.  Historically,
a large portion of those who had a scripture were illiterate, and even in communities
that were highly literate the scriptural text was regularly heard in worship,
teaching, and preaching as opposed to silent reading (8198).  It
is only recently that reading has become a silent rather than an oral activity. The Arabic word qur??n,
probably derives from qery?n?, the Syriac match for miqra?,
and is thought to be a verbal noun meaning recitation (8198). In Hindu practices
the oral, recited word is of more importance than any written form of it (8199).
Some of the most sacred Zoroastrian texts in Old Persia, were transmitted
similarly and used only orally during recitation (8199). The less sacred
commentaries and other religious books in Pahlavi were written (8199). Some
of the technical mnemonic methods of oral transmission found in the past were so
highly developed for sacred texts that the oral text can be thought of as more
reliable than the manuscript tradition, which is most notable within the Hindu
and Islamic scriptures (8199). Recitation and reading aloud are a major part of
formal and private worship in many religions. Meditatio is a
Christian tradition that consists of an oral activity of learning the text
through recitation with intense concentration and reflection (8200). The
chanting of Hindu and Buddhist mantras and of Buddhist dh?ra??s
are also examples of recitation and speech being a major part of scriptures
(8200). In Islam, Qur?anic recitation is a public and private form of
devotional practice that also demands a recitative technique (8200). Most forms
of worship or uses of scripture involve some sort of oral transmission or
aspect to it and is not limited to just text.

 

By popular and even scholarly use
today, the term scripture is often used as if it has a
self-evident and simple definition that can be identified anywhere in the world
which usually consists of the idea of a sacred text. However, scripture is
a term that constitutes more than just religious or sacred text and is actually
of great complexity. When looking at scriptures as a general concept the reader
quickly realizes that the form and content of scriptural books vary greatly
from religion to religion and have no way of being categorized or distinguished.
It is important to realize what exactly can be found in scriptures across many
religions. Some contain myths and legends, historical accounts, divine
revelations, apocalyptic predictions, poetry and songs, teachings and prophecies
as well as prayers (8194). All of these contain vastly different content or
ideas but are still categorized as a scripture. Something else that can be
noted when looking at scriptures as a general concept is the fact that
distinguishing the primary sacred texts of a religious tradition from others
that are also sacred but secondarily so is often difficult (8195). The distinction
between a community’s primary scripture and the rest of its sacred texts is
helpful in understanding many religious traditions. Although, this is sometimes
not possible due to the fact that the amount of text revered is so large and
the distinctions of importance between them are made very unclear. For example,
in the Mah?y?na Buddhist tradition, the amount of texts treated as sacred is so
vast that it is hardly possible to single out some texts as more important or
valuable than others (8195). Concepts that are as large scale and
important as scriptures are constantly being remodeled and redefined to further
improve societies understanding of them. The current definition for scriptures
should be more specifically defined due to their largescale and complex nature.

One of the most obvious ways that
scripture influences culture and society is through its effect upon language. Scriptural
text in its original language or a translation, provides a major standard for
the grammar and style of many languages such as the Qur??n for Arabic, the
Authorized King James Version of the Bible for English and also the Lutherbibel for
German (8204). The influence of scriptures on vocabulary, metaphors, similes
and other linguistic conventions can be pervasive in any culture with important
scriptures (8204). Scripture also has considerable influence upon the arts in
most cultures. The most obvious area of influence is calligraphy or otherwise
known as the art of writing, which was used to depict scriptural stories and
ideas (8204). The massive importance of this art in Islamic culture is worth
noting and is used as forms of decoration in Islamic architecture. The
stained-glass masterpieces of western and eastern Europe and the Byzantine
mosaics are also major religious examples of influence on the arts (8204). These
examples suggest the immense importance of scripture in the everyday life of
humanity and how heavily reliant humankind is on the past to develop and grow
and a species.

What is most interesting about
scripture as a concept is its unique role in expressing and symbolizing
different faiths of religious persons and their communities around the globe.
Scripture is a lot richer in content than other text in a way that it carries
with it an immense history and the potential for many different
interpretations. It is important to realize the true complexity of scriptures and
avoid the thought that it is just “sacred text” so that we can analyze and
interpret this information with the magnitude that it deserves. 

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