World Scripture


Compilation of World Scripture was possible only through the cooperation of a great many scholars and religious thinkers who devoted themselves unselfishly to the massive task of assembling and sifting through countless passages from scripture. The advisors and contributors who materially participated in this task, or who kindly reviewed the completed manuscript to assure that their tradition was represented fairly, are listed on the pages following the title page. In addition, I wish to acknowledge the words of encouragement and valuable advice which came from many sources: from Prof. Wande Abimbola, Dr. M. Darrol Bryant, Rev. Kanake Dhammadina, Dr. Frank K. Flinn, Prof. Durwood Foster, Rabbi David J. Goldberg, Prof. Naofusa Hiraii, Dr. Emefie Ikenga-Metuh, Prof. David Kalupahana, Dr. Frank Kaufmann, Dr. Quan-tae Kim, Robert Kittel, Acharya Sushil Kumarji Maharaj, Dan May, Dr. Richard Quebedeaux, Thomas Selover, Bishop Krister Stendahl, Dr. Robert Stockman, Dr. Thomas G. Walsh, Jin Seung Yoo, and from my students at the Unification Theological Seminary. Special thanks goes to Dr. Yoshihiko Masuda, who labored to secure permissions to reprint the passages and gave many years of devoted service to the project. Robert Brooks, Carrol Ann Brooks, Hal MacKenzie, Betty Lancaster, Allan Gonzalez, Robert Selle, Louis Rayapen, David Hose, Gerry Servito, and Thomas Cromwell all worked to enable this book to see the light of day. Rev. Chung Hwan Kwak, President of the International Religious Foundation, offered precious spiritual guidance and unstinting financial support.

Behind the efforts of these individuals lies the larger project of interreligious dialogue, which has created the spiritual and intellectual climate which has made this anthology possible. In particular, through the conferences of the International Religious Foundation, where most of the editors have sat together to discuss common themes and problems among the religions, we have come to a consciousness of the common ground among religions. These conferences have also fostered a spirit of interreligious alliance, as we have come to recognize that the religious perspective on human life, which begins with acknowledging Ultimate Reality, needs defense and support from religious people everywhere, regardless of tradition or creed. Such interfaith discussions created the spiritual foundation upon which World Scripture could be created with the cooperation of many individuals in the spirit of genuine dialogue.

Finally, I wish to give grateful acknowledgment to the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, who first conceived the idea for World Scripture and commissioned its preparation. In his address to the first Assembly of the World's Religions in 1985, he called the religious leaders of the world to discover their common purposes and bonds of friendship with which to create an alliance of all the world's religions:

"As far as I know, God is not sectarian. He is not obsessed with minor details of doctrine. We should quickly liberate ourselves from theological conflict which results from blind attachment to doctrines and rituals, and instead focus on living communication with God. I think we urgently need to purify the religious atmosphere into one in which believers can have living faith and every soul can communicate with God. In God's parental heart and His great love, there is no discrimination based on color or nationality. There are no barriers between countries or cultural traditions, between East and West, North and South. Today God is trying to embrace the whole of humankind as His children. Through interreligious dialogue and harmony we should realize one ideal world of peace, which is God's purpose of creation and the common ideal of humankind."

World Scripture has been written to further this noble goal.


1. An organizational plan rooted in Hinduism is found in Whitall N. Perry, A Treasury of Traditional Wisdom. Perry divides his anthology of scriptural texts and mystical passages according to the three paths of karma yoga, (action), bhakti yoga (devotion), and jnana yoga (knowledge), although he does not explicitly acknowledge this indebtedness to the Hindu tradition.

2. Even within the Christian family, the relative value of faith (the grace of Christ) and works (obedience to the moral law) for salvation has been a source of contention. Most Protestants stress salvation by faith alone, with good works being a consequence of faith. Roman Catholics, Orthodox, and some Protestants (i.e., Anglicans) see faith and works as contributing synergistically to realization of the highest good.

3. Where a scripture is known by more than one name, or by both an English name and a title in the original language, it will be cited by the name which appears first in this introduction.

4. There are variations in the versification of the several English renderings of the Qur'an. This anthology has selected the versification employed by M. Pickthall's translation as a standard.

5. He is attested to by the Rig Veda (10.136), the Srimad Bhagavatam (5.3.20), and the Shiva Purana (7.2.9). Mahavira's predecessor, Parsvanatha, the 23rd Tirthankara, is mentioned with Mahavira in the Pali Buddhist scriptures.

6. The Buddha's chronology is uncertain; the available data has suggested a range of dates for the death of the Buddha from 544 b.c.--the date officially accepted by much of the Buddhist world--to 483 b.c. Evidence suggests that he lived about twenty years after the passing of Mahavira.

7. These two books were taken from chapters 39 and 28 of the Book of Ritual.

8. On the meaning of 'translation,' see p. 633n.