Outline of Christianity’s Religious Texts
Christianity, like other religions, has adherents whose beliefs and biblical interpretations vary. Christianity regards the biblical canon, the Old Testament and the New Testament, as the inspired word of God. The traditional view of inspiration is that God worked through human authors so that what they produced was what God wished to communicate. The Greek word referring to inspiration in 2 Timothy 3:16 is theopneustos, which literally means “God-breathed”.
Some believe that divine inspiration makes our present Bibles inerrant. Others claim inerrancy for the Bible in its original manuscripts, although none of those are extant. Still others maintain that only a particular translation is inerrant, such as the King James Version. Another closely related view is biblical infallibility or limited inerrancy, which affirms that the Bible is free of error as a guide to salvation, but may include errors on matters such as history, geography, or science.
The outline is a non-exhaustive list of links to specific Christianity’s religious texts which may be used for further, more in-depth study.
The primary sacred text of Christianity is the Bible. Its name is derived from the Latin word biblia, which simply means “books.” The Christian Bible is made of two parts: the Old Testament, which is almost identical to the Jewish Bible; and the New Testament, a collection of Christian writings that includes biographies of Jesus Christ and the apostles, like the Apostle Paul, letters to new churches, and an apocalyptic work.
The Bible (the Old Testament and the New Testament). The Apostolic churches (Catholicism and Orthodoxy) also include the Deuterocanonicals.
- Bible – any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity.
- Old Testament – Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians, and which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism.
- Law (The Torah)– first five books of the Hebrew Bible.
- Writings (Ketuvim)– third and final section of the Hebrew Bible.
- Prophets (Nevi’im)– second of the three major sections in the Hebrew Bible.
- Deuterocanonical books – term used since the sixteenth century in the Catholic Church and Eastern Christianity to describe certain books and passages of the Christian Old Testament that are not part of the Hebrew Bible.
- New Testament – second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first division being the Old Testament.
- Antilegomena – written texts whose authenticity or value is disputed
- Book of Mormon – sacred text of the Latter Day Saint movement that adherents believe contains writings of ancient prophets who lived on the American continent from approximately 2200 BC to AD 421.
- Notha – works rejected by the early Church.
- Gospel of Thomas – well preserved early Christian, non-canonical sayings-gospel discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in December 1945, in one of a group of books known as the Nag Hammadi library.
- Authors of the Bible – Few biblical books are regarded by scholars as the product of a single individual; all have been edited and revised to produce the work we read today.
- The Bible and history – Bible from a historical perspective, includes numerous fields of study, ranging from archeology and astronomy to linguistics and methods of comparative literature.
- Bible chronology – Bible (Tanakh / Old Testament) measures the passage of time and thus gives a chronological framework to biblical history from the Creation until the kingdoms of Israel and Judah through various genealogies, generations, reign-periods, and other means.
- Coptic versions of the Bible – There have been many Coptic versions of the Bible, including some of the earliest translations into any language.
- Genealogy of the Bible – There are various genealogies described in the Bible.
- History of the English Bible – Partial translations of the Bible into languages of the English people can be traced back to the end of the 7th century, including translations into Old English and Middle English.
- List of burial places of biblical figures – list of burial places attributed to Biblical personalities according to various religious and local traditions.
- List of artifacts significant to the Bible – list of artifacts, objects created or modified by human culture, that are significant to the historicity of the Bible.
- Syriac versions of the Bible – Syria played an important or even predominant role in the beginning of Christianity.
- Bible Translations
The contents of Christian Bibles differ by denomination.
- The Canon of Trent defines a canonical list of books of the Catholic Bible that includes the whole 73-book canon recognized by the Catholic Church, including the deuterocanonical books. (In versions of the Latin Vulgate, 3 Esdras, 4 Esdras, and the Prayer of Manasseh are included in an appendix, but considered non-canonical).
- Most Protestant Bibles include the Hebrew Bible’s 24 books (the protocanonical books) divided differently (into 39 books) and the 27-book New Testament for a total of 66 books. Some denominations (e.g. Anglicanism) also include the 15 books of the biblical apocrypha between the Old Testament and the New Testament, for a total of 81 books.
- Greek and Eastern Orthodox Bibles include the anagignoskomena, which consist of the Catholic deuterocanon, plus 3 Maccabees, Psalm 151, the Prayer of Manasseh, and 3 Esdras; The Fourth Book of Maccabees is considered to be canonical by the Georgian Orthodox Church. The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, is authoritative.
- The Church of the East includes most of the deuterocanonical books of the Old Testament which are found in the Peshitta (The Syriac Version of the Bible). The New Testament in modern versions contains the 5 disputed books (2 Peter, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, and Revelation) that were originally excluded.
- In Oriental Orthodoxy, the biblical canon differs in each Patriarchate.
- The Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Church has at various times included a variety of books in the New Testament which are not included in the canons of other traditions.
- The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (and its daughter, the Eritrean Orthodox Church) accept various books according to either of the Narrower or the Broader Canons but always include the entire Catholic deuterocanon, the Prayer of Manasseh, 3 Ezra, 4 Ezra, and The Book of Josippon. They may also include the Book of Jubilees, Book of Enoch, 1 Baruch, 4 Baruch, as well as 1, 2, and 3 Meqabyan (no relation to the Books of Maccabees). The New Testament contains the Sinodos, the Books of the Covenant, Clement, and the Didascalia.
- Some Syrian Churches, regardless of whether they are Eastern Catholic, Nestorian, Oriental or Eastern Orthodox, accept the Letter of Baruch as scripture.
- Christian Scientists
- The Bible
- Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. This textbook, along with the Bible, serves as the permanent “impersonal pastor” of the church.
- Nag Hammadi library and other Gnostic texts (not from the Bible)
- Some books of the Old Testament and New Testament
- Cerdonianism and Marcionism
- Only the Gospel of Marcion and selected Pauline epistles accepted
- Jehovah’s Witnesses
- The Bible (The New World Translation of the Holy Scriptures is their preferred translation.)
Latter Day Saint movement
- The Bible
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) uses the LDS edition of the King James Bible for English-speaking members; other versions are used in non-English speaking countries. The Community of Christ (RLDS) uses the Joseph Smith Translation, which it calls the Inspired Version, as well as updated modern translations.
- The Book of Mormon
- The Doctrine and Covenants. There are significant differences in content and section numbering between the Doctrine and Covenants used by the Community of Christ (RLDS) and the LDS Church.
- The Pearl of Great Price is authoritative in the LDS Church, rejected by Community of Christ.
Native American Church
- The Bible (among Christian-leaning factions only)
- The Bible (Ethiopian Orthodox canon)
- the Holy Piby
- the Kebra Nagast
- The speeches and writings of Haile Selassie I (including his autobiography My Life and Ethiopia’s Progress)
- Royal Parchment Scroll of Black Supremacy
- The Bible
- The writings of Ellen White are held to an elevated status, though not equal with the Bible, as she is considered to have been an inspired prophetess.
- The Bible (several books omitted)
- The works of Emanuel Swedenborg (not considered equal to the Bible)
- The Divine Principle
- The Bible as illuminated by more recent revelation
Liturgical books are used to guide or script worship, and many are specific to a denomination.
- Catholic liturgical books
- Books of the clergy
- The Roman Missal (The pope, archbishops, bishops, priests and deacons editions)
- The Book of the Gospels (evangeliary/evangelion)
- The Lectionary
- Sacramentary (for bishops and priests)
- Pontifical (for bishops)
- Cæremoniale Episcoporum (for bishops)
- Breviary (Hours/Divine Office)
- Gradual (Roman gradual, antiphonal, cantatory)
- Liber Usualis (Book of Common Use/Gregorian chants)
- Roman Ritual (baptism, benedictions, blessings, burials, exorcisms, etc.)
- Roman Martyrology (saints/The blessed)
- Books of church attendants:
- Missal (pew cyclical editions)
- Missalette (pew seasonal editions)
- Hymnal (pew hymnbook editions)
- Books of the clergy
- Protestant liturgical books
- Evangelical Lutheran Hymn-Book (ELHB) 1912
- The Lutheran Hymnal (TLH) 1941
- Lutheran Book of Prayer (LBP) 1941
- Lutheran Service Book and Hymnal (SBH) 1958
- Lutheran Book of Worship (LBW) 1978
- Lutheran Worship (LW) 1982
- Evangelical Lutheran Worship (ELW) 2006
- Lutheran Service Book (LSB) 2006
- Numerous hymn, service and guide books (varies by church)
- The Sunday Service of the Methodists
- Book of Worship for Church and Home (1965)
- The Book of Hymns
- The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Church)
- The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992) (United Methodist Church)
- Book of Discipline (United Methodist) (John Wesley-1784, United Methodist Church-2016)
- Numerous hymn, service and guide books (varies by church)
- Southern Baptists
- Baptist Hymnal
- Numerous hymn, service and guide books (varies by church)
Doctrines and laws
Various Christian denominations have texts which define the doctrines of the group or set out laws which are considered binding. The groups consider these to range in permanence from unquestionable interpretations of divine revelations to human decisions made for convenience or elucidation which are subject to reconsideration.
- Doctrines such as the Trinity, the virgin birth and atonement
- The Ten Commandments (עֲשֶׂרֶת הַדִּבְּרוֹת, Aseret ha’Dibrot), also known in Christianity as the Decalogue, are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship.
- The Christian Science textbook Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, along with the Bible, serves as the permanent “impersonal pastor” of the Church of Christ, Scientist.
- Seventh-day Adventists hold the writings of Ellen White are held to an elevated status, though not equal with the Bible, as she is considered to have been an inspired prophetess.
- Swedenborgianism is defined by the Biblical interpretations of Emanuel Swedenborg starting with Arcana Cœlestia
- H. Emilie Cady‘s 1896 Lessons in Truth, A Course of Twelve Lessons in Practical Christianity is considered a core text of the Unity Church.
- In Catholicism, the concept of Magisterium reserves matters of religious interpretation to the church, with various levels of infallibility expressed in various documents.
- Infallibility of the Church is applied to:
- To the decisions of ecumenical councils in Catholic, some Orthodox, and some Protestant denominations, though the non-Catholic denominations only accept certain councils as genuinely ecumenical.
- The Salvation Army Handbook of Doctrine
- Transubstantiation and Marian teachings in Roman Catholic theology. The department of the Roman Curia which deals with questions of doctrine is called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
- The distinctive Calvinist doctrine of “double” predestination
- The Methodist Church of Great Britain refers to the “doctrines to which the preachers of the Methodist Church are pledged” as doctrinal standards
Christianity’s Religious Texts in Sacred Texts.com
- The Complete Sayings of Jesus
by Arthur Hinds, int. by Norman Vincent Peale 
Read everything Jesus says in the New Testament in one sitting.
There is now a separate Gnosticism Index.
- Pistis Sophia
Translated by G.R.S. Mead .
- Corpus Hermeticum
Translated by G.R.S. Mead
- The Hymn of Jesus, Echoes from the Gnosis
tr. by G.R.S. Mead .
- Gnostic John the Baptizer
Selections from the Mandæan John-Book, tr. by G.R.S. Mead .
Note: While the Mandaeans are not Christians, this text is important for the study of Gnostic beliefs — editor.
- The Book of Giants
A fragmentary Manichaean text.
- Apocrypha Arabica
by Margaret Dunlop Gibson 
- The Gospel of Thomas [ca. 200 C.E.]
- The Lord’s Prayer
- Hail Mary (Ave Maria)
- The Apostles’ Creed
- Nicene Creed
- The Athanasian Creed
- Works of St. Augustine
- The Confessions of Saint Augustine (401 C.E.)
by St. Augustine, tr. by Edward Bouverie Pusey [1909-14]
- Writings of the Early Church Fathers
Thanks to the Christian Classics Ethereal Library
- The Works of Dionysius the Areopagite (ca. 400 C.E.)
by Dionysius the Areopagite, tr. by John Parker 
A very early Christian mystic writer with Neoplatonist influences.
- The Book of the Bee
Edited and translated by E. A. Wallis Budge 
A Nestorian Christian sacred history.
- The Book of the Cave of Treasures
translated from the Syriac by E. A. Wallis Budge 
- The Kebra Nagast
tr. by E. A. Wallis Budge 
The legendary history of Ethiopia.
Mediaeval, Renaissance and Reformation
- Bede’s Ecclesiastical History of England (731)
by Bede, ed. by A.M. Sellar 
- Works of St. Anselm (b. 1033 d. 1109)
by St. Anselm of Canterbury, tr. by Sidney Norton Deane A medieval Italian scholar who originated the ontological argument for the existence of God.
- The Love Letters of Abelard and Heloise (1128)
Tr. by Anonymous, edited by Israel Gollancz and Honnor Morten 
The tragic romance of two top Christian intellectuals in 12th century France.
- The Story of My Misfortunes: The Autobiography of Peter Abelard
Tr. by Henry Adams Bellows 
- The Writings of St. Francis of Assisi (b. 1181 d. 1226)by Paschal Robinson 
Includes the Canticle of the Sun, a moving prayer of praise to “Brother Sun, Sister Moon.”
- The Little Flowers of St. Francis
Trans. by W. Heywood 
The legends of St. Francis and the early Franciscans.
- Summa Theologica (1265-1274)
by St. Thomas Aquinas, tr. by The Fathers of the English Dominican Province 
An encylopedia-length work which deals with every concievable aspect of Catholic theology.
- The Adornment of the Spiritual Marriage
by Jan van Ruysbroeck, (b. 1293 d. 1381) tr. by C. A. Wynschenk Dom, ed. by Evelyn Underhill 
Writings of an influential Flemish Christian mystic.
- The Divine Comedy (1306-21)
by Dante Alighieri, tr. by Henry F. Cary, 
- The Cloud of Unknowing (ca. 1400)
by Anonymous, ed. by Evelyn Underhill 
Meditations of an anonymous 14th century Christian mystic.
- Imitation of Christ (ca. 1418)
by Thomas a Kempis, tr. by William Benham 
A contemplative classic of Christian mysticism.
- The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola (composed 1522-1524, published 1548)
by St. Ignatius of Loyola, tr. by Elder Mullan 
A plan of contemplation to be carried out over about a month, by the founder of the Jesuits.
- Texts of Martin Luther (b. 1483 d. 1546)
- Texts of John Calvin (b. 1509 d. 1564)
- Foxe’s Book of Martyrs by John Foxe [ca. 1560]
- Synod of Dordrecht [1618-9]
- Heidelberg Catechism
- The Second Helvetic Confession
- Church Order (Reformed Churches of the Netherlands) [1618-9]
- Liturgy of the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands
- Westminster Shorter Catechism 
- The Westminster Confession of Faith
- Westminster Larger Catechism
- The Works of Stephen Charnock by Stephen Charnock [1629-1690]
Theological works of an important Puritan Divine.
- Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained by John Milton [1667 and 1671]
- Pilgrim’s Progress
by John Bunyan  The classic Christian allegory of spiritual redemption.
by James Anthony Froude 
A biography of the author of Pilgrim’s Progress.
- Angelus Silesius
- Selections from The Cherubinic Wanderer
trans. with intro. by J. E. Crawford Flitch 
- Alexandrines: translated from the “Cherubinischer Wandersmann”, Julia Bilger 
- The Interior Castle
or, The Mansions, by St. Teresa of Avila 
A roadmap to mystical union with God.
- Ordinary of the Mass
 [Latin and English]
The core text of the Catholic liturgy, in parallel Latin and English.
- Unitarian Christianity By William Ellery Channing 
- New England Primer 
- Evidence from Scripture and History of the Second Coming of Christ by William Miller 
Miller predicted that Jesus would return in 1844.
- The Dolorous Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Anne Catherine Emmerich 
The primary source for the movie ‘The Passion of the Christ.’
- The Great Controversy by Ellen G. White 
One of the earliest documents of the movement which became the Seventh-day Adventists.
- Notes on the Book of the Revelation by John Nelson Darby  (2nd ed.)
- The Man of Sorrows by John Nelson Darby [no date (pre-1882)]
- Hymns of the Eastern Church by J. Neale  (5th ed.)
A rich selection of Byzantine hymns.
- Shaker documents
- The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ by Nicolas Notovitch, trans. by J. H. Connelly and L. Landsberg 
Did Jesus spend his lost years in India?
- The Baltimore (Catholic) Catechism 
- Lives of the Saints by Alban Butler, John Gilmary Shea (Benziger Bros. ed.) 
400 Catholic Saints’ days from around the year
- The Didache by Charles H. Hoole 
A very early Christian apocryphal text.
- Jesus An Essene by Edward Planta Nesbit 
Was Jesus a member of the group which cached the Dead Sea Scrolls?
- The Doctrine of the Last Things by W.O.E. Oesterley 
Eschatology for everyone.
- The Seeming Unreality of the Spiritual Life by Henry Churchill King 
- Jesus, the Last Great Initiate by Edouard Schuré, tr. by F. Rothwell 
The historical context of Jesus, and the esoteric significance of his teachings.
- Folk-lore of the Holy Land by J. E. Hanauer 
Moslem, Christian and Jewish tales from old Palestine.
- Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy 
- John Wesley’s Place in History by Woodrow Wilson 
- The Book of Revelation by Clarence Larkin 
- The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ by Levi H. Dowling 
- The Gist of Swedenborg by Julian K. Smyth and William F. Wunsch 
- The Political Aspects of S. Augustine’s ‘City of God’ by John Neville Figgis 
- Human Nature in the Bible by William Lyon Phelps 
- Pageant of the Popes by John Farrow 
Two thousand years of papal history in one continuous narrative.
- The Trial of Christ by David K. Breed 
Could Jesus have been acquitted on a technicality?
- The Theological Declaration of Barmen 
- The (Episcopal) Book of Common Prayer