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From the time of human beginnings, holy words, chants, liturgy and narratives have enabled individuals to communicate the mysteries of the universe. Bodies of liturgical composition had to survive oral transmission for centuries until calligraphers could inscribe them in pictograph, symbol, or coded cipher or write them in words on stone, mural, scroll,...
From the time of human beginnings, holy words, chants, liturgy and narratives have enabled individuals to communicate the mysteries of the universe. Bodies of liturgical composition had to survive oral transmission for centuries until calligraphers could inscribe them in pictograph, symbol, or coded cipher or write them in words on stone, mural, scroll, parchment, or paper. Through repetitions of sacred speech and writing, couples enter holy wedlock, infants receive consecration and blessing, youths advance to adulthood, rulers dedicate temporal powers to God, cities pledge themselves to peace, and the dead pass from an earthly existence to the afterlife.
The most sacred and influential writings the world has recorded are covered A-Z in this compendium. The entries convey works from the cities of Mecca, Jerusalem, Rome, Delphi, and Salt Lake City; from caves in Qumran and mountains in Japan; from the Indus Valley and the American West; from classical China, Egypt and Greece; and from the Hebrew communities of Iberia and of the German states. Although all of the scriptures speak to a human need, there are many differences in style, purpose, and tone. The entries include holy law (The White Roots of Peace), funeral prescriptions (the Tibetan Book of the Dead), ceremonies (the Lakota Black Elk Speaks), literature (Homeric hymns), hero stories (the Japanese Kojiki), word puzzles (the koans of Zen), Christ lore (the Apocrypha and the New Testament), matrices (I Ching and Tantra), and numerology (the Jewish Kabbala). Writing styles include both the rapture of Rumi's Mathnawi and the spare aphorism of Confucius's Analects. The information given in the texts range from Muhammad's revelations in the Koran, to the everyday advice of Mary Baker Eddy's Christian Science writings.
A map locates the germ of sacred revelation and writing in sites all over the globe. A timeline of dateable events from the history of world scripture names events in chronological order, from the beginnings of the I Ching in 2800 B.C.E. to the publication of a child's version of the Popul Vuh in 1999 C.E.. The encyclopedia is comprehensively indexed with ample cross-referencing to assist researchers toward further study of print and electronic sources.
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