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Research Guides

Comparative Religion: Sacred Texts

Suggested resources in religious studies


Quickly jump to the recommended sacred text resources by following these links:

Sacred Texts Online

Recommended web portals for locating sacred texts:

Searching the Catalog by Sacred Text Title

Sacred texts are often anonymous, or lack a clear title or author by which to search. Libraries use "uniform titles" to gather together all works related to a sacred text that may be in many editions or translations.  The uniform title consists of the following in this order:  [Sacred text name] [Subsection of text, if any (for the Bible, this would the Testament, then the book or group of books)] [Language(s)][Version][Date].  The Christian Bible is divided into the Old Testament (abbreviated O.T.) and New Testament (abbreviated N.T.)  The Hebrew Bible, or Tanakh, consists of what Christians call the Old Testament.  Examples of uniform titles appear below.

Christian Bible

Bible. N.T. Acts. Greek.

Bible. O.T. Judges. English.

Bible. English. New International. 2004.

Hebrew Bible (Tanakh)

Bible. O.T. Greek. Septuagint.

Bible. O.T. Pentateuch. English.

Bible. O.T. Prophets. English

Koran (or Qur’an)

Koran. English & Arabic.

Common Editions of Sacred Texts

Sacred texts of the world's main religions can be found in the Reference section on the first floor of the Suzzallo library (for Christianity, Islam, Judaism) and in the Suzzallo/Allen Stacks on the fourth floor (for all religions, particularly Buddhism and Hinduism).  In both locations they are shelved by Library of Congress call numbers (sorted topically starting with the letters BL – BX). 

General Resources

BL 70 - 71: Sacred texts (anthologies and selections from the world's sacred texts)


BQ 1100 - 3340: Tripitaka (canonical literature)

Unlike Judaism, Islam, or Christianity, Buddhism has no single authoritative book; there are multiple Buddhist canons in multiple languages. Consult individual Buddhism reference sources to learn more about the Indic, Tibetan, Chinese, and other Buddhist canons and to find recommendations for particular Buddhist texts.  


BS 701 - 2790: The Bible (Old and New Testaments, including early/modern versions, translations in other languages, criticism)

There are a great many translations of the Christian Bible into English, reflecting the variety of linguistic, philosophical, and theological approaches inherent in Christianty's various denominations. For more information see Christianity: Biblical Studies.


BL 1100 - 1295: Sacred books (Vedic and Tantric texts, Purānas)

Like Buddhism, Hinduism has a vast body of sacred texts. These writings can be divided into two groups: śruti (meaning "heard" - that which was divinely revealed) and smriti (meaning "remembered" - that which was inherited through tradition). While śruti consists simply of the four Vedas (Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda and Atharva Veda), smriti is post-vedic and includes almost the entire body of Sanskrit literature (notably the Upanishads, the Bhagavad-Gītā, Purānas, and the Vedānta Sūtras). Consult individual Hinduism reference sources to learn more about Sanskrit terminology, scriptural divisions, and principal texts.


BP 100 - 157: Sacred books (Qur’an (Koran), Hadith, Sunna, Koranic legends)


BM 480 - 523.7: Sources of Jewish religion (Rabbinical literature, Talmud, Mishnah, Midrash)

BS 701 - 1830: The Bible - Old Testament (known as the Tanakh in Rabbinic Judaism)