This site represents comprehensive biblical scripture studies conducted by a Sunday School Class at Westlake Hills Presbyterian Church in Austin, Texas.
We are introducing a new subject to the class on November 1 and November 8
(2015). Thereafter it will only appear as the need arises.
As you can tell from the title it is called “Sacred Texts of the World”. But it takes some explanation before you all bail out on me.
I have been researching the subject of Sacred Texts for some time. In our tradition when we say sacred texts we normally mean our Bible, which many of us, especially in this learned class, have studied for most of our adult lives. But it is my view that most people in the Judeo Christian tradition only have a vague knowledge of the other sacred texts of the world, which are in a word, voluminous.
What I propose to do, when the opportunity presents itself, is to present to the class an analysis of the scared texts of some of the major religious traditions on this planet. This could literally be a major study. The Teaching Company has a course on this subject, which is 36 lectures long. Don't worry, I am not going to even approach 36 classes. Instead I will probably present one or two classes whenever we have an unexpected opening in the schedule. The first two will be on November 1 and November 8.
Why Study Sacred Texts?
First let me make the point that these will not be studies in comparative religions. Nothing wrong with those, but they would be even more challenging. Examining the sacred texts of selected religions can offer some very interesting insights into these religions without getting into all of the aspects of the religions, such as theology, liturgy, daily practice, rituals, and endless statistics on the demographics of adherents, etc. Again all important to some, but examining the nature of the sacred texts of these religions is a much more manageable task that still can lead to a deeper understanding of why these texts have attracted the loyal following of so many people through history.
What do I mean by more manageable. In recent years almost all of the sacred texts of the major religious traditions have finally become widely available in English for the first time. Not only available but essentially free. Yes –on the internet. Spoiler alert – the internet is not really free – you should see my monthly high speed internet bill.
For many of these traditions the widespread availability of these texts was simply not available to us because many are still predominantly oral traditions that frowned on reducing their sacred text to written form. And still do. We will talk about that later.
Should We Do This?
There are some who think this might not be appropriate because things we learn might challenge our own faith. I frankly do not believe that for a minute. It is possible to study scared texts in a totally agnostic manner, even while trying to understand why these texts have attracted millions of adherents for centuries on end. But my experience has been that I have come to better understand our own sacred texts by better understanding what the entire spectrum of sacred texts represents.
In fact one of the early learning’s from looking at sacred texts is that our Judeo Christian notion of what a sacred text is differs dramatically from some other traditions. We will get into that immediately in the second class when we start looking at Hindu sacred texts.
I am convinced that coming to a deeper understanding of these texts can help us understand our world better. The world is literally in our living rooms now. And a substantially number of conflicts going on in the world, for better or worse, have deep underlying religious differences behind them. We could better understand those differences if we better understood how these different peoples are interpreting their world through their sacred texts
I would appreciate any feedback you have on this new subject matter we will occasionally put into our schedule.