What is "Scripture?"

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Sebomai
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What is "Scripture?"

Postby Sebomai » Wed Jul 06, 2016 8:41 pm

We are all familiar with writings termed "Scriptural." The Bible, both Testaments, the Q'uran, the Vedas, the Sutras of Buddhism, the Gnostic texts, the early writings of the lamas from Tibet. Even mythological texts carry a Scriptural weight with many modern pagans.

The word "Scripture" indicates a writing of some kind of deep and profound, oftentimes Divine, authority. But are there any writings in the last few hundred years that anyone here would consider Scriptural? Anything past the time of the rise of the great religious traditions? Or maybe older works that aren't commonly recognized as having that authority but you personally think deserve it? They can be occult or religious or mythological or even particularly deep metaphysical philosophy works.

I think the most recent example of a book that has a lot of adherents who consider it Scripture that I can think of is Crowley's The Book of the Law. I don't consider it as such but Thelemites certainly do.

Just thought this would be a good place to discuss an important but kind of vague term in religion and the occult.
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Heith
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Re: What is "Scripture?"

Postby Heith » Thu Jul 07, 2016 10:48 am

Sebomai wrote:I think the most recent example of a book that has a lot of adherents who consider it Scripture that I can think of is Crowley's The Book of the Law. I don't consider it as such but Thelemites certainly do.
At least in Finland, any religion that wants to be registered officially, must have a scripture. I believe that this might be the case in the US as well? This would place every single religion there to have a scripture. For example, Scientologists. And those flying spaghetti monster peeps.

I'm personally most interested of those religions which do not have a scripture, but are oral traditions; I think a certain ecstasy is lost in written traditions. Siberian shamanism has some similarities to Tibetan Buddhism, with the exception that the latter has a written tradition. But on this, I am not an expert.

In a similar fashion, I think modern heathens (for example, the Asatru folk) lean heavily on the written sources which remain -but were penned down by people after the tradition was largely no more - in order to have a more historical accuracy and justification for their faith. There are huge differences in this, for example, the american branch is completely different from the Icelandic one, perhaps because the american asatru seem to feel a need to underline their european ancestry. The american asatrufolk have a kind of "ten commandments", and I've never met any asatru in nordic countries who would do that.

Wiccans have some sort of scriptures as well, Aradia springs to mind.

As to what is meaningful to me personally; certainly the Havamál (Eddic poetry) but I don't consider it to be a scripture, but art which has not been diminished by the many centuries.
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Sebomai
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Re: What is "Scripture?"

Postby Sebomai » Thu Jul 07, 2016 8:26 pm

Thanks for your reply, Sor. Heith. I think I was unclear about one thing, however. I mostly meant are there more modern texts that our members consider scriptural in the sense of having some kind of divine authority or inspiration behind them? I know that many of our members view a number of ancient texts as inspired. But what about newer ones? Are there texts within the last few hundred years that our members consider as having some kind of authority? I am wondering, in particular, if any of our members think that the Theosophical texts are divinely inspired or, perhaps, if anyone (other than fra. Nefastos, who I know would be far too humble to consider his own work inspired) believes something like Fosforos is "scriptural?"

I also love religious and spiritual paths that are based on oral tradition. I agree, there is more of an emphasis on ecstatic experience in those. But I do love "Religions of the Book." I'm a big reader and reading spiritual books is one of my favorite things to do. However, a book cannot do justice to something like a shamanic experience. Not at all.

And, lastly, your comments about American asatruar are something I've noticed as well. I think the fact that America is so Christian and many pagans and heathens are experiencing a reaction to their Christian upbringing has caused a lot of American asatruar and other pagans to feel the need for "Commandments" and "holy books." It also seems to come along a lot of the time with a heavy dose of racism, in this country, which is truly regrettable. There's nothing I know of to indicate that the Norse were white supremacists but Americans who "reconstruct" their faith seem to frequently feel the need to add that part. I think that is simply a sign that American society is very, very sick in some very serious ways.
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Kenazis
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Re: What is "Scripture?"

Postby Kenazis » Thu Jul 07, 2016 10:56 pm

Sebomai wrote:I know that many of our members view a number of ancient texts as inspired. But what about newer ones? Are there texts within the last few hundred years that our members consider as having some kind of authority? I am wondering, in particular, if any of our members think that the Theosophical texts are divinely inspired or, perhaps, if anyone (other than fra. Nefastos, who I know would be far too humble to consider his own work inspired) believes something like Fosforos is "scriptural?"
I don't see any scripture itself to be spiritual authority, but see many books to be able to act spiritually uplifting for person. For me The Lord of the Rings might be more spiritually uplifting than Quran etc. I think Nefastos' books have been more helpful spiritually than Bible, so I would say they have "spiritual authority" of some degree. I try to think newer scriptures than "the classics", but nothing really comes in mind. Pekka Ervast's books have been life changing for sure.
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Re: What is "Scripture?"

Postby Nefastos » Fri Jul 08, 2016 11:11 am

I see this thing a bit differently. I believe that every book is inspired from the spiritual world. It is the nature of the spirit plus that of the medium (for every author is also a medium) that makes that good or bad, or partly good and partly bad. The infinitely vast hierarchy of spirits - from the lowest imp to the loftiest god - makes it extremely hard to consider what book is inspired in a "divine" way; rather, I would suggest the more nuanced way of analyzing the different classes of inspiration. Most often there are many spirits making up one work, for man is the microcosm and capable of uniting even the opposite forces.

Relationship between the inspiring demon - which can be one's own Luciferian Ego, who is a separate entity, or one's adept master, or this or that archetypal god, even if it falls to that rare class of very high inspiration: and most often these all co-operate in a single project - and an author is like the relationship between a couple in love. There are thousands and millions of things that can go wrong, but as long as there is love, respect & utter sincerity, the mutual harmony can and will be found in that love-making that produces the spiritual children - books inspired in the best sense of the word.
Faust: "Lo contempla. / Ei muove in tortuosa spire / e s'avvicina lento alla nostra volta. / Oh! se non erro, / orme di foco imprime al suol!"
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Sebomai
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Re: What is "Scripture?"

Postby Sebomai » Fri Jul 08, 2016 8:37 pm

Fra. Nefastos, thanks again for another very thought-provoking response. And I see a lot of value in fra. Kenazis's response as well. The sense that a book can be very spiritually important to a specific individual, more so than another book that is alleged by many to be a spiritual authority.

I guess, ultimately, whatever books elevate a person and cause them to strive for what is best in themselves is a spiritual authority and a kind of scripture for that person. Some books lend themselves to that better than others, as in fra. Nefastos's discussion of the different spirits involved in the creation of a book, but much of the value is also determined by the one reading and what they take from that book.

I've really enjoyed this discussion. :twisted:
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Re: What is "Scripture?"

Postby RPSTOVAL » Sun Jul 29, 2018 2:16 am

A religious scripture, is usually a kind of text that unfolds in several layers to the reader, generally considered to be universal truth to the believer (whether in a literal, symbolic or metaphorical sense depending on the religion or spiritual tradition in question)
The layers include everything from metaphysics and cosmology, to morals/ethics, practices, philosophy, Gnosis, law and so forth. Both on a personal level and on a grand, universal level (microcosmic and macrocosmic), most proper scriptures have both exoteric and esoteric layers which can be meticulously pulled apart - both The Bible and Liber Legis are good examples)
Different religious scriptures (such as in Hindu and Buddhist traditions) may cater to different purposes (like instructional Tantric texts, which twofold cover cosmology with internal mechanisms), but the central 'canon' scripture of most religions (Vedas for Hindusim, Bible for Christianity, Quran for Islam, Liber Legis for Thelema) will have all the above list contained to varying degrees.

Scriptures are like a seed of a tree in a sense.
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Re: What is "Scripture?"

Postby Alfalfa » Mon Oct 29, 2018 6:06 pm

Sebomai wrote:We are all familiar with writings termed "Scriptural." The Bible, both Testaments, the Q'uran, the Vedas, the Sutras of Buddhism, the Gnostic texts, the early writings of the lamas from Tibet. Even mythological texts carry a Scriptural weight with many modern pagans.

The word "Scripture" indicates a writing of some kind of deep and profound, oftentimes Divine, authority. But are there any writings in the last few hundred years that anyone here would consider Scriptural? Anything past the time of the rise of the great religious traditions? Or maybe older works that aren't commonly recognized as having that authority but you personally think deserve it? They can be occult or religious or mythological or even particularly deep metaphysical philosophy works.

I think the most recent example of a book that has a lot of adherents who consider it Scripture that I can think of is Crowley's The Book of the Law. I don't consider it as such but Thelemites certainly do.
An excellent question. Of course, the word 'scriptura' is latin and we have a long tradition of considering the Bible as the scripture, at least in the latin language, which long prevailed as the official and even “sacred“ language of the church after roman legacy. You've also capitulazied the first letter, which is the way for example Augustine does it, i.e. 'Scripturas' in difference to mere scriptures as something written. It's good to take some notice about the being written of these scriptures and why they even in Augustine's time were not anymore being writed. As we all know, the process of canonizing the Bible was a certain historical process which started to take place, probably in some form immediately even in the preceding oral tradition, but as more organized when christianity steadily gained publicity and power over official positions. It should be reminded, that some form of discussion about the authenticity of this or that rumour of course happened even in the oral tradition. Oral traditions could even be quite accurate, e.g. Homer's works in the ancient Greece. When a rumour gains official status as an important tale of the community, it also comes under the attention of differing structures of society, i.e.social classes.
                   We could compare the situation to the place of grammatics as a 'kanōn' for ruling about the structures of language of the same time. Grammatical structures are abstractions of identity , which are in their canonical form provided by the ruling social elite of early societes to control the variety of speech found in the everyday conversations of the common rubble. This kind of ruling over language comes first a topic by the civilized ruling class for the purposes of ruling the common rubble. For example, Varro enlightens the benefits of grammatical uniformity by the acquisition of slaves: when slaves are introduced to a household, they will more quickly learn the differences in commands, if the language is structured. The common rubble doesn't have households with multiple slaves and don't have the corresponding need to introduce grammatical uniformity to speech, at least not in the same degree. Then, for example declination of nouns as the 'analogos', is a more canonical way of using speech, which corresponds closely to a special setting of purposes, as do uneveness in language as the 'anōmalos'.
                   Christianity does not start by canonizing it through a certain set of rules, which would later be given even sacred authority, even as the latin language in it's finished form, i.e. as a dead language. It's noteworthy, that before canonizing the rumours of Christ as “Scriptura“ by the more civilized and powerful classes, it was mostly property of the lower class rubble, the 'vulgus'. It's not like oral tradition couldn't be at least nearly as accurate as writing, since especially the more common class of people in earlier times used writing only a little or not at all, and were consequently much better in memoriziation of long sentences. It's like in the old egyptian story about the inventing of writing: it's quite accurately called a device for forgetting. We can't be sure about the contents of the oral tradition preceding written stories about Christ, but the mindset certainly was different. Ancient people were not all that dumb and even though the lack of a fixed scripture probably makes distortions of the original sentences more likely to happen, it also favours the obvious consciousness about the orality of this tradition. Tongue is more flexible than writing and the consciousness of this in a way guards the oral tradition against misperceived “eternal“ accuracy of writing.
                   When the writings were fixed, it was much more credible to give them a divine, i.e. “eternal“ authority as the one-and-only, which can be securely possessed and made reference to, which ended up in rather eternal squandering over commas, hyphes, apostrophes, etc. It's a pretty good saying of Kierkegaard, that God doesn't like a pettifogger and canonizing the oral tradition as “scripture“ gave at least the civilized classes something to squander over, which eventually gave birth to a certain class of priests who hold the divine more securely as a possession, like e.g. a grammatic's teacher holds power over the detailed structures of language, more pertinent to certain ruling classes. Even as throughout history we can find in some form the difference between the “official“ language and more “vulgar“ dialects, the good message of Christ eventually become the property of pettifoggers. Luther changed only one aspect of this: it's not only the “priests“ who should have the privilege of nitpicking, but everyone should be such a priest in their own christian right. This of course can't be blamed only on Luther, who had more advanced understanding of interpretation.
                It's in a certain way better to know nothing about a subject and be conscious of this, than to know something about it and be convince oneself of knowing already everything about it. Oral tradition can be very accurate and detailed, even though even in such form it will still probably be more or less property of a special class to remember it in such a degree, but the multiplicity of traditions should make one more conscious, that detail should not be given exceptional and unnecessary attention here. The so called synoptic evangeliums still conserve this richness in form, which is better exactly because it doesn't pretend to be totally accurate, even by the standards of it's own time of origination. The Bible as the “holy“ and “inspired“ book of christianity is a hoax with no basis on the word of Christ, even though the “word“ of Christ is supposedly preserved more originally in the texts than it might have done as a living oral tradition. It's not as if the books were to be condemned in favor of an imagined oral tradition, it's well enough to be conscious about the fact, that by this book christianity certainly is not originally about a book as the “word“ of God, but about Christ as the word of God.  Even thinking merely historically it's quite preposterous to think that historical figures, e.g. Socrates or Christ would have their historical being only as a certain vibration in the air or as ink on a book's page, since air and books don't themselves bleed or sweat, nor do they die of poison, but Christ bleeds and sweats, as Socrates dies of poison.

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