What isa “Scripture”? Some people believe the definition of scripture is a divine recordedevidence, however, others think it is a holy book that provides a complete codeof conduct for our lives through the teachings it contains. In general, attemptsto define “scripture” at times raise and further complicate issues because suchan attempt may contradict with peoples’ opinions. William Graham, in hisarticle about Scripture, analyzes distinct ideas of scriptures of various religionswithout overlooking the values and significance of the religions. He discusses how scripture can evolve in different communities byexplaining distinct functions and aspects of the scripture by giving a lot ofexamples from different religions (Graham 8202-8204).Scripture is an important aspect of religious history as thehistory explains various meanings, concepts and context of scripture. Scriptureis usually referred as a holy book; it is considered to be a divine book ofprospect. The author highlights different ideas, facts ofscriptures in people of faith.
William Graham focuses on the origin of scripture and how it effectsthe understanding of scripture today. Previously people used to considerscripture as a wise book of knowledge. Additionally, it was also considered asthe book that contains the power to controlwhat will happen in the future and reveal the designated end of human lives. Asthe author says “The idea of a book ofdestinies or fates, in which the allotted days and assigned end of human livesare written down, was known, as art and textual evidence show, in ancientBabylonia, Egypt, Greece, Rome, and especially late antiquity.” (Graham8195). Scripture is studied as book of actions, that there are instructions enclosedin it which state the differences between good and bad that in return influencepersonal decisions to live life in such a way that people can prepare for thefinal judgement.
The author says” Thesimilar notion of a book of works, in which a heavenly record of human deeds iskept, was also widely known of old. References to the writing down of good andbad deeds, often in connection with a last judgment” (Graham 8195).Scriptureis a convoluted and unclear word. We can think of scripture more than just ascared book.
Earlier in many religious traditions divine content was conveyedorally which differs with the idea of scripture being a written document. It issaid in the article “Yet in most religioustraditions, sacred texts were transmitted orally in the first place and writtendown only relatively late” (Graham 8194). Graham has written detailed passage about various ways of understanding thescripture, in his section about the different functions a scripture could take,he highlights that it could be written, oral or it could be used in unusualways depending on the different religious cultures (Graham 8197). First heexplains the logical background of the word scripture where he mentions thatthe most relevant meaning of scripture is “something written.” The oral conceptof scripture still bloom’s today and it was also a strong part of the history.As a criterion we humans speak first and then learn to read and write, so itcan be said that scriptures were transmitted orally before they were writtendown. Avesta is said to be passed onorally before is was written as a text (Graham 8199) this shows the importanceof oral scripture influencing people back in days. In various religiouscultures scriptures are read loudly as the article says” Recitation orreading aloud of scripture is a common feature of piety, whether in Islamic,Sikh, Jewish, or other traditions” (Graham 8198).
A person who can read, master and memorize ascripture earns a lot of appreciation. Aquintessential example of this would be a hafiz in Muslim culture. “Great esteem is given to the person who knows all of thesacred scripture “by heart”—in the Muslim case, such a person ishonored with the special epithet, ??fi?, “keeper, protector,memorizer of the Word.” (Graham 8198). In the Buddhist and Islamic cultures, the written textsare highly respected but they also tend to give more importance to therecitation and reading of the scripture out loud (Graham 8198-8199).
Graham reviews the objective of scripture asrecorded document, he advises that recording of a scripture is a significant occasionin any religious tradition as it contributes in the strengthening of the systemand firmness of a culture so that it could be powerful and reach high levels (Graham8197). As the article says “The written scripturaltext symbolizes or embodies religious authority in many tradition” (Graham8197-8198). This explains that in most religious cultures the recorded text controlsthe authority.Scripture can take up different roles, using them for magic and superstitions is one of them (Graham 8200). scripturaltexts could be used for treatment, as it is said to have power associated with the written and spoken wordscontained in it (Graham 8200). The author says “aprotective or empowering device are placing a Bible in the bed of a sick childas a curative, using a tiny Qur??n or Bible as a protective charm or talisman,seeking omens in scriptural verses, or dissolving slips of paper with words ofscripture on them in a drink to make a medicine” (Graham 8200). Reading aloud of scripture near the sick person iscommonly seen in different religious cultures, written and oral words in the scripture could be explained as a form ofcure.
The author gives a typical example related to this that “in Therav?da Buddhist practice, collections of scripturaltexts known as parittas are recited by the monks to ward off the actionsof demons and to bring prosperity, health, and other blessings” (Graham 8200).In conclusion what matters is that whether the scriptureis written, recited, or both, all these formations of the scriptures maycontradict with the idea of scripture in various religions. All of them are veryessential for us so that we can understand its importance in that specificreligion. In a faithful aspect the scripture could be blessing as peoplebelieve in it, on the other hand scripture can be thought of something thatbrings a group of people together in a society. (Graham 8203-8204).
BibliographyGraham. “Scripture”. Encyclopediaof Religion. Ed.
Lindsay Jones. Vol. 12. 2nd edition,2005, p8194-8205.