Abrahamic religions, emphasizing and tracing their common origin to the tribal patriarch Abraham or recognizing a spiritual tradition identified with him, are one of the major divisions in comparative religion (along with Indian, Iranian, and East Asian religions).
Judaism, Christianity and Islam are the largest Abrahamic religions in terms of numbers of adherents.
The major Abrahamic religions in chronological order of founding are:
All Abrahamic religions claim to be monotheistic, worshiping an exclusive God, although known by different names. All of these religions believe that God creates, is one, rules, reveals, loves, judges, punishes, and forgives.
Christianities Doctrine of the Trinity provides a variant One God in three persons, described as the Hypostatic Union, ie the three persons united in one essence — the Trinitarian doctrine, which is a fundamental of faith for the vast majority of Christian denominations, however it does conflict with Jewish, Muslim concepts of monotheism.
All Abrahamic religions believe that God guides humanity through revelation to prophets, and each religion recognizes that God revealed teachings up to and including those in their own scripture.
All these religions rely on a body of scriptures, some of which are considered to be the word of God—hence sacred and unquestionable—and some the work of religious men, revered mainly by tradition and to the extent that they are considered to have been divinely inspired, if not dictated, by the divine being.
The sacred scriptures of Judaism are the Tanakh, a Hebrew acronym standing for Torah (Law or Teachings), Nevi’im (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings). These are complemented by and supplemented with various (originally oral) traditions: Midrash, the Mishnah, the Talmud and collected rabbinical writings. The Tanakh (or Hebrew Bible) was composed between 1,400 BCE, and 400 BCE by Jewish prophets, kings, and priests.
The Hebrew text of the Tanakh, and the Torah in particular, is considered holy, down to the last letter: transcribing is done with painstaking care. An error in a single letter, ornamentation or symbol of the 300,000+ stylized letters that make up the Hebrew Torah text renders a Torah scroll unfit for use; hence the skills of a Torah scribe are specialist skills, and a scroll takes considerable time to write and check.
The sacred scriptures of most Christian groups are the Old Testament and the New Testament. Latin Bibles originally contained 73 books; however, 7 books, collectively called the Apocrypha or Deuterocanon depending on one’s opinion of them, were removed by Martin Luther due to a lack of original Hebrew sources, and now vary on their inclusion between denominations. Greek Bibles contain additional materials.
The New Testament comprises four accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus (the Four Gospels, as well as several other writings (the epistles) and the Book of Revelation. They are usually considered to be divinely inspired, and together comprise the Christian Bible.
The vast majority of Christian faiths (including Catholicism, Orthodox Christianity, and most forms of Protestantism) recognize that the Gospels were passed on by oral tradition, and were not set to paper until decades after the resurrection of Jesus, and that the extant versions are copies of those originals.
The version of the Bible considered to be most valid (in the sense of best conveying the true meaning of the word of God) has varied considerably: the Greek Septuagint, the Syriac Peshitta, the Latin Vulgate, the English King James Version and the Russian Synodal Bible have been authoritative to different communities at different times.
The sacred scriptures of the Christian Bible are complemented by a large body of writings by individual Christians and councils of Christian leaders (see canon law). Some Christian churches and denominations consider certain additional writings to be binding; other Christian groups consider only the Bible to be binding (sola scriptura).
Islam’s holiest book is the Qur’an, comprising 114 Suras (“chapters of the Qur’an”). However, Muslims also believe in the religious texts of Judaism and Christianity in their original forms, albeit not the current versions. According to the Qur’an (and mainstream Muslim belief), the verses of the Qur’an were revealed by God through the Archangel Jibrail to Muhammad on separate occasions.
These revelations were written down and also memorized by hundreds of companions of Muhammad. These multiple sources were collected into one official copy. After the death of Mohammed, Quran was copied on several copies and Caliph Uthman provided these copies to different cities of Islamic Empire.
The Qur’an mentions and reveres several of the Israelite prophets, including Moses and Jesus, among others (see also: Prophets of Islam). The stories of these prophets are very similar to those in the Bible. However, the detailed precepts of the Tanakh and the New Testament are not adopted outright; they are replaced by the new commandments accepted as revealed directly by God (through Gabriel) to Muhammad and codified in the Qur’an.
Like the Jews with the Torah, Muslims consider the original Arabic text of the Qur’an as uncorrupted and holy to the last letter, and any translations are considered to be interpretations of the meaning of the Qur’an, as only the original Arabic text is considered to be the divine scripture.
Like the Rabbinic Oral Law to the Hebrew Bible, the Qur’an is complemented by the Hadith, a set of books by later authors recording the sayings of the prophet Muhammad. The Hadith interpret and elaborate Qur’anic precepts. Islamic scholars have categorized each Hadith at one of the following levels of authenticity or isnad: genuine (sahih), fair (hasan) or weak (da’if).
By the 9th century, six major Hadith collections were accepted as reliable to Sunni Muslims.
Shia Muslims, however, refer to other authenticated hadiths instead. They are known collectively as The Four Books.
The Hadith and the life story of Muhammad (sira) form the Sunnah, an authoritative supplement to the Qur’an. The legal opinions of Islamic jurists (Faqīh) provide another source for the daily practice and interpretation of Islamic tradition (see Fiqh.)
The Qur’an contains repeated references to the “religion of Abraham” (see Suras 2:130,135; 3:95; 6:123,161; 12:38; 16:123; 22:78). In the Qur’an, this expression refers specifically to Islam; sometimes in contrast to Christianity and Judaism, as in Sura 2:135, for example: ‘They say: “Become Jews or Christians if ye would be guided (to salvation).” Say thou (O Muslims): “Nay! (I would rather) the Religion of Abraham the True, and he joined not gods with God.” ‘ In the Qur’an, Abraham is declared to have been a Muslim (a hanif, more accurately a “primordial monotheist”), not a Jew nor a Christian (Sura 3:67).
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