Tag Archive: Blue

Aspartame exposed — GM Bacteria used to create deadly sweetener


Anthony Gucciardi
January 5, 2010

The manufacturers of the most prevalent sweetener in the world have a secret, and it’s not a sweet one. Aspartame, an artificial sweetener found in thousands of products worldwide, has been found to be created using genetically modified (GM) bacteria. What`s even more shocking is how long this information has been known. A 1999 article by The Independent was the first to expose the abominable process in which aspartame was created. Ironically, the discovery was made around the same time as rich leaders around the globe met at the G8 Summit to discuss the safety of GM foods.

The 1999 investigation found that Monsanto, the largest biotech corporation in the world, often used GM bacteria to produce aspartame in their US production plants. The end result is a fusion between two of the largest health hazards to ever hit the food industry — artificial sweetenersand an array of genetically altered organisms. Both have led to large-scale debate, with aspartame being the subject of multiple congressional hearings and scientific criticism. Scientists and health advocates are not the only ones to speak out against aspartame, however. The FDA received a flurry of complaints from consumers using NutraSweet, a product containing aspartame. Since 1992, the FDA has stopped documenting reports on the subject.

The process in which aspartame is created involves combining an amino acid known as phenylalanine with aspartic acid. First synthesized in 1965, aspartame requires bacteria for the sole purpose of producing phenylalanine. Monsanto discovered that through genetically altering this bacteria, phenylalanine could be created much more quickly. In the report by The Independent, Monsanto openly admitted that their mutated bacteria is a staple in the creation process of aspartame.

“We have two strains of bacteria – one is traditionally modified and one is genetically modified,” said the source from Monsanto. “It’s got a modified enzyme. It has one amino acid different.”

Multiple studies have been conducted regarding genetic manipulation, with many grim conclusions. One study found that the more GM corn was fed to mice, the fewer babies they had. Another study, published in the International Journal of Biological Sciences, found that the organs that typically respond to chemical food poisoning were the first to encounter problems after subjects consumed GMfoods. The same study also states that GM foods should not be commercialized.

“For the first time in the world, we’ve proven that GMO are neither sufficiently healthy nor proper to be commercialized. […] Each time, for all three GMOs, the kidneys and liver, which are the main organs that react to a chemical food poisoning, had problems,” indicated Gilles-Eric Seralini, an expert member of the Commission for Biotechnology Reevaluation.

Consumer groups are now curious as to whether or not other products secretly contain genetically modified ingredients. Due to the fact that the finished product`s DNA does not change when using genetically modified bacteria, it is hard to know for sure. With the FDA ruling against the labeling of GM salmon, it is becoming more of a challenge to determine whether or not a product contains GM ingredients. Consumers are voicing their opposition for GM ingredients going incognito, with the largest growing retail brand being GMO-free products.

“The public wants to know and the public has a right to know,” said Marion Nestle, a professor in the Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health Department at New York University.

Unveiling the secret process in which aspartame is created acts as yet another reminder to stay away from artificial sweeteners, and one should choose natural alternatives such as palm sugar, xylitol, or stevia.

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[Editor`s Note: NaturalNews is strongly against the use of all forms of animal testing. We fully support implementation of humane medical experimentation that promotes the health and wellbeing of all living creatures.]

http://www.biosicherheit.de/pdf/akt… (PDF)

Learn more:http://www.naturalnews.com/030918_aspartame_GM_bacteria.html#ixzz1ABMJe6wm


Aspartame is, by far, the most dangerous substance on the market that is added to foods.

Aspartame is the technical name for the brand names NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure. It was discovered by accident in 1965 when James Schlatter, a chemist of G.D. Searle Company, was testing an anti-ulcer drug.

What you don’t know WILL hurt you. Find out the dangerous effects of artificial sweeteners to your health.

Aspartame was approved for dry goods in 1981 and for carbonated beverages in 1983. It was originally approved for dry goods on July 26, 1974, but objections filed by neuroscience researcher Dr John W. Olney and Consumer attorney James Turner in August 1974 as well as investigations of G.D. Searle’s research practices caused the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to put approval of aspartame on hold (December 5, 1974). In 1985, Monsanto purchased G.D. Searle and made Searle Pharmaceuticals and The NutraSweet Company separate subsidiaries.

Aspartame accounts for over 75 percent of the adverse reactions to food additives reported to the FDA. Many of these reactions are very serious including seizures and death.(1) A few of the 90 different documented symptoms listed in the report as being caused by aspartame include: Headaches/migraines, dizziness, seizures, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, weight gain, rashes, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, vision problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, tinnitus, vertigo, memory loss, and joint pain.

According to researchers and physicians studying the adverse effects of aspartame, the following chronic illnesses can be triggered or worsened by ingesting of aspartame:(2) Brain tumors, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, chronic fatigue syndrome, parkinson’s disease, alzheimer’s, mental retardation, lymphoma, birth defects, fibromyalgia, and diabetes.

Aspartame is made up of three chemicals: aspartic acid, phenylalanine, and methanol. The book “Prescription for Nutritional Healing,” by James and Phyllis Balch, lists aspartame under the category of “chemical poison.” As you shall see, that is exactly what it is.

What Is Aspartame Made Of?

Aspartic Acid (40 percent of Aspartame)

Dr. Russell L. Blaylock, a professor of neurosurgery at the Medical University of Mississippi, recently published a book thoroughly detailing the damage that is caused by the ingestion of excessive aspartic acid from aspartame. Blaylock makes use of almost 500 scientific references to show how excess free excitatory amino acids such as aspartic acid and glutamic acid (about 99 percent of monosodium glutamate (MSG) is glutamic acid) in our food supply are causing serious chronic neurological disorders and a myriad of other acute symptoms.(3)

How Aspartate (and Glutamate) Cause Damage

aspartateAspartate and glutamate act as neurotransmitters in the brain by facilitating the transmission of information from neuron to neuron. Too much aspartate or glutamate in the brain kills certain neurons by allowing the influx of too much calcium into the cells. This influx triggers excessive amounts of free radicals, which kill the cells. The neural cell damage that can be caused by excessive aspartate and glutamate is why they are referred to as “excitotoxins.” They “excite” or stimulate the neural cells to death.
Aspartic acid is an amino acid. Taken in its free form (unbound to proteins) it significantly raises the blood plasma level of aspartate and glutamate. The excess aspartate and glutamate in the blood plasma shortly after ingesting aspartame or products with free glutamic acid (glutamate precursor) leads to a high level of those neurotransmitters in certain areas of the brain.

The blood brain barrier (BBB), which normally protects the brain from excess glutamate and aspartate as well as toxins, 1) is not fully developed during childhood, 2) does not fully protect all areas of the brain, 3) is damaged by numerous chronic and acute conditions, and 4) allows seepage of excess glutamate and aspartate into the brain even when intact.

The excess glutamate and aspartate slowly begin to destroy neurons. The large majority (75 percent or more) of neural cells in a particular area of the brain are killed before any clinical symptoms of a chronic illness are noticed. A few of the many chronic illnesses that have been shown to be contributed to by long-term exposure to excitatory amino acid damage include:

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • ALS
  • Memory loss
  • Hormonal problems
  • Hearing loss
  • Epilepsy
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Hypoglycemia
  • AIDS
  • Dementia
  • Brain lesions
  • Neuroendocrine disorders

The risk to infants, children, pregnant women, the elderly and persons with certain chronic health problems from excitotoxins are great. Even the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), which usually understates problems and mimics the FDA party-line, recently stated in a review that:

“It is prudent to avoid the use of dietary supplements of L-glutamic acid by pregnant women, infants, and children. The existence of evidence of potential endocrine responses, i.e., elevated cortisol and prolactin, and differential responses between males and females, would also suggest a neuroendocrine link and that supplemental L-glutamic acid should be avoided by women of childbearing age and individuals with affective disorders.”(4)

Aspartic acid from aspartame has the same deleterious effects on the body as glutamic acid.

The exact mechanism of acute reactions to excess free glutamate and aspartate is currently being debated. As reported to the FDA, those reactions include:(5)

aspartame effect

  • Headaches/migraines
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pains
  • Fatigue (blocks sufficient glucose entry into brain)
  • Sleep problems
  • Vision problems
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Depression
  • Asthma/chest tigShtness.

One common complaint of persons suffering from the effect of aspartame is memory loss. Ironically, in 1987, G.D. Searle, the manufacturer of aspartame, undertook a search for a drug to combat memory loss caused by excitatory amino acid damage. Blaylock is one of many scientists and physicians who are concerned about excitatory amino acid damage caused by ingestion of aspartame and MSG.

A few of the many experts who have spoken out against the damage being caused by aspartate and glutamate include Adrienne Samuels, Ph.D., an experimental psychologist specializing in research design. Another is Olney, a professor in the department of psychiatry, School of Medicine, Washington University, a neuroscientist and researcher, and one of the world’s foremost authorities on excitotoxins. (He informed Searle in 1971 that aspartic acid caused holes in the brains of mice.)

Phenylalanine (50 percent of aspartame)

Don’t let artificial sweeteners fool you! Order now and find out the risks of using aspartame.

Phenylalanine is an amino acid normally found in the brain. Persons with the genetic disorder phenylketonuria (PKU) cannot metabolize phenylalanine. This leads to dangerously high levels of phenylalanine in the brain (sometimes lethal). It has been shown that ingesting aspartame, especially along with carbohydrates, can lead to excess levels of phenylalanine in the brain even in persons who do not have PKU.

This is not just a theory, as many people who have eaten large amounts of aspartame over a long period of time and do not have PKU have been shown to have excessive levels of phenylalanine in the blood. Excessive levels of phenylalanine in the brain can cause the levels of seratonin in the brain to decrease, leading to emotional disorders such as depression. It was shown in human testing that phenylalanine levels of the blood were increased significantly in human subjects who chronically used aspartame.(6)

Even a single use of aspartame raised the blood phenylalanine levels. In his testimony before the U.S. Congress, Dr. Louis J. Elsas showed that high blood phenylalanine can be concentrated in parts of the brain and is especially dangerous for infants and fetuses. He also showed that phenylalanine is metabolised much more effeciently by rodents than by humans.(7)

One account of a case of extremely high phenylalanine levels caused by aspartame was recently published the “Wednesday Journal” in an article titled “An Aspartame Nightmare.” John Cook began drinking six to eight diet drinks every day. His symptoms started out as memory loss and frequent headaches. He began to crave more aspartame-sweetened drinks. His condition deteriorated so much that he experienced wide mood swings and violent rages. Even though he did not suffer from PKU, a blood test revealed a phenylalanine level of 80 mg/dl. He also showed abnormal brain function and brain damage. After he kicked his aspartame habit, his symptoms improved dramatically.(8)

As Blaylock points out in his book, early studies measuring phenylalanine buildup in the brain were flawed. Investigators who measured specific brain regions and not the average throughout the brain notice significant rises in phenylalanine levels. Specifically the hypothalamus, medulla oblongata, and corpus striatum areas of the brain had the largest increases in phenylalanine. Blaylock goes on to point out that excessive buildup of phenylalanine in the brain can cause schizophrenia or make one more susceptible to seizures.

Therefore, long-term, excessive use of aspartame may provid a boost to sales of seratonin reuptake inhibitors such as Prozac and drugs to control schizophrenia and seizures.

Methanol (aka wood alcohol/poison) (10 percent of aspartame)

Methanol/wood alcohol is a deadly poison. Some people may remember methanol as the poison that has caused some “skid row” alcoholics to end up blind or dead. Methanol is gradually released in the small intestine when the methyl group of aspartame encounter the enzyme chymotrypsin.

The absorption of methanol into the body is sped up considerably when free methanol is ingested. Free methanol is created from aspartame when it is heated to above 86 Fahrenheit (30 Centigrade). This would occur when aspartame-containing product is improperly stored or when it is heated (e.g., as part of a “food” product such as Jello).

methanolMethanol breaks down into formic acid and formaldehyde in the body. Formaldehyde is a deadly neurotoxin. An EPA assessment of methanol states that methanol “is considered a cumulative poison due to the low rate of excretion once it is absorbed. In the body, methanol is oxidized to formaldehyde and formic acid; both of these metabolites are toxic.” They recommend a limit of consumption of 7.8 mg/day. A one-liter (approx. 1 quart) aspartame-sweetened beverage contains about 56 mg of methanol. Heavy users of aspartame-containing products consume as much as 250 mg of methanol daily or 32 times the EPA limit.(9)

Symptoms from methanol poisoning include headaches, ear buzzing, dizziness, nausea, gastrointestinal disturbances, weakness, vertigo, chills, memory lapses, numbness and shooting pains in the extremities, behavioral disturbances, and neuritis. The most well known problems from methanol poisoning are vision problems including misty vision, progressive contraction of visual fields, blurring of vision, obscuration of vision, retinal damage, and blindness. Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen, causes retinal damage, interferes with DNA replication and causes birth defects.(10)

Due to the lack of a couple of key enzymes, humans are many times more sensitive to the toxic effects of methanol than animals. Therefore, tests of aspartame or methanol on animals do not accurately reflect the danger for humans. As pointed out by Dr. Woodrow C. Monte, director of the food science and nutrition laboratory at Arizona State University, “There are no human or mammalian studies to evaluate the possible mutagenic, teratogenic or carcinogenic effects of chronic administration of methyl alcohol.”(11)

He was so concerned about the unresolved safety issues that he filed suit with the FDA requesting a hearing to address these issues. He asked the FDA to “slow down on this soft drink issue long enough to answer some of the important questions. It’s not fair that you are leaving the full burden of proof on the few of us who are concerned and have such limited resources. You must remember that you are the American public’s last defense. Once you allow usage (of aspartame) there is literally nothing I or my colleagues can do to reverse the course. Aspartame will then join saccharin, the sulfiting agents, and God knows how many other questionable compounds enjoined to insult the human constitution with governmental approval.”(10) Shortly thereafter, the Commissioner of the FDA, Arthur Hull Hayes, Jr., approved the use of aspartame in carbonated beverages, he then left for a position with G.D. Searle’s public relations firm.(11)

It has been pointed out that some fruit juices and alcoholic beverages contain small amounts of methanol. It is important to remember, however, that methanol never appears alone. In every case, ethanol is present, usually in much higher amounts. Ethanol is an antidote for methanol toxicity in humans.(9) The troops of Desert Storm were “treated” to large amounts of aspartame-sweetened beverages, which had been heated to over 86 degrees F in the Saudi Arabian sun. Many of them returned home with numerous disorders similar to what has been seen in persons who have been chemically poisoned by formaldehyde. The free methanol in the beverages may have been a contributing factor in these illnesses. Other breakdown products of aspartame such as DKP (discussed below) may also have been a factor.

In a 1993 act that can only be described as “unconscionable,” the FDA approved aspartame as an ingredient in numerous food items that would always be heated to above 86 degree F (30 degree C).

Diketopiperazine (DKP)

DKP is a byproduct of aspartame metabolism. DKP has been implicated in the occurrence of brain tumors. Olney noticed that DKP, when nitrosated in the gut, produced a compound that was similar to N-nitrosourea, a powerful brain tumor causing chemical. Some authors have said that DKP is produced after aspartame ingestion. I am not sure if that is correct. It is definitely true that DKP is formed in liquid aspartame-containing products during prolonged storage.

G.D. Searle conducted animal experiments on the safety of DKP. The FDA found numerous experimental errors occurred, including “clerical errors, mixed-up animals, animals not getting drugs they were supposed to get, pathological specimens lost because of improper handling,” and many other errors.(12) These sloppy laboratory procedures may explain why both the test and control animals had sixteen times more brain tumors than would be expected in experiments of this length.

In an ironic twist, shortly after these experimental errors were discovered, the FDA used guidelines recommended by G.D. Searle to develop the industry-wide FDA standards for good laboratory practices.(11)

DKP has also been implicated as a cause of uterine polyps and changes in blood cholesterol by FDA Toxicologist Dr. Jacqueline Verrett in her testimony before the U.S. Senate.(13)


Aspartame Consumption

By 1984, three years after its initial approval for use in tabletop sweeteners and dry food, US consumption of aspartame had already reached 6.9 million pounds per year. This number doubled the following year, and continued to climb well into the 90’s.

According to statistics published by Forbes Magazine[i] based on Tate & Lyle estimates, aspartame had conquered 55 percent of the artificial sweetener market in 2003. One of the driving factors behind aspartame’s market success is the fact that since it is now off patent protection, it’s far less expensive than other artificial sweeteners like sucralose (Splenda).

2003 sales of artificial sweeteners by region

Today, the statistics on the aspartame market are being kept so close to the vest, it has proven to be virtually impossible to find current data on usage, unless you’re willing to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a market analysis reports and I felt there were better uses for the money than to purchase the answer to that question..

However, a 2009 FoodNavigator article[ii]cites the current global market for aspartame as being less than 37.5 million pounds and worth $637 million.

According to aspartame.org[iii], diet soda accounts for 70 percent of the aspartame consumed. A 12 ounce can of diet soda contains 180 mg of aspartame, and aspartame users ingest an average of 200 mg per day.

However, it can be quite difficult to calculate just how much you’re really ingesting, especially if you consume several types of aspartame-containing foods and beverages. Dosing can vary wildly from product to product. For example, the amount of aspartame will vary from brand to brand, and from flavour to flavour. Some can contain close to twice the amount of aspartame as others, and some contain a combination of aspartame and other artificial sweeteners.

Interestingly, aspartame consumption now seems to have stalled, and there is some indication it may even be on the decline. Perhaps sufficient numbers of people are finally waking up to the unsavoury truth about this chemical sweetener.

It is my intention to educate you about the truth of this harmful and toxic ingredient and drive sales down even further. I have no ulterior motives other than to warn you so that you can protect your and your family’s health, and I sell no competing products.

The only alternative sweetener I recommend is natural stevia, especially the flavoured ones which avoid many of the aftertaste objections some people have about using stevia. It is interesting to note that the powerful food industry has made it illegal to sell natural stevia as a sweetener. If I recommended to use stevia as a sweetener and sold it, the government would immediately file criminal charges and confiscate our product.

On December 17, 2008, the FDA did grant GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) status to rebaudioside , which is one component of the whole stevia plant, and this specific purified component of stevia may be used as a food additive and sold as an alternative sweetener. Examples of include Truvia and Purevia. The jury is still out, however, on whether consuming this one component of stevia is as safe as consuming extract from the whole plant, as all the synergistic, protective factors have been removed in these refined products.

Thankfully there is a loophole that allows vendors to sell extract of whole stevia as a dietary supplement. Since virtually everyone knows it is a sweetener it doesn’t have to say it on the label, so you can still bypass this industry initiated censorship.

Ajinomoto, one of the leading aspartame manufacturers in the world next to NutraSweet, actually rebranded aspartame to AminoSweet[iv] last year, in order to dissociate itself from the negative associations of aspartame.

It also wanted to “remind the industry that aspartame tastes just like sugar, and that it’s made from amino acids – the building blocks of protein that are abundant in our diet,” – as opposed to a concoction of chemicals never before consumed by man, some ingredients of which are more toxic than others.

They will probably deceive some consumers with this newer, more sweetly innocent name that does not bear the same controversial past as the word “aspartame.” But I sincerely doubt they’ll fool anyone even remotely aware of its dangers.

Aspartame can already be found in some 6,000 food products and beverages, and the list is about to get even longer, I’m sure, asAjinomoto announced a global R&D alliance agreement with Kellogg Company[v] earlier this month.


Researchers Continue to Contest ‘the Most Contested’ FDA Approval in History

Concerned scientists and researchers fought and were successful in keeping aspartame out of the food supply for over ten years, ever since it was first considered as a potential food additive, and many of those still alive continue to speak out against it today.

If we fail to learn from history we are doomed to repeat the mistake we made. Many readers have long forgotten what the 60-Minutes’ correspondent Mike Wallace stated in his 1996 report on aspartame – available to view in this 2009 article – that the approval of aspartame was “the most contested in FDA history.” And for good reason.

At the time, independent studies had found it caused brain cancer in lab animals, and the studies submitted by G.D. Searle to the FDA for the approval were quickly suspected of being sloppy at best…

In that 60-Minutes video, former Senator Howard Metzenbaum states:

“According to the FDA themselves, Searle, when making their presentation to the FDA, had willfully misrepresented the facts, and withheld some of the facts that they knew would possibly jeopardize the approval.”

Metzenbaum’s staff investigated the aspartame approval process. He goes on to explain that:

“FDA officials were so upset they sent the file to the US Attorney’s office in Chicago for the purposes of presenting it to the grand jury as to whether or not there should be indictments.

But it wasn’t presented. It was delayed.”

Samuel Skinner, the US attorney who led the grand jury probe ended up withdrawing from the case when he entered into job discussions with Searle’s Chicago law firm, Sidley & Austin – a job he later accepted. Subsequently, the investigation stalled until the statute of limitation ran out, at which point the investigation against Searle was dropped.

For more details on the story of how aspartame made it through the FDA approval process despite warning signs of potential health hazards and alleged scientific fraud, please watch the 60-Minutes report, as Wallace does a nice job of summarizing an otherwise long story.

There are a number of well-written books on the market that detail the twists and turns of this part of history. This Harvard law summary of the legal wrangling[vi] that took place is also a worthwhile read.

Those who claim that aspartame watch-dogs are somehow engaged in conspiracy theories, perhaps do not understand the word “conspiracy,” the simplest definition of which is: “a secret agreement between two or more people to perform an unlawful act.”

In the case of aspartame, it sure does look as though it was a conspiracy — by G.D. Searle & Co., to get a tremendously profitable product to market, no matter what the potential cost in terms of human health.

The FDA itself suspected Searle had unlawfully produced “evidence” to support its claims of safety, and FDA officials were sufficiently disturbed by what they received to launch its first-ever criminal investigation .


A section in the Harvard Law School summary on the history of aspartame states:

“Another study that engendered severe criticism from the Department of Health Education and Welfare was the 46- week toxicity study performed on the hamster.

Although the data appears to be faulty and incomplete, Searle argues that any falsehood in the study is not material to the appraisal of the safety of aspartame.”

How’s that for assurance?

“…In addition to criticizing the study as a whole, the Department alleges that Searle violated Title 18, Section 1001 by falsifying data. The report alleges that the testing ran into problems and instead of correcting them, Searle covered the problem up.”

FDA toxicologist, M. Jacqueline Verrett, Ph.D., discussed what she knew about some of these concerns in her testimony before Congress on November 3, 1987 (S.hrg;100-567).

Verrett’s individual testimony is reprinted here, in which she states:

“From 1957-1977 I was employed as a Biochemist/Toxicologist in what is now designated the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition of the Food and Drug Administration.

… In the early l970’s, I examined the animal studies submitted by G. D. Searle and Co. on aspartame prior to the initial approval by FDA in l974… these studies raised numerous questions in a number of areas that needed to be resolved before approval of aspartame for any food additive use.

In 1977 I served as a member of an FDA team… charged with examining three studies… to determine if they were ‘authentic’. I wish to emphasize at this point that we were specifically instructed not to be concerned with, or comment upon, the overall validity of the study, this was to be done in a subsequent review carried out at the Bureau level.

It is apparent that that review, on a point by point basis, discarded or ignored the problems and deficiencies outlined in this Team report, and concluded that, even in toto, these problems were insufficient to render the study invalid. It also appears that the serious departures from acceptable toxicological protocols that were noted in the reevaluation of these studies were also discounted.”

Verrett goes on to point out a number of the “deficiencies and improper procedures encountered” by her investigative team, which included but were not limited to:

  • Animals were not permanently tagged to avoid mix-ups
  • Tumors were removed and the animals returned to the study
  • Animals were recorded as dead, but subsequent records, after varying periods of time, indicated the same animal was still alive (almost certain evidence of mix-ups)
  • Many animal tissues were decomposed before any postmortem examinations were performed


“Almost any single one of these aberrations would suffice to negate a study designed to assess the safety of a food additive,”Verrett said, “and most certainly a combination of many such improper practices would, since the results are bound to be compromised.

It is unthinkable that any reputable toxicologist, giving a completely objective evaluation of data resulting from such a study, could conclude anything other than that the study was uninterpretable and worthless,and should be repeated.

This is especially important for an additive such as aspartame, which is equally vital since DKP is a major breakdown product of aspartame in liquid media.

Not only is aspartame being used in the absence of basic toxicity information, but there is also no data to assess the toxicity of the interactions of DKP with the excess phenylalanine generated, with any other metabolite of aspartame, and its interactions with other additives, drugs, or other chemicals which may be present simultaneously in persons exposed to high levels of DKP in presweetened liquids such as diet drinks.”

Many critics are using the lack of toxicity data as proof that aspartame is safe, when in fact aspartame appears to have been approved WITHOUT such data – which in my opinion is just another sign of aspartame’s inherent LACK of empirical safety record…

Which brings us to a crucial point.

If you do not know this fact, you may never be able to extract the truth, because the 200+ studies that form the basis of aspartame’s multiple FDA approvals DO exist. Those studies were published, and are quite easy to find as they’re cited by every single conventional health agency and every single aspartame peddler across the world. No one is trying to refute the fact that they exist.

However, they were ALL funded by the aspartame industry.

And guess what happens when you remove corporate interest and influence from the equation…

All Industry-Funded Studies Give Aspartame Clean Bill of Health, While Majority of Independent Research Find Indications of Hazards

A 1996 review of 165 studies[vii] [viii] believed to be relevant to human safety, by Dr. Ralph G. Walton, a professor of Clinical Psychiatry, showed a remarkable discrepancy between study results and their source of funding.

Of the 165 studies, 74 had industry related funding (such as Searle, Nutrasweet®, Ajinomoto, and the International Life Sciences Institute Nutrition Foundation), and 91 were independently funded.

Of those:

  • 100 percent of the industry funded studies supported aspartame’s safety, while
  • 92 percent of the independently funded studies identified at least one potential health concern

However, Dr. Walton also pointed out that of the seven remaining non-industry funded studies, which supported aspartame’s safety, six were done by the FDA, and the seventh was a literature review of mostly industry sponsored research.

Considering the long-standing revolving door between various industries (especially Monsanto, which acquired G.D. Searle in 1985) and the FDA, it’s questionable as to whether an FDA study can be considered truly “independent,” even though they were counted as independent in Walton’s review.

If you give that concern any merit, you’d more or less be looking at 100% of industry related studies claiming aspartame to be safe, and 100% of independent studies flagging some sort of health concern.

If this doesn’t make you raise an eyebrow, then no need to read any further. You’ve slipped comfortably into the all-accepting fold of corporate self-interests, created by massively successful propaganda and public relations efforts, backed by powerful political lobbying.

Only you can decide whether or not you find this discrepancy to be acceptable evidence of rigorous scientific inquiry.

If it makes you question the validity of aspartame’s “100% safe” designation, then read on…

Your Brain on Aspartame

In the Sweet Misery video above, Dr. Russell Blaylock, a recently retired board-certified neurosurgeon and author of the bookExcitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, says that because aspartame is “a poison that affects protein synthesis; affects how the synapses operate in the brain, and affects DNA, it can affect numerous organs. So you can get many different symptoms that seem unconnected.”

However, “when looking at the list of symptoms submitted to the FDA, most of them are neurological,” Dr. Blaylock says.

He’s referring to a Department of Health and Human Services report that categorizes 10,000 adverse reaction reports logged by the FDA (Department of Health and Human Services Quarterly Report on Adverse Reactions Associated with Aspartame Ingestion, DHHS, Washington, DC, October 1, 1986), published here in a 24-page primer on aspartame by Donald Harkins[ix], the former editor and publisher of the Idaho Observer.

Two years prior to that, a CDC MMWR dated November 2, 1984[x], discusses several hundred adverse reaction reports received, and at that time, the majority — 67 percent – of complainants also reported neurological/behavioral symptoms.

Some of the most commonly reported neurological symptoms include:


  • Headaches
  • Changes in behavior or mood
  • “Fuzzy” thinking
  • Seizures
  • Depression[xi]


A 1987 study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives[xii] states:

“If only 1% of the 100,000,000 Americans thought to consume aspartame ever exceed the sweetener’s ADI, and if only 1% of this group happen coincidentally to have an underlying disease that makes their brains vulnerable to the effects of an aspartame-induced rise in brain phenylalanine levels, then the number of people who might manifest adverse brain reactions attributable to aspartame would still be about 10,000, a number on the same order as the number of neutrally related consumer complaints already registered with the FDA and other federal agencies.”

[Note: the ADI for aspartame is 50 mg/kg of body weight in the US. ADI in Europe and Canada is 40 mg/kg of body weight. ]

Published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2008[xiii], a South African study offers further information on the potential workings of aspartame on your brain:

“Phenylalanine plays an important role in neurotransmitter regulation, whereas aspartic acid is also thought to play a role as an excitatory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system.

Glutamate, asparagines and glutamine are formed from their precursor, aspartic acid.

Methanol, which forms 10 % of the broken down product, is converted in your body to formate, which can either be excreted or can give rise to formaldehyde, diketopiperazine (a carcinogen) and a number of other highly toxic derivatives.

Previously, it has been reported that consumption of aspartame could cause neurological and behavioral disturbances in sensitive individuals. Headaches, insomnia and seizures are also some of the neurological effects that have been encountered, and these may be accredited to changes in regional brain concentrations of catecholamines, which include norepinephrine, epinephrine and dopamine.

The aim of this study was to discuss the direct and indirect cellular effects of aspartame on the brain, and we propose thatexcessive aspartame ingestion might be involved in the pathogenesis of certain mental disorders (DSM-IV-TR 2000) and also in compromised learning and emotional functioning.”

There has been loads of conflicting “science” regarding the metabolism of methanol. The emerging evidence suggests that it may be a toxic poison that is one of the leading contributing factors for MS, and that some of the research is subsidized by the producers of methanol to make it appear less harmful.

I hope to an interview in the near future with an expert to review and clarify these details.

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Aspartame and Headaches

The Sweet Misery documentary also includes Dr. H.J. Roberts M.D., a board-certified internist and author of Aspartame Disease: An Ignored Epidemic, who does a fine job of explaining, in layman’s terms, what aspartame is made of, and how patients have, and can, test their vulnerability to this chemical using cessation and rechallenge. (I will also offer further suggestions on how to do this at the end of this article.)

This type of anecdotal evidence, which critics love to dismiss as silly nonsense, can nonetheless be invaluable to the individual in question, as you can clearly discover whether there’s a direct cause and effect on your body from consuming aspartame.

Dr. H.J. Roberts is one of several expert investigators on aspartame and has testified before congress on the topic of aspartame safety.

In a document titled, Professional Opinion of H.J. Roberts, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.C.C.P., Concerning Headaches Caused by the Use of Products Containing Aspartame, he states that:

“People who suffer aspartame-induced headache are likely to encounter denial of this condition by physicians, the FDA and manufacturers.

This situation is largely influenced by “negative scientific studies” sponsored by corporate interests.

I have repeatedly challenged the nature of such studies, especially when the aspartame was administered as capsules or freshly-prepared cool solutions rather than “real world” products, namely soft drinks and other products sold in markets that undergo changes on exposure to high temperature or with storage of more than one or two months.”

One study commonly cited by industry to refute the claim that aspartame causes headaches is the 1987 NEJM study[xiv] which concluded that “aspartame is no more likely to produce headache than placebo.”

However, this study, again, has financial ties to Monsanto (owner of G.D. Searle), and the aspartame was given in capsule form, for one day…

There are a number of studies that point to concerns related to aspartame’s detrimental impact on neurological function.

Under Sources above, you will find a link to a page on my site where I’ve created a list of studies, sorted by the health concern they pertain to, and headaches is just one of many potential concerns. That page is evolving, and I will continue to add to it as I find more relevant studies.

In my follow-up article, I will foray into a couple of the other health problems associated with aspartame.


Taking the Precautionary Principle into Account

Any good scientist, and any skeptic worth their own weight, would follow the evidence to its logical conclusion, no matter where it leads. Unfortunately, we have overwhelming evidence showing that it’s nearly impossible to be impartial when your paycheck is on the line. Any corporation that pays you to investigate their product wants you to produce favorable results, and we know that powerful corporations can make these desires well understood by those who work for them.

Likewise, any good doctor or health professional would adhere to the Hippocratic Oath that says, “First, do no harm.” Yet here we have a chemical sweetener being added to some 6,000 food products, which, due to its sheer prevalence and fervent backing by the conventional medical industry and health agencies, has the potential to harm a vulnerable section of the population.

You’re told it is perfectly safe. (Unless you have a genetic disease called phenylketonuria (PKU), which prevents you from digesting the amino acid phenylalanine. An estimated 1 out of every 15,000 people are born with PKU. This is why aspartame containing products bear a warning label stating the product contains phenylalanine.)

But do you know whether or not you have phenylketonuria, or are part of any other “generally vulnerable” group of people?

Wouldn’t you want to know if you might be at risk?

And if you knew you were vulnerable to its toxic effects, would you still consume high amounts of aspartame?

If you were not, but you knew that a family member or friend was part of that vulnerable subgroup, would you warn them?

These are simple questions that tend to get completely lost in the pro- versus anti-aspartame debate.

Do you think it’s acceptable to willfully sacrifice those who are more vulnerable by issuing no warnings whatsoever? And worse — pulling the wool over their eyes and saying aspartame has no related health hazards whatsoever, even at very high amounts?

I think not.

Consider the 1986 review of 231 adverse reactions to aspartame[xv], which found “no clear symptom complex that suggests a widespread public health hazard associated with aspartame use.” Yet in the following sentence, the researchers admit that:

“…in some case reports… the symptoms may be attributable to aspartame in commonly-consumed amounts.

The systematic application of pre-defined review criteria, such as those described here, to monitor consumer complaintsrelated to food additives will help identify products that warrant more focused clinical studies.”

Staunch aspartame promoters pay no attention to that part – the part that states a certain number of individuals may indeed suffer health consequences, even from commonly-consumed amounts.

They also pay no attention to the fact that this review occurred a mere three years after the US became saturated with aspartame-containing beverages. Today we have thousands upon thousands of adverse reaction reports, anecdotal reports, and physician’s case histories…

These people are indeed being sacrificed, without remorse whatsoever, by those hiding behind supremely biased, profit-driven,industry-funded research.

The conventional medical establishment and our health agencies are frightfully resistant to the possibility that aspartame may have anything to do with health problems – after all, aspartame is FDA approved and has been “safely used” for years!

I have one word for you – Vioxx.

Just one of a multitude of FDA-approved products that — lo and behold – killed tens of thousands of people while the establishment reiterated the industry-funded “scientific evidence” that was the basis for its widespread use.

Are Your Health Problems Related to Aspartame Consumption?

You might not realize you’re having a reaction to aspartame. In fact, most people don’t make the connection, and a tremendous amount of time and money is spent by aspartame “reactors” (people sensitive to the chemical), trying to find out why they are sick.

aspartame (1)

To determine if you’re a reactor, take the following steps:

  1. Eliminate all artificial sweeteners from your diet two weeks. (Note: If you typically consume aspartame in caffeinated drinks, you’ll want to gradually reduce your intake in order to avoid caffeine withdrawal symptoms.)
  2. After two weeks of being artificial sweetener-free, reintroduce aspartame in a significant quantity (about three servings daily) and avoid other artificial sweeteners during this period.
  3. Do this for one to three days and notice how you feel, especially as compared to when you were consuming no artificial sweeteners.
  4. If you don’t notice a difference in how you feel after re-introducing aspartame, it’s a safe bet you’re able to tolerate aspartameacutely, meaning your body doesn’t have an immediate, adverse response. However, this doesn’t mean your health won’t be damaged in the long run by this chemical and its breakdown products.

I’m not trying to deny anyone the pleasure of life that is generated from consuming sweets. However, to promote aspartame to the population at large, without warning that a certain percentage of people may suffer terribly from its consumption is a reckless, irresponsible ethical breech, and clearly contributes to much unnecessary suffering in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars of profit..

In the end it’s up to you to decide what you want to put into your body. Just make it an educated decision.

How Does Aspartame Damage Your Brain?


Consuming a lot of aspartame may inhibit the ability of enzymes in your brain to function normally, according to a new review by scientists from the University of Pretoria and the University of Limpopo.
The review found that high doses of the sweetener may lead to neurodegeneration. It has also previously been found that aspartame consumption can cause neurological and behavioral disturbances in sensitive individuals.
Specifically, the review found a number of direct and indirect changes that occur in your brain as a result of high consumption levels of aspartame, including disturbing:

  • The metabolism of amino acids
  • Protein structure and metabolism
  • The integrity of nucleic acids
  • Neuronal function
  • Endocrine balances

Further, the breakdown of aspartame causes nerves to fire excessively, which can indirectly lead to a high rate of neuron depolarisation.
Despite these growing concerns, neither the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have changed their guidelines regarding the safety of the ingredient or intake advice.


Display his horoscope with biography and chart

February 25, 1861, 11:15 PM

Kraljevica (Hongrie)

7°21′ Pisces

17°35′ Virgo

11°07′ Scorpio

22°12′ Léo

Birthpath 7

Popularity: selected 12,285 times, 323rd man, 582nd celebrity

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Celebrities born the same day: Auguste RENOIR, Sandrine KIBERLAIN, Francis HEAULME, François CEVERT, Tea LEONI, Herbert LEONARD, Justin BERFIELD, Hélène de FOUGEROLLES, Virginie DEDIEU, Joakim NOAH, MEHER BABA, Sylvie GUILLEM, Jose Maria AZNAR, Sean ASTIN, Régis LASPALES, Linda CRISTAL, Jean CHARON, Rashida JONES, Maria KANELLIS, Karen GRASSLE… List of all the celebrities born on February 25.

Disclaimer: this page is one among hundreds of thousands of pages available online on Astrotheme astrological website. These short excerpts of astrological charts, like the one below, are computer processed in French and in English. They are, by no means, of a personal nature . This principle is valid for the 37,717 famous people currently included in our database. These texts provide the meanings of planets, or combination of planets, in signs and in houses, as well as the interpretations of planetary dominants in line with modern Western astrology rules. When the birth time is unknown, (12:00 PM (unknown)), these portrait excerpts do not take into account the parameters derived from the time, which means, the domification (Ascendant, astrological houses, etc.). Nonetheless, these analyses remain accurate in any case. Therefore, no negative aspect, which may damage the good reputation of a celebrity, is posted, for Astrotheme is not a polemic website.



Biography of Rudolf STEINER

Rudolf Steiner (25 February 1861 – 30 March 1925), born in Donji Kraljevec, Croatia, was an Austrian philosopher, literary scholar, educator, artist, playwright, social thinker, and esotericist. He was the founder of Anthroposophy, Waldorf education, biodynamic agriculture, anthroposophical medicine, and the new artistic form of Eurythmy.
He characterized anthropos…

Numerology: Birth Path of Rudolf STEINER

This paragraph begins with a few excerpts of the astrological portrait which analyses several features of the personality of Rudolf STEINER, from a numerological view, dealing only with the life path.

Testimonies to numerology are found in the most ancient civilizations and show that numerology pre-dates astrology. This discipline considers the name, the surname, and the date of birth, and ascribes a meaning to alphabetic letters according to the numbers which symbolise them.

The path of life, based on the date of birth, provides indications on the kind of destiny which one is meant to experience. It is one of the elements that must reckoned with, along with the expression number, the active number, the intimacy number, the achievement number, the hereditary number, the dominant numbers or the lacking numbers, or also the area of expression, etc.

Your Birth Path:

Your Life Path is influenced by the number 7, and indicates that your destiny is marked with spiritual life, research, and introversion. This number prompts you to steer clear from commonly accepted values. You search for wisdom, sometimes at the cost of some degree of solitude. It may translate into curiosity or a keen interest in metaphysics, religion, or spirituality. Or else, the will to follow a personal path off the beaten path and to build a specific destiny for yourself. Your life is an initiation journey, and worldly vagaries are unable to make you turn away from your research. If the quest for a certain form of the absolute proves to be a powerful factor of creativity, your progression tolerates no easy solutions. The danger is that, owing to your need for independence, you may come across as an exceedingly cold and rigid person. It is all the more so because the number 7 marks extraordinary destinies which sometimes demand sacrifices, particularly on the material or interpersonal areas.

Personality of Rudolf STEINER (excerpt)


Here are some character traits from Rudolf STEINER’s birth chart. This description is far from being comprehensive but it can shed light on his/her personality, which is still interesting for professional astrologers or astrology lovers.

The dominant planets of Rudolf STEINER

When interpreting a natal chart, the best method is to start gradually from general features to specific ones. Thus, there is usually a plan to be followed, from the overall analysis of the chart and its structure, to the description of its different character traits.

In the first part, an overall analysis of the chart enables us to figure out the personality’s main features and to emphasize several points that are confirmed or not in the detailed analysis: in any case, those general traits are taken into account. Human personality is an infinitely intricate entity and describing it is a complex task. Claiming to rapidly summarize it is illusory, although it does not mean that it is an impossible challenge. It is essential to read a natal chart several times in order to absorb all its different meanings and to grasp all this complexity. But the exercise is worthwhile.

In brief, a natal chart is composed of ten planets: two luminaries, the Sun and the Moon, three fast-moving or individual planets, Mercury, Venus and Mars, two slow-moving planets, Jupiter and Saturn, and three very slow-moving planets, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Additional secondary elements are: the Lunar Nodes, the Dark Moon or Lilith, Chiron and other asteroids such as Vesta, Pallas, Ceres or Juno. There are also special features such as the Arabic Parts, the Vertex, the Black Sun, hypothetical planets, etc. They are all posited on the Zodiac wheel consisting of twelve signs, from Aries to Pisces, and divided into twelve astrological houses.

The first step is to evaluate the importance of each planet. This is what we call identifying the dominant planets. This process obeys rules that depend on the astrologer’s sensitivity and experience but it also has precise and steady bases: thus, we can take into account the parameters of a planet’s activity (the number of active aspects a planet forms, the importance of each aspect according to its nature and its exactness), angularity parameters; (proximity to the four angles, Ascendant, Midheaven, Descendant and Imum Coeli or Nadir, all of them being evaluated numerically, according to the kind of angle and the planet-angle distance) and quality parameters (rulership, exaltation, exile and fall). Finally, other criteria such as the rulership of the Ascendant and the Midheaven etc. are important.

These different criteria allow a planet to be highlighted and lead to useful conclusions when interpreting the chart.

The overall chart analysis begins with the observation of three sorts of planetary distributions in the chart: Eastern or Western hemisphere, Northern or Southern hemisphere, and quadrants (North-eastern, North-western, South-eastern and South-western). These three distributions give a general tone in terms of introversion and extraversion, willpower, sociability, and behavioural predispositions.

Then, there are three additional distributions: elements (called triplicity since there are 3 groups of signs for each one) – Fire, Air, Earth and Water – corresponding to a character typology, modality (or quadruplicity with 4 groups of signs for each one) – Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable – and polarity (Yin and Yang).

There are three types of dominants: dominant planets, dominant signs and dominant houses. The novice thinks astrology means only "to be Aries" or sometimes, for example, "to be Aries Ascendant Virgo". It is actually far more complex. Although the Sun and the Ascendant alone may reveal a large part of the character- approximately between 30 and 60% according to the chart, a person is neither "just the Sun" (called the sign) nor just "the first house" (the Ascendant). Thus, a particular planet’s influence may be significantly increased; a particular sign or house may contain a group of planets that will bring nuances and sometimes weaken the role of the Ascendant, of the Sun sign etc.

Lastly, there are two other criteria: accentuations (angular, succedent and cadent) which are a classification of astrological houses and types of decanates that are occupied (each sign is divided into three decanates of 10° each). They provide additional information in this first general part.

These eleven (or six, if the birth time is unknown) general character traits must not be taken literally; they are, somehow, preparing for the chart reading. They allow to understand the second part of the analysis, which is more detailed and precise. It focuses on every area of the personality and provides a synthesis of all the above-mentioned parameters according to sound hierarchical rules.

Hemispheres and Quadrants for Rudolf STEINER

The axis linking the 1st house’s cuspide (the Ascendant) to the 7th house’s cuspide (the Descendant) divides the zodiac into two bowls, a superior bowl, in the South, and an inferior bowl in the North. Quoting an expression by the famous American astrologer Rudhyar, the Southern part and the Northern part correspond to two functions: "being" and "doing". Other concepts are also associated with this North and South distribution, such as introversion (Northern hemisphere) and extraversion (Southern hemisphere), being or appearances, inner life or external life, reflection or action, dreaming one’s life or living one’s dreams, the abstract or the concrete, backstage or limelight.

This is not about determination but about personal inclination: thus, some people will be thrown into public life despite a prominent Northern hemisphere. If this happens, however, it will not be due to their will, their taste or their deep nature. Conversely, a prominent Southern hemisphere will not bring about a famous destiny to its owner, even if he tends to turn the spotlight on himself, or if he looks for a more active life. It is a matter of deep nature and natural inclination. Of course, none of the typologies is "superior" to another.

In your birth chart, Rudolf STEINER, the ten main planets are distributed as follows:

Rudolf STEINER, the predominance of planets in the Northern hemisphere prompts you to reflect and imagine rather than to exteriorize your actions and to be at the forefront of the stage. So, should you wish to remedy this situation, it is up to you to force your nature to take action in broad daylight, to communicate, and to assert yourself… then, you can move forward in this concrete life and enjoy your newly won situation.

The birth chart is divided into two other parts, Eastern and Western, by the axis linking the Midheaven to the Imum Coeli.

The Eastern part, on the Ascendant side, shows the person’s ego, will, magnetism, and vitality, whereas the Western part, on the Descendant side, symbolizes other people, communication, relationships and their influence, as well as flexibility and adaptability.

The predominance of planets in the Western hemisphere of your chart means that you are quite flexible, capable of empathy, convivial and communicative. An excellent factor for many professional activities or for your social or sentimental life for example.

A definite asset… provided that you are not at the centre of the decisions you must take in your life: you may be tempted to listen to the last person who spoke, and your flexibility won’t always get you out of the tight spot. You are therefore advised to learn to decide alone and to cope with the consequences of your actions with courage and without regrets. This attitude will allow you to combine flexibility and action, adaptability and absence of hesitation.

The Ascendant-Descendant and Midheaven-Imum Coeli axes divide the Zodiac wheel into four quadrants.

Rudolf STEINER, the nocturnal North-western quadrant, consisting of the 4th, 5th and 6th houses, prevails in your chart: this sector favours creativity, conception and some sort of specialization or training, with helpfulness and relations as strong components. You need others’ cooperation in order to work properly, although you are not very expansive: creating, innovating and thinking are what matter most to you because this self-expression enriches you and totally satisfies you.

Elements, Modalities and Polarities for Rudolf STEINER

Rudolf STEINER, here is the graph of your Elements, Modalities and Polarities, House and Decanates’ Accentuations, based on planets’ position and angles in the twelve signs:

Like the majority of Earth signs, Rudolf STEINER, you are efficient, concrete and not too emotional. What matters to you is what you see: you judge the tree by its fruits. Your ideas keep changing, words disappear, but actions and their consequences are visible and remain. Express your sensitivity, even if it means revealing your vulnerability. Emotions, energy and communication must not be neglected; concrete action is meaningless if it is not justified by your heart, your intellect or your enthusiasm.

The predominance of Water signs indicates high sensitivity and elevation through feelings, Rudolf STEINER. Your heart and your emotions are your driving forces, and you can’t do anything on Earth if you don’t feel a strong affective charge (as a matter of fact, the word "feeling" is essential in your psychology). You need to love in order to understand, and to feel in order to take action. Since it may be detrimental to your vulnerability, you should learn to fight against it.

The twelve zodiacal signs are split up into three groups or modes, called quadruplicities, a learned word meaning only that these three groups include four signs. The Cardinal, Fixed and Mutable modes are more or less represented in your natal chart, depending on planets’ positions and importance, and on angles in the twelve signs.

The Fixed mode corresponds to a majority of elements in your chart and represents the desire for security and durability: you are able to concretely appreciate a situation and its stability. You definitely prefer to play the role of a loyal, obstinate and hard-working person, rather than to try new and risky experiences – beware, however, not to confuse obstinacy with intransigence. You structure, cement, and strengthen everything you find on your way: it is your nature, although you are not especially interested in swiftness: slow and steady…

The twelve signs are divided into two polarities, called active or passive, or sometimes masculine and feminine, positive and negative, Yang and Yin. This classification corresponds to two quite distinct tonalities, the first one bringing extraversion, action, self-confidence and dynamism, the second one, introversion, reactivity, reflection and caution. None is superior to the other, each group has its own assets and shortcomings. Odd signs – Aries, Gemini, Leo, Libra, Sagittarius and Aquarius – belong to the first group, whereas even signs – Taurus, Cancer, Virgo, Scorpio, Capricorn and Pisces – belong to the second group.

According to the disposition and qualities of your planets and angles, you are rather influenced by YIN energy, the passive polarity: you are quite introverted, imaginative and sometimes discreet, but you are a deep and wise person who is not content with just noisy and flashy things. At times, you doubt but you think that those who don’t are a bit… thoughtless. Allow yourself to take more laid-back attitudes and put your reserve aside, because good equilibrium is always healthier.

Houses are split up into three groups: angular, succedent and cadent.

The first ones are the most important ones, the most "noticeable" and energetic houses. They are the 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th houses. Their cuspides correspond to four famous angles: Ascendant for the 1st house, Imum Coeli for the 4th house, Descendant, opposite the Ascendant, for the 7th house and Midheaven for the 10th house, opposite the Imum Coeli.

Planets are evaluated according to a whole set of criteria that includes comprehensive Western astrology rules. At their turn, planets emphasize specific types of houses, signs, repartitions etc., as previously explained.

Your angular houses, namely, the 1st, 4th, 7th and 10th houses, are very emphasized in your chart: according to the Tradition, they are the strongest and most dynamic houses. Should the rest of your chart concur, angular houses suggest that you are an enterprising, energetic and assertive man. Indeed, angular houses are said to generate impulsions and to give a powerful and domineering personality.

Unusual fates are often linked to a predominance of angular houses, but this is only a partial indication…

Each sign contains 30 degrees and can be divided into three equal parts: the decanates. The Tradition indicates that specific meanings can be associated to each of the three decanates. Their sphere of activity is usually limited to the Sun sign, however, it is even more interesting to observe the distribution of all the planets in the chart to get an idea of the respective importance of the three decanates, which can complement the description of the personality.

These meanings must be considered with the greatest caution. Indeed, they are minor characteristics that can only underline other outstanding traits of character.

Traditionally, the first decanate highlights the characteristics of the sign where a planet is located. The two other decanates correspond to sub-dominant planets, depending on the nature of each sign. This system leads to a multiplication of meanings and it is impossible to have a clear understanding: here, we prefer to give only the meaning of one decanate in comparison with the other two, within the birth chart as a whole. Again, the greatest caution is needed with regard to this minor indication as it is not always reliable.

The first decanate, which means the part between 0° and 10° of any zodiacal sign, prevails in your natal chart: this decanate is traditionally linked to vitality and physical constitution, and may indicate that you efficiently express your concrete energy on the material and sensual planes.

Dominants: Planets, Signs and Houses for Rudolf STEINER

The issue of dominant planets has existed since the mists of time in astrology: how nice it would be if a person could be described with a few words and one or several planets that would represent their character, without having to analyse such elements as rulerships, angularities, houses, etc!

The ten planets – the Sun throughout Pluto – are a bit like ten characters in a role-play, each one has its own personality, its own way of acting, its own strengths and weaknesses. They actually represent a classification into ten distinct personalities, and astrologers have always tried to associate one or several dominant planets to a natal chart as well as dominant signs and houses.

Indeed, it is quite the same situation with signs and houses. If planets symbolize characters, signs represent hues – the mental, emotional and physical structures of an individual. The sign in which a planet is posited is like a character whose features are modified according to the place where he lives. In a chart, there are usually one, two or three highlighted signs that allow to rapidly describe its owner.

Regarding astrological houses, the principle is even simpler: the twelve houses correspond to twelve fields of life, and planets tenanting any given house increase that house’s importance and highlight all relevant life departments: it may be marriage, work, friendship etc.

In your natal chart, Rudolf STEINER, the ten main planets are distributed as follows:

The three most important planets in your chart are Jupiter, Pluto and Sun.

Jupiter, the planet of expansion, organization, power and benevolence, is quite emphasized in your chart. Like any Jupiterian, you are warm, open, sociable, consensual, active and optimistic. You can use your self-confidence to erase differences of opinion, and you leave the task of analyzing and perfecting things to specialists. Your role, and you know it since you were young, is to gather, to demonstrate your synthesizing and conciliatory mind, and to naturally reap its fruits – power.

You appreciate legality, social order but also order in general. With you as a leader, every plan or human entity can be organized and structured. You excel at supervising. The Jupiterian type is indeed the politician par excellence, and a positive Jupiter in your chart is synonymous with good integration into society, whatever the chosen path.

Is this idyllic picture really perfect? Certainly not: each planet’s typology has its own weaknesses. One of yours is pride, like the Solarian, but your will of expansion at all costs may generate a form of exaggeration in everything, endless pleasure, inappropriate self-confidence that could lead you to rough materialism and the thirst for absurd material comfort – in the worst cases, of course.

With Pluto as a dominant planet in your chart, you are a magnetic and mighty predator, like the Scorpio sign ruled by this planet, who needs to exert pressure on others in order to "test" them. You are always ready to evolve, to risk destruction for reconstruction – including your own – to live more intensely whilst imposing your secret authority on things and on people you encounter.

You may come across as wicked, cruel or too authoritarian, but actually you only follow your instinct, you sound people out, and you like to exert your domination simply because your vital energy is too powerful to remain inside. You are inclined to be passionate, with hidden motivations. You are sometimes misunderstood but one of your great Plutonian assets is to go successfully through each life ordeal with ever growing strength.

One of the dominant planets in your natal chart is the Sun. He symbolizes will, magnetism, sense of honour and dignity. You are a Solar being, and you often display charismatic and leadership qualities. Your warmth and your persuasive power lead you far away from pettiness. You enjoy thinking big and, consequently, you move forward according to what you decide.

Your Solarian weakness may be related to the sin of pride or to excessive authority. The frontier between pride and vanity is tenuous: be careful not to overstep it and to keep the nobleness of heart that is part of your charm.

In your natal chart, the three most important signs – according to criteria mentioned above – are in decreasing order of strength Pisces, Taurus and Virgo. In general, these signs are important because your Ascendant or your Sun is located there. But this is not always the case: there may be a cluster of planets, or a planet may be near an angle other than the Midheaven or Ascendant. It may also be because two or three planets are considered to be very active because they form numerous aspects from these signs.

Thus, you display some of the three signs’ characteristics, a bit like a superposition of features on the rest of your chart, and it is all the more so if the sign is emphasized.

Pisces is among your dominant signs and endows your personality with unlimited sources of emotions, dreams, imagination, and sensitivity, to the extent that you literally swim in a cloudy ocean of delightful impressions. These impressions are so intense and overwhelming that you don’t really need to take action concretely, to show your dynamism or your willpower, since you already live so intensely with your feelings – you are as keen as a radar, always on the alert! That is why some people may not like your carelessness, and the lack of clarity in your opinions or actions; however they quickly notice your artistic talents, your poetic or artistic side, and your total lack of wickedness. Besides, you feel compassion for people in pain – empathy is one of your great qualities. Thanks to your flexibility, your intuition, and your generosity, you may spend an important part of your life helping others. And if you are creative or if you have well-known artistic talents, everybody will forgive your little flaws: absent-mindedness, lack of energy or of will, too dreamy temperament…

With the Taurus sign so important in your chart, you are constructive, stable, and sensual. Good taste, sense of beauty, manners, and unfailing good sense – all these qualities contribute to your charm and seductive power. Furthermore, if some people criticize your slow pace and your stubbornness, you rightly reply that this is the price for your security, and that you like the way it is – slow and steady….

Virgo, associated with perfectionism, numbers and reason, is among your dominant signs: you inherit its sense of responsibility and tidiness, a clear mind, an unfailing logic, as well as a need to be useful and to fulfil your task to the best of your abilities. Obviously, people may think that you are too modest or reserved, suspicious or pessimistic because of your exceedingly critical mind, but aren’t logic and wisdom great qualities? Of course, they are. Moreover, you keep your feet on the ground, you never behave irrationally and you are helpful and hardworking – what more can you ask for?!

The 10th, 6th and 4th houses are the most prominent ones in your birth chart. From the analysis of the most tenanted houses, the astrologer identifies your most significant fields or spheres of activity. They deal with what you are experiencing – or what you will be brought to experience one day – or they deal with your inner motivations.

With a prominent 10th house, your destiny’s achievement may be very notable: the 10th house represents your career, your public life, and your ambitions. A good deal of your energy may thus be used to successfully implement what you have in mind. Instinctively, you are very keen to make your dreams come true. Sooner or later, you will deal with the public, and your personal achievement will go through trials and ordeals: other people and visible actions.

Your 6th house is quite emphasized and indicates interest in work and daily occupations that take up a lot of your time: in analogy with Virgo, this house inclines towards perfectionism and training; somehow, you may be fulfilled through the process of being useful and investing your energy in your work. An environment appealing to you may be involved – your colleagues, for example – or a passion for one of these daily occupations. Medical positions or pets may play a role in your life; or ancillary love affairs too… These are a few possibilities indicated by an important 6th house.

With an important 4th house in your chart, your private life, your intimacy, as well as your family and home, play a fundamental role. Your security and your family unit, the one you come from, but also the one you set up when you get married and start a family – or even as a bachelor living alone in your sweet home – are necessary for you to blossom. According to the Tradition, your father may play an important role in your life.

After this paragraph about dominant planets, of Rudolf STEINER, here are the character traits that you must read more carefully than the previous texts since they are very specific: the texts about dominant planets only give background information about the personality and remain quite general: they emphasize or, on the contrary, mitigate different particularities or facets of a personality. A human being is a complex whole and only bodies of texts can attempt to successfully figure out all the finer points.


Your sensitivity

Your sensitivity is dominated by your reason, Rudolf STEINER, and you tend to analyze your emotional reactions in the slightest details, as if you wanted you hold them at bay so that they cannot overwhelm you or weaken you. Your nature is anxious, shy, you do not like to be in the forefront and you lack self-confidence. You are extremely perfectionist, you need to examine, to organize and to plan everything according to your logic. You like to help and to feel that you are useful, in your own work or through your wise and clever advice. You may also be very demanding and critical, even unbearable, because you are insistent and you find fault in everything. Learn to gain some self-confidence and do not constantly be ready to criticize…

Your career or professional achievements, Rudolf STEINER, are fields where your emotions will be more easily channelled. You are often popular, especially with women, and you instinctively have the desire to please audiences or crowds. Your fame is often due to your changeable side, light-hearted, emotional and moody sometimes. It also means that it is very likely that you experience professional changes several times during your life. Each time, you will contrive to be the star, in your way…

Your intellect and your social life

Your thinking process works on a rather instinctive and intuitive mode, Rudolf STEINER. You “feel” more than you understand, as if your reasoning were not active. Your strong receptivity and your natural empathy make you an understanding, pleasant, warm and benevolent person although you may be neglectful, even heedless. You are shy and anxious and you prefer to withdraw and to isolate yourself in a quiet place in order to give free rein to your inspiration, rather than to assert yourself. Despite your lively imagination, it may be hard for you to get out of the flow of your mystical and irrational thoughts, with the result that you become even more worried and impressionable. You must develop your logic, rational mind and your willpower, so as to gain self-confidence and creativity. Try and see…

Your thoughts, Rudolf STEINER, are irresistibly attracted to hobbies and entertainments, or you may be particularly oriented towards creation if you are dealing with something amusing. Your way of communicating is often pleasant, charming, you are the type who blends humour and charm in your speeches and who can spend many hours telling about your hobbies and detailing them with fire. This state of mind is favourable for love affairs or children’s education. Your playful spirit often amazes children.


Your affectivity and your seductiveness

In your chart, the Sun is in Pisces and Venus, in Aquarius. Between the subtle detachment of the Sun in Pisces and the excitement of Venus in Aquarius, the contrast is striking: more than anyone, you are aware that one shifts quickly from fascination to disenchantment or from indifference to amazement. These two consecutive signs react in an antinomical way: while Venus in Aquarius readily gives free rein to her heart or her senses’ impulses, the Sun in Pisces does not follow these fleeting stimulations and remains impervious, unyielding and selective. Aquarius is optimistic because the relationship is constantly evolving (tomorrow is another day…). Pisces knows or feels the limits of the relationship (the end is for tomorrow…). You may be criticized for these inconsistencies: I love you madly today and not any more tomorrow. I don’t love you but when you leave me, I am hurting! Your affectivity lives on all these paradoxes. More than others, you need to be amazed and to be seduced… Indifference occurs so rapidly! You give a lot to those who deserve your esteem because of their qualities or their shortcomings. Indeed, you may find certain flaws quite seductive because they extol your compassion and your taste for strangeness at the same time.

In love, you are more cerebral and friendly than really passionate, Rudolf STEINER. You are made for amorous friendships, for refined and light feelings where each partner retains one’s freedom, and almost detachment, without getting really committed. Sometimes, you may be distant from, and indifferent to, love matters for a while, because you can be completely engrossed in original intellectual pursuits and the collective atmosphere which you are so fond of. You substitute a great number of friendly and light contacts to amorous relationships and it is fair to say that they satisfy you. To fall in love, you need spice and a partner who is original, who amazes you and whom you admire; under such conditions, you can freely express your feelings in an ambiance devoid of constraint, where freedom is perfectly respected and shared within the couple.

With such a configuration, Rudolf STEINER, you are inclined to scattering regarding the expression of your feelings which can easily get carried away in your multiple relationships or within your surroundings. The medium to express your feelings often consists in shared interests for cultural, journalistic or scientific knowledge and frequent short trips. In a way, they lead you to open up more easily, may be because you want to ensure that you don’t commit yourself more seriously than you really wish to. Correspondences are high on your agenda, ranging from exchanging letters, via the Internet – oh virtuality…! – to telephone talks. Indeed, you tremendously enjoy communicating in this superficial and a bit distant fashion where you know best how to open up and blend love and friendship without asking yourself too many questions. You are sometimes a SMS champion, always happy with changes and thoughtlessness. For you, undertaking a sole commitment is near to impossible.…


Your behaviour

Psychologically speaking, your nature is bilious, with aggressive impulses that lead you towards the transformation of your entire being and, continuously, of the situation surrounding you. You seem to be constantly struggling for your self-assertion. You cannot refrain from testing others with cutting remarks, not because you want to hurt them, but because you want to know them better through their reaction; for you, life and the feeling of aliveness are experienced through rebellion and tension. You may be manipulative and your aggressive attitude may equate with sly inquisition. You often remain silent, introverted and secretive, mulling over turbulent thoughts in the depths of your mind, leaving others puzzled by your somewhat peculiar behaviour.

As you are born under this sign, you are secretive, powerful, domineering, enduring, intuitive, assertive, charismatic, magnetic, wilful, daring, clear-sighted, passionate, creative, independent, vigorous, generous, loyal, hard-working, persevering, indomitable, possessive, shrewd, stubborn, ambitious, instinctive, tenacious, sexual, sexy, proud, intense and competitive. But you may also be aggressive, destructive, stubborn, anxious, tyrannical, perverse, sadistic, violent, self-centered, complex, critical, cruel, nasty, jealous, calculating, vulnerable and dissembling.

In love, Sir, you are very magnetic, with a discreet and indefinable charm that inevitably attracts the persons you set your heart on. You detect their weaknesses so well that you can, at will, exert your powers and your manipulation tendencies over them. There are no negative consequences, as long as things go well, because you are very sensual, charming, possessive and swaggering and you make happy all the people who look for this domineering aspect in their partner. However, when things start to deteriorate, your almost pathological jealousy and your capacity to harm when you feel threatened are the causes of your partners’ tears.

For you, passion means tension and tragedy. It is the price to be paid for sharing your sexuality loaded with unlimited fantasies, male ardour, loyalty and generosity. You are excessive, but very endearing, and your partner finds it very hard to leave you. It is preferable when things are fine between you.

Your will and your inner motivations

Psychologically speaking, your nature is adaptable and receptive, exactly the opposite of the sign of Virgo whose very essence is to analyze every detail, thus creating a definite duality between the self and the outside world: conversely, Pisces absorbs and erases all forms of differentiation they face. With Pisces, there is no opposition, no conflict and no individual reaction. There is only fusion, non-separation, a perpetual and mobile spreading of the self over some blurred and huge sensation of sympathy with the environment. It is the absolute reign of feelings and emotions over the intellect and its separative logics.

As you are born under this sign, you are emotional, sensitive, dedicated, adaptable, nice, wild, compassionate, romantic, imaginative, flexible, opportunist, intuitive, impossible to categorized, irrational, seductive, placid, secretive, introverted, pleasant, artistic, and charming. But you may also be indecisive, moody, passive, confused, wavering, lazy, scatterbrained, vulnerable, unpredictable and gullible.

In love, Sir, you are the very type of the sentimental romantic in the highest meaning of the term. You live your love affairs in your mind. You upkeep the weft of your endless daydreamings just to exacerbate your emotions and your feelings, over and over again.

You fall in love frequently and according to how your encounters develop. You adjust to the person you set your heart on and you may harbour illusions because your imagination and your capacity to intensely live a virtual life are very strong. You are utopian and you are so gentle that you usually achieve your aims in spite of your boundless passivity: you seldom take the first step, except when you are thrown a line, which is as big as a tree trunk…

You live for love and through love. Your only weakness may be your lack of determination at the early stage of a relationship. However, once you get started, if there is any compatibility, you trap your prey with your overflowing affectivity and your unlimited sensuality.

Pisces’ waters are shifting and changeable. When other opportunities appeal to you, you are able to handle two relationships simultaneously. You achieve an alternate osmosis with your partners and you see no harm in doing so, because you live the instant with plasticity and in communion.

You loathe solitude and you prefer to be caught in the nets of a woman even though she does not match your personality. If, by lack of chance, your partner belongs to the domineering and unscrupulous type, you may be trapped and wake up bitter and disappointed that you extended for too long the illusion of a marvellous story.

Once you find your soul mate, your home is usually harmonious. In your couple, love is immense, even mystical. Like a wave, it bathes the shores of your emotions, which range from the noblest feelings to the wildest physical passions. Since you merely live in concrete life, it is necessary that your partner be well grounded, so that your home is well up kept and your children are properly reared!

Unless salient factors indicate otherwise, Rudolf STEINER, your nature is not very extroverted and your tendency is to keep to yourself emotions that may run very deep. Your will prompts you to create some sort of security, or cocoon, around you.

You are deeply attached to your family and to your initial home. You need this cosy and warm atmosphere, your parents’ love and your family security, and later you reproduce them in your adult’s home. Such strong bonds with your family and your home benefit your self-assertion as they combine professional efforts with presence at home. Working at home is particularly suitable, as are, indirectly, professions related to genealogy or even more, to real estate, because you are comfortable with the security aspects of the places you visit. Your father often plays a major role, possibly an excessive one, with the danger that he may smother your desire for freedom and autonomy and contribute to aggravate your already strong natural introversion. You are what is called belated and it is mainly during the second part of your life that you can concretely and efficiently exercise your will. Your assets lie in your determination to build a stable and comfortable home. However, family conflicts may exist and you may quarrel with your father over authority matters or over your projects; later, you may even undergo this sort of troubles in your own home if you are not flexible enough.

Your ability to take action

Rudolf STEINER, the way you take action gains in power and in precision what it loses in rapidity and spontaneity. You are “slow”, certainly. But when you get started, you put all your ingenuity and your persistence into it and you love to see a job well done. At the end of the day, owing to your ways, you are the winner. In your sex life, similarly, you are generous and instinctive and your slowness is not an obstacle. It may even bring fulfilment to you, but above all, to your partner! In love, as well as in your exchanges in general, you tend to keep your worries to yourself because you are extremely patient; you don’t say anything, you stand all the hits and one day, you explode into outbursts of anger that are as violent as they are rare, thanks God.

It is in the area of your work environment that you are most active and pugnacious, Rudolf STEINER. Or in your daily life, if you do not work. You are a hard-worker, completely dedicated to the service of others: being helpful and efficient is your battle horse. Indeed, it is so obvious! Ask the opinion of your colleagues or your entourage… Your efficiency is not to be proved. You get things moving, you progress, you are very keen to improve yourself, and your boss can only rejoice that his staff contributes so actively. The areas of health and pets are traditionally favoured by this planetary configuration. However, do check your Mars’ aspects if you intend to be a tamer! In any case, the daily work sphere is the area where you can deliver to the best of your abilities, in terms of action. The only reservation may be not to overdo.


Rudolf Steiner Signature

A   S K E T C H   O F   H I S   L I F E   A N D   W O R K

Sketch of Rudolf Steiner lecturing at the East-West Conference in Vienna.








Sketch of Rudolf Steiner
All over the world there are now to be found activities — schools, communities for the handicapped, farms, hospitals and medical practices, artists and architects, banks and businesses — whose work acknowledges a special debt to Rudolf Steiner.

His life spanned the last part of the nineteenth century and the first part of the twentieth. But his inspiration is proving capable of reaching into our time with enhanced rather than diminished vigor. There remain very few people who know him personally. Some have left written recollections, [See, for example, A Man Before Others, Rudolf Steiner Press, 1993.] but the thread of living memory is now being woven into the fabric of history. Who was Rudolf Steiner? And what is the meaning of his life and work for our time?


UDOLF STEINER was born in Kraljevic (then in Austria, now in Croatia) in 1861, and died in Dornach, Switzerland, in 1925. He thus saw the end of an old era and the birth pangs of a new one. His life echoes the transition intimately. The outer surface of the late nineteenth century gave little hint of the extraordinary events the twentieth century would bring. And a superficial biography of the first part of Steiner’s life might not easily foresee the extraordinary activities of his later years. Yet the seeds of the later are to be found in the earlier times.

Outwardly, we see the gifted son of a minor railway official growing up in the small peasant villages of Lower Austria. He attends the village schools, and then the modern school in Wiener Neustadt. His father is a freethinker and sees his son as a railway engineer rather than as a priest (the more usual destination for bright boys from the villages). Steiner takes a degree in mathematics, physics, and chemistry, and later writes a philosophical thesis for a doctorate. He supports himself through university and afterwards by tutoring. He is drawn into literary and scholarly work. The famous Goethe scholar, Professor Karl Julius Schroer, who has befriended the young man, arranges for him to edit the scientific works of Goethe for a new complete edition. He participates actively in the rich cultural life of Vienna. Then he is invited to Weimar, to the famous Goethe archive, where he remains for seven years, working further on the scientific writings, as well as collaborating in a complete edition of Schopenhauer. The place is a famous center, visited by the leading lights of Central European culture, and Steiner knows many of the major figures of the artistic and cultural life of his time.

Portrait of Rudolf Steiner in his younger years.
A Youthful Steiner

In 1894 he publishes Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path: A Philosophy of Freedom (also known as The Philosophy of Spiritual Activity) but is disappointed by its reception (we shall return to the significance of this work). [Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path, Rudolf Steiner, Anthroposophic Press, 1995.] Then, as the end of the century approaches, he leaves the settled world of Weimar to edit an avant-garde literary magazine in Berlin. Here he meets playwrights and poets who are seeking, often desperately, for alternatives of various kinds. The city is a focus for many radical groups and movements. Steiner is invited to lecture at the Berlin Workers’ Training School, sponsored by the trade unions and social democrats. Most of the teaching is Marxist, but he insists on a free hand. He gives courses on history and natural science, and practical exercises in public speaking. His appeal is such that he is invited to give a festival address to 7,000 printers at the Berlin circus stadium on the occasion of the Gutenberg jubilee. But his refusal to toe any party line does not endear him to the political activists, and soon after the turn of the century, he is forced to drop this work.

In 1899, Steiner’s life begins to change quite rapidly. Only later does he give a more personal glimpse of his inner struggles, which matured into a far-reaching decision during the 1890s. [Autobiography: Chapter in the Course of My Life 1861–1907, Anthroposophic Press, 1999.] On August 28, 1899 he publishes in his magazine a surprising article about Goethe’s mysterious “fairy tale” The Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily. The essay is entitled “Goethe’s Secret Revelation,” and points definitely, if discreetly, to the “occult” significance of this story. The article attracts the attention of a Count and Countess Brockdorff, who invite Steiner to speak to one of their weekly gatherings. The Brockdorffs are Theosophists. They give Steiner the first opportunity to realize the decision he has come to during the last years of the century, namely to speak openly and directly out of the inner faculties of spiritual perception he has known since childhood and has been quietly developing and disciplining ever since.

Quite soon, Steiner is speaking regularly to groups of Theosophists, which upsets and bewilders many of his former friends. There is uproar at a lecture on the medieval scholastics which he delivers to the Giordano Bruno Society. The respectable if often radical scholar, historian, scientist, writer, and philosopher is emerging as an “occultist.” It is truly shocking to many of those around him. Steiner knows he is running risks of isolation. Yet he sees around him a culture in decay, and profound crises to come. Much later, he writes: “From the spiritual world, a new light was ready to break into human evolution through the intellectual accomplishments of the final third of the nineteenth century. But materialistic explanations of those achievements had caused a spiritual sleep in humankind that prevented any inkling, let alone a conscious awareness, of this. This is how an era arrived that, through its very existence, should have developed toward spirit; but it denied its own essential nature. That time began to make the impossibility of life a reality.” [Ibid. p. 248.]

Photograph of Rudolf Steiner and Sculpture.










Steiner and Sculpture

Photograph of Rudolf Steiner with Model of the Goetheanum.












Steiner with Model of the Goetheanum

Steiner’s decision to speak directly of his own spiritual research was not prompted by a desire to set up as a spiritual teacher, to feed curiosity or to revive some form of “ancient wisdom.” It was born out of a perception of the needs of the time. Today it is perhaps easier to appreciate what Steiner meant by times that “begin to bring about the impossibility of life.” This lay behind what he described as most important to him “to introduce impulses into life from the spirit world,” but for this “there was no understanding.” [Ibid. p. 258.]

It took him nearly two decades to create a basis for the renewing impulses in daily life that he sought to initiate. At first he worked mainly through lectures to Theosophists and others, and through articles and books. These works remain an extraordinarily rich resource which is still far too little known in the English-speaking world. Within quite a short period of years, Steiner surveyed with clarity and intimacy the spiritual realities at work in the kingdoms of nature and in the cosmos, the inner nature of the human soul and spirit and their potential for further development, the nature and practice of meditation, the experiences of the soul before birth and after death, the spiritual history and evolution of humanity and the earth, and detailed studies of the workings of reincarnation and karma. The style is sober and direct throughout, and it often calls for an effort to realize the quite remarkable nature of these communications. For they are not derived from earlier sources, nor was Steiner acting as a spokesman for a spiritual guide. They are fruits of careful spiritual observation and perception — or, as Steiner preferred to call it, “spiritual research” — undertaken in freedom by an individual thoroughly conversant with, and deeply serious about, the integrity of thought and apprehension striven for in natural science. After seven or eight years, Steiner began to add to his work in “spiritual science” a growing activity in the arts. It is significant and characteristic that he should see the arts as a crucial bridge for translating spiritual science into social and cultural innovation. (We are now vividly aware of what happens when natural science bypasses the human heart and is translated into technology without grace, beauty, or compassion.) Between 1910 and 1913 he wrote four Mystery Plays, which follow the lives of a group of people through successive incarnations, and include scenes in the soul and spiritual worlds as well as on earth. With his wife, Marie von Sivers, an actress, new approaches to speech and drama were initiated. In this period, too, lie the beginnings of eurythmy, an art of movement that makes visible the inner forms and gestures of language and music. In 1913 the foundation stone was laid for the first Goetheanum at Dornach in Switzerland. This extraordinary building in wood, with its vast interlocking cupolas, gradually took shape during the years of the First World War, when an international group of volunteers collaborated with local builders and craftsmen to shape the unique carved forms and structures Steiner designed. The building stimulated much innovation in the use of form and color and is now increasingly recognized as a landmark in twentieth century architecture. Yet Steiner was not concerned to build an impressive monument. He regarded architecture as the servant of human life, and designed the Goetheanum to support the developing work of anthroposophy, [“Anthroposophy,” Rudolf Steiner’s preferred term, which he once said should be understood to mean, quite simply, “awareness of one’s humanity.”] and particularly the work in drama and eurythmy.

Photograph of the Second Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland.









The Second Goetheanum

An arsonist caused this building to burn to the ground during the night of December 31, 1922. There survived only the great sculpture of “The Representative of Humanity” on which Steiner had been working in a neighborhood workshop with the English sculptress Edith Maryon. Steiner soon designed another building that was completed after his death and now serves as a center for the world-wide Anthroposophical Society and its School of Spiritual Science [photo above]. There is a magnificent stage and auditorium, where the Mystery Plays are given regularly as well as Goethe’s Faust in full, other plays and concerts, and frequent performances of eurythmy.

As the First World War neared its end, Steiner began to find ways to work more widely and deeply for a renewal of life and culture in many spheres. Europe was in ruins and could have been ready for quite new impulses. Attempts to realize a “threefold social order” as a political and social alternative at that time did not succeed, but the conceptual basis Steiner developed exists as a seed that is even more relevant for today.

Steiner’s social thinking can be adequately grasped only in the context of his view of history, which he saw, in direct contrast to Marx, as shaped fundamentally by inner changes in human consciousness in which higher spiritual beings are actively participating. Just in this century, quite new experiences are awakening in the human soul. (Since Steiner’s time this is a good deal more apparent than it was then.) But we cannot expect to build a healthy social order except on the basis of a true and deep insight not only into the material but also into the soul and spiritual nature and needs of human beings as they are today.

These needs are characterized by a powerful tension between the search for community and the experience of individuality. Community, in the sense of material interdependence, is the basic fact of economic life and of the world economy in which it is embedded today. Yet individuality, in the sense of independence of mind and freedom of speech, is essential to every creative endeavor, to all innovation, and to the realization of the human spirit in the arts and sciences. Without spiritual freedom, our culture will wither and die.

Individuality and community, Steiner urged, can be lifted out of conflict only if they are recognized not as contradictions but as a creative polarity rooted in the essential nature of human beings. Each pole can bear fruit only if it has its appropriate social forms. We need forms that ensure freedom for all expressions of spiritual life, and forms that promote brotherhood in economic life. But the health of this polarity depends on a full recognition of a third human need and function, the social relationships between people which concern our feeling for human rights. Here again, Steiner emphasized that we need to develop a distinct realm of social organization to support this sphere, inspired by a concern for equality — not equality of spiritual capacity or material circumstance, but that sense of equality that awakens through recognition of the essential spiritual nature of every human being. In this lies the meaning and source of every person’s right also to freedom of spirit and to material sustenance. These insights were the basis from which Steiner then began to respond to a great variety of requests for new beginnings and practical help in many fields. He was approached by doctors, therapists, farmers, businessmen, academics and scientists, theologians and pastors, and by teachers. From these beginnings have grown the many activities which have survived all the tensions and upheavals of this century, and which continue to spread round the world.

Portrait of Rudolf Steiner.
Portrait of Rudolf Steiner

Best known is the work in education and curative education. The former originated in a request from Emil Molt, director of the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory, for a school to which his employees could send their children. There are now Waldorf Schools throughout the world (127 in North America). The homes, schools, and village communities for handicapped children and adults are also flourishing. Biodynamic agriculture originated in a course of lectures at Koberwitz in 1924, held at the request of a group of farmers concerned about the destructive trend of “scientific” farming. From Steiner’s work with doctors, a medical movement has developed that includes clinics and hospitals and a variety of therapeutic work. From a request by a group of German pastors there developed the Christian Community, a movement for religious renewal. The art of eurythmy, which also serves the educational and therapeutic work, has developed strongly, and there are now a number of eurythmy schools where a full four-year training is given. Other training centers — for teacher training, agriculture, the arts, social work, and general orientation in anthroposophy — have grown up in recent years. [For a current list of activities and study groups contact the Anthroposophical Society in America (address at end of article).]

Rudolf Steiner died on March 30, 1925, surrounded by new beginnings. The versatility and creativity he revealed in his later years are phenomenal by any standards. How did he achieve all this?

The last part of the twentieth century is bringing a growing recognition that we live within a deeper reality we can call spiritual, to which at present we have direct access only through altered conditions of consciousness. We are also learning to see that these realities were known in the past, described in other images and languages, and were the source of all great religions and spiritual teachings. They have been obscured and forgotten for a while as our scientific culture devoted itself to the material world revealed by the senses.

Many individuals have glimpses during their lives of spiritual realities. Some recollect a more consistent experience in childhood. A few achieve some form of enduring insight as adults. Rudolf Steiner spoke little of his spiritual life in personal terms. But in his autobiography he indicates that from childhood he was fully conscious of a world of invisible reality within the world of everyday. His inner struggle for the first forty years of his life was not to achieve spiritual experience, but to unite this fully with the forms of knowledge and insight of our time, and in particular with the language and discipline of natural science. Historically, this can be seen as the special challenge and contribution of Steiner’s life and work. He himself saw the scientific age, even in its most materialistic aspects, as an essential phase in the spiritual education of humankind. Only by forgetting the spiritual world for a time and attending to the material world, he said, could there be kindled new and essential faculties, notably an experience of true individual inner freedom. Steiner indicated that his own capacities to meet, in the most practical way, the life questions and working needs of people from so many walks of life had their origins in the struggles of his earlier years, when he kept almost complete silence concerning his inner experiences, and gradually learned to grasp and articulate their relationship to the mode of consciousness from which science arises. His book Intuitive Thinking as a Spiritual Path: A Philosophy of Freedom embodies a first fruit of these struggles — he himself described it as “a biographical account of how one human soul made the difficult ascent to freedom.” Studied more intimately, this book contains the basis for a path of knowledge that can lead the soul to discover spiritual experience and reality right into the world of ordinary thought and experience. Along this path, Steiner sought to develop a spiritual science that is a further development of the true spirit of natural science.


This path led him in his thirties to awaken to an inner recognition of the “turning point of time” in human spiritual history, brought about by the incarnation of the Being we know as the Christ. He saw that the meaning of this event transcends all differentiations of religion, race, or nation, and has consequences for all humanity; we are as yet aware only of the beginnings of these. This also led him to know the new presence and working of the Christ, which has begun just in this century, not in the physical world but in the sphere of invisible life forces of the earth and mankind.

Sculpture by Rudolf steiner

Sculpture by Rudolf steiner1

Sculpture by Rudolf steiner2

Steiner was therefore not concerned to bring old teachings in new forms, nor to promulgate doctrines of any kind, but to nurture a path of knowledge in freedom, and of love in action, that can meet the deep and pressing needs of our times. These are the ideals, however imperfectly realized, by which those who find in anthroposophy a continuing inspiration for their lives and work seek to be guided.

John Davy


Summary of Rudolf Steiner’s
Principles of Education

Review of Lecture V in Rudolf Steiner’s The Roots of Education, Five Lectures Given in 1924. London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1968. (Translated by Helen Fox)

by Leon James
and Diane Nahl
University of Hawaii


Rudolf Steiner was a radical thinker. His conception of man is a wholistic one, connecting him with the cosmos and the elements of nature. This connection he defined as "spiritual." He insisted that scientific modernism is sinking into an excessive materialistic view of man which saps his strength and must be rectified.

We’ve extracted 42 "Principles of Education" from Lecture V. These are our views and interpretations. The titles we’ve made up indicate what pedagogic relevance we see in the statements we’ve quoted or paraphrased.


The Pragmatic Principle

Education builds the social person, i.e. national and universal citizenship.

The Wholistic Principle

Relevance in education is achieved when the whole of the teaching is integrated.

The Developmental Principle

A valid education recognizes and works with the person’s natural phases of development.

Developmental phases are "states of perceiving" in particular ways, e.g.

The Perceptual Principle

The person’s experiences result from a particular way of perceiving; hence, each developmental phase yields a different variety of experiences.

The Methods Principle

The teacher must know explicitly and work with the varieties of experiences as they are related to the universal phases of development of the social person.

The Correspondence Principle

The individual person recapitulates the seasons.

The Principle of Dependence.

At some state of learning, students must rightly accept from the teacher what they cannot yet intellectually understand.

The Principle of Scholarship

At first, the students imitate the teacher and accept knowledge by authority; later, they seek in the world the source of the teacher’s knowledge.


The Order Principle

During the initial phase, learners naturally grasp with their imagination, and this, with concrete pictures; later, they can add more abstract forms of intellectual causality.


The Principle of the Two Cultures

Natural learning capacities today are of two kinds: (I) direct and instinctive apperception of what is to be learned; and, (II), sequencing of reasoning steps through conscious thinking.

The Principle of "Ethical Physiology"

Man is born ("the Fall of Man") into a "sub-human" state — as are animals; the function of education is to fully humanize the sub-human child.

The Principle of Collectivity

Defective education fails "to heal the fall of man", i.e. fails to fully humanize the individual; this is a collective tragedy.

The Principle of the Fall of Man

To fully humanize the individual, education must implant "a full humanity" in the learner.

The Principle of "Ethical Physiology"

"It must come about as a demand of cultural life that `cultural medicine’ and `cultural pedagogy’ are really brought nearer to one another so that they may be mutually productive."

(Rudolf Steiner, Roots of Education, 84).

The Principle of Sequencing

First one learns concrete pictoral fragments; then, causality of sequence in a comprehensive survey.

The Principle of Communication

Unless students feel and evince "inward joy and eager participation," they are not listening, and they’re not listening because the teacher talks above their heads.


The Principle of Freedom

Intellect can be awakened only through the willing and eager "co-operation" of the learner.

The Principle of Totality

Without global coordination across the age — years as individuals go through the school levels, education cannot prepare the whole of social man.

The Principle of Self-Reliance

The global aim of education is, first, to build a base for independent thinking; second, to allow this independent thinking to be discovered by the learners on their own.

The Principle of the Emerging Intellects

Through imitation and imagery, the learners build a base out of which independent intellectual activity emerges, becomes conscious, and serves as the base for security.

The Principle of Soul Life

When a right education is given to social beings, the inner experience of pure thinking or intellect calls forth the idea and experience of freedom, morality, and the "eternal" in the individual.

The Principle of Spirituality

"…as the art of education has fallen into the clutches of materialistic thinking, the children are unable to have…the experience of time passing over into eternity. Thereby they lose connection with the eternal part of their own being." (R. Steiner, p. 86)

The Principle of Anti-Materialism

"…the wrongness of materialism in education is shown in life when a human being has no feeling or inner experience of his own eternal nature." (Rudolf Steiner, p. 88)

The Principle of "Ethical Physiology" or "Medical Pedagogy"

The "Anthroposophical Principles" in education, called "ethical physiology" and "medical pedagogy" by Rudolf Steiner, state that wrong (materialistic) education practices cause specific illnesses in the adult’s life.

dead are with us 2

The Principle of "Reading the Pupil"

The relation between teacher and pupil is like that between reader and book.




The Principle of Dual Citizenship

A "right education" must prepare the person

(I) "to take his place socially in the outside world";

(II) "after death (to) be able to live his way rightly into the spiritual world."

(Rudolf Steiner, p. 90-91)

The Principle of Babel

"Men have lost the possibility of meeting each other in a human way, and this is another dark side to the picture of our present age." (Rudolf Steiner, 1924, p. 91)

The Principle of Collectivity

"The obvious basis of social life, the power really to feel and experience with the other person, has been sadly lost." (Rudolf Steiner, 1924, p. 91)

The Principle of Estrangement

"The fact that there is so much talk about social demands nowadays" (is attributable to the fact that) "nowhere do we find this loving feelings of one’s way into the other human being."

The Principle of Insufficiency

That "social life is lacking" is one everyone’s mind; but "education for social life" is not given the highest prominence. "It has retreated into the background." (p. 91)


The Principle of Excessive Modernism

"Education for social life…has retreated more and more into the background, and in many respects human beings meet and pass each other without any understanding one for the other." (Rudolf Steiner, 1924, p. 91)

The Principle of Separativeness

"It is indeed a grievous feature of present-day life that when man meets man there is no understanding between them." (Rudolf Steiner, 1924, p. 91)

The Principle of Avoidance of Relationship

"Men know nothing of the inner life of the people they are working with, because they lack a living interest, a living devotion, a living sympathy, with the other man." (Rudolf Steiner, 1924, p. 91)

The Principle of "Education for Social Life"

"Education for social life" develops in the person a "social feeling"; this is an "understanding for the other man", a "living interest, devotion and sympathy with the other man." (p.91)

The Principles of Imitation and Authority

"Education for social life" will be achieved "if at the right age we permeate all branches of our teaching and education with the principle of imitation and in its right place the principle of authority also." (p. 91)

The Positive Bias Principle

"Man uses complicated tools, …but what is lacking today is the power to enter into the spirit of nature, the spirit of the cosmos, into the universe as a mighty whole. This power much be regained." (Rudolf Steiner, P. 92)

The Principle of Anti-Materialism

"The human being is not only a citizen of the earth but of the cosmos also." But while he knows his connection to food, "he has no knowledge of how he is connected with the starry worlds in his soul and spirit." (p. 93)

The Principle of Humanity

Without adequate spiritual development man cannot be with understanding, cannot be true to himself, cannot be true to others, cannot be whole, and cannot be completely human.

The Astrodynamic Principle

Spiritual education is one that "seeks and finds the spirit in man": this is the knowledge that "he receives his spiritual nourishment from what streams forth from the whole galaxy of the stars." (p. 93)

The Principle of Higher Connections

Spiritual education recognizes that the stars, planets, and elements of nature all "work in man": what’s `out there’ affects what’s `inside’ in his soul and body in a direct way. To know this restores his understanding.

The Principle of Concrete Reality

To teach in a right way, the teacher much evolve "a conception of the world which is permeated with spirit"; then will he "save the methods and practice of his teaching work…from becoming abstract principles." (p. 94)

The "Education for Life" Principle

"To bind the self to matter means to annihilate souls. To find the self in spirit means to unite mankind. To behold the self in man means to build worlds." (A Meditative Poem for Teachers by Rudolf Steiner, 1924, p. 94.)



IN and UP = Mass Media Drama & Entertainment Ideals & Fantasies generate Luciferic Forces (Blood, Universalizatlon)

IN and DOWN/OUT and UP = a Christ and Michael Forces (From Steiner’s Occult Science an Outline)

OUT and DOWN = Materialistic Values of Bourgeoisie Establishment generate Arimanic Forces (Power, Bones, Ossification)

We just read Steiner’s lectures on Michael and the above 18 our summary. Is it recognizable? This diagram summarizes the activities and exercises we wish to emphasize during your week visit. This takes the form of keeping track of one’s daily round circumstances and identifying their source by relating them to one of the four directions specified by the diagram. For example, the excitement experienced in and around discotheque activities are identified as Lucifer I.e.) IN and UP, since they are "inspirational" and a "dead end"; whereas anxiety related to one’s grade point average Is an OUT and DOWN force, i.e., Arimanic since it is a dead end as well as "fixative"; on the other hand, Christ Michael Forces are Involved (IN and DOWN (Christ)/OUT and UP (Michael)) when the students observe "the spiritualization of matter" (the cross) through the realization that "man does not live by bread alone", and when the students observe "the congregation of selves"(the consciousness of spirit) through perception of the "upside down tree of life"(Michael) .

Memorable quotation from Rudolf Steiner


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The Bible

The Malmesbury Bible

Biblical canon
and books

(Torah · Nevi’im · Ketuvim)

Old Testament (OT)
New Testament (NT)
Hebrew Bible
Chapters and verses

(Jewish · OT · NT)

Development and

Jewish canon
Old Testament canon
New Testament canon
Mosaic authorship
Pauline epistles
Johannine works
Petrine epistles

Translations and

Samaritan Torah
Dead Sea scrolls
Masoretic text
Targums · Peshitta
Vetus Latina · Vulgate
Gothic Bible · Luther Bible
English Bibles

Biblical studies

Dating the Bible
Biblical criticism
Higher criticism
Textual criticism
Canonical criticism
Novum Testamentum Graece
Documentary hypothesis
Synoptic problem
NT textual categories

People · Places · Names

Internal consistency
Archeology · Artifacts
Science and the Bible


Pesher · Midrash · Pardes
Allegorical interpretation


Gnostic · Islamic · Qur’anic
Judaism and Christianity

Biblical law
in Judaism · in Christianity

Inerrancy · Infallibility
Criticism of the Bible

The Bible (from Greek τὰ βιβλία ta biblia "the books") is a collection of sacred scripture of both Judaism and Christianity. There is no single version: both the individual books (Biblical canon) and their order vary. The Hebrew Bible contains 24 books that were rearranged into 39 by Christian denominations, while complete Christian Bibles range from the 66 books of the Protestant canon to 81 books in the Ethiopian Orthodox Bible.[1] The oldest surviving Christian Bibles are Greek manuscripts from the 4th century; the oldest complete Jewish Bible is a Greek translation, also dating to the 4th century. The oldest complete manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible (the Masoretic text) date from the Middle Ages.[2]

The Hebrew Bible, or Tanakh, is divided into three parts: (1) the five books of the Torah ("teaching" or "law") comprise the origins of the Israelite nation, its laws and its covenant with the God of Israel; (2) the Nevi’im ("prophets") containing the historic account of ancient Israel and Judah plus works of prophecy; and (3) the Ketuvim ("writings"), poetic and philosophical works such as the Psalms and the Book of Job.[3] Christian Bibles include the books of the Hebrew Bible, but arranged in a different fashion: Hebrew Scripture ends with the people of Israel restored to Jerusalem and the temple and the Christian arrangement ends with the book of the prophet Malachi.

The Christian Bible is divided into two parts. The first is called the Old Testament, containing the 39 books of Hebrew Scripture, and the second portion is called the New Testament, containing a set of 27 books. During the three centuries following the establishment of Christianity in the 1st century, Church Fathers compiled Gospel accounts and letters of apostles into a Christian Bible which became known as the New Testament. The Old and New Testaments together are commonly referred to as "The Holy Bible". The canonical composition of the Jewish Bible is in dispute between Christian groups: Protestants hold only the books of the Hebrew Bible to be canonical; Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox additionally consider the deuterocanonical books, a group of Jewish books, to be canonical. The New Testament is composed of the Gospels ("good news"), the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles (letters), and the Book of Revelation.

If counted as a single book, the Bible is the best-selling book in history with approximate sales estimates ranging in the billions.[clarification needed][4]


An American family Bible dating to 1859 A.D.

The English word bible is from the Latin biblia, traced from the same word through Medieval Latin and Late Latin, ultimately from Greek τὰ βιβλία ta biblia "the books" (singular βιβλίον biblion).[5]

Middle Latin biblia is short for biblia sacra "holy book"; while biblia in Greek and Late Latin is neuter plural (gen. bibliorum), it gradually came to be regarded as a feminine singular noun (biblia, gen. bibliae) in medieval Latin, and so the word was loaned as a singular into the vernaculars of Western Europe.[6] Latin biblia sacra "holy books" translates Greek τὰ βιβλία τὰ ἅγια ta biblia ta hagia, "the holy books".[7]

The word βιβλίον itself had the literal meaning of "paper" or "scroll," the and came to be used as the ordinary word for "book" It is the diminutive of βύβλος bublos, "Egyptian papyrus", possibly so called from the name of the Phoenician port Byblos(also known as Gebal) from whence Egyptian papyrus was exported to Greece. The Greek ta biblia (lit. "little papyrus books")[8] was "an expression Hellenistic Jews used to describe their sacred books (the Septuagint).[9][10] Christian use of the term can be traced to ca. AD 223.[5]

Jewish canon


The Tanakh (Hebrew: תנ"ך) consists of 24 books.

Development of the Jewish canon

Development of the Jewish Bible canon

Tanakh refers to the threefold division of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings). This division is alluded to in the New testament: Luke 24:44 refers to the "law of Moses" (Pentateuch), the "prophets" which include certain historical books in addition to the books now called "prophets," and the psalms (the "writings" designated by its most prominent collection). The Hebrew Bible probably was canonized in these three stages: the law canonized before the Exile, the prophets by the time of the Syrian persecution of the Jews, and the writings shortly after AD 70 (the fall of Jerusalem). About that time, early Christian writings began being accepted by Christians as "scripture." These events, taken together, may have caused the Jews to close their "canon." They listed their own recognized Scriptures and also excluded both Christian and Jewish writings considered by them to be "apocryphal." In this canon the thirty-nine books found in the Old Testament of today’s Christian Bibles were grouped together as twenty-two books, equaling the number of letters in the Hebrew alphabet. This canon of Jewish scripture is attested to by Philo, Josephus, the New Testament,[11] and the Talmud.[8]

The Bible used at Qumran excluded Esther but included Tobit. Otherwise, it seems to have been basically the same as the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament, albeit with many textual variants.



The Torah, or "Instruction," is also known as the "Five Books" of Moses, thus Chumash from Hebrew meaning "fivesome," and Pentateuch from Greek meaning "five scroll-cases."

The Torah comprises the following five books:

  1. Genesis, Ge—Bereshith (בראשית)
  2. Exodus, Ex—Shemot (שמות)
  3. Leviticus, Le—Vayikra (ויקרא)
  4. Numbers, Nu—Bamidbar (במדבר)
  5. Deuteronomy, Dt—Devarim (דברים)

The Hebrew book titles come from some of the first words in the respective texts.

The Torah focuses on three moments in the changing relationship between God and people. The first eleven chapters of Genesis provide accounts of the creation (or ordering) of the world and the history of God’s early relationship with humanity. The remaining thirty-nine chapters of Genesis provide an account of God’s covenant with the Hebrew patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (also called Israel), and Jacob’s children (the "Children of Israel"), especially Joseph. It tells of how God commanded Abraham to leave his family and home in the city of Ur, eventually to settle in the land of Canaan, and how the Children of Israel later moved to Egypt. The remaining four books of the Torah tell the story of Moses, who lived hundreds of years after the patriarchs. His story coincides with the story of the liberation of the Children of Israel from slavery in Ancient Egypt, to the renewal of their covenant with God at Mount Sinai, and their wanderings in the desert until a new generation would be ready to enter the land of Canaan. The Torah ends with the death of Moses.

The Torah contains the commandments, of God, revealed at Mount Sinai (although there is some debate amongst Jewish scholars as to whether this was written down completely in one moment, or if it was spread out during the 40 years in the wandering in the desert). These commandments provide the basis forHalakha (Jewish religious law). Tradition states that the number of these is equal to 613 Mitzvot or 613 commandments. There is some dispute as to how to divide these up (mainly between the Ramban and Rambam).

The Torah is divided into fifty-four portions which are read on successive Sabbaths in Jewish liturgy, from the beginning of Genesis to the end of Deuteronomy. The cycle ends and recommences at the end of Sukkot, which is called Simchat Torah.



The Nevi’im, or "Prophets," tell the story of the rise of the Hebrew monarchy, its division into two kingdoms, and the prophets who, in God’s name, warned the kings and the Children of Israel about the punishment of God. It ends with the conquest of the Kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians and the conquest of the Kingdom of Judah by the Babylonians, and the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem. Portions of the prophetic books are read by Jews on the Sabbath (Shabbat). The Book of Jonah is read on Yom Kippur.

According to Jewish tradition, Nevi’im is divided into eight books. Contemporary translations subdivide these into twenty-one books.

The Nevi’im comprise the following eight books:

  1. Joshua, Js—Yehoshua (יהושע)
  2. Judges, Jg—Shoftim (שופטים)
  3. Samuel, includes First and Second 1Sa–2Sa—Sh’muel (שמואל)
  4. Kings, includes First and Second, 1Ki–2Ki—Melakhim (מלכים)
  5. Isaiah, Is—Yeshayahu (ישעיהו)
  6. Jeremiah, Je—Yirmiyahu (ירמיהו)
  7. Ezekiel, Ez—Yekhezkel (יחזקאל)
  8. Twelve, includes all Minor Prophets—Tre Asar (תרי עשר)
    • A. Hosea, Ho—Hoshea (הושע)
    • B. Joel, Jl—Yoel (יואל)
    • C. Amos, Am—Amos (עמוס)
    • D. Obadiah, Ob—Ovadyah (עבדיה)
    • E. Jonah, Jh—Yonah (יונה)
    • F. Micah, Mi—Mikhah (מיכה)
    • G. Nahum, Na—Nahum (נחום)
    • H. Habakkuk, Hb—Havakuk (חבקוק)
    • I. Zephaniah, Zp—Tsefanya (צפניה)
    • J. Haggai, Hg—Khagay (חגי)
    • K. Zechariah, Zc—Zekharyah (זכריה)
    • L. Malachi, Ml—Malakhi (מלאכי)


The Ketuvim, or "Writings" or "Scriptures," may have been written during or after the Babylonian Exile. Many of the psalms in the book of Psalms are attributed to David; King Solomon is believed to have written Song of Songs in his youth, Proverbs at the prime of his life, and Ecclesiastes at old age; and the prophet Jeremiah is thought to have written Lamentations. The Book of Ruth is the only biblical book that centers entirely on a non-Jew. The book of Ruth tells the story of a non-Jew (specifically, a Moabitess) who married a Jew and, upon her husband’s death, followed in the ways of the Jews; according to the Bible, she was the great-grandmother of King David. Five of the books, called "The Five Scrolls" (Megilot), are read on Jewish holidays: Song of Songs on Passover; the Book of Ruth on Shavuot; Lamentations on the Ninth of Av; Ecclesiastes on Sukkot; and the Book of Esther on Purim. Collectively, the Ketuvim contain lyrical poetry, philosophical reflections on life, and the stories of the prophets and other Jewish leaders during the Babylonian exile. It ends with the Persian decree allowing Jews to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple.

The Ketuvim comprise the following eleven books, divided, in many modern translations, into twelve through the division of Ezra and Nehemiah:

  1. Psalms, Ps—Tehillim (תהלים)
  2. Proverbs, Pr—Mishlei (משלי)
  3. Job, Jb—Iyyov (איוב)
  4. Song of Songs, So—Shir ha-Shirim (שיר השירים)
  5. Ruth, Ru—Rut (רות)
  6. Lamentations, La—Eikhah (איכה), also called Kinot (קינות)
  7. Ecclesiastes, Ec—Kohelet (קהלת)
  8. Esther, Es—Ester (אסתר)
  9. Daniel, Dn—Daniel (דניאל)
  10. Ezra, Ea, includes Nehemiah, Ne—Ezra (עזרא), includes Nehemiah (נחמיה)
  11. Chronicles, includes First and Second, 1Ch–2Ch—Divrei ha-Yamim (דברי הימים), also called Divrei (דברי)
Hebrew Bible translations and editions

 Bible translations

The Tanakh was mainly written in Biblical Hebrew, with some portions (notably in Daniel and Ezra) in Biblical Aramaic.[12]

The Oral Torah

According to some Jews during the Hellenistic period, such as the Sadducees, only a minimal oral tradition of interpreting the words of the Torah existed, which did not include extended biblical interpretation. According to the Pharisees, however, God revealed both a Written Torah and an Oral Torah to Moses, the Oral Torah consisting of both stories and legal traditions. In Rabbinic Judaism, the Oral Torah is essential for understanding the Written Torah literally (as it includes neither vowels nor punctuation) and exegetically. The Oral Torah has different facets, principally Halacha (laws), the Aggadah (stories), and theKabbalah (esoteric knowledge). Major portions of the Oral Law have been committed to writing, notably the Mishnah; the Tosefta; Midrash, such as Midrash Rabbah, the Sifre, the Sifra, and the Mechilta; and both the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds as well.

Orthodox Judaism continues to accept the Oral Torah in its totality. Masorti and Conservative Judaism state that the Oral Tradition is to some degree divinely inspired, but disregard its legal elements in varying degrees. Reform Judaism also gives some credence to the Talmud containing the legal elements of the Oral Torah, but, as with the written Torah, asserts that both were inspired by, but not dictated by, God. Reconstructionist Judaism denies any connection of the Torah, Written or Oral, with God.

The article Jewish commentaries on the Bible discusses the Jewish understanding of the Bible, including Bible commentaries from the ancient Targums to classical Rabbinic literature, the midrash literature, the classical medieval commentators, and modern day Jewish Bible commentaries.

Christian canons

 Christian biblical canons

The Christian Bible consists of the Hebrew scriptures of Judaism, which are known as the Old Testament; and later writings recording the lives and teachings of Jesus and his followers, known as the New Testament. "Testament" is a translation of the Greek διαθηκη (diatheke), also often translated "covenant." It is a legal term denoting a formal and legally binding declaration of benefits to be given by one party to another (e.g., "last will and testament" in secular use). Here it does not connote mutuality; rather, it is a unilateral covenant offered by God to individuals.[8]

Groups within Christianity include differing books as part of one or both of these "Testaments" of their sacred writings—most prominent among which are the biblical apocrypha or deuterocanonical books.

Significant versions of the English Christian Bible include the Douay-Rheims, the RSV, the KJV, and the NIV. For a complete list, see List of English Bible translations.

In Judaism, the term Christian Bible is commonly used to identify only those books like the New Testament which have been added by Christians to the Masoretic Text, and excludes any reference to an Old Testament.[13]

Old Testament

Old Testament

The Old Testament consists of a collection of writings believed to have been composed at various times from the twelfth to the second century B.C. The books were written in classical Hebrew, except for brief portions (Ezra 4:8–6:18 and 7:12–26, Jeremiah 10:11, Daniel 2:4–7:28) which are in the Aramaic language, a sister language which became the lingua franca of the Semitic world.[14] Much of the material, including many genealogies, poems and narratives, is thought to have been handed down by word of mouth for many generations. Very few manuscripts are said to have survived the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.[14]

The Old Testament is accepted by Christians as scripture. Broadly speaking, it contains the same material as the Hebrew Bible. However, the order of the books is not entirely the same as that found in Hebrew manuscripts and in the ancient versions and varies from Judaism in interpretation and emphasis (see for example Isaiah 7:14). Christian denominations disagree about the incorporation of a small number of books into their canons of the Old Testament. A few groups consider particular translations to be divinely inspired, notably the Greek Septuagint, the Aramaic Peshitta, and the English King James Version.

Apocryphal or deuterocanonical books

The Septuagint (Greek translation, from Alexandria in Egypt under the Ptolemies) was generally abandoned in favour of the Masoretic text as the basis for translations of the Old Testament into Western languages from St. Jerome’s Bible (the Vulgate) to the present day. In Eastern Christianity, translations based on the Septuagint still prevail. Some modern Western translations make use of the Septuagint to clarify passages in the Masoretic text, where the Septuagint may preserve a variant reading of the Hebrew text. They also sometimes adopt variants that appear in other texts e.g. those discovered among the Dead Sea Scrolls.

A number of books which are part of the Peshitta or Greek Septuagint but are not found in the Hebrew (Rabbinic) Bible are often referred to as deuterocanonical books by Roman Catholics referring to a later secondary (i.e. deutero) canon. Most Protestants term these books as apocrypha. Evangelicals and those of the Modern Protestant traditions do not accept the deuterocanonical books as canonical, although Protestant Bibles included them in Apocrypha sections until around the 1820s. However, the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches include these books as part of their Old Testament.

The Roman Catholic Church recognizes:

In addition to those, the Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches recognize the following:

Some other Eastern Orthodox Churches include:

  • 2 Esdras i.e., Latin Esdras in the Russian and Georgian Bibles

There is also 4 Maccabees which is only accepted as canonical in the Georgian Church, but was included by St. Jerome in an appendix to the Vulgate, and is an appendix to the Greek Orthodox Bible, and it therefore sometimes included in collections of the Apocrypha.

The Anglican Churches uses some of the Apocryphal books liturgically. Therefore, editions of the Bible intended for use in the Anglican Church include the Deuterocanonical books accepted by the Catholic Church, plus 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras and the Prayer of Manasseh, which were in the Vulgate appendix.

New Testament

 New Testament

The New Testament is a collection of 27 books, of 4 different genres of Christian literature (Gospels, one account of the Acts of the Apostles, Epistles and an Apocalypse). Jesus is its central figure. The New Testament presupposes the inspiration of the Old (2 Timothy 3:16). Nearly all Christians recognize the New Testament (as stated below) as canonical scripture. These books can be grouped into:

The Gospels

Pauline Epistles

General Epistles, also called Jewish Epistles

Revelation, or the Apocalypse Re

The order of these books varies according to Church tradition. The New Testament books are ordered differently in the Catholic/Protestant tradition, the Slavonic tradition, the Syriac tradition and the Ethiopian tradition.

Original language

The books of the New Testament were written in Koine Greek, the language of the earliest extant manuscripts, even though some authors often included translations from Hebrew and Aramaic texts. Certainly the Pauline Epistles were written in Greek for Greek-speaking audiences. See Greek primacy. Some scholars believe that some books of the Greek New Testament (in particular, the Gospel of Matthew) are actually translations of a Hebrew or Aramaic original. Of these, a small number accept the Syriac Peshitta as representative of the original. See Aramaic primacy. The study of the Greek New Testament, not least the synoptic gospels, has been said to present undergraduates "with a more demanding set of interlocking intellectual challenges than any other subject in the university".[15]

Historic editions

See also: Biblical manuscript, Bible translations, and Textual criticism

The Codex Gigas from the 13th century, held at the Royal Library inSweden.

When ancient scribes copied earlier books, they wrote notes on the margins of the page (marginal glosses) to correct their text—especially if a scribe accidentally omitted a word or line—and to comment about the text. When later scribes were copying the copy, they were sometimes uncertain if a note was intended to be included as part of the text. See textual criticism. Over time, different regions evolved different versions, each with its own assemblage of omissions and additions.

The autographs, the Greek manuscripts written by the original authors, have not survived. Scholars surmise the original Greek text from the versions that do survive. The three main textual traditions of the Greek New Testament are sometimes called the Alexandrian text-type (generally minimalist), the Byzantine text-type (generally maximalist), and the Western text-type (occasionally wild). Together they comprise most of the ancient manuscripts.

Christian theology

 Christian theology

The Bible has always been central to the life of the Christian church. Bible scholar N.T. Wright says Jesus himself was profoundly shaped by the scriptures—the ancient Hebrew and Aramaic texts whose stories, songs, prophecy and wisdom permeated the Jewish world of his day. He adds that the earliest Christians also searched those same scriptures in their effort to understand what their living God had accomplished through the brief earthly life of Jesus. They regarded the ancient Israelites’ scriptures as having reached a climactic fulfillment in Jesus himself, generating the "new covenant" prophesied by Jeremiah.[16]

There are wide differences of opinion among Christians as to how particular incidents as described in the Bible are to be interpreted and as to what meaning should be attached to various prophecies. However, Christians in general are in agreement as to the Bible’s basic message. A general outline, as described by C. S. Lewis, is as follows:[17]

  1. At some point in the past, humanity chose to depart from God’s will and began to sin.
  2. Because no one is free from sin, people cannot deal with God directly, so God revealed Himself in ways people could understand.
  3. God called Abraham and his progeny to be the means for saving all of humanity.
  4. To this end, He gave the Law to Moses.
  5. The resulting nation of Israel went through cycles of sin and repentance, yet the prophets show an increasing understanding of the Law as a moral, not just a ceremonial, force.
  6. Jesus brought a perfect understanding of the Mosaic Law, that of love and salvation.
  7. By His death and resurrection, all who believe are saved and reconciled to God.

Many Christians, Muslims, and Jews regard the Bible as inspired by God yet written fallibly by imperfect men. Many others, who identify themselves as biblical literalists, regard both the New and Old Testament as the undiluted Word of God, spoken by God and written down in its perfect form by humans. Still others hold the Biblical infallibility perspective, that the Bible is free from error in spiritual but not scientific matters. "Bible scholars claim that discussions about the Bible must be put into its context within church history and then into the context of contemporary culture."[16]

Belief in sacred texts is attested to in Jewish antiquity,[18][19] and this belief can also be seen in the earliest of Christian writings. Various texts of the Bible mention Divine agency in relation to prophetic writings,[20] the most explicit being: "All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness."[2 Timothy 3:16]

In their book A General Introduction to the Bible, Norman Geisler and William Nix wrote: "The process of inspiration is a mystery of the providence of God, but the result of this process is a verbal, plenary, inerrant, and authoritative record."[21]

Most evangelical biblical scholars[22][23][24] associate inspiration with only the original text; for example some American Protestants adhere to the 1978 Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy which asserted that inspiration applied only to the autographic text of Scripture.[25] However, some adherents to the King James Only view attribute inerrancy to a particular translation.


 Development of the Old Testament canon and Development of the New Testament canon

The Old Testament canon entered into Christian use in the Greek Septuagint translations and original books, and their differing lists of texts. In addition to the Septuagint, Christianity subsequently added various writings that would become the New Testament. Somewhat different lists of accepted works continued to develop in antiquity. In the fourth century a series of synods produced a list of texts equal to the 39-to-46-book canon of the Old Testament and to the 27-book canon of the New Testament that would be subsequently used to today, most notably the Synod of Hippo in AD 393. Also c. 400, Jeromeproduced a definitive Latin edition of the Bible (see Vulgate), the canon of which, at the insistence of the Pope, was in accord with the earlier Synods. With the benefit of hindsight it can be said that this process effectively set the New Testament canon, although there are examples of other canonical lists in use after this time. A definitive list did not come from an Ecumenical Council until the Council of Trent (1545–63).[26]

During the Protestant Reformation, certain reformers proposed different canonical lists to those currently in use. Though not without debate, see Antilegomena, the list of New Testament books would come to remain the same; however, the Old Testament texts present in the Septuagint, but not included in the Jewish canon, fell out of favor. In time they would come to be removed from most Protestant canons. Hence, in a Catholic context these texts are referred to as deuterocanonical books, whereas in a Protestant context they are referred to as Apocrypha, the label applied to all texts excluded from the biblical canon which were in the Septuagint. It should also be noted, that Catholics and Protestants both describe certain other books, such as the Acts of Peter, as apocryphal.

Thus, the Protestant Old Testament of today has a 39-book canon—the number varies from that of the books in the Tanakh (though not in content) because of a different method of division—while the Roman Catholic Church recognizes 46 books as part of the canonical Old Testament. The Orthodox Churches, in addition to the Catholic canon, recognise 3 Maccabees, 1 Esdras, Prayer of Manasseh and Psalm 151. Some include 2 Esdras. The Anglican Church also recognises a longer canon. The term "Hebrew Scriptures" is often used as being synonymous with the Protestant Old Testament, since the surviving scriptures in Hebrew include only those books, while Catholics and Orthodox include additional texts that have not survived in Hebrew. Both Catholics and Protestants have the same 27-book New Testament Canon.

The New Testament writers assumed the inspiration of the Old Testament, probably earliest stated in 2 Timothy 3:16, "all Scripture is inspired of God."[8]

Ethiopian Orthodox canon

The Canon of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is wider than for most other Christian groups. The Ethiopian Old Testament Canon includes the books found in the Septuagint accepted by other Orthodox Christians, in addition to Enoch and Jubilees which are ancient Jewish books that only survived in Ge’ez but are quoted in the New Testament (citation required), also Greek Ezra First and the Apocalypse of Ezra, 3 books of Meqabyan, and Psalm 151 at the end of the Psalter. The three books of Meqabyan are not be confused with the books of Maccabees. The order of the other books is somewhat different from other groups’, as well. The Old Testament follows the Septuagint order for the Minor Prophets rather than the Jewish order.

Marcionite Bible

Marcion, an early Christian heretic, and his followers, had a Bible that excluded the Old Testament. It consisted of an edited Gospel of Luke (excluding what Marcion considered Jewish additions), and the Epistles of Paul (excluding Titus, the two epistles to Timothy, the Epistle to the Hebrews, and passages rejected as Jewish additions).[27]

Bible versions and translations

Further information: Bible translations and Bible translations by language

A Bible handwritten in Latin, on display in Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire, England. This Bible was transcribed in Belgium in 1407 for reading aloud in a monastery.

Bible versions are discussed below, while Bible translations can be found on a separate page.

The original texts of the Tanakh were in Hebrew, although some portions were in Aramaic. In addition to the authoritative Masoretic Text, Jews still refer to the Septuagint, the translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, and the Targum Onkelos, an Aramaic version of the Bible. There are several different ancient versions of the Tanakh in Hebrew, mostly differing by spelling, and the traditional Jewish version is based on the version known as Aleppo Codex. Even in this version by itself, there are words which are traditionally read differently from written (sometimes one word is written and another is read), because the oral tradition is considered more fundamental than the written one, and presumably mistakes had been made in copying the text over the generations.

The primary biblical text for early Christians was the Septuagint or (LXX). In addition, they translated the Hebrew Bible into several other languages. Translations were made into Syriac, Coptic, Ge’ez and Latin, among other languages. The Latin translations were historically the most important for the Church in the West, while the Greek-speaking East continued to use the Septuagint translations of the Old Testament and had no need to translate the New Testament.

The earliest Latin translation was the Old Latin text, or Vetus Latina, which, from internal evidence, seems to have been made by several authors over a period of time. It was based on the Septuagint, and thus included books not in the Hebrew Bible.

Pope Damasus I assembled the first list of books of the Bible at the Council of Rome in AD 382. He commissioned Saint Jerome to produce a reliable and consistent text by translating the original Greek and Hebrew texts into Latin. This translation became known as theLatin Vulgate Bible and in 1546 at the Council of Trent was declared by the Church to be the only authentic and official Bible in the Latin Rite.

Especially since the Protestant Reformation, Bible translations for many languages have been made. The Bible has seen a notably large number of English language translations.

Bible translations, worldwide[28]


Approximate number of languages spoken in the world today

Number of translations to new languages currently in progress

Number of languages the New Testament has been translated to

Number of languages the Bible (Protestant Canon) has been translated to

The Bible continues to be translated to new languages, largely by Christian organisations such as Wycliffe Bible Translators, New Tribes Mission and the Bible society.

Biblical criticism

 Biblical criticism and Criticism of the Bible

Biblical criticism refers to the investigation of the Bible as a text, and addresses questions such as authorship, dates of composition, and authorial intention. It is not the same as criticism of the Bible, which is an assertion against the Bible being a source of information or ethical guidance.

Higher criticism

 Higher criticism and Lower criticism

In the 17th century Thomas Hobbes collected the current evidence to conclude outright that Moses could not have written the bulk of the Torah. Shortly afterwards the philosopher Baruch Spinoza published a unified critical analysis, arguing that the problematic passages were not isolated cases that could be explained away one by one, but pervasive throughout the five books, concluding that it was "clearer than the sun at noon that the Pentateuch was not written by Moses…." Despite determined opposition from Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, the views of Hobbes and Spinoza gained increasing acceptance amongst scholars.

Documentary hypothesis

 Documentary hypothesis

The medieval tradition of Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch (Torah) came under philological scrutiny with the development of Biblical criticism in the 18th century. H. B. Witter[year needed], Jean Astruc (1753), and Johann Gottfried Eichhorn (1803) separated the Pentateuch into two original documentary components, both dating from after the time of Moses. Others hypothesized the presence of two additional sources. The four documents were given working titles: J (Jahwist/Yahwist), E (Elohist), P (Priestly), and D (Deuteronomist). Each was discernible by its own characteristic language, and each, when read in isolation, presented a unified, coherent narrative.

Subsequent scholars, notably Eduard Reuss, Karl Heinrich Graf and Wilhelm Vatke, turned their attention to the order in which the documents had been composed (which they deduced from internal clues) and placed them in the context of a theory of the development of ancient Israelite religion, suggesting that much of the Laws and the narrative of the Pentateuch were unknown to the Israelites in the time of Moses.

These were synthesized by Julius Wellhausen (1844–1918), who suggested a historical framework for the composition of the documents and their redaction (combination) into the final document known as the Pentateuch. This hypothesis was challenged by William Henry Green in his The Mosaic Origins of the Pentateuchal Codes (available online). Nonetheless, according to contemporary Torah scholar Richard Elliott Friedman, Wellhausen’s model of the documentary hypothesis continues to dominate the field of biblical scholarship: "To this day, if you want to disagree, you disagree with Wellhausen. If you want to pose a new model, you compare its merits with those of Wellhausen’s model."[29]

The documentary hypothesis is important in the field of biblical studies not only because it claims that the Torah was written by different people at different times—generally long after the events it describes—[30] but it also proposed what was at the time a radically new way of reading the Bible. Many proponents of the documentary hypothesis view the Bible more as a body of literature than a work of history, believing that the historical value of the text lies not in its account of the events that it describes, but in what critics can infer about the times in which the authors lived (as critics may read Hamlet to learn about seventeenth-century England, but will not read it to learn about seventh-century Denmark).

Wellhausen’s hypothesis proposed that the four documents were composed in the order J-E-D-P, with P, containing the bulk of the Jewish law, dating from the post-Exilic Second Temple period (i.e., after 515 BC);[31]

The documentary hypothesis has been modified by numerous later authors. The contemporary view[by whom?] is that P is earlier than D, and that all four books date from the First Temple period (i.e., prior to 587 BC).[32] Martin Noth (who in 1943 provided evidence that Deuteronomy plus the following six books make a unified history from the hand of a single editor), Harold Bloom, Frank Moore Cross and Richard Elliot Friedman also presented versions of the hypothesis.

The documentary hypothesis, at least in the four-document version advanced by Wellhausen, has been controversial since its formulation, and not all biblical scholars accept J, E, D, and P as meaningful terms. Critics question the existence of separate, identifiable documents, positing instead that the biblical text is made up of almost innumerable strands so interwoven as to be hardly untangleable. The J documen in particular, has been subjected to such intense dissection that it seems in danger of disappearing.[citation needed]

Archaeological and historical research

Main articles: Biblical archaeology school and The Bible and history

Biblical archaeology is the archaeology that relates to, and sheds light upon, the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament. It is used to help determine the lifestyle and practices of people living in biblical times.

There are a wide range of interpretations of the existing Biblical archaeology. One broad division includes Biblical maximalism that generally take the view that most of the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible is essentially based on history although presented through the religious viewpoint of its time. It is considered the opposite of biblical minimalism which considers the Bible a purely post-exilic (5th century BCE and later) composition. In any case, even accepting Biblical minimalism, the Bible is a historical document containing first-hand information on the Hellenistic and Roman eras, and there is universal scholarly consensus that the events of the Babylonian captivity of the 6th century onward have a basis in history.

On the other hand, the historicity of the biblical account of the history of ancient Israel and Judah of the 10th to 7th centuries BCE is disputed in scholarship. The biblical account of the 8th to 7th centuries is widely, but not universally, accepted as historical, while the verdict on the earliest period of the United Monarchy (10th century BCE) and the historicity of David is far from clear. For this reason, archaeological evidence providing information on this period, such as the Tel Dan Stele, can potentially be decisive.

Finally, the biblical account of events of the Exodus from Egypt in the Torah, and the migration to the Promised Land and the period of Judges are not considered historical in scholarship.[33][34]

Regarding the New Testament, the setting being the Roman Empire period in the 1st century, the historical context is well established. There has nevertheless been some debate on the historicity of Jesus, but the mainstream opinion is clearly that Jesus was one of several known historical itinerant preachers in 1st-century Roman Judea, teaching in the context of the religious upheavals and sectarianism of Second Temple Judaism.

See also

Biblical topics


  1. ^ Halpern, B. the First Historians: The Hebrew Bible. Harper & Row, 1988, quoted in Smith, Mark S.The early history of God: Yahweh and the other deities in ancient Israel. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; 2nd ed., 2002. ISBN 978-0802839725, p.14
  2. ^ Ash, Russell (2001). Top 10 of Everything 2002. Dorling Kindersley. ISBN 0789480433, 9780789480439.
  3. ^ a b Harper, Douglas. "bible". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  4. ^ "The Catholic Encyclopedia". Newadvent.org. Retrieved 2010-04-23.
  5. ^ a b c d Stagg, Frank. New Testament Theology. Nashville: Broadman, 1962. ISBN 0-8054-1613-7.
  6. ^ "Bible Study, Bible Facts". Retrieved 2007-11-05.
  7. ^ a b Sir Godfrey Driver. "Introduction to the Old Testament of the New English Bible." Web: 30 November 2009
  8. ^ Evans, Christopher. King’s College London. Quoted in Wright, N.T. "New Testament Scholarship and Christian Discipleship." 5 June 2008. Web: 27 February 2010 N.T. Wright on NT Scholarship and Christian Discipleship
  9. ^ a b Wright, N.T. The Last Word: Scripture and the Authority of God—Getting Beyond the Bible Wars. HarperCollins, 2005. ISBN 0060872616 / 9780060872618
  10. ^ A Summary of the Bible by Lewis, CS: Believer’s Web.
  11. ^ Philo of Alexandria, De vita Moysis 3.23.
  12. ^ Josephus, Contra Apion 1.8.
  13. ^ "Basis for belief of Inspiration Biblegateway". Biblegateway.com. Retrieved 2010-04-23.
  14. ^ Norman L. Geisler, William E. Nix. A General Introduction to the Bible. Moody Publishers, 1986, p.86. ISBN 0-8024-2916-5
  15. ^ For example, see Leroy Zuck, Roy B. Zuck. Basic Bible Interpretation. Chariot Victor Pub, 1991,p.68. ISBN 0-89693-819-0
  16. ^ Roy B. Zuck, Donald Campbell. Basic Bible Interpretation. Victor, 2002. ISBN 0-7814-3877-2
  17. ^ Norman L. Geisler. Inerrancy. Zondervan, 1980, p.294. ISBN 0-310-39281-0
  18. ^ International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (1978) (PDF). The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. International Council on Biblical Inerrancy.
  19. ^ Catholic Encyclopedia: Canon of the New Testament: "The idea of a complete and clear-cut canon of the New Testament existing from the beginning, that is from Apostolic times, has no foundation in history. The Canon of the New Testament, like that of the Old, is the result of a development, of a process at once stimulated by disputes with doubters, both within and without the Church, and retarded by certain obscurities and natural hesitations, and which did not reach its final term until the dogmatic definition of the Tridentine Council."
  20. ^ Paula Fredriksen, Augustine and the Jews, ISBN 978-0-385-50270-2 (2008), pp. 67-68, 391.
  21. ^ Wycliffe Bible Translators, Inc. (WBT) Translation Statistics. July 2010: Wycliffe Bible Translators
  22. ^ Richard Elliott Friedman, "Who Wrote the Bible?," HarperSanFrancisco, 1997 (2nd edition).
  23. ^ Joel Rosenberg, 1984 "The Bible: Biblical Narrative" in Barry Holtz, ed Back to the Sources New York: Summit Books p. 36; Nahum Sarna, 1986Understanding Genesis New York:Schocken Books pp. xxi-xxiii.
  24. ^ Wellhausen adopted the idea of a post-Exilic date for P from Eduard Reuss.
  25. ^ Although the bulk of all four documents date from before 587 BC, the strand of D known as Dtr2 dates from the following Exilic period.
  26. ^ Finkelstein, Israel; Neil Silberman. The Bible Unearthed.
  27. ^ Dever, William. Who Were the Early Israelites and Where Did They Come from?.

References and further reading

Anderson, Bernhard W. Understanding the Old Testament. ISBN 0-13-948399-3.

Categories: Bible | Greek loanwords | Judeo-Christian topics


For the Kiddies

Bible Coloring Pages – Old Testament

Printable Coloring Pages www.grandparents.com/Printable

Easily printable Coloring Pages for all seasons and celebrations.

Bible Coloring Pages – Old Testament

I am very excited to be able to share this huge and growing list of Biblecoloring pages with you. My goal is to find coloring pages to enable you to color your way through the entire Old Testament section of the Bible.
Years ago when my children were younger, I bought a set of Bible coloring pages for our homeschool for my children to color as we read through the Bible. But I have discovered that the internet has so many free Bible coloring pages available that there is no need for you to buy any 🙂
These Old Testament Bible coloring pages would be great for Sunday school, vacation Bible school, homeschooling, religious education, Scripture in schools, Bible notebooking etc.
I do intend to add more Bible story coloring pages to this page so come back again soon. You may also be interested in:
Old Testament Sunday School Crafts
Old Testament Bible Worksheets
Old Testament Christian Skits
Old Testament Sunday School Games
New Testament Bible Coloring Pages
New Testament Sunday School Crafts
New Testament Bible Worksheets
New Testament Christian Skits.
Please note: the inclusion of any website here does not mean that I necessarily agree with the beliefs of that website. It’s up to you to read any wording on the coloring pages before you print them to see if it is acceptable.

Bible Coloring Pages Available

Genesis Coloring Pages
Adam and Eve Coloring Pages
Cain and Abel Coloring Pages
Noah and the Great Flood Coloring Pages
The Tower of Babel Coloring Pages
Abraham Coloring Pages (and Sarah)
Isaac and Rebekah Coloring Pages
Israel / Jacob Coloring Pages
Joseph Coloring Pages

Exodus / Leviticus / Numbers / Deuteronomy Coloring Pages
Baby Moses Coloring Pages
More Moses Coloring Pages
10 Commandments Coloring Pages
Tabernacle and Sacrifices Coloring Pages
Feasts of the Lord Coloring Pages
Balaam Coloring Pages
Joshua Coloring Pages
Fall of Jericho Coloring Pages
More Joshua Coloring Pages
Judges Coloring Pages
Deborah Coloring Pages
Gideon Coloring Pages
Samson Coloring Pages
Other Judges Coloring Pages
Ruth Coloring Pages
Ruth Coloring Pages
Samuel / Kings / Chronicles Coloring Pages
Hannah and Samuel Coloring Pages
King Saul Coloring Pages
David Coloring Pages
Solomon Coloring Pages
Elijah and Elisha Coloring Pages
Kings of the Divided Kingdom Coloring Pages
Ezra and Nehemiah Coloring Pages
Ezra and Nehemiah Coloring Pages
Esther Coloring Pages
Esther Coloring Pages
Job Coloring Pages
Job Coloring Pages
Psalms Coloring Pages
Psalms Coloring Pages
Proverbs Coloring Pages
Proverbs Coloring Pages
Isaiah Coloring Pages
Isaiah Coloring Pages
Jeremiah Coloring Pages
Jeremiah Coloring Pages
Ezekiel Coloring Pages
Ezekiel Coloring Pages
Daniel Coloring Pages
Daniel Coloring Pages
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego Coloring Pages
Joel Coloring Pages
Joel Coloring Pages
Amos Coloring Pages
Amos Coloring Pages
Jonah Coloring Pages
Jonah Coloring Pages
Zechariah Coloring Pages
Zechariah Coloring Pages
New Testament Coloring Pages
Bible Story Coloring Pages – New Testament
Other coloring pages you may be interested in
More Christian Resources for Children
Ideas for using coloring pages
How will you use these Bible coloring pages?


The Written Law (The Torah)

The Written Law consists of the books of the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh. The term "Bible" is more commonly used by non-Jews, as are the terms "Old Testament" and "New Testament." The appropriate term for Jews to use for the Hebrew Bible is "Tanakh." Tanakh is an acronym for Torah, Nevi’im(Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings).

The Torah is also known as the Chumash, Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses. The word "Torah" has the following meanings:

1. A scroll made from kosher animal parchment, with the entire text of the Five Books of Moses written in it by a sofer [ritual scribe]. This is the most limited definition.

2. More often, this term means the text of the Five Books of Moses, written in any format, whether Torah scroll, paperback book, CD ROM, sky writing or any other media. Any printed version of the Torah (with or without commentary) can be called a Chumash or Pentateuch; however, one never refers to a Torah Scroll as a Chumash.

3. The term "Torah" can mean the entire corpus of Jewish law. This includes the Written and the Oral Law, which includes the Mishna, the Midrash, the Talmud and even later day legal commentaries. This definition of Torah is probably the most common among Orthodox Jews. Usually you can figure out which definition is being used by the context.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Sefer Torah at old Glockengasse synagogue (reconstruction), Cologne

The term Torah (Hebrew: תּוֹרָה, "teaching" or "instruction", or "law"), also known as the Pentateuch (Greek: Πεντάτευχος from πεντα- penta- [five] and τεῦχος teuchos [tool, vessel, book]),[1] refers to the Five Books of Moses—the entirety of Judaism‘s foundinglegal and ethical religious texts.[2][3] A "Sefer Torah" (סֵפֶר תּוֹרָה, "book of Torah") or Torah scroll is a copy of the Torah written on parchment in a formal, traditional manner by a specially trained scribe under strict requirements.

The Torah is the first of three parts of the Tanakh (i.e. Hebrew Bible), the founding religious document of Judaism,[4] and is divided into five books, whose names in English are Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, in reference to their themes (their Hebrew names: Bereshit, בראשית, Shmot שמות, Vayikra ויקרא, Bamidbar במדבר, and Dvarim דברים, are derived from the wording of their initial verses). The Torah contains a variety of literary genres, including allegories, historical narrative, poetry, genealogy, and the exposition of various types of law. According to rabbinic tradition, the Torah contains the 613 mitzvot (מצוות, "commandments"), which are divided into 365 restrictions and 248 positive commands.[5] In rabbinic literature, the word "Torah" denotes both the written text, "Torah Shebichtav" (תורה שבכתב, "Torah that is written"), as well as an oral tradition, "Torah Shebe’al Peh" (תורה שבעל פה, "Torah that is oral"). The oral portion consists of the "traditional interpretations and amplifications handed down by word of mouth from generation to generation," now embodied in the Talmud and Midrash.[6]

Jewish religious tradition ascribes authorship of the Torah to Moses through a process of divine inspiration. This view of Mosaic authorship is first found explicitly expressed in the Talmud, dating from the 1st to the 6th centuries CE, and is based on textual analysis of passages in the Torah and the subsequent books of the Hebrew Bible. Contemporary secular biblical scholars date the completion of the Torah, as well as the prophets and the historical books, no earlier than the Persian period (539 to 334 BCE).[7] According to dating of the text by Orthodox rabbis, some place it during the revelation of the Torah to Moses, which occurred in 1312 BCE at Mount Sinai;[8] another date given for this event is 1280 BCE.[9] However, the Zohar, the most significant text in Jewish mysticism, states that theTorah was created prior to the creation of the world, and that it was used as the blueprint for Creation.[10] Scholarly discussion for much of the 20th century was principally couched in terms of the documentary hypothesis, according to which the Torah is a synthesis of documents from a small number of originally independent sources.[11]

Outside of its central significance in Judaism, the Torah is accepted by Christianity as part of the Bible, comprising the first five books of the Old Testament.[12] The various denominations of Jews and Christians hold a diverse spectrum of views regarding the exactitude of scripture. The Torah has also been accepted to varying degrees by the Samaritans, an ethnoreligious group of the Levant, and others as the authentic revealed message of YHWH to the early Israelites and as factual history, in both cases as conveyed by Moses.

Meaning and names

The word "Torah" in Hebrew "is derived from the root ירה which in the hifil conjugation means "to teach" (cf. Lev. 10:11). The meaning of the word is therefore "teaching," "doctrine," or "instruction"; the commonly accepted "law" gives a wrong impression."[13] Other translational contexts in the English language include custom, theory, guidance,[14] or system.[15] The term "Torah" is therefore also used in the general sense to include both Judaism‘s written law and oral law, serving to encompass the entire spectrum of authoritative Jewish religious teachings throughout history, including the Mishnah, the Talmud, theMidrash and more, and the inaccurate rendering of "Torah" as "Law"[16] may be an obstacle to "understanding the ideal that is summed up in the term talmud torah (תלמוד תורה, "study of Torah,"), characterized in Jewish tradition as excelling all things."[6] The Torah is not the only book in its class, however.Tanach is, in Hebrew, an abbreviation for Torah, Navi (a narrative of what happened after the Torah which picks up exactly where it left off), and Ketuvim (the "Writings"). Together, these books comprise what is known in Christendom as "The Old Testament".

Within the Hebrew Bible,

The earliest name for the first part of the Bible seems to have been "The Torah of Moses." This title, however, is found neither in the Torah itself, nor in the works of the pre-Exilic literary prophets. It appears in Joshua (8:31–32; 23:6) and Kings (I Kings 2:3; II Kings 14:6; 23:25), but it cannot be said to refer there to the entire corpus. In contrast, there is every likelihood that its use in the post-Exilic works (Mal. 3:22; Dan. 9:11, 13; Ezra 3:2; 7:6; Neh. 8:1; II Chron. 23:18; 30:16) was intended to be comprehensive. Other early titles were "The Book of Moses" (Ezra 6:18; Neh. 13:1; II Chron. 35:12; 25:4; cf. II Kings 14:6) and "The Book of the Torah" (Neh. 8:3) which seems to be a contraction of a fuller name, "The Book of the Torah of God" (Neh. 8:8, 18; 10:29–30; cf. 9:3).[17]

Christians often refer to the Torah as the Pentateuch, meaning five books, or as the Law, or Law of Moses. Muslims refers to the Torah as "Tawrat" (توراة, "Law"), an Arabic word for the revelations given to the Islamic prophet "Musa" (موسى, Moses in Arabic).


Traditional attribution

 Mosaic authorship

"Mosaic authorship" is the ascription to Moses of the authorship of the five books of the Torah or Pentateuch. This is expressed in the Talmud, a collection of Jewish traditions and exegesis dating from the 3rd to the 6th centuries CE, and was presumably based on the several verses in the Torah describing Moses writing "torah" (instruction) from God. According to the Encyclopaedia Judaica,

The traditional doctrine of Mosaic authorship of the entire Torah has its source in Deuteronomy 31:9–12, 24, more than in any other passage…. The Torah itself contains no explicit statement ascribing its authorship to Moses, while Mosaic attribution is restricted to legal and ritual prescription and is hardly to be found in connection with the narrative material.[17]

However, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the attribution of the Torah to Moses dates back to the Bible itself, noting that several books of the Bible reference the Torah as the Book of Moses, Law of Moses, etc.,[18] and can also be found in the New Testament.[18] Deuteronomy 31:9 and Deuteronomy 31:24–26 describe how Moses writes "torah" (instruction) on a scroll and lays it beside the ark of the Covenant.[19] The attribution of the Torah to Moses is also expressed by the early Roman historian Josephus Flavius. Statements implying belief in Mosaic authorship of the Torah are contained in Joshua,[20]Kings,[21] Chronicles,[22] Ezra[23] and Nehemiah.[24]

The rabbis of the Talmud (c. 200–500 CE) discussed exactly how the Torah was transmitted to Moses. In the Babylonian Talmud Gittin 60a it is written "Said R’ Yochanan, the Torah was given in a series of small scrolls," implying that the Torah was written gradually and compiled from a variety of documents over time. Another opinion there that states that the entire Torah was given at one time. Menachem Mendel Kasher points to certain traditions of the Oral Torah that showed Moses quoting Genesis prior to the epiphany at Sinai. Based on a number of Bible verses and rabbinic statements, he suggests that Moses had certain documents authored by the Patriarchs that he made use of when redacting that book.[25] According to Moses Maimonides, the 12th Century rabbi and philosopher, Moses was the Torah’s author, receiving it from God either as divine inspiration or as direct dictation in the Hebrew year 2449 AM (1313 BCE).[26][27]

Later rabbis (and the Talmudic rabbis as well – see tractate Bava Basra 15a) and Christian scholars noticed some difficulties with the idea of Mosaic authorship of the entire Torah, notably the fact that the book of Deuteronomy describes Moses’ death; later versions of the tradition therefore held that some portions of the Torah were added by others – the death of Moses in particular was ascribed to Joshua. The Talmud explains this by saying that Moses wrote it tearfully, in anticipation of his death; another tradition is that Joshua added these words after Moses died (the next book is the Book of Joshua which, according to Jewish tradition, was written by Joshua himself), and that the final verses of the book of Deuteronomy read like an epitaph to Moses.

Mosaic authorship was accepted with very little discussion by both Jews and Christians until the 17th century, when the rise of secular scholarship and the associated willingness to subject even the Bible to the test of reason led to its rejection by mainstream biblical scholars.

Academic analysis

Documentary hypothesis

Many contemporary secular biblical scholars date the completion of the Torah, as well as the prophets and the historical books, no earlier than the Persian period (539 to 334 BCE).[7] Scholarly discussion for much of the 20th century was principally couched in terms of the documentary hypothesis, according to which the Torah is a synthesis of documents from a small number of originally independent sources.[11]

According to the most influential version of the hypothesis, as formulated by Julius Wellhausen (1844–1918), the Pentateuch is composed of four separate and identifiable texts, dating roughly from the period of Solomon up until exilic priests and scribes. These various texts were brought together as one document (the Five Books of Moses of the Torah) by scribes after the exile.

  • The Jahwist (or J) – written c 950 BCE.[11] The southern kingdom’s (i.e. Judah) interpretation. It is named according to the prolific use of the name "Yahweh" (or Jaweh, in German, the divine name or Tetragrammaton) in its text.
  • The Elohist (or E) – written c 850 BCE.[11] The northern kingdom’s (i.e. Israel) interpretation. As above, it is named because of its preferred use of "Elohim" (a generic title used to describe a god, God, or gods).
  • The Deuteronomist (or D) – written c 650–621 BCE.[11] Dating specifically from the time of King Josiah of Judah and responsible for the book of Deuteronomy as well as Joshua and most of the subsequent books up to 2 Kings.
  • The Priestly source (or P) – written during or after the exile, c 550–400 BCE.[11] So named because of its focus on Levitical laws.

The documentary hypothesis has been increasingly challenged since the 1970s, and alternative views now see the Torah as having been compiled from a multitude of small fragments rather than a handful of large coherent source texts,[28] or as having gradually accreted over many centuries and through many hands.[29] The shorthand Yahwist, Priestly and Deuteronomistic is still used nevertheless to characterise identifiable and differentiable content and style.

The 19th century dating of the final form of Genesis and the Pentateuch to c. 500–450 BCE continues to be widely accepted irrespective of the model adopted,[30] although a minority of scholars known as biblical minimalists argue for a date largely or entirely within the last two centuries BCE.


Books of the Torah

The Hebrew names of the five books of the Torah are known by their incipit, taken from initial words of the first verse of each book. For example, the Hebrew name of the first book, Bereshit, is the first word of Genesis 1:1:

  1. Bereshit (בְּרֵאשִׁית, literally "In the beginning")
  2. Shemot (שִׁמוֹת, literally "Names")
  3. Vayikra (ויקרא, literally "He called")
  4. Bamidbar (במדבר, literally "In the desert")
  5. Devarim (דברים, literally "Things" or "Words")

The Anglicized names are derived from the Greek and reflect the essential theme of each book:

  1. Genesis: "creation"
  2. Exodus: "departure"
  3. Leviticus: refers to the Levites and the regulations that apply to their presence and service in the Temple, which form the bulk of the third book.
  4. Numbers (Arithmoi): contains a record of the numbering of the Israelites in the wilderness of Sinai and later on the plain of Moab.
  5. Deuteronomy: "second law," refers to the fifth book’s recapitulation of the commandments reviewed by Moses before his death.

According to the classical Jewish view, the stories in the Torah are not always in chronological order. Sometimes they are ordered by concept according to the rule: "There is not ‘earlier’ and ‘later’ in the Torah" (אין מוקדם ומאוחר בתורה, Ein mukdam u’meuchar baTorah).[31] This position is accepted by Orthodox Judaism. Non-Orthodox Jews generally understand the same texts as signs that the current text of the Torah was redacted from earlier sources (see documentary hypothesis.)


Bereshit (Genesis) begins with the story of creation (Genesis 1–3) and Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, as well the account of their descendants. Following these are the accounts of Noah and the great flood (Genesis 3–9), and his descendants. The Tower of Babel and the story of Abraham‘s covenant with God (Genesis 10–11) are followed by the story of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the life of Joseph (Genesis 12–50). God gives to the Patriarchs a promise of the land of Canaan, but at the end of Genesis the sons of Jacob end up leaving Canaan for Egypt because of a famine.

Shemot (Exodus) is the story of Moses, who leads Israelites out of Pharaoh’s Egypt (Exodus 1–18) to take them to the promised land. On the way, they camp at Mount Sinai/Horeb where Moses receives the Torah, including the Ten Commandments, from God, and mediates His laws and Covenant (Exodus 19–24) to the people of Israel. Exodus also deals with the violation of the commandment against idolatry when Aaron took part in the construction of the Golden Calf (Exodus 32–34). Exodus concludes with the instructions on building the Tabernacle (Exodus 25–31; 35–40).

Vayikra (Leviticus) begins with instructions to the Israelites on how to use the Tabernacle, which they had just built (Leviticus 1–10). This is followed by rules of clean and unclean (Leviticus 11–15), which includes the laws of slaughter and animals permissible to eat (see also: Kashrut), the Day of Atonement(Leviticus 16), and various moral and ritual laws sometimes called the Holiness Code (Leviticus 17–26).

Bamidbar (Numbers) takes two censuses where the number of Israelites are counted (Numbers 1–3, 26), and has many laws mixed among the narratives. The narratives tell how Israel consolidated itself as a community at Sinai (Numbers 1–9), set out from Sinai to move towards Canaan and spied out the land (Numbers 10–13). Because of unbelief at various points, but especially at Kadesh Barnea (Numbers 14), the Israelites were condemned to wander for forty years in the desert in the vicinity of Kadesh instead of immediately entering the land of promise. Even Moses sins and is told he would not live to enter the land (Numbers 20). At the end of Numbers (Numbers 26–35) Israel moves from the area of Kadesh towards the promised land. They leave the Sinai desert and go around Edom and through Moab where Balak and Balaam oppose them (Numbers 22–24; 31:8, 15–16). They defeat two Transjordan kings, Og and Sihon (Numbers 21), and so come to occupy some territory outside of Canaan. At the end of the book they are on the plains of Moab opposite Jericho ready to enter the Promised Land.

Devarim (Deuteronomy) consists primarily of a series of speeches by Moses on the plains of Moab opposite Jericho exhorting Israel to obey God and further instruction on His Laws. At the end of the book (Deuteronomy 34), Moses is allowed to see the promised land from a mountain, but it is not known what happened to Moses on the mountain. He was never seen again. Knowing that he is nearing the end of his life, Moses appoints Joshua his successor, bequeathing to him the mantle of leadership. Soon afterwards Israel begins the conquest of Canaan.

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The Torah is the primary holy scripture of Judaism. According to Talmudic teachings the Torah was created 974 generations (2,000 years) before the world was created, and is the blueprint that God used to create the world. Furthermore, the Talmud teaches, everything created in this world is for the purpose of carrying out the word of the Torah, and the foundation of Jewish belief stems from the knowledge that the Lord is the God Who created the world.

Rabbinic writings offer various ideas on when the entire Torah was actually revealed to the Jewish people. The revelation to Moses at Mount Sinai is considered by many to be the most important revelatory event. According to dating of the text by Orthodoxrabbis, this occurred in 1312 BCE;[8] another date given for this event is 1280 BCE.[9] Some rabbinic sources state that the entire Torah was given all at once at this event. In the maximalist belief, this dictation included not only the quotations that appear in the text, but every word of the text itself, including phrases such as "And God spoke to Moses…", and included God telling Moses about Moses’ own death and subsequent events. Other classical rabbinic sources hold that the Torah was revealed to Moses over many years, and finished only at his death. Another school of thought holds that although Moses wrote the vast majority of the Torah, a number of sentences throughout the Torah must have been written after his death by another prophet, presumably Joshua. Abraham ibn Ezra and Joseph Bonfils observed that some phrases in the Torah present information that people should only have known after the time of Moses. Ibn Ezra hinted, and Bonfils explicitly stated, that Joshua (or perhaps some later prophet) wrote these sections of the Torah. Other rabbis would not accept this belief.

It is commonly believed within Judaism that had Israel been faithful to the God of Israel, the rest of the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible would have been unnecessary. Much of the rest of the Hebrew Bible concerns God’s warnings and calling His people back to Himself. Thus the first five books are seen as unique and sufficient as the complete revelation from God, while the remainder of the Tanakh deals with Man’s departure disobeying the Torah.

The Talmud (tractate Sabb. 115b) states that a peculiar section in the Book of Numbers (10:35 — 36, surrounded by inverted Hebrew letter nuns) in fact forms a separate book. On this verse a midrash on the book of Mishle (also called Proverbs) states that "These two verses stem from an independent book which existed, but was suppressed!" Another (possibly earlier) midrash, Ta’ame Haserot Viyterot, states that this section actually comes from the book of prophecy of Eldad and Medad. The Talmud says that God dictated four books of the Torah, but that Moses wrote Deuteronomy in his own words (Talmud Bavli, Meg. 31b). All classical beliefs, nonetheless, hold that the Torah was entirely or almost entirely Mosaic and of divine origin.[32]

Ritual use

Torahs in Ashkenazi Synagogue (Istanbul, Turkey)

Torah reading

Torah reading (Hebrew: קריאת התורה, K’riat HaTorah ; "Reading [of] the Torah") is a Jewish religious ritual that involves the public reading of a set of passages from a Torah scroll. The term often refers to the entire ceremony of removing the Torah scroll (or scrolls) from the ark, chanting the appropriate excerpt with special cantillation, and returning the scroll(s) to the ark. It is distinct from academic Torah study.

Regular public reading of the Torah was introduced by Ezra the Scribe after the return of the Jewish people from the Babylonian captivity (c. 537 BCE), as described in the Book of Nehemiah.[33] In the modern era, adherents of Orthodox Judaism practice Torah reading according to a set procedure they believe has remained unchanged in the two thousand years since the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem (70 CE). In the 19th and 20th centuries CE, new movements such as Reform Judaism and Conservative Judaism have made adaptations to the practice of Torah reading, but the basic pattern of Torah reading has usually remained the same:

As a part of the morning or afternoon prayer services on certain days of the week or holidays, a section of the Pentateuch is read from a Torah scroll. On Shabbat (Saturday) mornings, a weekly section ("parasha") is read, selected so that the entire Pentateuch is read consecutively each year.[34][35] On Saturday afternoons, Mondays, and Thursdays, the beginning of the following Saturday’s portion is read. On Jewish holidays and fast days, special sections connected to the day are read.

Jews observe an annual holiday, Simchat Torah, to celebrate the completion of the year’s cycle of readings.

The Torah, being the core of Judaism, is naturally also the core of the synagogue. As such the Torah is "dressed" often with a sash, various ornaments and a crown (customs vary among synagogues and denominations). Congregants traditionally stand when the Torah is brought to be read.

Biblical law

See also: Biblical law

Besides the narrative, the Torah also contains statements or principles of law and ethics. Collectively these laws, usually called biblical law or commandments, are sometimes referred to as the Law of Moses (Torat Moshe תּוֹרַת־מֹשֶׁה), Mosaic Law or simplythe Law.

The Torah and the Oral Law

See also: Oral Torah

Many Jewish laws are not directly mentioned in the Torah, but are derived from textual hints, which were expanded orally. This was called the oral tradition or oral Torah.

Rabbinic tradition holds that the written Torah was transmitted in parallel with the oral tradition. Jews point to texts of the Torah, where many words and concepts are left undefined and many procedures are mentioned without explanation or instructions; the reader is required to seek out the missing details from the oral sources. Many times in the Torah it says that/as you are/were shown on the mountain in reference of how to do a commandment (Exodus 25:40).

There are numerous examples of biblical commandments which are either too ambiguous or documented in such a concise fashion that proper adherence is absolutely impossible without the details provided by the oral tradition.[36]

  • Tefillin: As indicated in Deuteronomy 6:8 among other places, tefillin are to be placed on the arm and on the head between the eyes. However, there are no details provided regarding what tefillin are or how they are to be constructed.
  • Kosher laws: As indicated in Exodus 23:19 among other places, a kid may not be boiled in its mother’s milk. [A kid being a young goat.] In addition to numerous other problems with understanding the ambiguous nature of this law, there are no vowelization characters in the Torah; they are provided by the oral tradition. This is particularly relevant to this law, as the Hebrew word for milk (חלב) is identical to the word for animal fat when vowels are absent. Without the oral tradition, it is not known whether the violation is in mixing meat with milk or with fat.
  • Shabbat laws: With the severity of Sabbath violation, namely the death penalty, one would assume that direction would be provided as to how exactly such a serious and core commandment should be upheld. However, there is little to no information as to what can and cannot be performed on the Sabbath. Without the oral tradition, keeping this law would be impossible.

According to classical rabbinic texts this parallel set of material was originally transmitted to Moses at Sinai, and then from Moses to Israel. At that time it was forbidden to write and publish the oral law, as any writing would be incomplete and subject to misinterpretation and abuse.

However, after exile, dispersion and persecution, this tradition was lifted when it became apparent that in writing was the only way to ensure that the Oral Law could be preserved. After many years of effort by a great number of tannaim, the oral tradition was written down around 200 CE by Rabbi Judah haNasi who took up the compilation of a nominally written version of the Oral Law, the Mishnah. Other oral traditions from the same time period not entered into the Mishnah were recorded as "Baraitot" (external teaching), and the Tosefta. Other traditions were written down as Midrashim.

Over the next four centuries this small, ingenious record of laws and ethical teachings provided the necessary signals and codes to allow the continuity of the same Mosaic Oral traditions to be taught and passed on in Jewish communities scattered across both of the world’s major Jewish communities, (from Israel to Babylon).

After continued persecution more of the Oral Law had to be committed to writing. A great many more lessons, lectures and traditions only alluded to in the few hundred pages of Mishnah, became the thousands of pages now called the Gemara. Gemara is Aramaic, having been compiled in Babylon. The Mishnah and Gemara together are called the Talmud. The Rabbis in Israel also collected their traditions and compiled them into the Jerusalem Talmud. Since the greater number of Rabbis lived in Babylon, the Babylonian Talmud has precedence should the two be in conflict.

Orthodox Jews and Conservative Jews accept these texts as the basis for all subsequent halakha and codes of Jewish law, which are held to be normative. Reform and Reconstructionist Jews deny that these texts may be used for determining normative law (laws accepted as binding) but accept them as the authentic and only Jewish version of understanding the Bible and its development throughout history. (Reform and Reconstructionist, although they reject Jewish law as normative, do not accept the religious texts of any other faith.)

Divine significance of letters, Jewish mysticism

Further information: Kabbalah

The Rabbis hold that not only are the words giving a Divine message, but indicate a far greater message that extends beyond them. Thus they hold that even as small a mark as a kotzo shel yod (קוצו של יוד), the serif of the Hebrew letter yod (י), the smallest letter, or decorative markings, or repeated words, were put there by God to teach scores of lessons. This is regardless of whether that yod appears in the phrase "I am the Lord thy God" (אָנֹכִי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ, Exodus 20:2) or whether it appears in "And God spoke unto Moses saying" (וַיְדַבֵּר אֱלֹהִים, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה; וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו, אֲנִי יְהוָה. Exodus 6:2). In a similar vein,Rabbi Akiva, (50/55BC-135), is said to have learned a new law from every et (את) in the Torah (Talmud, tractate Pesachim 22b); the word et is meaningless by itself, and serves only to mark the accusative case. In other words, the Orthodox belief is that even apparently contextual text "And God spoke unto Moses saying…" is no less important than the actual statement.

One kabbalistic interpretation is that the Torah constitutes one long name of God, and that it was broken up into words so that human minds can understand it. While this is effective since it accords with our human reason, it is not the only way that the text can be broken up.

Production and use of a Torah scroll

 Sefer Torah

A Sefer Torah opened for liturgical use in a synagogue service

Manuscript Torah scrolls are still used, and still scribed, for ritual purposes (i.e., religious services); this is called a Sefer Torah ("Book [of] Torah"). They are written using a painstakingly careful methodology by highly qualified scribes. This has resulted in modern copies of the text that are unchanged from millennia-old copies. It is believed that every word, or marking, has divine meaning, and that not one part may be inadvertently changed lest it lead to error. The fidelity of the Hebrew text of the Tanakh, and the Torah in particular, is considered paramount, down to the last letter: translations or transcriptions are frowned upon for formal service use, and transcribing is done with painstaking care. An error of a single letter, ornamentation, or symbol of the 304,805 stylized letters which make up the Hebrew Torah text renders a Torah scroll unfit for use, hence a special skill is required and a scroll takes considerable time to write and check.

According to Jewish law, a sefer Torah (plural: Sifrei Torah) is a copy of the formal Hebrew text of hand-written on gevil or qlaf (forms of parchment) by using a quill (or other permitted writing utensil) dipped in ink. Written entirely in Hebrew, a sefer Torah contains 304,805 letters, all of which must be duplicated precisely by a trained sofer (“scribe”), an effort which may take as long as approximately one and a half years. Most modern Sifrei Torah are written with forty-two lines of text per column (Yemenite Jews use fifty), and very strict rules about the position and appearance of the Hebrew letters are observed. See for example the Mishna Berura on the subject.[37] Any of several Hebrew scripts may be used, most of which are fairly ornate and exacting.

The completion of the sefer Torah is a cause for great celebration, and it is a Mitzvah for every Jew to either write or have written for him a Sefer Torah. Torah scrolls are stored in the holiest part of the synagogue in the Ark known as the "Holy Ark" (אֲרוֹן הקֹדשׁ aron hakodesh in Hebrew.) Aron in Hebrew means "cupboard" or "closet", and kodesh is derived from "kadosh", or "holy".

Torah in other religions

See also: Biblical law in Christianity, Islam and Judaism, and Tawrat

Both Christianity and Islam include the five books of Moses among their sacred texts. However, in both religions they lack the religious legal significance that they have in Orthodox Judaism.

In early Christianity a Koine Greek version of the Hebrew Bible was used. Its name in Latin is the Septuagint: L. septem meaning seven, plus -gintā meaning "times ten". It was named Septuagint from the traditional number of its translators. Being the Pentateuch, it forms the beginning of the Old Testament that incorporate the Torah into the Catholic and Christian Orthodox Biblical canon that also includes some books not found in the Tanakh. This Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures dates from the 3rd century B.C. It contains both a translation of the Hebrew and additional and variant material. It was regarded as the standard form of the Old Testament in the early Christian Church and is still considered canonical in the Eastern Orthodox Church.[38] [39] Though different Christian denominations have slightly different versions of the Old Testament in their Bibles, the Torah as the "Five Books of Moses" (or "the Law") is common among them all.

Islam draws heavily upon the Torah for Islamic concepts, teachings, and history of the early World.[40] from which it also derives that the Arab people are descended from Abraham’s first son Ishmael, the half-brother of Isaac.

Muslims call the Torah the Tawrat and consider it the word of Allah given to Moses. However, Muslims also believe that this original revelation was corrupted (tahrif) over time by Jewish scribes[41] and hence do not revere the present Jewish version Torah as much. A number of verses from the Qur’an are claimed to refer to Muhammed as the promised prophet to be found in the Torah.[42] The Torah in the Qur’an is always mentioned with respect in Islam. The Muslims’ belief in the Torah, as well as the Prophethood of Moses, is one of the fundamental tenets of Islam.

See also


  1. ^ "The ancient Greek translation of the Tanak translated the word Torah as name, or law," Wylen, Stephen M. Settings of Silver: An Introduction to Judaism. Paulist Press, 2001. p. 16 [1], however, the degree to which this is accurate or potentially misleading is a matter of debate. See Torah#Meaning and names and see also Philip Birnbaum, Encyclopedia of Jewish Concepts, Hebrew Publishing Company, 1964, page 630, and Coggins, R. J. Introducing the Old Testament(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), pg 3.
  2. ^ Torah at the Jewish Virtual Library
  3. ^ Philip Birnbaum, Encyclopedia of Jewish Concepts, Hebrew Publishing Company, 1964, page 630.
  4. ^ Philip Birnbaum, Encyclopedia of Jewish Concepts, Hebrew Publishing Company, 1964, page 648
  5. ^ Eisenberg, Ronald L. The JPS Guide to Jewish Traditions (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 2004), pg 515.
  6. ^ a b Philip Birnbaum, Encyclopedia of Jewish Concepts, Hebrew Publishing Company, 1964, page 630
  7. ^ a b History Crash Course #36: Timeline: From Abraham to Destruction of the Temple, by Rabbi Ken Spiro, Aish.com. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
  8. ^ a b Kurzweil, Arthur (2008). The Torah For Dummies. For Dummies. p. 11. ISBN 9780470283066. Retrieved 2010-08-19.
  9. ^ Vol. 11 Trumah Section 61
  10. ^ a b c d e f Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985.
  11. ^ Coggins, R. J. Introducing the Old Testament (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990), pg 1.
  12. ^ Rabinowitz, Louis Isaac and Harvey, Warren. "Torah." Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Vol. 20. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. p39-46.
  13. ^ Philip Birnbaum, Encyclopedia of Jewish Conceptes, Hebrew Publishing Company, 1964, page 630
  14. ^ p.2767, Alcalay
  15. ^ pp.164–165, Scherman, Exodus 12:49
  16. ^ a b Sarna, Nahum M. et al. "Bible." Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. Vol. 3. 2nd ed. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. pp 576-577.
  17. ^ See Torah Shelemah, Mishpatim Part 3 summarised by Gil Student here
  18. ^ Eighth and ninth principles of Maimonidies‘ 13 Principles, Artscroll Daily Siddur, page 75.
  19. ^ p.33, Kantor
  20. ^ R. N. Whybray, "The Making of the Pentateuch: A Methodological Study", JSOT Press, Sheffield, 1987.
  21. ^ John Van Seters, "Abraham in History and Tradition", Yale University Press, ISBN, 1975.
  22. ^ For an overview of current critical theories on the origins of the Pentateuch, see Source Analysis: Revisions and Alternatives. For a more detailed treatment, see "An overlooked message: the critique of kings and affirmation of equality in the primeval history" from Biblical Theology Bulletin, Winter 2006.
  23. ^ For more information on these issues from an Orthodox Jewish perspective, see Modern Scholarship in the Study of Torah: Contributions and Limitations, Ed. Shalom Carmy, and Handbook of Jewish Thought, Volume I, by Aryeh Kaplan.
  24. ^ Book of Nehemia, Chapter 8
  25. ^ The division of parashot found in the modern-day Torah scrolls of all Jewish communities (Ashkenazic, Sephardic, and Yemenite) is based upon the systematic list provided by Maimonides in Mishneh Torah, Laws of Tefillin, Mezuzah and Torah Scrolls, chapter 8. Maimonides based his division of the parashotfor the Torah on the Aleppo Codex. Though initially doubted by Umberto Cassuto, this has become the established position in modern scholarship. (See theAleppo Codex article for more information.)
  26. ^ Conservative and Reform synagogues may read parashot on a triennial rather than annual schedule. See: [2], [3]
  27. ^ Mishnat Soferim The forms of the letters translated by Jen Taylor Friedman (geniza.net)
  28. ^ p.317, DeSilva
  29. ^ p.123, Wheeler
  30. ^ Is the Bible God’s Word by Sheikh Ahmed Deedat

Additional Sources

  • Friedman, Richard Elliott, Who Wrote the Bible?, HarperSanFrancisco, 1997
  • Welhausen, Julius, Prolegomena to the History of Israel, Scholars Press, 1994 (reprint of 1885)
  • Kantor, Mattis, The Jewish time line encyclopedia: A yearby-year history from Creation to the present, Jason Aronson Inc., London, 1992
  • Wheeler, Brannon M., Moses in the Quran and Islamic Exegesis, Routledge, 2002
  • DeSilva, David Arthur, An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry, InterVarsity Press, 2004
  • Alcalay, Reuben., The Complete Hebrew – English dictionary, vol 2, Hemed Books, New York, 1996 ISBN 978-9654481793
  • Scherman, Nosson, (ed.), Tanakh, Vol.I, The Torah, (Stone edition), Mesorah Publications, Ltd., New York, 2001
  • Heschel, Abraham Joshua, Tucker, Gordon & Levin, Leonard, Heavenly Torah: As Refracted Through the Generations, London, Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005
  • Hubbard, David “The Literary Sources of the Kebra Nagast” Ph.D. dissertation St Andrew s University, Scotland, 1956

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Book of the Dead

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For other uses, see Book of the Dead (disambiguation).

This detail scene, from the Papyrus of Hunefer (ca. 1375 B.C.), shows Hunefer’s heart being weighed on the scale of Maat against the feather of truth, by the jackal-headed Anubis. The Ibis-headed Thoth, scribe of the gods, records the result. If his heart is lighter than the feather, Hunefer is allowed to pass into the afterlife. If not, he is eaten by the waiting chimeric devouring creatureAmmut composed of the deadly crocodile, lion, and hippopotamus. Vignettes such as these were a common illustration in Egyptian books of the dead.[1]

The "Book of the Dead" is the usual name given to the ancient Egyptian funerary text called the "Spells of Coming (or Going) Forth By Day." The Book of the Dead was intended to assist the deceased in the afterlife and comprised a collection of hymns, spells and instructions to allow the deceased to pass through obstacles in the afterlife. The Book of the Dead was most commonly written on a papyrus scroll and placed in the coffin or burial chamber of the deceased.[2]

Ancient Egyptian

Eye of Horus

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The Book of the Dead was the product of a long process of evolution starting with the Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom through the Coffin Texts of the Middle Kingdom. About one third of the chapters in the Book of the Dead are derived from the earlier Coffin Texts.[3] The Book of the Dead itself was adapted into The Book of Breathings in the Late Period, but remained popular in its own right until the Roman period.

Egyptian name

The name for the book in the Egyptian language was rw nw prt m hrw. This derives from the title of one of the most important spells, Spell 17, prt m hrw.[4]

Rw is the plural of r, meaning ‘mouth‘. R can also refer to a thing said, such as a piece of speech or, in this case, a ritual incantation.

Nw is a form of n, meaning ‘of’. This ‘genitival adjective’ grammatically agrees with the preceding noun. Nw is the masculine dual/plural form.

Prt is an action-noun derived from the verb prj, meaning ’emerge’, ‘arise’. It denotes the act of emerging or arising.

M is a preposition typically meaning ‘in’. When dealing with time, it can mean ‘during’.

Hrw means ‘day’, ‘daytime’.

Thus a literal translation is ‘utterances of emergence during daytime’. A slightly looser translation for sense could be ‘spells of going out in the daytime’.

The use of the word "rw" to describe the texts indicates that the intention was that they were spoken out loud or recited. For this reason some Egyptologists call the sections ‘spells’ while others use the more neutral term ‘chapters’.


Single spells of the Book of the Dead are already known from the late Middle Kingdom. Many spells on the coffins of Sesenebnef or queen Mentuhotep are identical to later chapters of the Book of the Dead. During the New Kingdom The Book of the Dead was not organized or standardized in a set order. The texts appear to reflect the preferences of the individual or their family. This is known as the ‘Theban Recension’. In the Third Intermediate Period leading to the Saite period, the Book of the Dead became increasingly standardized and organized into a set number of Spells or Chapters in a standard order and versions of this period are known as the ‘Saite Recension’.

Saite recension

The Books of the Dead from the Saite period tend to organize the Chapters into four sections:

  • Chapters 1–16 The deceased enters the tomb, descends to the underworld, and the body regains its powers of movement and speech.
  • Chapters 17–63 Explanation of the mythic origin of the gods and places, the deceased are made to live again so that they may arise, reborn, with the morning sun.
  • Chapters 64–129 The deceased travels across the sky in the sun ark as one of the blessed dead. In the evening, the deceased travels to the underworld to appear before Osiris.
  • Chapters 130–189 Having been vindicated, the deceased assumes power in the universe as one of the gods. This section also includes assorted chapters on protective amulets, provision of food, and important places.[3] There are 192 unique chapters known, and no single papyrus contains all known chapters.


This tableaux, from the Papyrus of Hunefer, shows Hunefer‘s heart being weighed as above. In the previous scene, Hunefer is led by Anubis to the judgement hall. In the panel after the weighing, the triumphant Hunefer, having passed the test, is presented by Horus to the shrine of the green-skinned Osiris, god of the underworld and the dead, accompanied by Isis and Nephthys. The 14 gods of Egypt are shown seated above, in the order of judges.

The weighing of the heart scene from the Papyrus of Ani, ca. 1200 B.C.

Books were often prefabricated in funerary workshops, with spaces being left for the name of the deceased to be written in later. They are often the work of several different scribes and artists whose work was literally pasted together. The cost of a typical book might be equivalent to half a year’s salary of a laborer, so the purchase would be planned well in advance of the person’s death. The blank papyrus used for the scroll often constituted the major cost of the work, so papyrus was often reused.[3]

Images, or vignettes to illustrate the text, were considered mandatory. The images were so important that often the text is truncated to fit the space available under the image. Whereas the quality of the miniatures is usually done at a high level, the quality of the text is often very bad. Scribes often misspelled or omitted words and inserted the wrong text under the images.

Publication history

The name "Book of the Dead" was the invention of the German Egyptologist Karl Richard Lepsius, who published a selection of the texts in 1842. When it was first discovered, the Book of the Dead was thought to be an ancient Egyptian Bible. But unlike the Bible, the Book of the Dead does not set forth religious tenets and was not considered by the ancient Egyptians to be the product of divine revelation, which allowed the content of the Book of the Dead to change over time.

The earliest manuscripts were published in the aftermath of the Egyptian expedition led by Napoleon Bonaparte in Description de l’Ėgypte (1821). Jean Francois Champollion was one of the early translators. In 1842 Karl Richard Lepsius published a version dated to thePtolomaic era and coined the name "Book of The Dead", a title not known or used by the Ancient Egyptians, as well as the chapter numbering system which is still in use. Samuel Birch published the first English version in 1867. Edouard Naville published what was to become the first full standard edition in three volumes (1886). Using the papyrus texts in the British Museum E. A. Wallis Budge published editions including the Papyrus of Ani, which Naville had not dealt with, in 1890. Peter le Page Renouf‘s English edition was published in parts beginning in 1892. Budge’s hieroglyphic edition was published in 1898 and is still widely used. Budge’s 1901 English translation is still in print. More recent translations in English have been published by T. G. Allen (1974) and Raymond O. Faulkner (1972).[5]

See also


  1. ^ The Hall of Maat at egyptartsite.com
  2. ^ Caroline Seawright The Book of the Dead at TourEgypt
  3. ^ a b c Goelet, Ogden (1998). A Commentary on the Corpus of Literature and Tradition which constitutes the Book of Going Forth By Day. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. pp. 139–170.
  4. ^ Allen, James P., Middle Egyptian – An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs, first edition, Cambridge University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-521-77483-7
  5. ^ "The Ancient Egyptian books of the Afterlife", Erik Hornung, translated by David Lorton, p15-16, Cornell University Press, 1999, ISBN 0801485150

Further reading

  • Thomas George Allen, The Egyptian Book of the Dead: Documents in the Oriental Institute Museum at the University of Chicago, Thomas George Allen, (University of Chicago Press, Chicago), c 1960.
  • Thomas George Allen, The Book of the Dead or Going Forth by Day. Ideas of the Ancient Egyptians Concerning the Hereafter as Expressed in Their Own Terms, Thomas George Allen, (SAOC vol. 37; University of Chicago Press, Chicago), c 1974.
  • E. A. Wallis Budge, The Egyptian Book of the Dead,(The Papyrus of Ani), Egyptian Text, Transliteration, and Translation, E.A.Wallis Budge, (Dover (Note: 240 pages of running hieroglyphic text. NB: Budge’s translations and transliterations are extremely outdated and are not generally cited by modern Egyptologists)
  • Raymond O. Faulkner, The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, translated by Raymond Faulkner, edited by Carol Andrews (University of Texas Press, Austin), c 1972.
  • Raymond O. Faulkner, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, The Book of Going forth by Day. The First Authentic Presentation of the Complete Papyrus of Ani translated by Raymond Faulkner, edited by Eva von Dassow, with contributions by Carol Andrews and Ogden Goelet (Chronicle Books, San Francisco), c 1994.
  • Gunther Lapp, The Papyrus of Nu (Catalogue of Books of the Dead in the British Museum), by Gunther Lapp, (British Museum Press, London), c 1997.
  • Andrzej Niwinski, Studies on the Illustrated Theban Funerary Papyri of the 11th and 10th Centuries B.C., by Andrzej Niwinski, (OBO vol. 86; Universitätsverlag, Freiburg), c 1989.
  • Kolpaktchy, Gregoire. Le Livre des Morts des Anciens Egyptiens. (France, 1954)
  • Kolpaktchy, Gregoire. Das Agyptische Totenbuch. (Switzerland, 1954)

External links

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Read more: Egyptian Book of the Dead – world, burial, body, funeral, life, history, beliefs, time, person http://www.deathreference.com/Da-Em/Egyptian-Book-of-the-Dead.html#ixzz120ETpuM1

There is probably no text in the popular imagination more closely associated with the ancient Egyptian beliefs about life after death than the work popularly known as the Egyptian Book of the Dead, also referred to as The Book of Coming Forth by Day. This work received its name from the fact that many of the earliest specimens to reach Renaissance Europe—centuries before Champollion deciphered the hieroglyphs in 1824—had been found next to mummies in burials, a practice that also gave rise to the misconception that the Book of the Dead was an authoritative scripture equivalent to the Bible. However, the actual Egyptian title, The Chapters of Going Forth by Day, offers a more accurate picture of purpose and orientation of this composition. The Book was essentially a collection of prayers and magical speeches primarily intended to enable a deceased person to overcome the trials and dangers of the next world and emerge safely from the tomb in a spiritualized form. Although there is no one ancient Egyptian work that contains the complete range of Egyptian postmortem beliefs, let alone the totality of their complex and constantly changing religious ideas, the Book does offer the modern reader insights into the wide range of ancient Egyptian concepts involving both the afterlife and the afterworld—it is not, however, in any sense an Egyptian Bible.

The Book of the Dead assumed many forms. It occurs primarily on papyri, but it is found as well on tomb walls, coffins, scarabs, funerary stelae, and other objects. Perhaps the best-known Book is the famous papyrus that was inscribed for a certain Ani, "the Accounts-Scribe of the Divine Offerings of all the Gods," and his wife Tutu. This profusely and beautifully illustrated scroll was made during the early Ramesside period (c. 1300 B.C.E.) in Ani’s home town, the southern religious capital at Thebes, modern Luxor. It was purchased there by its curator, E. A. Wallis Budge, in 1888 for the British Museum where it is displayed today. Extending more than seventy-five feet, it is one of the best examples of the Book papyri of the New Kingdom and Ramesside periods. Ironically, for all its splendor, this scroll was actually a template papyrus roughly akin to a modern preprinted lease or standard will, with Ani’s name and titles being inserted into the appropriate blank spaces at the last minute. Ani, or his survivors, purchased what was deemed appropriate (and what they could afford) from a funerary workshop for his safe journey into the next world; then the sheets with those relevant spells were pasted together to form the final product.

The Book of the Dead represents the acme of the illustrated book in ancient Egypt. The text itself represents a continuation of an ancient tradition of afterworld guides that began with the royal Pyramid Texts in the Old Kingdom and continued with the more "democratized" Coffin Texts for wealthy individuals of the Middle Kingdom. These, in turn, provided the material on which many chapters of the Book of the Dead were based. This pattern of rewriting old religious texts and adopting them to new beliefs was to continue after the Book throughout pharaonic history. At no time did any group of texts become canonical in the sense of having a definitive text or a fixed sequence and number of chapters. The first spells that can be definitely associated with the Book of the Dead began appearing in the late Middle Kingdom, but it was not really until the Eighteenth Dynasty (c. 1500 B.C.E.) that this new work became the standard afterlife text for the Egyptian elite. In order to enhance its appeal to the conservative religious sense of Egyptians, the Book of the Dead preserves many archaisms in script, vocabulary, and dialect. The main innovations of the Book of the Dead were that nearly every spell was accompanied by a vignette—an illustration—and that the work, designed for the relatively cheap medium of papyrus, was affordable for a much wider audience of Egyptians.

Probably only a miniscule percentage of Egyptians had the means to include a Book papyrus among their burial equipment. In fact, because the Book describes a lavish funeral, an elaborate, well-outfitted tomb, and other expensive burial equipment, some scholars have surmised that these scrolls were partially intended to provide by magic various things that the average Egyptian official could not afford.

All Egyptian religious texts such as the Book were fundamentally collections compiled from several different sources or local traditions, so that the final versions often contained contradictory concepts and statements, occasionally within the same spell or sentence. Consequently, for modern readers, many of whom have been influenced by the uncompromising strictures of monotheism, reading the Book often evokes confusion, even shock. In the profoundly polytheistic environment of Egyptian religion, however, there was never was a need to reconcile differences or to compel uniformity; one should more properly speak of Egyptian religions in the plural rather than the singular. Yet, despite this seeming lack of consistency, the fundamental concepts concerning life after death remained essentially stable.

Above all, the Egyptians had an essentially optimistic conception of the afterlife. For them death may have been inevitable, but it was survivable. However, unlike the modern view of death as the great leveler that reduces all humanity to the same status before the deity, a profound class-consciousness permeated the Egyptian view of the next world. Earthly status was transferable into the world beyond. The chief objective of their vast

Departed souls make an offering to Horus in this illustration from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Such images have become more widely known than the text itself. CORBIS

Departed souls make an offering to Horus in this illustration from the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Such images have become more widely known than the text itself.


mortuary culture was not only to ensure survival after death but to preserve one’s earthly station, presumably as a member of the elite. Therein lay the elaborate nature of Egyptian tombs and burials, which were intended to provide the deceased with a comfortable material existence in the next world, an existence that would in part be an idyllic version of earthly life, an Egyptian Elysian Fields. Egypt, the land of the living, was well ordered and governed under the principle of Ma’at, that is, roughly (rightful) order or universal guidance. Maat prevailed in the coherent, cosmic universe.

Consequently, travel through the world beyond the grave meant that the deceased would have to confront irrational, chaotic forces. The Book of the Dead joins together two views of the afterlife— a chthonic underworld where Osiris, a deity who had died and been resurrected, presided and a stellar-solar realm where the blessed dead eventually hoped for an eternal celestial existence in the company of the sun god Ra. Once one entered the next world in the West or traveled with the god Ra below the horizon into the netherworld, one encountered the forces of primordial chaos and irrationality prevailed. Magical spells such as those in the Book of the Dead were considered the appropriate means for protecting the traveling soul against these dangers.

The key afterlife trial that everyone faced took the form of a judgment of one’s soul on a set of scales like those the Egyptians used in their earthly existence. After the deceased had ritualistically denied a list of forty-two misdeeds, the so-called negative confession—his or her heart was put on one scale-pan, while a feather symbolizing the principle of Ma’at was placed on the other. According to this beautiful metaphor, one’s heart had to be as light as a feather in relation to sin. Thereafter, one was deemed "true-of-voice" and worthy of an eternal existence. Despite this, dangers remained. The chief purpose of the Book of the Dead was to guide the deceased through those afterlife perils; one might draw an analogy with a traveler’s guide to a foreign land. The Book provides for many eventualities yet not all of these would arise, nor was it expected that the various dangers would occur according to the sequence in which they appear on any given scroll.

Read more: Egyptian Book of the Dead – world, burial, body, funeral, life, history, beliefs, time, person http://www.deathreference.com/Da-Em/Egyptian-Book-of-the-Dead.html#ixzz120EJE0Hl

Book of the Dead  Timeline

4000 BC-2010 Search other dates


    Search Results

  1. 4000 BC

    4000 BC – The title of Book of the Dead has been usually given by Egyptologists to the Theban and Saite Recensions, but in this Introduction the term is intended to include the general body of religious texts which deal with the welfare of the dead and their new life in the

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    From Book of the Dead
    books.google.com/books?id=Tgy5NgESUu8C&pg=PA3 …

  2. 3000 BC

    3000 BC – The Book of the Dead remained in use from 3000 BC, or perhaps earlier, until long after the beginning of the Christian Era, and though many additions were made from period to period, nothing that aided a man’s chances of safety in the other world seems ever to

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    From Man and His GodsRelated web pages

  3. 1600 BC

    1600 BC – We do not know the exact date of the queen, but she did not belong to the royal family of Seqenenra Taa and Ahmes I, and so can be set with her coffin at least a generation earlier, perhaps c.1600 BC."

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    From User:PericlesofAthens/Sandbox Ancient Egyptian literature3 – Wikipedia, …Related web pages
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:PericlesofAthens …

  4. 1500 BC

    1500 BC – In Egypt in 1500 BC the Book of the Dead created an afterlife of chimeral gods and bureaucracies and rewards. Christ was asked by the Sadducees to teach about the life beyond, and he described a strange place where there is no marriage and no sex, and yet

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    From Secular eulogies? Atheist funeral on Thursday [Archive] – Straight Dope …Related web pages
    boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/archive/index.php …

  5. 1280 BC

    1280 BC – Written in 1280 BC, the Egyptian Book of the Dead describes a god, Horus, the son of the god Osiris, born to a virgin mother. He was baptized in a river by Anup the Baptizer, who was later beheaded. Like Jesus, Horus was tempted while alone in the desert

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    From Slashdot | Vatican Debates Possibility of Alien LifeRelated web pages

  6. 1250 BC

    1250 BC – 11 The most recent and complete edition, The Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Book of Going Forth by Day. Being the Papyrus of Ani (Royal Scribe of the Divine Offerings), Written and Illustrated circa 1250 BCE, by Scribes and Artists Unknown.
    From Angels, Demons & Gods of the New MillenniumRelated web pages
    books.google.com/books?id=2Atm24r7PGsC&pg …

  7. 1240 BC

    1240 BC – One of the best examples of the Book of the Dead is The Papyrus of Ani, created around 1240 BC, which, in addition to the texts themselves, also contains many pictures of Ani and his wife on their journey through the land of the dead.

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    From Egyptian deity encyclopedia topics | Reference.comRelated web pages

  8. 1300

    1300 – Fortunately, a series of flash backs reminds us that a certain Professor discovered theBook of the Dead, which disappeared in 1300 AD, and upon translating its hieroglyphics, re leased a bunch of supernatural de mons . Cut to the sequel and a guy named Ash

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    From Evil Dead‘ Is Cheap Fun .Related web pages
    news.google.com/newspapers?id=9t0NAAAAIBAJ …

  9. 1842

    1842 – The papyrus in question, which was found in the coffin of a priest named Auf Ankh, is now preserved at Turin. And a facsimile of it was published by Lepsius in AD 1842. That distinguished Egyptologist thought good to call it the Book of the Dead; a title

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    From The Book Of The Master Of The Egyptian Doctrine Of The Light Born Of …Related web pages
    books.google.com/books?id=Z1sseWZg4FAC&pg=PA97 …

  10. 1927

    1927 – In 1927, Oxford University Press published the first western-language translation of a collection of Tibetan funerary texts (the Great Liberation upon Hearing in the Bardo) under the title The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Since that time, the work has

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    From The Hidden History of the Tibetan Book of the DeadRelated web pages
    books.google.com/books?id=M0T5WNMY1ZUC&pg=PP4 …


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The seven verses of Al-Fatiha, the first sura of the Qur’an.




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Beit Al Qur’an

The Qur’an (English pronunciation: /kɒˈrɑːn/ kor-AHN; Arabic: القرآنal-qur’ān, IPA: [qurˈʔaːn], literally “the recitation”) is the religious text of Islam,[1] also sometimes transliterated as Quran, Kuran, Koran, Qur’ān, Coran or al-Qur’ān. Muslims believe the Qur’an to be the verbal divine guidance and moral direction for mankind. Muslims also consider the original Arabic verbal text to be the final revelation of God.[2][3][4][5]

Islam holds that the Qur’an was revealed from God to Muhammad orally through the angel Gabriel over a period of approximately twenty-three years, beginning in 610 CE, when he was forty, and concluding in 632 CE, the year of his death.[2][6][7] Muslims further believe that the Qur’an was memorized, recited and written down by Muhammad’s companions after every revelation dictated by Muhammad. Most of Muhammad’s companions—tens of thousands—learned the Qur’an by heart, repeatedly recited in front of Muhammad for his approval or the approval of other Sahaba Muhammad had approved. The companions also compiled it in written form while Muhammad was alive. Muslim tradition agrees that although the Qur’an was authentically memorized completely by tens of thousands verbally, the Qur’an was still established textually into a single book form shortly after Muhammad’s death by order of the first Caliph Abu Bakr suggested by his future successor Umar.[8] Hafsa, Muhammad’s widow and Umar’s daughter, was entrusted with that Quran text after the second Caliph Umar passed away. When Uthman, the third Caliph, started noticing differences in the dialect pronunciation of the Qur’an, he requested Hafsa to allow him to use the Qur’an text in her possession to be set as the standard dialect, the Quraish dialect, also called Fus’ha (Modern Standard Arabic). Before returning that Qur’an text to Hafsa, Uthman immediately made several copies of Abu Bakr’s Qur’anic compilation and ordered all other texts to be burned. This process of formalization of the orally transmitted text to Abu Bakr’s Qur’anic text is known as the "Uthmanic recension".[9] The present form of the Qur’an text is accepted by most scholars as the original version compiled by Abu Bakr shortly after Muhammad’s death.[9][10]

Muslims regard the Qur’an as the main miracle of Muhammad, as proof of his prophethood,[11] and as the culmination of a series of divine messages. These started, according to Islamic belief, with the messages revealed to Adam, regarded in Islam as the first prophet, and continued with the Suhuf Ibrahim (Scrolls of Abraham),[12] the Tawrat (Torah or Pentateuch) of Moses,[13][14] the Zabur (Tehillim or Book of Psalms) of David,[15][16] and the Injil (Gospel) of Jesus.[17][18][19] The Qur’an assumes familiarity with major narratives recounted in Jewish and Christian scriptures, summarizing some, dwelling at length on others, and, in some cases, presenting alternative accounts and interpretations of events.[20][21][22] The Qur’an describes itself as a book of guidance, sometimes offering detailed accounts of specific historical events, and often emphasizing the moral significance of an event over its narrative sequence.[23][24]

Etymology and meaning

The word qur`ān appears about 70 times in the Qur’an itself, assuming various meanings. It is a verbal noun (maṣdar) of the Arabic verb qara`a (Arabic: قرأ), meaning “he read” or “he recited.” The Syriac equivalent is qeryānā, which refers to “scripture reading” or “lesson”. While most Western scholars consider the word to be derived from the Syriac, the majority of Muslim authorities hold the origin of the word is qara`a itself.[25] In any case, it had become an Arabic term by Muhammad’s lifetime.[2] An important meaning of the word is the “act of reciting”, as reflected in an early Qur’anic passage: “It is for Us to collect it and to recite it (qur`ānahu)”.[26]

In other verses, the word refers to “an individual passage recited [by Muhammad]”. In the large majority of contexts, usually with a definite article (al-), the word is referred to as the “revelation” (wahy), that which has been “sent down” (tanzīl) at intervals.[27][28] Its liturgicalcontext is seen in a number of passages, for example: "So when al-qur`ān is recited, listen to it and keep silent".[29] The word may also assume the meaning of a codified scripture when mentioned with other scriptures such as the Torah and Gospel.[30]

The term also has closely related synonyms that are employed throughout the Qur’an. Each synonym possesses its own distinct meaning, but its use may converge with that of qur`ān in certain contexts. Such terms include kitāb (“book”); āyah (“sign”); and sūrah (“scripture”). The latter two terms also denote units of revelation. Other related words are: dhikr, meaning "remembrance," used to refer to the Qur’an in the sense of a reminder and warning; and hikma, meaning “wisdom”, sometimes referring to the revelation or part of it.[25][31]

The Qur’an has many other names. Among those found in the text itself are al-furqan (“discernment” or “criterion”), al-huda (“"the guide”), dhikrallah (“the remembrance of God”), al-hikmah (“the wisdom”), and kalamallah (“the word of God”). Another term is al-kitāb (“the book”), though it is also used in the Arabic language for other scriptures, such as the Torah and the Gospels. The term mus’haf ("written work") is often used to refer to particular Qur’anic manuscripts but is also used in the Qur’an to identify earlier revealed books.[2]


Main article: History of the Qur’an

Prophetic era

See also: Wahy

Islamic tradition relates that during one of Muhammad‘s isolated retreats to the mountains, he received his first revelation in the Cave of Hira. Thereafter, he received revelations over a period of twenty-three years. According to hadith and Muslim history, after Muhammademigrated to Medina and formed an independent Muslim community, he ordered a considerable number of the companions (sahaba) to recite the Qur’an and to learn and teach the laws, which were revealed daily. Companions who engaged in the recitation of the Qur’an were called qurra’. Since most sahaba were unable to read or write, they were ordered to learn from the prisoners-of-war the simple writing of the time. Thus a group of sahaba gradually became literate. As it was initially spoken, the Qur’an was recorded on tablets, bones and the wide, flat ends of date palm fronds. Most chapters were in use amongst early Muslims since they are mentioned in numerous sayings by both Sunni and Shia sources, relating Muhammad’s use of the Qur’an as a call to Islam, the making of prayer and the manner of recitation. However, the Qur’an did not exist in book form at the time of Muhammad‘s death in 632.[32][33]

Welch, a scholar of Islamic studies, states in the Encyclopaedia of Islam that he believes the graphic descriptions of Muhammad’s condition at these moments may be regarded as genuine, because he was severely disturbed after these revelations. According to Welch, these seizures would have been seen by those around him as convincing evidence for the superhuman origin of Muhammad’s inspirations. Muhammad’s critics, however, accused him of being a possessed man, a soothsayer or a magician since his experiences were similar to those claimed by such figures well-known in ancient Arabia. Additionally, Welch states that it remains uncertain whether these experiences occurred before or after Muhammad began to see himself as a prophet.[34]

The Qur’an states that Muhammad was ummi,[35] interpreted as illiterate in Muslim tradition. According to Watt, the meaning of the Qur’anic term ummi is unscriptured rather than illiterate.

Compiling the Mus’haf

See also: Mus’haf and Tahrif

Qur’an manuscript from the 7th century CE, written onvellum in the Hijazi script.

According to Shias, Sufis and scarce Sunni scholars, Ali compiled a complete version of the Qur’an mus’haf [2] immediately after Muhammad’s death. The order of this mus’haf differed from that gathered later during Uthman‘s era. Despite this, Ali made no objection or resistance against standardized mus’haf, but kept his own book.[32][36]

After seventy reciters were killed in the Battle of Yamama, the caliph Abu Bakr decided to collect the different chapters and verses into one volume. Thus, a group of reciters, including Zayd ibn Thabit, collected the chapters and verses and produced several hand-written copies of the complete book.[8][32]

9th century Qur’an manuscript.

In about 650, as Islam expanded beyond the Arabian peninsula into Persia, the Levant and North Africa, the third caliph Uthman ibn Affan ordered the preparation of an official, standardized version, to preserve the sanctity of the text (and perhaps to keep the Rashidun Empireunited, see Uthman Qur’an). Five reciters from amongst the companions produced a unique text from the first volume, which had been prepared on the orders of Abu Bakr and was kept with Hafsa bint Umar. The other copies already in the hands of Muslims in other areas were collected and sent to Medina where, on orders of the Caliph, they were destroyed by burning or boiling. This remains the authoritative text of the Qur’an to this day.[32][37][38]

The Qur’an in its present form is generally considered by academic scholars to record the words spoken by Muhammad because the search for variants in Western academia has not yielded any differences of great significance and because, historically, controversy over the content of the Qur’an has never become a main point.[39]

Significance in Islam

11th Century North African Qur’an in the British Museum

Muslims believe the Qur’an to be the book of divine guidance and direction for humanity and consider the text in its original Arabic to be the literal word of God,[40] revealed to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel over a period of twenty-three years[6][7] and view the Qur’an as God’s final revelation to humanity.[5][6]

Wahy in Islamic and Qur’anic concept means the act of God addressing an individual, conveying a message for a greater number of recipients. The process by which the divine message comes to the heart of a messenger of God is tanzil (to send down) or nuzul (to come down). As the Qur’an says, "With the truth we (God) have sent it down and with the truth it has come down." It designates positive religion, the letter of the revelation dictated by the angel to the prophet. It means to cause this revelation to descend from the higher world. According to hadith, the verses were sent down in special circumstances known as asbab al-nuzul. However, in this view God himself is never the subject of coming down.[41]

The Qur’an frequently asserts in its text that it is divinely ordained, an assertion that Muslims believe. The Qur’an — often referring to its own textual nature and reflecting constantly on its divine origin — is the most meta-textual, self-referential religious text. The Qur’an refers to a written pre-text that records God’s speech even before it was sent down.[42][43]

The issue of whether the Qur’an is eternal or created was one of the crucial controversies among early Muslim theologians. Mu’tazilis believe it is created while the most widespread varieties of Muslim theologians consider the Qur’an to be eternal and uncreated. Sufi philosophers view the question as artificial or wrongly framed.[44]

Muslims maintain the present wording of the Qur’anic text corresponds exactly to that revealed to Muhammad himself: as the words of God, said to be delivered to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel. Muslims consider the Qur’an to be a guide, a sign of the prophethood of Muhammad and the truth of the religion. They argue it is not possible for a human to produce a book like the Qur’an, as the Qur’an itself maintains.

Therefore an Islamic philosopher introduces a prophetology to explain how the divine word passes into human expression. This leads to a kind of esoteric hermeneutics that seeks to comprehend the position of the prophet by mediating on the modality of his relationship not with his own time, but with the eternal source his message emanates from. This view contrasts with historical critique of western scholars who attempt to understand the prophet through his circumstances, education and type of genius.[45]


See also: Qur’an and miracles

Muslims believe that the Qur’an is different from all other books in ways that are impossible for any other book to be, such that similar texts cannot be written by humans. These include both mundane and miraculous claims. The Qur’an itself challenges any who disagree with its divine origin to produce a text of a miraculous nature.[46]

Scholars of Islam believe that its poetic form is unique and of a fashion that cannot be written by humans. They also claim it contains accurate prophecy and that no other book does.[47][48][49][50][51]

These claims are disputed by scholars such as Ibn Warraq, Taner Edis[52] and Tawfiq Hamid.[53] Some modern scholars of Islam have responded to those disputes.[54]


Sura and Ayah

The first four verses (ayat) of Al-Alaq, the 96th chapter (surah) of the Qur’an.

The text of the Qur’an consists of 114 chapters of varying lengths, each known as a sura. Chapters are classed as Meccan or Medinan, depending on when (before or after Hijra) the verses were revealed. Chapter titles are derived from a name or quality discussed in the text, or from the first letters or words of the sura. Muslims believe that Muhammad, on God’s command, gave the chapters their names.[2] Generally, longer chapters appear earlier in the Qur’an, while the shorter ones appear later. The chapter arrangement is thus not connected to the sequence of revelation. Each sura except the ninth starts with the Basmala[55], an Arabic phrase meaning (“In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful”). There are, however, still 114 occurrences of the basmala in the Qur’an, due to its presence in verse 27:30 as the opening of Solomon’s letter to the Queen of Sheba.[56]

Each sura is formed from several ayat (verses), which originally means a sign or portent sent by God. The number of verses differ from chapter to chapter. An individual verse may be just a few letters or several lines. The verses are unlike the highly refined poetry of the pre-Islamic Arabs in their content and distinctive rhymes and rhythms, being more akin to the prophetic utterances marked by inspired discontinuities found in the sacred scriptures of Judaism andChristianity. The actual number of ayat has been a controversial issue among Muslim scholars since Islam’s inception, some recognizing 6,000, some 6,204, some 6,219, and some 6,236, although the words in all cases are the same. The most popular edition of the Qur’an, which is based on the Kufa school tradition, contains 6,236 ayat.[2]

There is a crosscutting division into 30 parts of roughly equal division, ajza, each containing two units called ahzab, each of which is divided into four parts (rub ‘al-ahzab). The Qur’an is also divided into seven approximately equal parts, manazil, for it to be recited in a week.[2]

The Qur’anic text seems to have no beginning, middle, or end, its nonlinear structure being akin to a web or net.[2] The textual arrangement is sometimes considered to have lack of continuity, absence of any chronological or thematic order, and presence of repetition.[57][58]

Fourteen different Arabic letters form 14 different sets of “Qur’anic Initials” (the "Muqatta’at", such as A.L.M. of 2:1) and prefix 29 suras in the Qur’an. The meaning and interpretation of these initials is considered unknown to most Muslims. In 1974, Egyptian biochemist Rashad Khalifa claimed to have discovered a mathematical code based on the number 19,[59] which is mentioned in Sura 74:30[60] of the Qur’an.


Main articles: List of Qur’anic figures, Justice in the Qur’an, and Qur’an and science

See also: List of persons related to Qur’anic verses and Legends and the Qur’an

The Qur’anic verses contain general exhortations regarding right and wrong and the nature of revelation. Historical events are related to outline general moral lessons.

Literary structure

The Qur’an’s message is conveyed with various literary structures and devices. In the original Arabic, the chapters and verses employ phonetic and thematic structures that assist the audience’s efforts to recall the message of the text. There is consensus among Arab scholars[who?] to use the Qur’an as a standard by which other Arabic literature should be measured. Muslims[who?] assert (according to the Qur’an itself) that the Qur’anic content and style is inimitable.[61]

Richard Gottheil and Siegmund Fränkel in the Jewish Encyclopedia write that the oldest portions of the Qur’an reflect significant excitement in their language, through short and abrupt sentences and sudden transitions. The Qur’an nonetheless carefully maintains the rhymed form, like the oracles. Some later portions also preserve this form but also in a style where the movement is calm and the style expository.[62]

Michael Sells, citing the work of the critic Norman O. Brown, acknowledges Brown’s observation that the seeming "disorganization" of Qur’anic literary expression — its "scattered or fragmented mode of composition," in Sells’s phrase — is in fact a literary device capable of delivering "profound effects — as if the intensity of the prophetic message were shattering the vehicle of human language in which it was being communicated."[63][64] Sells also addresses the much-discussed "repetitiveness" of the Qur’an, seeing this, too, as a literary device.

Interpretation and meanings



The Qur’an has sparked a huge body of commentary and explication (tafsir), aimed at explaining the "meanings of the Qur’anic verses, clarifying their import and finding out their significance."[65]

Tafsir is one of the earliest academic activities of Muslims. According to the Qur’an, Muhammad was the first person who described the meanings of verses for early Muslims.[66] Other early exegetes included a few Companions of Muhammad, like Ali ibn Abi Talib,Abdullah ibn Abbas, Abdullah ibn Umar and Ubayy ibn Kab. Exegesis in those days was confined to the explanation of literary aspects of the verse, the background of its revelation and, occasionally, interpretation of one verse with the help of the other. If the verse was about a historical event, then sometimes a few traditions (hadith) of Muhammad were narrated to make its meaning clear.[67]

Because the Qur’an is spoken in classical Arabic, many of the later converts to Islam (mostly non-Arabs) did not always understand the Qur’anic Arabic, they did not catch allusions that were clear to early Muslims fluent in Arabic and they were concerned with reconciling apparent conflict of themes in the Qur’an. Commentators erudite in Arabic explained the allusions, and perhaps most importantly, explained which Qur’anic verses had been revealed early in Muhammad’s prophetic career, as being appropriate to the very earliest Muslim community, and which had been revealed later, canceling out or "abrogating" (nāsikh) the earlier text (mansukh).[68][69][70]


Esoteric interpretation of the Qur’an

See also: Qur’anic hermeneutics and Exegesis

Ja’far Kashfi defines ta’wil as ‘to lead back or to bring something back to its origin or archetype’. It is a science whose pivot is a spiritual direction and a divine inspiration, while the tafsir is the literal exegesis of the letter; its pivot is the canonical Islamic sciences.[71] Muhammad Husayn Tabatabaei says that according to the popular explanation among the later exegetes, ta’wil indicates the particular meaning a verse is directed towards. The meaning of revelation (tanzil), as opposed to ta’wil, is clear in its accordance to the obvious meaning of the words as they were revealed. But this explanation has become so widespread that, at present, it has become the primary meaning of ta’wil, which originally meant "to return" or "the returning place". In Tabatabaei’s view, what has been rightly called ta’wil, or hermeneutic interpretation of the Qur’an, is not concerned simply with the denotation of words. Rather, it is concerned with certain truths and realities that transcend the comprehension of the common run of men; yet it is from these truths and realities that the principles of doctrine and the practical injunctions of the Qur’an issue forth. Interpretation is not the meaning of the verse; rather it transpires through that meaning – a special sort of transpiration. There is a spiritual reality, which is the main objective of ordaining a law, or the basic aim in describing a divine attribute—and there is an actual significance a Qur’anic story refers to.[72][73]

However Shia and Sufism (on the one hand) and Sunni (on the other) have completely different positions on the legitimacy of ta’wil. A verse in the Qur’an[74] addresses this issue, but Shia and Sunni disagree on how it should be read. According to Shia, those who are firmly rooted in knowledge like the Prophet and the imams know the secrets of the Qur’an, while Sunnis believe that only God knows. According to Tabatabaei, the statement "none knows its interpretation except Allah" remains valid, without any opposing or qualifying clause. Therefore, so far as this verse is concerned, the knowledge of the Qur’an’s interpretation is reserved for God. But Tabatabaei uses other verses and concludes that those who are purified by God know the interpretation of the Qur’an to a certain extent.[73]

The most ancient spiritual commentary on the Qur’an consists of the teachings the Shia Imams propounded in conversations with their disciples. It was the principles of their spiritual hermeneutics that were subsequently brought together by the Sufis. These texts are narrated by Imam Ali and Ja’far al-Sadiq, Shia and Sunni Sufis.[75]

As Corbin narrates from Shia sources, Ali himself gives this testimony:

Not a single verse of the Qur’an descended upon (was revealed to) the Messenger of God, which he did not proceed to dictate to me and make me recite. I would write it with my own hand, and he would instruct me as to its tafsir (the literal explanation) and the ta’wil (the spiritual exegesis), thenasikh (the verse that abrogates) and the mansukh (the abrogated verse), the muhkam (without ambiguity) and the mutashabih (ambiguous), the particular and the general…[76]

According to Tabatabaei, there are acceptable and unacceptable esoteric interpretations. Acceptable ta’wil refers to the meaning of a verse beyond its literal meaning; rather the implicit meaning, which ultimately is known only to God and can’t be comprehended directly through human thought alone. The verses in question here refer to the human qualities of coming, going, sitting, satisfaction, anger, and sorrow, which are apparently attributed to God. Unacceptable ta’wil is where one "transfers" the apparent meaning of a verse to a different meaning by means of a proof; this method is not without obvious inconsistencies. Although this unacceptable ta’wil has gained considerable acceptance, it is incorrect and cannot be applied to the Qur’anic verses. The correct interpretation is that reality a verse refers to. It is found in all verses, the decisive and the ambiguous alike; it is not a sort of a meaning of the word; it is a fact that is too sublime for words. God has dressed them with words to bring them a bit nearer to our minds; in this respect they are like proverbs that are used to create a picture in the mind, and thus help the hearer to clearly grasp the intended idea.[73][77]

Therefore Sufi spiritual interpretations are usually accepted by Islamic scholars as authentic, as long as certain conditions are met.[78] In Sufi history, these interpretations were sometimes considered religious innovations (bid’ah), as Salafis believe today. However, ta’wil is extremely controversial even amongst Shia. For example, when Ayatollah Ruhallah Khomeini, the leader of Islamic revolution, gave some lectures about Sura al-Fatiha in December 1979 and January 1980, protests forced him to suspend them before he could continue beyond the first two verses of the surah.[79]

Levels of meaning

Unlike the Salafis and Zahiri, Shias and Sufis as well as some Muslim philosophers believe the meaning of the Qur’an is not restricted to the literal aspect.[80] For them, it is an essential idea that the Qur’an also has inward aspects. Henry Corbin narrates a hadith that goes back to Muhammad:

"The Qur’an possesses an external appearance and a hidden depth, an exoteric meaning and an esoteric meaning. This esoteric meaning in turn conceals an esoteric meaning (this depth possesses a depth, after the image of the celestial Spheres, which are enclosed within each other). So it goes on for seven esoteric meanings (seven depths of hidden depth)."[80]

According to this view, it has also become evident that the inner meaning of the Qur’an does not eradicate or invalidate its outward meaning. Rather, it is like the soul, which gives life to the body.[81] Corbin considers the Qur’an to play a part in Islamic philosophy, because gnosiology itself goes hand in hand withprophetology.[82]

Commentaries dealing with the zahir (outward aspects) of the text are called tafsir, and hermeneutic and esoteric commentaries dealing with the batin are called ta’wil (“interpretation” or “explanation”), which involves taking the text back to its beginning. Commentators with an esoteric slant believe that the ultimate meaning of the Qur’an is known only to God.[2] In contrast, Qur’anic literalism, followed by Salafis and Zahiris, is the belief that the Qur’an should only be taken at its apparent meaning.


 Qur’an translations

Title page of the first German translation (1772) of the Qur’an.

Translation of the Qur’an has always been a problematic and difficult issue. Many argue that the Qur’anic text cannot be reproduced in another language or form.[83] Furthermore, an Arabic word may have a range of meanings depending on the context, making an accurate translation even more difficult.[84]

Nevertheless, the Qur’an has been translated into most African, Asian and European languages.[84] The first translator of the Qur’an was Salman the Persian, who translated Fatiha into Persian during the 7th century.[85] The first complete translation of Qur’an was into Persianduring the reign of Samanids in the 9th century. Islamic tradition holds that translations were made for Emperor Negus of Abyssinia and Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, as both received letters by Muhammad containing verses from the Qur’an.[84] In early centuries, the permissibility of translations was not an issue, but whether one could use translations in prayer.

Verses 33 and 34 of sura Ya-Seen in this Chinese translation of the Qur’an.

In 1936, translations in 102 languages were known.[84] In 2010, the Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review reported that the Qur’an was presented in 112 languages at the 18th International Quran Exhibition in Tehran.[86]

Robert of Ketton‘s translation of the Qur’an, Lex Mahumet pseudoprophete, was the first into a Western language (Latin) for Peter the Venerable in 1143.[87] Alexander Ross offered the first English version in 1649, from the French translation of L’Alcoran de Mahomet (1647) by Andre du Ryer. In 1734, George Sale produced the first scholarly translation of the Qur’an into English; another was produced by Richard Bell in 1937, and yet another by Arthur John Arberry in 1955. All these translators were non-Muslims. There have been numerous translations by Muslims.

The English translators have sometimes favored archaic English words and constructions over their more modern or conventional equivalents; for example, two widely read translators, A. Yusuf Ali and M. Marmaduke Pickthall, use the plural and singular "ye" and "thou" instead of the more common "you".

Literary usage

In addition to and largely independent of the division into suras, there are various ways of dividing the Qur’an into parts of approximately equal length for convenience in reading, recitation and memorization. The thirty ajza can be used to read through the entire Qur’an in a week or a month. Some of these parts are known by names and these names are the first few words by which the juz’ starts. A juz’ is sometimes further divided into two ahzab, and each hizb subdivided into four rub ‘al-ahzab. A different structure is provided by the ruku’at, semantical units resembling paragraphs and comprising roughly ten ayat each. Some also divide the Qur’an into seven manazil to facilitate complete recitation in a week.


…and recite the Qur’an in slow, measured rhythmic tones.

Qur’an 73:4 (Yusuf Ali)

One meaning of Qur’an is "recitation", the Qur’an itself outlining the general method of how it is to be recited: slowly and in rhythmic tones. Tajwid is the term for techniques of recitation, and assessed in terms of how accessible the recitation is to those intent on concentrating on the words.[88]

To perform salat (prayer), a mandatory obligation in Islam, a Muslim is required to learn at least some sura of the Qur’an (typically starting with the first one, al-Fatiha, known as the "seven oft-repeated verses," and then moving on to the shorter ones at the end). Until one has learned al-Fatiha, a Muslim can only say phrases like "praise be to God" during the salat.

Qur’an with colour-coded tajwid rules.

A person whose recital repertoire encompasses the whole Qur’an is called a qari’, whereas a memoriser of the Qur’an is called a hafiz (fem. Hafaz) (which translate as "reciter" or "protector," respectively). Muhammad is regarded as the first qari’ since he was the first to recite it. Recitation (tilawa تلاوة) of the Qur’an is a fine art in the Muslim world.

Schools of recitation


Page of a 13th century Qur’an, showing Sura 33: 73

There are several schools of Qur’anic recitation, all of which teach possible pronunciations of the Uthmanic rasm: Seven reliable, three permissible and (at least) four uncanonical – in 8 sub-traditions each – making for 80 recitation variants altogether.[89] A canonical recitation must satisfy three conditions:

  1. It must match the rasm, letter for letter.
  2. It must conform with the syntactic rules of the Arabic language.
  3. It must have a continuous isnad to Muhammad through tawatur, meaning that it has to be related by a large group of people to another down the isnad chain.

These recitations differ in the vocalization (tashkil) of a few words, which in turn gives a complementary meaning to the word in question according to the rules of Arabic grammar. For example, the vocalization of a verb can change its active and passive voice. It can also change its stem formation, implying intensity for example. Vowels may be elongated or shortened, and glottal stops (hamzas) may be added or dropped, according to the respective rules of the particular recitation. For example, the name of archangel Gabriel is pronounced differently in different recitations: Jibrīl, Jabrīl, Jibra’īl, and Jibra’il.

The more widely used narrations are those of Hafss (حفص عن عاصم), Warsh (ورش عن نافع), Qaloon (قالون عن نافع) and Al-Duri according to Abu `Amr (الدوري عن أبي عمرو). Muslims firmly believe that all canonical recitations were recited by Muhammad himself, citing the respective isnad chain of narration, and accept them as valid for worshipping and as a reference for rules of Sharia. The uncanonical recitations are called "explanatory" for their role in giving a different perspective for a given verse or ayah. Today several dozen persons hold the title "Memorizer of the Ten Recitations."

The presence of these different recitations is attributed to many hadith. Malik Ibn Anas has reported:[90]

Abd al-Rahman Ibn Abd al-Qari narrated: "Umar Ibn Khattab said before me: I heard Hisham Ibn Hakim Ibn Hizam reading Surah Furqan in a different way from the one I used to read it, and the Prophet (sws) himself had read out this surah to me. Consequently, as soon as I heard him, I wanted to get hold of him. However, I gave him respite until he had finished the prayer. Then I got hold of his cloak and dragged him to the Prophet (sws). I said to him: "I have heard this person [Hisham Ibn Hakim Ibn Hizam] reading Surah Furqan in a different way from the one you had read it out to me." The Prophet (sws) said: "Leave him alone [O ‘Umar]." Then he said to Hisham: "Read [it]." [Umar said:] "He read it out in the same way as he had done before me." [At this,] the Prophet (sws) said: "It was revealed thus." Then the Prophet (sws) asked me to read it out. So I read it out. [At this], he said: "It was revealed thus; this Qur’an has been revealed in Seven Ahruf. You can read it in any of them you find easy from among them.

Suyuti, a famous 15th century Islamic theologian, writes after interpreting above hadith in 40 different ways:[91]

"And to me the best opinion in this regard is that of the people who say that this hadith is from among matters of mutashabihat, the meaning of which cannot be understood."

Many reports contradict the presence of variant readings:[92]

  • Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Sulami reports, "the reading of Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Zayd ibn Thabit and that of all the Muhajirun and the Ansar was the same. They read the Qur’an according to the Qira’at al-‘ammah. This is the same reading the Prophet (sws) read twice to Gabriel in the year of his death.Zayd ibn Thabit was also present in this reading [called] the ‘Ardah-i akhirah. It was this very reading that he taught the Qur’an to people till his death".[93]
  • Ibn Sirin writes, "the reading on which the Qur’an was read out to the prophet in the year of his death is the same according to which people are reading the Qur’an today".[94]

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi also purports that there is only one recitation of Qur’an, which is called Qira’at of Hafss or in classical scholarship, it is called Qira’at al-‘ammah. The Qur’an has also specified that it was revealed in the language of Muhammad’s tribe: the Quraysh.[Qur’an 19:97][Qur’an 44:58])[92]

However, the identification of the recitation of Hafss as the Qira’at al-‘ammah is somewhat problematic when that was the recitation of the people of Kufa in Iraq, and there is better reason to identify the recitation of the reciters of Madinah as the dominant recitation. The reciter of Madinah was Nafi’ and Imam Malik remarked "The recitation of Nafi’ is Sunnah."

AZ [however] says that the people of El-Hijaz and Hudhayl, and the people of Makkah and Al-Madinah, to not pronounce hamzah [at all]: and ‘Isa Ibn-‘Omar says, Tamim pronounce hamzah, and the people of Al-Hijaz, in cases of necessity, [in poetry,] do so.[95]

Writing and printing

Page from a Qur’an (‘Umar-i Aqta’). Iran, Afghanistan,Timurid dynasty, circa 1400. Opaque watercolor, ink and gold on paper Muqaqqaq script. 170 x 109cm (66 15/16 x 42 15/16in). Historical region: Uzbekistan.

Most Muslims today use printed editions of the Qur’an. There are many editions, large and small, elaborate or plain, expensive or inexpensive. Bilingual forms with the Arabic on one side and a gloss into a more familiar language on the other are very popular.

Qur’ans are produced in many different sizes. Most are of a reasonable book size, but there exist extremely large Qur’ans (usually for display purposes) and very small Qur’ans (sometimes given as gifts).

Before printing was widely adopted in the 19th century, the Qur’an was transmitted in manuscript books made by copyists and calligraphers. Short extracts from the Qur’an were printed in the medieval period from carved wooden blocks, one block per page; a technique already widely used in China. However there are no records of complete Qur’ans produced in this way, which would have involved a very large investment.[96] Mass-produced less expensive versions of the Qur’an were produced from the 19th century by lithography, which allowed reproduction of the fine calligraphy of hand-made versions.[97]

The first and last chapters of the Qur’an together written in theShikastah style.

The oldest surviving Qur’an printed with movable type was produced in Venice in 1537/1538. It seems to have been prepared for sale in the Ottoman empire, where all movable type printing using Arabic characters had been forbidden in 1485. This decree was reversed in 1588, but there remained strong resistance to adopting movable type printing for any subjects, let alone the Qur’an, until the late 19th century. This seems to have been partly from opposition by the large profession of copyists, and for aesthetic reasons, and fear of mistakes in the text.[98] Catherine the Great of Russia sponsored a printing of the Qur’an in 1787. This was followed by editions from Kazan (1828), Persia (1833) and Istanbul (1877).[99]

It is extremely difficult to render the full Qur’an, with all the points, in computer code, such as Unicode. The Internet Sacred Text Archive makes computer files of the Qur’an freely available both as images[100] and in a temporary Unicode version.[101] Various designers and software firms have attempted to develop computer fonts that can adequately render the Qur’an.[102]

Since Muslim tradition felt that directly portraying sacred figures and events might lead to idolatry, it was considered wrong to decorate the Qur’an with pictures (as was often done for Christian texts, for example). Muslims instead lavished love and care upon the sacred text itself. Arabic is written in many scripts, some of which are complex and beautiful. Arabic calligraphy is a highly honored art, much like Chinese calligraphy. Muslims also decorated their Qur’ans with abstract figures (arabesques), colored inks, and gold leaf. Pages from some of these antique Qur’ans are displayed throughout this article.

Relationship with other literature

Torah, Hebrew Bible and New Testament

See also: Biblical narratives and the Qur’an and Tawrat

It is He Who sent down to thee (step by step), in truth, the Book, confirming what went before it; and He sent down the Law (of Moses) and the Gospel (of Jesus) before this, as a guide to mankind, and He sent down the criterion (of judgment between right and wrong).[103]

Qur’an 3:3 (Yusuf Ali)

The Qur’an speaks well of the relationship it has with former books (the Torah and the Gospel) and attributes their similarities to their unique origin and saying all of them have been revealed by the one God.[104]

According to Sahih Bukhari, the Quran was recited among Levantines and Iraqis, and discussed by Christians and Jews before it was standardized.[105] Its language wassimilar to the Syriac language. The Qur’an recounts stories of many of the people and events recounted in Jewish and Christian sacred books (Tanakh, Bible) and devotional literature (Apocrypha, Midrash), although it differs in many details. Adam, Enoch, Noah, Eber, Shelah, Abraham, Lot, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Job, Jethro, David, Solomon, Elijah, Elisha, Jonah, Aaron, Moses, Zechariah, John the Baptist, and Jesus are mentioned in the Qur’an as prophets of God (see Prophets of Islam). Muslims believe the common elements or resemblances between the Bible and other Jewish and Christian writings and Islamic dispensations is due to their common divine source, and that the original Christian or Jewish texts were authentic divine revelations given to prophets.

Muslims believe that those texts were neglected, corrupted (tahrif) or altered in time by the Jews and Christians and have been replaced by God’s final and perfect revelation, which is the Qur’an.[106]

Influence of Christian apocrypha‎

The Diatessaron, Protoevangelium of James, Infancy Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Arabic Infancy Gospel are all suggested to have been sources that the author/authors drew on when creating the Qur’an.[107] The Diatessaron, as a gospel harmony, especially may have led to the misconception in the Qur’an that the Christian Gospel is one text.[108]

Arab writing

After the Qur’an, and the general rise of Islam, the Arabic alphabet developed rapidly into an art form.[109]

Muhaqqaq script.gif

Wadad Kadi, Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at University of Chicago and Mustansir Mir, Professor of Islamic studies at Youngstown State University state that:[110]

Although Arabic, as a language and a literary tradition, was quite well developed by the time of Muhammad’s prophetic activity, it was only after the emergence of Islam, with its founding scripture in Arabic, that the language reached its utmost capacity of expression, and the literature its highest point of complexity and sophistication. Indeed, it probably is no exaggeration to say that the Qur’an was one of the most conspicuous forces in the making of classical and post-classical Arabic literature.

The main areas in which the Qur’an exerted noticeable influence on Arabic literature are diction and themes; other areas are related to the literary aspects of the Qur’an particularly oaths (q.v.), metaphors, motifs, and symbols. As far as diction is concerned, one could say that Qur’anic words, idioms, and expressions, especially "loaded" and formulaic phrases, appear in practically all genres of literature and in such abundance that it is simply impossible to compile a full record of them. For not only did the Qur’an create an entirely new linguistic corpus to express its message, it also endowed old, pre-Islamic words with new meanings and it is these meanings that took root in the language and subsequently in the literature…


Arabic Qur’an with Persian translation.

Most Muslims treat paper copies of the Qur’an with veneration, ritually washing before reading the Qur’an.[111] Worn out, torn, or errant (for example, pages out of order) Qur’ans are not discarded as wastepaper, but rather are left free to flow in a river, kept somewhere safe, burned, or buried in a remote location. Many Muslims memorize at least some portion of the Qur’an in the original Arabic, usually at least the verses needed to perform the prayers. Those who have memorized the entire Qur’an earn the right to the title of Hafiz.[112]

Arabic Qur’an with Persian translation from the Ilkhanid Era.

Based on tradition and a literal interpretation of sura 56:77–79: "That this is indeed a Qur’an Most Honourable, In a Book well-guarded, Which none shall touch but those who are clean.", many scholars believe that a Muslim must perform a ritual cleansing with water (wudu) before touching a copy of the Qur’an, or mus’haf although this view is ubiquitous.

Qur’an desecration means mishandling the Qur’an by defiling or dismembering it. Muslims believe they should always treat the book with reverence, and are forbidden, for instance, to pulp, recycle, or simply discard worn-out copies of the text. Respect for the written text of the Qur’an is an important element of religious faith by many Muslims. They believe that intentionally insulting the Qur’an is a form of blasphemy.

The text of the Quran has become readily accessible over the internet, in Arabic as well as numerous translations in other languages. It can be downloaded and searched both word-by-word and with Boolean algebra. Photos of ancient manuscripts and illustrations of Quranic art can be witnessed. However, there are still limits to searching the Arabic text of the Quran.[113]

See also

Qur’an portal

Islam portal

Previous sura:

The Qur’anSura
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  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Nasr, Seyyed Hossein (2007). "Qur’an". Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Retrieved 2007-11-04.
  2. ^ Qur’an 2:23–24
  3. ^ Qur’an 33:40
  4. ^ a b Watton, Victor, (1993), A student’s approach to world religions:Islam, Hodder & Stoughton, pg 1. ISBN 0-340-58795-4
  5. ^ a b c Living Religions: An Encyclopaedia of the World’s Faiths, Mary Pat Fisher, 1997, page 338, I.B. Tauris Publishers.
  6. ^ a b Qur’an 17:106
  7. ^ See:
    • William Montgomery Watt in The Cambridge History of Islam, p.32
    • Richard Bell, William Montgomery Watt, Introduction to the Qur’an, p.51
    • F. E. Peters (1991), pp.3–5: “Few have failed to be convinced that … the Qur’an is … the words of Muhammad, perhaps even dictated by him after their recitation.”
  8. ^ Peters (2003), pp.12 and 13
  9. ^ Qur’an 87:18–19
  10. ^ Qur’an 3:3
  11. ^ Qur’an 5:44
  12. ^ Qur’an 4:163
  13. ^ Qur’an 17:55
  14. ^ Qur’an 5:46
  15. ^ Qur’an 5:110
  16. ^ Qur’an 57:27
  17. ^ Qur’an 3:84
  18. ^ Qur’an 4:136
  19. ^ “The Qur’an assumes the reader to be familiar with the traditions of the ancestors since the age of the Patriarchs, not necessarily in the version of the ‘Children of Israel’ as described in the Bible but also in the version of the ‘Children of Ismail’ as it was alive orally, though interspersed with polytheist elements, at the time of Muhammad. The term Jahiliya (ignorance) used for the pre-Islamic time does not mean that the Arabs were not familiar with their traditional roots but that their knowledge of ethical and spiritual values had been lost.” Exegesis of Bible and Qur’an, H. Krausen.http://www.geocities.com/athens/thebes/8206/hkrausen/exegesis.htm
  20. ^ * Nasr (2003), p.42
  21. ^ Qur’an 2:67–76
  22. ^ a b “Ķur’an, al-”, Encyclopedia of Islam Online.
  23. ^ Qur’an 20:2 cf.
  24. ^ Qur’an 25:32 cf.
  25. ^ Qur’an 7:204
  26. ^ See “Ķur’an, al-”, Encyclopedia of Islam Online and [Qur’an 9:111]
  27. ^ According to Welch in the Encyclopedia of Islam, the verses pertaining to the usage of the word hikma should probably be interpreted in the light of IV, 105, where it is said that “Muhammad is to judge (tahkum) mankind on the basis of the Book sent down to him.”
  28. ^ a b c d *Tabatabaee, 1988, chapter 5
  29. ^ See:
    • William Montgomery Watt in The Cambridge History of Islam, p.32
    • Richard Bell, William Montgomery Watt, Introduction to the Qur’an, p.51
  30. ^ Encyclopedia of Islam online, Muhammad article
  31. ^ Qur’an 7:157
  32. ^ See:
    • Observations on Early Qur’an Manuscripts in San’a
    • The Qur’an as Text, ed. Wild, Brill, 1996 ISBN 90-04-10344-9
  33. ^ The Koran; A Very Short Introduction, Michael Cook. Oxford University Press, P.117 – P.124
  34. ^ *F. E. Peters (1991), pp.3–5: "Few have failed to be convinced that the Qur’an is the words of Muhammad, perhaps even dictated by him after their recitation."
  35. ^ Qur’an 2:23–4
  36. ^ See:
    • Corbin (1993), p.12
    • Wild (1996), pp. 137, 138, 141 and 147
    • Qur’an 2:97
    • Qur’an 17:105
  37. ^ Wild (1996), pp. 140
  38. ^ Qur’an 43:3
  39. ^ Corbin (1993), p.10
  40. ^ Corbin (1993), pp .10 and 11
  41. ^ [Qur’an 17:88]
  42. ^ [Qur’an 2:23]
  43. ^ [Qur’an 10:38]
  44. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an – Miracles
  45. ^ Ahmad Dallal, Encyclopedia of the Qur’an, Qur’an and science
  46. ^ Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an – Byzantines
  47. ^ Arabic: بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم, transliterated as: bismi-llāhi ar-raḥmāni ar-raḥīmi.
  48. ^ See:
    • “Kur`an, al-”, Encyclopaedia of Islam Online
    • Allen (2000) p. 53
  49. ^ Samuel Pepys: "One feels it difficult to see how any mortal ever could consider this Koran as a Book written in Heaven, too good for the Earth; as a well-written book, or indeed as a book at all; and not a bewildered rhapsody; written, so far as writing goes, as badly as almost any book ever was!"http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/display.php?table=review&id=21
  50. ^ "The final process of collection and codification of the Qur’an text was guided by one over-arching principle: God’s words must not in any way be distorted or sullied by human intervention. For this reason, no serious attempt, apparently, was made to edit the numerous revelations, organize them into thematic units, or present them in chronological order…. This has given rise in the past to a great deal of criticism by European and American scholars of Islam, who find the Qur’an disorganized, repetitive, and very difficult to read." Approaches to the Asian Classics, Irene Blomm, William Theodore De Bary, Columbia University Press,1990, p. 65
  51. ^ Rashad Khalifa, Qur’an: Visual Presentation of the Miracle, Islamic Productions International, 1982. ISBN 0-934894-30-2
  52. ^ Qur’an 74:30 Prophecies Made in the Qur’an that Have Already Come True]
  53. ^ Issa Boullata, "Literary Structure of Qur’an," Encyclopedia of the Qur’an, vol.3 p.192, 204
  54. ^ Michael Sells, Approaching the Qur’an (White Cloud Press, 1999)
  55. ^ Norman O. Brown, "The Apocalypse of Islam." Social Text 3:8 (1983–1984)
  56. ^ Qur’an 2:151
  57. ^ Corbin (1993), p.9
  58. ^ Qur’an 3:7
  59. ^ Corbin (1993), pp.7 and 8
  60. ^ Corbin (1993), p.46
    • ما نَزلت على رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم آية من القرآن إلاّ أقرأنيها وأملاها عليَّ فكتبتها بخطي ، وعلمني تأويلها وتفسيرها، وناسخها ومنسوخها ، ومحكمها ومتشابهها ، وخاصّها وعامّها ، ودعا الله لي أن يعطيني فهمها وحفظها فما نسيتُ آية من كتاب الله تعالى ولا علماً أملاه عليَّ وكتبته منذ دعا الله لي بما دعا ، وما ترك رسول الله علماً علّمه الله من حلال ولا حرام ، ولا أمرٍ ولا نهي كان أو يكون.. إلاّ علّمنيه وحفظته، ولم أنسَ حرفاً واحداً منه
  61. ^ a b Corbin (1993), p.7
  62. ^ Corbin (1993), p.13
  63. ^ Aslan, Reza (20 November 2008). "How To Read the Quran". Slate. Retrieved 21 November 2008.
  64. ^ a b c d Fatani, Afnan (2006). "Translation and the Qur’an". in Leaman, Oliver. The Qur’an: an encyclopedia. Great Britain: Routeledge. pp. 657–669.
  65. ^ An-Nawawi, Al-Majmu’, (Cairo, Matbacat at-‘Tadamun n.d.), 380.
  66. ^ "More than 300 publishers visit Quran exhibition in Iran". Hürriyet Daily News and Economic Review. 12 August 2010
  67. ^ Islam: A Thousand Years of Faith and Power. New Haven: Yale University Press. 2002. p. 42.
  68. ^ Sonn, Tamara (2006). "Art and the Qur’an". in Leaman, Oliver. The Qur’an: an encyclopedia. Great Britain: Routeledge. pp. 71–81.
  69. ^ Navid Kermani, Das ästhetische Erleben des Koran. Munich (1999)
  70. ^ Malik Ibn Anas, Muwatta, vol. 1 (Egypt: Dar Ahya al-Turath, n.d.), 201, (no. 473).
  71. ^ Suyuti, Tanwir al-Hawalik, 2nd ed. (Beirut: Dar al-Jayl, 1993), 199.
  72. ^ Zarkashi, al-Burhan fi Ulum al-Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1980), 237.
  73. ^ Suyuti, al-Itqan fi Ulum al-Qur’an, 2nd ed., vol. 1 (Baydar: Manshurat al-Radi, 1343 AH), 177.
  74. ^ Peter G. Riddell, Tony Street, Anthony Hearle Johns, Islam: essays on scripture, thought, and society : a festschrift in honour of Anthony H. Johns, pp. 170–174, BRILL, 1997, ISBN 90-04-10692-8, 9789004106925
  75. ^ The Qur’an in Manuscript and Print. "THE QUR’ANIC SCRIPT". Retrieved 2007-06-05.
  76. ^ Article by A. Yusuf Ali. "The Holy Qur’an". Retrieved 2007-06-05.
  77. ^ Unicode Qur’an. "Sacred-texts". Retrieved 2007-06-05.
  78. ^ Mishafi Font. "Award-winning calligraphic typeface". Retrieved 2007-06-05.
  79. ^ ‏3:3 نزل عليك الكتاب بالحق مصدقا لما بين يديه وانزل التوراة والانجيل
  80. ^ Qur’an 2:285
  81. ^ Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam (1984). Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-00807-8. p.69
  82. ^ New Catholic Encyclopaedia, 1967, The Catholic University of America, Washington D C, Vol. VII, p.677
  83. ^ On pre-Islamic Christian strophic poetical texts in the Koran, Ibn Rawandi, ISBN 1-57392-945-X
  84. ^ Leaman, Oliver (2006). "Cyberspace and the Qur’an". in Leaman, Oliver. The Qur’an: an encyclopedia. Great Britain: Routeledge. pp. 130–135.
  85. ^ Wadad Kadi and Mustansir Mir, Literature and the Qur’an, Encyclopaedia of the Qur’an, vol. 3, pp. 213, 216
  86. ^ Mahfouz (2006), p.35
  87. ^ Kugle (2006), p.47; Esposito (2000a), p.275
  88. ^ Rippin, Andrew (2006). "Cyberspace and the Quran". in Leaman, Oliver. The Qur’an: an encyclopedia. Great Britain: Routeledge. pp. 159–163.


Further reading
Older commentary
  • al-Tabari, Muhammad ibn Jarir – Jami’ al-bayān `an ta’wil al-Qur’ān, Cairo 1955–69, transl. J. Cooper (ed.), The Commentary on the Qur’an, Oxford University Press, 1987. ISBN 0-19-920142-0
  • Tafsir Ibn-Kathir, Hafiz Imad al-din Abu al-Fida Ismail ibn Kathir al-Damishqi al-Shafi’i – (died 774 Hijrah (Islamic Calendar))
  • Tafsir Al-Qurtubi (Al-Jami’li-Ahkam), Abu Abdullah Muhammad ibn Ahmad Abi Bakr ibn Farah al-Qurtubi – (died 671 Hijrah (Islamic Calendar))
Older scholarship
Recent scholarship

External links

Online Quran Project includes over 100+ translation in over 20 different languages.

Islam topics

Categories: Qur’an | 7th-century books | Islamic theology | Islam | Islamic texts | Medieval literature | Religious texts

Book of Enoch

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For other writings attributed to Enoch, see Book of Enoch (disambiguation).


Hebrew Bible

enoch (2)

The Book of Enoch (also 1 Enoch[1]) is an ancient Jewish religious work, ascribed to Enoch, the great-grandfather of Noah. It is not currently regarded as part of the Canon of Scripture as used by Jews, apart from the Beta Israel canon; nor by any Christian group, apart from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church canon.

Western scholars currently assert that its older sections (mainly in the Book of the Watchers) date from about 300 BC and the latest part (Book of Parables) probably was composed at the end of the 1st century BC.[2]

It is wholly extant only in the Ge’ez language, with Aramaic fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls and a few Greek and Latin fragments. There is no consensus among scholars about the original language: some propose Aramaic, others Hebrew, while the probable thesis according to E. Isaac is that 1 Enoch, as Daniel, was composed partially in Aramaic and partially in Hebrew[3]:6. Ethiopian scholars generally hold that the Ethiopian Ge’ez is the language of the original from which the Greek and Aramaic copies were made, pointing out that it is the only language in which the complete text has yet been found.[4]

A short section of 1 Enoch (1En1:9) is quoted in the New Testament (Letter of Jude 1:14-15), and there apparently attributed to "Enoch the Seventh from Adam" (1En60:8). It is argued that all the writers of the New Testament were familiar with it and were influenced by it in thought and diction.[5]


The first part of Book of Enoch describes the fall of the Watchers, the angels who fathered the Nephilim. The remainder of the book describes Enoch’s visits to Heaven in the form of travels, visions and dreams, and his revelations.

The book consists of five quite distinct major sections (see each section for details):

enoch (1)

The shared view[6] is that these five sections were originally independent works (with different dates of composition), themselves a product of much editorial arrangement, and were only later redacted into what we now call 1 Enoch. This view is now opposed only by a few authors who maintain the literary integrity of the Book of Enoch, one of the most recent (1990) being the Ethiopian Wossenie Yifru[4]. Józef Milik has suggested that the Book of Giants found amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls should be part of the collection, appearing after the Book of Watchers in place of the Book of Parables, but for various reasons Milik’s theory has not been widely accepted.


This section containsEthiopic text. Without properrendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Ethiopic characters.

Canonicity in Judaism

Although evidently widely known at the time of the Development of the Jewish Bible canon, 1Enoch was excluded from both the formal canon of the Tanakh and the typical canon of the Septuagint and therefore also the writings known today as the Apocrypha.[7][8] One possible reason for Jewish rejection of the book might be the textual nature of several early sections of the book which make use of material from the Torah, for example 1En1 is a midrash of Deuteronomy 33.[9][10]. The content, particularly detailed description of fallen angels, would also be a reason for rejection from the Hebrew canon at this period – as illustrated by the comments of Trypho the Jew when debating with Justin Martyr on this subject. Trypho: "The utterances of God are holy, but your expositions are mere contrivances, as is plain from what has been explained by you; nay, even blasphemies, for you assert that angels sinned and revolted from God." (Dialogue 79) [11]

Canonicity in Christianity

The book is referred to, and quoted, in Jude 14-15:

"And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these [men], saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him."

Compare this with Enoch 1:9, translated from the Ethiopic (found also in Qumran scroll 4Q204=4QEnochc ar, col I 16-18[12]

"And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones To execute judgement upon all, And to destroy all the ungodly: And to convict all flesh Of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, And of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."

Compare this also with what may be the original source of 1En1:9 in Deuteronomy 33:2 [13][14][15]

"The Lord came from Sinai and dawned from Seir upon us; he shone forth from Mount Paran; he came from the ten thousands of holy ones, with flaming fire at his right hand."

Under the heading of canonicity it is not enough to merely demonstrate that something is quoted (or Paul’s quotation of "All Cretans are liars" Titus 1:12 would grant canonicity to the works of Epimenides). It is also necessary to demonstrate the nature of the quotation.[16] In the case of the Jude 14 quotation of 1Enoch 1:9, it is undeniable that a quotation has been made. However, there remains a question as to whether the author of Jude attributed the quotation believing the source to be the historical Enoch before the flood, or a midrash of Deut.33:2-3.[17][18][19] The Greek text is also unusual in stating that "Enoch the Seventh from Adam" prophesied "to" (dative) not "concerning" (genitive) the men.[20]

Peter H. Davids points to Dead Sea scrolls evidence, but leaves it open whether Jude viewed 1 Enoch as canon, deuterocanon, or otherwise: "Did Jude, then, consider this scripture to be like Genesis or Isaiah? Certainly he did consider it authoritative, a true word from God. We cannot tell whether he ranked it alongside other prophetic books such as Isaiah and Jeremiah. What we do know is, first, that other Jewish groups, most notably those living in Qumran near the Dead Sea, also used and valued 1 Enoch, but we do not find it grouped with the scriptural scrolls."[21]

It may be significant that the attribution "Enoch the Seventh from Adam" is apparently itself a section heading taken from 1 Enoch (1En 60:8, Jude1:14a), and not from Genesis.[22]

Another probable Biblical reference can be found in I Peter 3:19,20 to En. 21:6.

1 Enoch is considered as Scripture in the Epistle of Barnabas (16:4)[23] and by many of the early Church Fathers as Athenagoras[24], Clement of Alexandria[25], Irenaeus[26] and Tertullian[27] who wrote c. 200 that the Book of Enoch had been rejected by the Jews because it contained prophecies pertaining toChrist.[28]

However, later Fathers denied the canonicity of the book and some even considered the letter of Jude uncanonical because it refers to an "apocryphal" work.[29] By the 4th century it was mostly excluded from Christian lists of the Biblical canon, and it was omitted from the canon by most of the Christian church (the Ethiopian Orthodox Church being an exception).

The traditional view of the Ethiopic Orthodox Church, which reckons 1 Enoch as an inspired document, is that the Ethiopic text is the original one, written by Enoch himself. In their view, the following opening sentence of Enoch is the first and oldest sentence written in any human language, since Enoch was the first to write letters:

"ቃለ፡ በረከት፡ ዘሄኖክ፡ ዘከመ፡ ባረከ፡ ኅሩያነ፡ ወጻድቃነ፡ እለ፡ ሀለው፡ ይኩኑ"
"በዕለተ፡ ምንዳቤ፡ ለአሰስሎ፡ ኲሉ፡ እኩያን፡ ወረሲዓን።"
"Qāla barakat za-Hēnōk zakama bārraka ḫirūyāna wa-ṣādḳāna ‘ila halaw yikūnū baʿilata mindābē la’asaslō kʷilū ‘ikūyān wa-rasīʿān"
"Word of blessing of Henok, wherewith he blessed the chosen and righteous who would be alive in the day of tribulation for the removal of all wrongdoers and backsliders."

The Book of Moses, found within the scriptural canon of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has similarities to the Book of Enoch.[30]

Manuscript tradition


The most extensive witnesses to the Book of Enoch exist in the Ge’ez language. Robert Henry Charles’ critical edition of 1906 subdivides the Ethiopic manuscripts into two families:

Family α: thought to be more ancient and more similar to the Greek versions:

  • A – ms. orient. 485 of the British Museum, 16th century, with Jubilees
  • B – ms. orient. 491 of the British Museum, 18th century, with other biblical writings
  • C – ms. of Berlin orient. Petermann II Nachtrag 29, 16th century;
  • D – ms. abbadiano 35, 17th century
  • E – ms. abbadiano 55, 16th century
  • F – ms. 9 of the Lago Lair, 15th century

Family β: more recent, apparently edited texts

  • G – ms. 23 of the John Rylands University Library of Manchester, 18th century
  • H – ms. orient. 531 of the Bodleian Library of Oxford, 18th century;
  • I – ms. Brace 74 of the Bodleian Library of Oxford, 16th century
  • J – ms. orient. 8822 of the British Museum, 18th century
  • K – ms. property of E. Ullendorff of London, 18th century;
  • L – ms. abbadiano 99, 19th century;
  • M – ms. orient. 492 of the British Museum, 18th century
  • N – ms. Ethiopian 30 of Monaco of Baviera, 18th century;
  • O – ms. orient. 484 of the British Museum, 18th century;
  • P – ms. Ethiopian 71 of the Vatican, 18th century;
  • Q – ms. orient. 486 of the British Museum, 18th century, lacking chapters 1-60

Additionally there are the manuscripts[which?] used by the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church for preparation of the deuterocanonicals from Ge’ez into the targumic Amharic in the bilingual Haile Selassie Amharic Bible (Mashaf qeddu bage’ezenna ba’amarenna yatasafa 4 vols. c.1935[when?]).[31]


Eleven Aramaic-language fragments of the Book of Enoch were found in cave 4 of Qumran in 1948,[32] and are in the care of the Israel Antiquities Authority. They were translated for and discussed by Józef Milik and Matthew Black in The Books of Enoch[33]. Another translation has been released by Vermes and Garcia-Martinez [34]. Milik described the documents as being white or cream in color, blackened in areas, made of leather which was smooth, thick and stiff. It was also partly damaged with the ink blurred and faint.


  • 4Q201 = 4QEnoch a ar, Enoch 2,1-5,6; 6,4-8,1; 8,3-9,3.6-8
  • 4Q202 = 4QEnoch b ar, Enoch 5,9-6,4; 6,7-8,1; 8,2-9,4; 10,8-12; 14,4-6;
  • 4Q204 = 4QEnoch c ar, Enoch 1,9-5,1; 6,7; 10,13-19; 12,3; 13,6-14,16; 30,1-32,1; 35,; 36,1-4; 106,13-107,2;
  • 4Q205 = 4QEnoch d ar; Enoch 89,29-31; 89,43-44
  • 4Q206 = 4QEnoch e ar; Enoch 22,3-7; 28,3-29,2; 31,2-32,3; 88,3; 89,1-6; 89,26-30; 89,31-37
  • 4Q207 = 4QEnoch f ar
  • 4Q208 = 4QEnastr a ar
  • 4Q209 = 4QEnastr b ar; Enoch 79,3-5; 78,17; 79,2 and large fragments that do not correspond to any part of the Ethiopian text
  • 4Q210 = 4QEnastr c ar; Enoch 76,3-10; 76,13-77,4; 78,6-8
  • 4Q211 = 4QEnastr d ar; large fragments that do not correspond to any part of the Ethiopian text
  • 4Q212 = 4QEn g ar; 91,10; 91,18-19; 92,1-2; 93,2-4; 93,9-10; 91,11-17; 93,11-93,1.

Also at Qumran (cave 1) have been discovered 3 tiny fragments in Hebrew (8,4-9,4; 106).

Chester Beatty XII, Greek manuscript of the Book of Enoch, 4th century

Greek and Latin

The 8th century work Chronographia Universalis by the Byzantine historian George Syncellus preserved some passages of the Book of Enoch in Greek (6,1-9,4; 15,8-16,1). Other Greek fragments known are:

  • Codex Panopolitanus (Cairo Papyrus 10759), named also Codex Gizeh or Akhmim fragements, consists of fragments of two 6th century papyri containing portions of chapters 1-32, recovered by a French archeological team at Akhmim in Egypt, and published five years later in 1892.
  • Vatican Library code Gr. 1809, f. 216v (11th century): including 89,42-49
  • Chester Beatty Papyri XII : including 97,6-107,3 (less chapter 105)
  • Oxyrhynchus Papyri 2069: including only a few letters, that made the identification uncertain, from 77,7-78,1; 78,1-3; 78,8; 85,10-86,2; 87:1-3

It has been claimed that several small additional fragments in Greek have been found at Qumran (7QEnoch: 7Q4, 7Q8, 7Q10-13), dating about 100 BC, ranging from 98:11? to 103:15[35] and written on papyrus with gridlines, but this identification is highly contested.

Of the Latin translation only 1,9 and 106,1-18 are known. The first passage occurs in Pseudo-Cyprian and Pseudo-Vigilius [36]; the second was discovered in 1893 by M. R. James in a 8th century manuscript in the British Museum and published in the same year[37].



Second Temple period

The 1976 publication by Milik[33] of the results of the paleographic dating of the Enochic fragments found in Qumran made a breakthrough. According to this scholar who studied the original scrolls for many years, the oldest fragments of the Book of Watchers are dated 200-150 BC. Since the Book of Watchers shows evidence of multiple stages of composition, it is probable that this work was extant already in the 3rd century BC[38]. The same can be said about the Astronomical Book.

It was no longer possible to claim that the core of Book of Enoch was composed in the wake of the Maccabean Revolt as a reaction to Hellenization"[39]:93. Scholars thus had to look for the origins of the Qumranic sections of 1 Enoch in the previous historical period, and the comparison with traditional material of such a time showed that these sections do not draw exclusively on categories and ideas prominent in the Hebrew Bible. Some scholars speak even of an "Enochic Judaism" from which the writers of Qumran scrolls were descended[40]. Margaret Barker argues that "Enoch is the writing of a very conservative group whose roots go right back to the time of the First Temple"[41]. The main peculiar aspects of the Enochic Judaism are the following:

  • the idea of the origin of the evil caused by the fallen angels, who came on the earth to unite with human women. These fallen angels are considered ultimately responsible for the spread of evil and impurity on the earth[39]:90;
  • the absence in 1 Enoch of formal parallels to the specific laws and commandment found in the Mosaic Torah and of references to issues like Shabbat observance or the rite of circumcision. The Sinaitic covenant and Torah are not of central importance in the Book of Enoch[42]:50-51;
  • the concept of "End of Days" as the time of final judgment that takes the place of promised earthly rewards[39]:92;
  • the rejection of the Second Temple‘s sacrifices considered impure: according to Enoch 89:73, the Jews, when returned from the exile, "reared up that tower (the temple) and they began again to place a table before the tower, but all the bread on it was polluted and not pure";
  • a solar calendar in opposition to the moon-based calendar used in the Second Temple (a very important aspect for the determination of the dates of religious feasts);
  • an interest in the angelic world that involves life after death[43].

Most Qumran fragments are relatively early, with none written from the last period of the Qumranic experience. Thus it is probable that Qumran community gradually lost interest in the Book of Enoch[44].

The relation between 1 Enoch and the Essenes was noted even before the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls[45]. While there is consensus to consider the sections of the Book of Enoch found in Qumran as texts used by the Essenes, the same is not so clear for the Enochic texts not found in Qumran (mainly theBook of Parables): it was proposed[46] to consider these parts as expression of the mainstream, but not-Qumranic, essenic movement. The main peculiar aspects of the not-Qumranic units of 1 Enoch are the following:

  • a Messiah called "Son of Man", with divine attributes, generated before the creation, who will act directly in the final judgment and sit on a throne of glory (1 Enoch 46:1-4, 48:2-7, 69:26-29)[12]:562-563
  • the sinners usually seen as the wealthy ones and the just as the oppressed (a theme we find also in the Psalms of Solomon).
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Early Influence

Classical Rabbinic literature is characterized by near silence concerning Enoch. It seems plausible that Rabbinic polemics against Enochic texts and traditions might have led to the loss of these books to Rabbinic Judaism.[47]

The Book of Enoch plays an important role in the history of the Jewish mysticism: the great scholar Gershom Scholem wrote: "the main subjects of the later Merkabah mysticism already occupy a central position in the older esoteric literature, best represented by the Book of Enoch"[48]. Particular attention is paid to the detailed description of the throne of God included in chapter 14 of 1 Enoch.

For the quotation of the Book of Watchers in the Christian Letter of Jude see section: Canonicity.

There is little doubt that 1 Enoch was influential in molding New Testament doctrines about the Messiah, the Son of Man, the messianic kingdom, demonology, the resurrection, and eschatology[3]:10. The limits of the influence of 1Enoch are discussed at length by RH Charles [49], E Isaac [3], GW Nickelsburg [50] in their respective translations and commentaries. It is possible that the earlier sections of 1Enoch had direct textual and content influence on many Biblical apocrypha, as Jubilees, 2 Baruch, 2 Esdras, Apocalypse of Abraham and 2 Enoch, though even in these cases, the connection is typically more branches of a common trunk than direct development.[51]

The Greek text was known to, and quoted, both positively and negatively, by many Church Fathers: references can be found in Justin Martyr, Minucius Felix, Irenaeus, Origen, Cyprian, Hippolytus, Commodianus, Lactantius and Cassian[52]:430, although these references come exclusively from the first five chapters of 1 Enoch. After Cassian (died 435 CE), and before the modern "rediscovery", some excerpts are given in the Byzantine Empire by the 8th century monk George Syncellus in his chronography and in the 9th century it is listed as an apocryphon of the New Testament by Patriarch Nicephorus[53].



Sir Walter Raleigh, in his History of the World (written in 1616 while imprisoned in the Tower of London), makes the curious assertion that part of the Book of Enoch "which contained the course of the stars, their names and motions" had been discovered in Saba in the 1st century and was thus available to Origen and Tertullian. He attributes this information to Origen’s Hom. in Num. 1,[54] though no such statement is found anywhere in extant versions of Origen.

Outside of Ethiopia, the text of the Book of Enoch was considered lost until the beginning of the 17th century, when it was confidently asserted that the book was found in an Ethiopic (Ge’ez) language translation there, and Nicolas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc bought a book that was claimed to be identical to the one quoted by the Epistle of Jude and the Church Fathers. Hiob Ludolf, the great Ethiopic scholar of the 17th and 18th centuries, soon claimed it to be a forgery produced by Abba Bahaila Michael[55].

Better success was achieved by the famous Scottish traveller James Bruce, who in 1773 returned to Europe from six years in Abyssinia with three copies of a Ge’ez version[56]. One is preserved in the Bodleian Library, another was presented to the royal library of France, while the third was kept by Bruce. The copies remained unused until the 19th century, Silvestre de Sacy, in "Notices sur le livre d’Enoch"[57] included extracts of the books with Latin translations (Enoch chapters 1,2,5-16,22,32). From this a German translation was made by Rink in 1801.

The first English translation of the Bodleian/Ethiopic manuscript was published in 1821 by Richard Laurence, titled The Book of Enoch, the prophet: an apocryphal production, supposed to have been lost for ages; but discovered at the close of the last century in Abyssinia; now first translated from an Ethiopic manuscript in the Bodleian Library. Oxford, 1821. Revised editions appeared in 1833, 1838, and 1842.

Laurence in 1838 also released the first Ethiopic text of 1 Enoch to be published in the West, under the title: Libri Enoch Prophetae Versio Aethiopica. The text, divided into 105 chapters, was soon considered unreliable as it was the transcription of a single Ethiopic manuscript[58].

In 1833 Professor Andreas Gottlieb Hoffmann of the University of Jena released a German translation, based on Laurence’s work, called Das Buch Henoch in vollständiger Uebersetzung, mit fortlaufendem Kommentar, ausführlicher Einleitung und erläuternden Excursen. Two other translations came out around the same time one in 1836 called Enoch Restitutus, or an Attempt (Rev Edward Murray) and in 1840 Prophetae veteres Pseudepigraphi, partim ex Abyssinico vel Hebraico sermonibus Latine bersi (A. F. Gfrörer). However, both are considered to be poor—the 1836 translation most of all and is discussed in Hoffmann[59].

The first critical edition, based on five manuscripts, appeared in 1851 as Liber Henoch, Aethiopice, ad quinque codicum fidem editus, cum variis lectionibus, by August Dillmann. It was followed in 1853 by a German translation of the book by the same author with commentary titled Das Buch Henoch, übersetzt und erklärt. It was considered the standard edition of 1 Enoch until the work of Charles.

The generation of Enoch scholarship from 1890 to the WW1 was dominated by Robert Henry Charles. His 1893 translation and commentary of the Ethiopic text already represented an important advancement as it was based on ten additional manuscripts. In 1906 R.H. Charles published a new critical edition of the Ethiopic text, using 23 Ethiopic manuscripts and all available sources at his time. The English translation of the reconstructed text appeared in 1912 and the same year in his collection of The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament.

The publication, in the early 1950s, of the first Aramaic fragments of 1 Enoch among the Dead Sea Scrolls profoundly changed the study of the document, as it provided evidence of its antiquity and original text. The official edition of all Enoch fragments appeared in 1976, by Jozef Milik.

In 1978 a new edition of the Ethiopic text was edited by Michael Knibb, with an English translation, while a new commentary appeared in 1985 by Matthew Black. The renewed interest in 1 Enoch spawned a number of other translations: in Hebrew (A. Kahana, 1956), Danish (Hammershaimb, 1956), Italian (Fusella, 1981), Spanish (1982), French (Caquot, 1984) and other modern languages.

In 2001 George W.E. Nickelsburg published the first volume of a comprehensive commentary on 1 Enoch in the Hermeneia series[42]. Since the year 2000, the Enoch seminar has devoted several meetings to the Enoch literature and has become the center of a lively debate concerning the hypothesis that the Enoch literature attests the presence of an autonomous non-Mosaic tradition of dissent in Second Temple Judaism.


The Book of the Watchers

This first section of the Book of Enoch describes the fall of the Watchers, the angels who fathered the Nephilim (cf. the bene Elohim, Genesis 6:1-2) and narrates the travels of Enoch in the heavens. This section is said to have been composed in the fourth or 3rd century BC according to Western scholars.[60]

Content of the Book of the Watchers

I-V. Parable of Enoch on the Future Lot of the Wicked and the Righteous.

VI-XI. The Fall of the Angels: the Demoralization of Mankind: the Intercession of the Angels on behalf of Mankind. The Dooms pronounced by God on the Angels of the Messianic Kingdom.

XII-XVI. Dream-Vision of Enoch: his Intercession for Azazel and the fallen angels: and his Announcement of their first and final Doom.

XVII-XXXVI. Enoch’s Journeys through the Earth and Sheol:

  • XVII-XIX. The First Journey.
  • XX. Names and Functions of the Seven Archangels.
  • XXI. Preliminary and final Place of Punishment of the fallen Angels (stars).
  • XXII. Sheol or the Underworld.
  • XXIII. The fire that deals with the Luminaries of Heaven.
  • XXIV-XXV. The Seven Mountains in the North-West and the Tree of Life.
  • XXVI. Jerusalem and the Mountains, Ravines, and Streams.
  • XXVII. The Purpose of the Accursed Valley.
  • XXVIII-XXXIII. Further Journey to the East.
  • XXXIV-XXXV. Enoch’s Journey to the North.
  • XXXVI. The Journey to the South.


Description of the Book of the Watchers

The introduction to the Book of Enoch tells us that Enoch is "a just man, whose eyes were opened by God so that he saw a vision of the Holy One in the heavens, which the sons of God showed to me, and from them I heard everything, and I knew what I saw, but [these things that I saw will] not [come to pass] for this generation, but for a generation that has yet to come."

It discusses God coming to Earth on Mount Sinai with His hosts to pass judgement on mankind. It also tells us about the luminaries rising and setting in the order and in their own time and never change.

"Observe and see how (in the winter) all the trees seem as though they had withered and shed all their leaves, except fourteen trees, which do not lose their foliage but retain the old foliage from two to three years till the new comes."

How all things are ordained by God and take place in his own time. The sinners shall perish and the great and the good shall live on in light, joy and peace.

"And all His works go on thus from year to year for ever, and all the tasks which they accomplish for Him, and their tasks change not, but according as God hath ordained so is it done."

The first section of the book depicts the interaction of the fallen angels with mankind; Sêmîazâz compels the other 199 fallen angels to take human wives to "beget us children".

"And Semjâzâ, who was their leader, said unto them: ‘I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin.’ And they all answered him and said: ‘Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations not to abandon this plan but to do this thing.’. Then sware they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And they were in all two hundred; who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it."

The names of the leaders are given as "Samyaza (Shemyazaz), their leader, Araqiel, Râmêêl, Kokabiel, Tamiel, Ramiel, Dânêl, Chazaqiel, Baraqiel, Asael, Armaros, Batariel, Bezaliel, Ananiel, Zaqiel, Shamsiel, Satariel, Turiel, Yomiel, Sariel."

This results in the creation of the Nephilim (Genesis) or Anakim/Anak (Giants) as they are described in the book:

"And they became pregnant, and they bare great giants, whose height was three thousand ells[61]: Who consumed all the acquisitions of men. And when men could no longer sustain them, the giants turned against them and devoured mankind. And they began to sin against birds, and beasts, and reptiles, and fish, and to devour one another’s flesh, and drink the blood."

It also discusses the teaching of humans by the fallen angels chiefly Azâzêl:

"And Azâzêl taught men to make swords, and knives, and shields, and breastplates, and made known to them the metals of the earth and the art of working them, and bracelets, and ornaments, and the use of antimony, and the beautifying of the eyelids, and all kinds of costly stones, and all colouring tinctures. And there arose much godlessness, and they committed fornication, and they were led astray, and became corrupt in all their ways. Semjâzâ taught enchantments, and root-cuttings, Armârôs the resolving of enchantments, Barâqîjâl, taught astrology, Kôkabêl the constellations, Ezêqêêl the knowledge of the clouds, Araqiêl the signs of the earth, Shamsiêl the signs of the sun, and Sariêl the course of the moon."

Michael, Uriel, Raphael, and Gabriel appeal to God to judge the inhabitants of the world and the fallen angels. Uriel is then sent by God to tell Noah of the coming apocalypse and what he needs to do.

"Then said the Most High, the Holy and Great One spoke, and sent Uriel to the son of Lamech, and said to him: Go to Noah and tell him in my name "Hide thyself!" and reveal to him the end that is approaching: that the whole earth will be destroyed, and a deluge is about to come upon the whole earth, and will destroy all that is on it. And now instruct him that he may escape and his seed may be preserved for all the generations of the world."

God commands Raphael to imprison Azâzêl:

"the Lord said to Raphael: ‘Bind Azâzêl hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness: and make an opening in the desert, which is in Dûdâêl (Gods Kettle/Crucible/Cauldron), and cast him therein. And place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there for ever, and cover his face that he may not see light. And on the day of the great judgement he shall be cast into the fire. And heal the earth which the angels have corrupted, and proclaim the healing of the earth, that they may heal the plague, and that all the children of men may not perish through all the secret things that the Watchers have disclosed and have taught their sons. And the whole earth has been corrupted through the works that were taught by Azâzêl: to him ascribe all sin."

God gave Gabriel instructions concerning the Nephilim and the imprisonment of the fallen angels:

"And to Gabriel said the Lord: ‘Proceed against the biters and the reprobates, and against the children of fornication: and destroy [the children of fornication and] the children of the Watchers from amongst men [and cause them to go forth]: send them one against the other that they may destroy each other in battle"

Some,[citation needed] including R.H. Charles, suggest that ‘biters’ should read ‘bastards’ but the name is so unusual that some[citation needed] believe that the implication that’s made by the reading of ‘biters’ is more or less correct.

The Lord commands Michael to bind the fallen angels.

"And the Lord said unto Michael: ‘Go, bind Semjâzâ and his associates who have united themselves with women so as to have defiled themselves with them in all their uncleanness. 12. And when their sons have slain one another, and they have seen the destruction of their beloved ones, bind them fast for seventy generations in the valleys of the earth, till the day of their judgement and of their consummation, till the judgement that is for ever and ever is consummated. 13. In those days they shall be led off to the abyss of fire: (and) to the torment and the prison in which they shall be confined for ever. And whosoever shall be condemned and destroyed will from thenceforth be bound together with them to the end of all generations."

Book of Parables

Dated: presumed by western scholars to be written during 1st century BC or very beginning of 1st century CE.[62]

No fragments of chapters 37-71 (Book of Parables) were found at Qumran. This led J.T. Milik in 1976[33], in line with many scholars of the 19th century as Lucke (1832), Hofman (1852), Wiesse (1856) and Phillippe (1868), to believe that those chapters were written in later Christian times by a Jewish Christian to enhance Christian beliefs with Enoch’s authoritative name.

However, J.H. Charlesworth summarized[63] the current scholarly consensus, saying: "It became obvious that Milik had not proved his position, as Fitzmyer pointed out as soon as The Book of Enoch had been published. Repeatedly the specialists on I Enoch have come out in favor of the Jewish nature and its first century CE origin, and probable pre-70 date. The list of specialists on I Enoch arguing for this position has become overwhelmingly impressive: Isaac, Nickelsburg, Stone, Knibb, Anderson, Black, VanderKam, Greenfield and Sutter. The consensus communis is unparalleled in almost any other area of research; no specialists now argue that I Enoch 37-71 is a Christian and postdates the first century." .

The Book of Parables appears to be based on the Book of Watchers, but presents a later development of the idea of final judgement and eschatology, concerned not only with the destiny of the fallen angels but also of the evil kings of the earth. The Book of Parables uses the expression "Son of Man" for the eschatological protagonist, who is also called “Righteous One,” “Chosen One,” and “Messiah”, and narrates his pre-existence and his sitting on the throne of glory in the final judgment. See also Article Son of Man.

Content of the Book of Parables

XXXVIII-XLIV. The First Parable.

  • VIII. The Coming Judgement of the Wicked.
  • IX. The Abode of the Righteous and the Elect One: the Praises of the Blessed.
  • XL-XLI. 2. The Four Archangels.
  • XLI. 3-9. Astronomical Secrets.
  • XLII. The Dwelling-places of Wisdom and of Unrighteousness.
  • XLIII-XLIV. Astronomical Secrets.

XLV-LVII. The Second Parable.

  • XLV. The Lot of the Apostates: the New Heaven and the New Earth.
  • XLVI. The Head of Days and the Son of Man.
  • XLVII. The Prayer of the Righteous for Vengeance and their Joy at its coming.
  • XLVIII. The Fount of Righteousness: the Son of Man -the Stay of the Righteous: Judgement of the Kings and the Mighty.
  • XLIX. The Power and Wisdom of the Elect One.
  • L. The Glorification and Victory of the Righteous: the Repentance of the Gentiles.
  • LI. The Resurrection of the Dead, and the Separation by the Judge of the Righteous and the Wicked.
  • LII. The Six Metal Mountains and the Elect One.
  • LIII-LIV. The Valley of Judgement: the Angels of Punishment: the Communities of the Elect One.
  • LIV.7.-LV.2. Noachic Fragment on the first World Judgement.
  • LV.3.-LVI.4. Final Judgement of Azazel, the Watchers and their children.
  • LVI.5-8. Last Struggle of the Heathen Powers against Israel.
  • LVII. The Return from the Dispersion.

LVIII-LXXI. The Third Parable.

  • LVIII. The Blessedness of the Saints.
  • LIX. The Lights and the Thunder.
  • [Book Of Noah fragments]
  • LX. Quaking of the Heaven: Behemoth and Leviathan: the Elements.
  • LXI. Angels go off to measure Paradise: the Judgement of the Righteous by the Elect One: the Praise of the Elect One and of God.
  • LXII. Judgement of the Kings and the Mighty: Blessedness of the Righteous.
  • LXIII. The unavailing Repentance of the Kings and the Mighty.
  • LXIV. Vision of the Fallen Angels in the Place of Punishment.
  • LXV. Enoch foretells to Noah the Deluge and his own Preservation.
  • LXVI. The Angels of the Waters bidden to hold them in Check.
  • LXVII. God’s Promise to Noah: Places of Punishment of the Angels and of the Kings.
  • LXVIII. Michael and Raphael astonished at the Severity of the Judgement.
  • LXIX. The Names and Functions of the (fallen Angels and) Satans: the secret Oath.
  • LXX. The Final Translation of Enoch.
  • LXXI. Two earlier Visions of Enoch.
  • enoch_b-100x71
  • The Astronomical Book

Correspondence of weekly day in the Qumran year[64]

Months 1,4,7,10 
Months 2,5,8,11 
Months 3,6,9,12








Four fragmentary editions of the Astronomical Book were found at Qumran, 4Q208-211.[65] 4Q208 and 4Q209 have been dated to the beginning of the 2nd century BC, providing a terminus ante quem for the Astronomical Book of the 3rd century BC[66], if not earlier. The fragments found in Qumran also include material not contained in the later versions of the Book of Enoch.[64][66][67]

This book contains descriptions of the movement of heavenly bodies and of the firmament, as a knowledge revealed to Enoch in his trips to Heaven guided by Uriel, and it describes a Solar calendar that was later described also in the Book of Jubilees which was used by the Dead Sea sect. The use of this calendar made it impossible to celebrate the festivals simultaneously with the Temple of Jerusalem.

The year was composed from 364 days, divided in 4 equal seasons of 91 days each. Each season was composed of three equal months of 30 days, plus an extra day at the end of the third month. The whole year was thus composed of exactly 52 weeks, and every calendar day occurred always on the same day of the week. Each year and each season started always on Wednesday, which was the fourth day of the creation narrated in Genesis, the day when the lights in the sky, the seasons, the days and the years were created.[64]:94-95 It is not known how they used to reconcile this calendar with the tropical year of 365.24219 days (at least seven suggestions have been made), and it is not even sure if they felt the need to adjust it.[64]:125-140


Content of the Astronomical Book
  • LXXII. The Sun.
  • LXXIII. The Moon and its Phases.
  • LXXIV. The Lunar Year.
  • LXXVI. The Twelve Winds and their Portals.
  • LXXVII. The Four Quarters of the World: the Seven Mountains, the Seven Rivers, Seven Great Islands.
  • LXXVIII. The Sun and Moon: the Waxing and Waning of the Moon.
  • LXXIX-LXXX.1. Recapitulation of several of the Laws.
  • LXXX.2-8. Perversion of Nature and the heavenly Bodies due to the Sin of Men.
  • LXXXI. The Heavenly Tablets and the Mission of Enoch.
  • LXXXII. Charge given to Enoch: the four Intercalary days: the Stars which lead the Seasons and the Months.

The Dream Visions

The Book of Dream Visions, containing a vision of a history of Israel all the way down to what the majority have interpreted as the Maccabean Revolt, is dated by most to Maccabean times (about 163-142 BC). It was written before the Flood according to the Ethiopian Christian Church.

Content of the Dream Visions

LXXXIII-LXXXIV. First Dream-Vision on the Deluge. LXXXV-XC. Second Dream-Vision of Enoch: the History of the World to the Founding of the Messianic Kingdom.

  • LXXXVI. The Fall of the Angels and the Demoralization of Mankind.
  • LXXXVII. The Advent of the Seven Archangels.
  • LXXXVIII. The Punishment of the Fallen Angels by the Archangels.
  • LXXXIX.1-9. The Deluge and the Deliverance of Noah.
  • LXXXIX.10-27. From the Death of Noah to the Exodus.
  • LXXXIX.28-40. Israel in the Desert, the Giving of the Law, the Entrance into Canaan.
  • LXXXIX.41-50. From the Time of the Judges to the Building of the Temple.
  • LXXXIX.51-67. The Two Kingdoms of Israel and Judah to the Destruction of Jerusalem.
  • LXXXIX.68-71. First Period of the Angelic Rulers -from the Destruction of Jerusalem to the Return from Captivity.
  • LXXXIX.72-77. Second Period -from the Time of Cyrus to that of Alexander the Great.
  • XC.1-5. Third Period -from Alexander the Great to the Graeco-Syrian Domination.
  • XC.6-12. Fourth Period Graeco-Syrian Domination to the Maccabean Revolt (debated).
  • XC.13-19. The last Assault of the Gentiles on the Jews (where vv. 13-15 and 16-18 are doublets).
  • XC.20-27. Judgement of the Fallen Angels, the Shepherds, and the Apostates.
  • XC.28-42. The New Jerusalem, the Conversion of the surviving Gentiles, the Resurrection of the Righteous, the Messiah. Enoch awakes and weeps.


Animals in the second Dream-Vision

The second Dream-Vision in this section of the Book of Enoch is an allegorical account of the history of Israel, that uses animals to represent human beings and human beings to represent angels.

One of several hypothetical reconstructions of the meanings in the dream is as follows based on the works of R. H. Charles and G. H. Schodde:

  • White color for moral purity; Black color for sin and contamination of the fallen angels; Red the color for blood reference to his martydom
  • White bull is Adam; Female heifer is Eve; Red calf is Abel; * Black calf is Cain; White calf is Seth;
  • White bull / man is Noah; White bull is Shem; Red bull is Japheth; Black bull is Ham; Lord of the sheep is God; Fallen star is either Samyaza or Azazel; Elephants are Giants; Camels are Nephilim; Asses are Elioud;
  • Sheep are the faithful; Rams are leaders; Herds are the tribes of Israel; Wild Asses are Ishmael, and his descendants including the Midianites; Wild Boars are Esau and his descendants, Edom and Amalek; Bears (Hyenas/Wolves in Ethiopic) are the Egyptians; Dogs are Philistines; Tigers are Arimathea; Hyenas are Assyrians; Ravens (Crows) are Seleucids (Syrians); Kites are Ptolemies; Eagles are possibly Macedonians; Foxes are Ammonites and Moabites;
Description of the Dream Visions

There are a great many links between the first book and this one, including the outline of the story and the imprisonment of the leaders and destruction of the Nephilim. The dream includes sections relating to the book of Watchers:

"And those seventy shepherds were judged and found guilty, and they were cast into that fiery abyss. And I saw at that time how a like abyss was opened in the midst of the earth, full of fire, and they brought those blinded sheep." – The fall of the evil ones
"And all the oxen feared them and were affrighted at them, and began to bite with their teeth and to devour, and to gore with their horns. And they began, moreover, to devour those oxen; and behold all the children of the earth began to tremble and quake before them and to flee from them." – The creation of the Nephilim et al.

86:4, 87:3, 88:2, and 89:6 all describe the types of Nephilim that are created during the times described in The Book of Watchers, though this doesn’t mean that the authors of both books are the same. Similar references exist in Jubilees 7:21-22.

The book describes their release from the Ark along with three bulls white, red and black which are Shem, Japheth, and Ham in 90:9. It also covers the death of Noah described as the white bull and the creation of many nations:

"And they began to bring forth beasts of the field and birds, so that there arose different genera: lions, tigers, wolves, dogs, hyenas, wild boars, foxes, squirrels, swine, falcons, vultures, kites, eagles, and ravens" 90:10
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It then describes the story of Moses and Aaron (90:13-15) including the miracle of the river splitting in two for them to pass, and the creation of the stone commandments. Eventually arriving at a "pleasant and glorious land" (90:40) where attacked by dogs (Philistines), foxes (Ammonites, Moabites) and wild boars (Esau).

"And that sheep whose eyes were opened saw that ram, which was amongst the sheep, till it †forsook its glory† and began to butt those sheep, and trampled upon them, and behaved itself unseemly. 45. And the Lord of the sheep sent the lamb to another lamb and raised it to being a ram and leader of the sheep instead of that ram which had †forsaken its glory†." – David replacing Saul as leader of Israel

The creation of Solomon’s temple it also describes the house which may be the tabernacle "And that house became great and broad, and it was built for those sheep: (and) a tower lofty and great was built on the house for the Lord of the sheep, and that house was low, but the tower was elevated and lofty, and the Lord of the sheep stood on that tower and they offered a full table before Him". This interpretation is accepted by Dillmann p 262, Vernes p 89, and Schodde p. 107. It also describes the escape of Elijah the prophet, In 1 Kings 17:2-24 he is fed by ‘ravens’ so if Kings uses a similar analogy he may have been fed by the Seleucids.

"saw the Lord of the sheep how He wrought much slaughter amongst them in their herds until those sheep invited that slaughter and betrayed His place."

This describes the various tribes of Israel ‘inviting’ in other nations ‘betraying his place’ i.e. the land promised to their ancestors by God.

This part of the book can be taken to be the kingdom splitting into the northern and southern tribes. That is Israel and Judah eventually leading to Israel falling to the Assyrians in 721 BC and Judah falling to the Babylonians a little over a century later 587 BC.

"And He gave them over into the hands of the lions and tigers, and wolves and hyenas, and into the hand of the foxes, and to all the wild beasts, and those wild beasts began to tear in pieces those sheep." – God abandons Israel for they have abandoned him.

There is also mention in fifty nine of seventy shepherds with their own seasons; there seems to be some debate on the meaning of this section some suggesting that it’s a reference to the 70 appointed times in 25:11, 9:2, 1:12. Another interpretation is the seventy weeks in Daniel 9:24. However the general interpretation is that these are simply Angels. This section of the book and later near the end describes the appointment by God of the 70 angels to protect the Israelites from enduring too much harm from the ‘beasts and birds’. The later section (110:14) describes how the 70 angels are judged for causing more harm to Israel than he desired finding them guilty and are "cast into an abyss, full of fire and flaming, and full of pillars of fire."

"And the lions and tigers eat and devoured the greater part of those sheep, and the wild boars eat along with them; and they burnt that tower and demolished that house." The sacking of Solomon’s temple and the tabernacle in Jerusalem by the Babylonians as they take Judah in 587 BC/586 BC exiling the remaining Jews.
"And forthwith I saw how the shepherds pastured for twelve hours, and behold three of those sheep turned back and came and entered and began to build up all that had fallen down of that house;"
"Cyrus allowed Sheshbazzar, a prince from the tribe of Judah, to bring the Jews from Babylon back to Jerusalem. Jews were allowed to return with the Temple vessels that the Babylonians had taken. Construction of the Second Temple began." – History of ancient Israel and Judah the temple is finished being built in 515 BC.

The first part of this next section of the book seems, according to Western scholars, to clearly describe the Maccabean revolt of 167 BC against the Seleucids. The following two quotes have been altered from their original form to make the hypothetical meanings of the animal names clear.

"And I saw in the vision how the (Seleucids) flew upon those (faithful) and took one of those lambs, and dashed the sheep in pieces and devoured them. And I saw till horns grew upon those lambs, and the (Seleucids) cast down their horns; and I saw till there sprouted a great horn of one of those (faithful), and their eyes were opened. And it looked at them and their eyes opened, and it cried to the sheep, and the rams saw it and all ran to it. And notwithstanding all this those (Macedonians) and vultures and (Seleucids) and (Ptolemies) still kept tearing the sheep and swooping down upon them and devouring them: still the sheep remained silent, but the rams lamented and cried out. And those (Seleucids) fought and battled with it and sought to lay low its horn, but they had no power over it." 109:8-12
"All the (Macedonians) and vultures and (Seleucids) and (Ptolemies) were gathered together, and there came with them all the sheep of the field, yea, they all came together, and helped each other to break that horn of the ram." 110:16

According to this theory, the first sentence is most likely the death of High Priest Onias III who is murdered which is described in 1 Maccabees 3:33-35 (dies aprox 171 BC). The ‘great horn’ clearly isn’t Mattathias the initiator of the rebellion as he dies a natural death as described in 1 Maccabees 2:49. It’s also not Alexander the Great as the great horn is described as a warrior who has fought the Macedonians, Seleucids and Ptolemies. Judas Maccabeus (167 BC-160 BC) has fought all three of these, with a large number of winning battles against the Seleucids over a large period of time "they had no power over it". He is also described as "one great horn among six others on the head of a lamb" possibly pertaining to his five brothers and Mattathias. If you take this in context of the history from Maccabeus time Dillman Chrest Aethiop says verse 13 can find its explanation in 1 Maccabees iii 7; vi. 52; v.; 2 Maccabees vi. 8 sqq., 13, 14; 1 Maccabees vii 41, 42 and 2 Maccabees x v, 8 sqq. The evidence does seem to suggest that this is in fact the life and times of Judas Maccabeus. He is eventually killed by the Seleucids at the Battle of Elasa where he faced "twenty thousand foot soldiers and two thousand cavalry". At one time it was believed this passage possibly belonged to John Hyrcanus; the only reason for this was the time between Alexander the Great and John Maccabeus was too short. However it has been asserted that evidence shows this section does indeed discuss Maccabeus.

It then describes:

"And I saw till a great sword was given to the sheep, and the sheep proceeded against all the beasts of the field to slay them, and all the beasts and the birds of the heaven fled before their face."

This might be simply the "power of God", God was with them to avenge the death. It may also be perhaps Jonathan Apphus taking over command of the rebels to battle on after Judas death. Other possible appearances are John Hyrcanus (Hyrcanus I) (Hasmonean dynasty) "And all that had been destroyed and dispersed, and all the beasts of the field, and all the birds of the heaven, assembled in that house, and the Lord of the sheep rejoiced with great joy because they were all good and had returned to His house." Possibly describing John’s reign a time of great peace and prosperity. Certain scholars also claimAlexander Jannaeus of Judaea is alluded to in this book.

The end of the book describes the new Jerusalem, culminating in the birth of a Messiah:

"And I saw that a white bull was born, with large horns and all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air feared him and made petition to him all the time. 38. And I saw till all their generations were transformed, and they all became white bulls; and the first among them became a lamb, and that lamb became a great animal and had great black horns on its head; and the Lord of the sheep rejoiced over it and over all the oxen."

Still another interpretation, which has just as much as credibility, is that the last chapters of this section simply refer to infamous battle of Armageddon, where all of the nations of the world march against Israel; this interpretation is supported by the War Scroll, which describes what this epic battle may be like, according to the group(s) that existed at Qumran.

The Epistle of Enoch

Dated: some scholars propose a date somewhere between the 170 BC and the 1st century BC.

This section can be studied as formed by five sub-sections[68], mixed by the final redactor:

  • Apocalypse of Weeks (93:1-10 91:11-17): this sub-section, dated usually the first half of 2nd century BC, narrates the history of the world using a ten periods (said "weeks") scheme, of which seven regard the past and three the future events (the final judgment). The climax is in the seventh part of the tenth week where new heaven shall appear and there will be many weeks without number for ever, and all shall be in goodness and righteousness.
  • Exhortation (91:1-10 91:18-19) this short list of exhortations to follow the righteousness said by Enoch to his son Methuselah looks like to be a bridge to next sub-section.
  • Epistle (92:1-5 93:11-105:2): the first part of the epistle sketches the wisdom of the Lord, final reward of the justs and the punishment of the evils, and the two separated paths of righteousness and unrighteousness. Then we have six oracles against the sinners, the witness of the whole creation against them and the assurance of the fate after death. According Boccaccini[46]:131-138 the epistle is composed by two layers: a "proto-epistle", with a theology near the deterministic viewpoint of the Qumran group, and a slightly later part (94:4-104:6) that points out the personal responsibility of the single, describing often the sinners as the wealthy ones and the justs as the oppressed (a theme we find also in the Book of Parables).
  • Birth of Noah (106-107): this part appears in Qumran fragments separated from the previous text by a blank line, thus looking like an appendix. It narrates of the deluge and of Noah who is born already with the appearance of an angel. Probably this text derives, as other small portions of 1 Enoch, from an originally separated book (see Book of Noah), but was arranged by the redactor as direct speech of Enoch himself.
  • Conclusion (108): this second appendix was not found in Qumram and is considered to be work of the final redactor. It highlights the "generation of light" in opposition to the sinners destined to the darkness.

Content of the Epistle of Enoch

XCII, XCI.1-10, 18-19. Enoch’s Book of Admonition for his Children.

  • XCI.1-10, 18-19. Enoch’s Admonition to his Children.
  • XCIII, XCI.12-17. The Apocalypse of Weeks.
  • XCI.12-17. The Last Three Weeks.
  • XCIV.1-5. Admonitions to the Righteous.
  • XCIV.6-11. Woes for the Sinners.
  • XCV. Enoch’s Grief: fresh Woes against the Sinners.
  • XCVI. Grounds of Hopefulness for the Righteous: Woes for the Wicked.
  • XCVII. The Evils in Store for Sinners and the Possessors of Unrighteous Wealth.
  • XCVIII. Self-indulgence of Sinners: Sin originated by Man: all Sin recorded in Heaven: Woes for the Sinners.
  • XCIX. Woes pronounced on the Godless, the Lawbreakers: evil Plight of Sinners in The Last Days: further Woes.
  • C. The Sinners destroy each other: Judgement of the Fallen Angels: the Safety of the Righteous: further Woes for the Sinners.
  • CI. Exhortation to the fear of God: all Nature fears Him but not the Sinners.
  • CII. Terrors of the Day of Judgement: the adverse Fortunes of the Righteous on the Earth.
  • CIII. Different Destinies of the Righteous and the Sinners: fresh Objections of the Sinners.
  • CIV. Assurances given to the Righteous: Admonitions to Sinners and the Falsifiers of the Words of Uprightness.
  • CV. God and the Messiah to dwell with Man.
  • CVI-CVII. (first appendix) Birth of Noah.
  • CVIII. (second appendix) Conclusion.

images (2)

Names of the fallen angels

Some of the fallen angels that are given in 1 Enoch have other names such as Rameel (‘morning of God’), who becomes Azazel and is also called Gadriel (‘wall of God’) in Chapter 69. Another example is that Araqiel (‘Earth of God’) becomes Aretstikapha (‘world of distortion’) in Chapter 69.

"Azaz" as in Azazel means strength, so the name Azazel can refer to strength of God. But the sense in which it is used most-probably means impudent (showing strength towards) which comes out as arrogant to God. This is also a key point to his being Satan in modern thought.

Nathaniel Schmidt states "the names of the angels apparently refer to their condition and functions before the fall," and lists the likely meaning of the angels names in the book of Enoch, noting that "the great majority of them are Aramaic."[69]

The suffix of the names ‘el’ means ‘God’ (List of names referring to El) which is used in the names of high ranking angels. The Archangels all include this such as Uriel (Flame of God) or Michael "who is like God?". Another is given as Gadrel, who is said to have tempted Eve; Schmidt lists the name as meaning "the helper of God."[69]


  1. ^ There are two other books named "Enoch": 2 Enoch, surviving only in Old Slavonic (Eng. trans. by R. H. Charles 1896) and 3 Enoch (surviving in Hebrew, c. 5th to 6th century CE).
  2. ^ Fahlbusch E., Bromiley G.W. The Encyclopedia of Christianity: P-Sh pag 411, ISBN 0-8028-2416-1 (2004)
  3. ^ a b c E. Isaac 1 Enoch, a new Translation and Introduction in ed. James Charlesworth The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Vol 1 ISBN 0-385-09630-5 (1983)
  4. ^ a b Wossenie Yifru, 1990 Henok Metsiet, Vol. I, Ethiopian Research Council
  5. ^ "Apocalyptic Literature" (column 220), Encyclopedia Biblica
  6. ^ Vanderkam, JC. (2004). 1 Enoch: A New Translation. Minneapolis:Fortress. pp. 1ff (ie. preface summary).; Nickelsburg, GW. (2004). 1 Enoch: A Commentary. Minneapolis:Fortress. pp. 7–8.
  7. ^ Emanuel Tov and Craig Evans, Exploring the Origins of the Bible: Canon Formation in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective, Acadia 2008
  8. ^ Philip R. Davies, Scribes and Schools: The Canonization of the Hebrew Scriptures London: SPCK, 1998
  9. ^ E Isaac, in Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, ed. Charlesworth, Doubleday, 1983
  10. ^ "1 Enoch contains three [geographical] name midrashim [on] Mt. Hermon, Dan, and Abel Beit-Maacah" Esther and Hanan Eshel, George W.E. Nickelsburg in perspective: an ongoing dialogue of learning p459. Also in Esther and Hanan Eshel, Toponymic Midrash in 1 Enoch and in Other Second Temple Jewish Literature, Historical and Philological Studies on Judaism 2002 Vol24 pp. 115-130
  11. ^ transl. P. Schaff Early Christian Fathers http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/01286.htm
  12. ^ a b Clontz, T.E. and J., "The Comprehensive New Testament with complete textual variant mapping and references for the Dead Sea Scrolls, Philo, Josephus, Nag Hammadi Library, Pseudepigrapha, Apocrypha, Plato, Egyptian Book of the Dead, Talmud, Old Testament, Patristic Writings, Dhammapada, Tacitus, Epic of Gilgamesh", Cornerstone Publications, 2008, p.711, ISBN 978-0-9778737-1-5
  13. ^ "1.9 In ‘He comes with ten thousands of His holy ones the text reproduces the Massoretic of Deut.33,2 in reading ATAH = erchetai, whereas the three Targums, the Syriac and Vulgate read ATIH, = met’autou. Here the LXX diverges wholly. The reading ATAH is recognised as original. The writer of 1-5 therefore used the Hebrew text and presumably wrote in Hebrew." R.H.Charles, Book of Enoch: Together with a Reprint of the Greek Fragments London 1912, p.lviii
  14. ^ "We may note especially that 1:1, 3-4, 9 allude unmistakably to Deuteronomy 33:1-2 (along with other passages in the Hebrew Bible), implying that the author, like some other Jewish writers, read Deuteronomy 33-34, the last words of Moses in the Torah, as prophecy of the future history of Israel, and 33:2 as referring to the eschatological theophany of God as judge." Richard Bauckham, The Jewish world around the New Testament: collected essays. 1999 p276
  15. ^ "The introduction.. picks up various biblical passages and re-interprets them, applying them to Enoch. Two passages are central to it The first is Deuteronomy 33:1 .. the second is Numbers 24:3-4 Michael E. Stone Selected studies in pseudepigrapha and apocrypha with special reference to the Armenian Tradition (Studia in Veteris Testamenti Pseudepigrapha No 9) p.422.
  16. ^ John Barton, The Old Testament: Canon, Literature and Theology Society for Old Testament Study 2007
  17. ^ Nickelsburg, op.cit. see index re. Jude
  18. ^ Bauckham, R. 2 Peter, Jude Word Biblical Commentary Vol. 50, 1983
  19. ^ Jerome H. Neyrey 2 Peter, Jude, The Anchor Yale Bible Commentaries 1994
  20. ^ See Wallace D. Greek Grammar beyond the Basics. The unique use of the dative toutois in the Greek text (προεφήτευσεν δὲ καὶ τούτοις) is a departure from normal NT use where the prophet prophesies "to" the audience "concerning" (genitive peri auton) false teachers etc.
  21. ^ Peter H. Davids, The Letters of 2 Peter and Jude, The Pillar New Testament commentary (Grand Rapids, Mich.: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2006). 76.
  22. ^ Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch, Fortress, 2001
  23. ^ "Apocalyptic Literature", Encyclopedia Biblica
  24. ^ Athenagoras of Athens, in Embassy for the Christians 24
  25. ^ Clement of Alexandria, in Eclogae prophetice II
  26. ^ Ireneaus, in Adversus haereses IV,16,2
  27. ^ Tertullian, in De cultu foeminarum I,3 and in De Idolatria XV
  28. ^ The Ante-Nicene Fathers (ed. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson; vol 4.16: On the Apparel of Women (De cultu foeminarum) I.3: "Concerning the Genuineness of ‘The Prophecy of Enoch’")
  29. ^ Cf. Gerome, Catal. Script. Eccles. 4.
  30. ^ Gabriele Boccaccini Enoch and the Messiah Son of Man: revisiting the Book of parables 2007 p367 "..Ethiopian scholars who produced the targumic Amharic version of 1 Enoch printed in the great bilingual Bible of Emperor Haile Selassi"
  31. ^ a b c Josef T. Milik (with Matthew Black). The Books of Enoch, Aramaic Fragments of Qumran Cave 4 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1976)
  32. ^ Vermes 513-515; Garcia-Martinez 246-259
  33. ^ P. Flint The Greek fragments of Enoch from Qumran cave 7 in ed.Boccaccini Enoch and Qumran Origins 2005 ISBN 0-8028-2878-7, pag 224-233
  34. ^ see Beer, Kautzsch, Apokryphen und Pseudepigraphen, l.c. p. 237
  35. ^ M.R. James, Apocrypha Anecdota T&S 2.3 Cambridge 1893 pp. 146-150
  36. ^ John Joseph Collins, The Apocalyptic Imagination: An Introduction to Jewish Apocalyptic Literature (1998) ISBN 0-8028-4371-9, pag. 44
  37. ^ a b c Gabriele Boccaccini, Roots of Rabbinic Judaism: An Intellectual History, from Ezekiel to Daniel, (2002) ISBN 0-8028-4361-1
  38. ^ John W. Rogerson, Judith Lieu, The Oxford Handbook of Biblical Studies Oxford University Press: 2006 ISBN 0-19-925425-7, pag 106
  39. ^ Margaret Barker, The Lost Prophet: The Book of Enoch and Its Influence on Christianity 1998 reprint 2005, ISBN 1-905048-18-1, pag 19
  40. ^ a b George W. E. Nickelsburg 1 Enoch: A Commentary on the Book of 1 Enoch, Fortress: 2001 ISBN 0-8006-6074-9
  41. ^ John J. Collins in ed. Boccaccini Enoch and Qumran Origins: New Light on a Forgotten Connection 2005 ISBN 0-8028-2878-7, pag 346
  42. ^ James C. VanderKam, Peter Flint, Meaning of the Dead Sea Scrolls 2005 ISBN 0-567-08468-X, pag 196
  43. ^ see the page "Essenes" in the 1906 JewishEncyclopedia
  44. ^ a b Gabriele Boccaccini Beyond the Essene Hypothesis (1998) ISBN 0-8028-4360-3
  45. ^ Annette Yoshiko Reed, Fallen Angels and the History of Judaism and Christianity, 2005 ISBN 0-521-85378-8, pag 234
  46. ^ Gershom Scholem Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism (1995) ISBN 0-8052-1042-3, pag 43
  47. ^ RH Charles, 1 Enoch SPCK London 1916
  48. ^ Nickelsburg 1 Enoch, Fortress, 2001
  49. ^ see Nickelsburg, op.cit.
  50. ^ P. Sacchi, Apocrifi dell’Antico Testamento 1, ISBN 978-88-02-07606-5
  51. ^ Cf. Nicephorus (ed. Dindorf), I. 787
  52. ^ Walter Raleigh, History of the World, p. 154.
  53. ^ Ludolf, Commentarius in Hist. Aethip., p. 347
  54. ^ Bruce, Travels, vol 2, page 422
  55. ^ Silvestre de Sacy in Notices sur le livre d’Enoch in the Magazine Encyclopédique, an vi. tome I, p. 382
  56. ^ see the judgement on Laurence by Dillmann, Das Buch Henoch, p lvii
  57. ^ Hoffmann, Zweiter Excurs, pages 917-965
  58. ^ The Origins of Enochic Judaism (ed. Gabriele Boccaccini; Turin: Zamorani, 2002)
  59. ^ the Ethiopian text gives 300 cubits (135 m), which is probably a corruption of 30 cubits (13.5 m)
  60. ^ Enoch and the Messiah Son of Man: Revisiting the Book of Parables (ed. Gabriele Boccaccini; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2007); Sabino Chiala’, Libro delle Parabole di Enoch (Brescia: Paideia, 19977)
  61. ^ James H. Charlesworth, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the New Testament, ISBN 0-521-30190-4 (1985) page 89
  62. ^ a b c d Beckwith, Roger T. (1996). Calendar and chronology, Jewish and Christian. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 9004105867.
  63. ^ Martinez, Florentino Garcia; Tigchelaar, Eibert J.C., eds (1997). The Dead Sea Scrolls: Study Edition. Brill/Eerdmans. pp. 430–443. ISBN 0802844936.
  64. ^ a b Nickelsburg, George W. (2005). Jewish Literature between the Bible and the Mishnah, 2 ed. Minneapolis: Fortress Press. p. 44. ISBN 0800637798.
  65. ^ Jackson, David R. (2004). Enochic Judaism: three defining paradigm exemplars. Continuum. p. 17. ISBN 9780567081650.
  66. ^ Loren T. Stuckenbruck, 1 Enoch 91-108 (2008) ISBN 3-11-019119-9
  67. ^ a b Nathaniel Schmidt, "Original Language of the Parables of Enoch," pp. 343-345, in William Rainey Harper, Old Testament and Semitic studies in memory of William Rainey Harper, Volume 2, The University of Chicago Press, 1908

See also


Editions, Translations, Commentaries

  • Michael Langlois. The First Manuscript of the Book of Enoch. An Epigraphical and Philological Study of the Aramaic Fragments of 4Q201 from Qumran (Paris: Cerf, 2008) ISBN 978-2-204-08692-9
  • George W.E. Nickelsburg and James C. VanderKam. 1 Enoch: A New Translation (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2004) ISBN 0-8006-3694-5
  • Daniel C. Olson. Enoch: A New Translation (North Richland Hills, TX: Bibal, 2004) ISBN 0-941037-89-4
  • George W.E. Nickelsburg, 1 Enoch: A Commentary (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001) ISBN 0-8006-6074-9
  • Sabino Chiala’. Libro delle Parabole di Enoc (Brescia: Paideia, 1997) ISBN 88-394-0739-1
  • Matthew Black (with James C. VanderKam). The Book of Enoch; or, 1 Enoch (Leiden: Brill, 1985) ISBN 90-04-07100-8
  • Ephraim Isaac, 1(Ethiopic Apocalypse of) Enoch, in The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, ed. James H. Charlesworth (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1983–85) ISBN 0-385-09630-5
  • Michael A. Knibb. The Ethiopic Book Of Enoch., 2 vols. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1978; repr. 1982)
  • Josef T. Milik (with Matthew Black). The Books of Enoch: Aramaic Fragments of Qumran Cave 4 (Oxford: Clarendon, 1976).
  • Robert Henry Charles. The Book of Enoch; or, 1 Enoch (Oxford: Clarendon, 1912)
  • Robert Henry Charles. The Ethiopic Version of the Book of Enoch (Oxford: Clarendon, 1906)
  • Robert Henry Charles. The Book of Enoch (Oxforf: Clarendon, 1893)
  • George Henry Schodde. The Book of Enoch translated from the Ethiopic with Introduction and notes (Andover: Draper, 1882)
  • August Dillmann. Das Buch Henoch (Leipzig: Vogel 1853)
  • August Dillmann. Liber Henoch aethiopice (Leipzig: Vogel, 1851)
  • Richard Laurence. Libri Enoch prophetae versio aethiopica (Oxford: Parker, 1838)
  • Andreas Gottlieb Hoffmann. Das Buch Henoch, 2 vols. (Jena: Croecker, 1833–39)
  • Richard Laurence. The Book of Enoch (Oxford: Parker, 1821)


  • Veronika Bachmann. Die Welt im Ausnahmezustand. Eine Untersuchung zu Aussagegehalt und Theologie des Wächterbuches (1 Hen 1–36) (Berlin: de Gruyter 2009) ISBN 978-3-11-022429-0.
  • Gabriele Boccaccini and John J. Collins (eds.). The Early Enoch Literature (Leiden: Brill, 2007) ISBN 90-04-16154-6
  • Annette Yoshiko Reed. Fallen Angels and the History of Judaism and Christianity: The Reception of Enochic Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005) ISBN 0-521-85378-8
  • Andrei A. Orlov. The Enoch-Metatron Tradition (Tuebingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005) ISBN 3-16-148544-0
  • Gabriele Boccaccini. Beyond the Essene Hypothesis: The Parting of the Ways between Qumran and Enochic Judaism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998) ISBN 0-8028-4360-3
  • James H. Charlesworth. The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha and the New Testament (CUP Archive: 1985) ISBN 1-56338-257-1
  • Paolo Sacchi, William J. Short. Jewish Apocalyptic and Its History (Sheffield: Academic 1996) ISBN 1-85075-585-X
  • James C. VanderKam. Enoch: A Man for All Generations (Columbia, SC; University of South Carolina, 1995) ISBN 1-57003-060-X
  • Florentino Garcia Martinez. Qumran & Apocalyptic: Studies on the Aramaic Texts from Qumran (Leiden: Brill, 1992) ISBN 90-04-09586-1
  • Helge S. Kvanvig. Roots of Apocalyptic: The Mesopotamian Background of the Enoch Figure and of the Son of Man (Neikirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener, 1988) ISBN 3-7887-1248-1
  • John J. Collins. The Apocalyptic Imagination (New York: Crossroads, 1984; 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Eermans 1998) ISBN 0-8028-4371-9
  • James C. VanderKam. Enoch and the Growth of an Apocalyptic Tradition (Washington: Catholic Biblical Association of America, 1984) ISBN 0-915170-15-9
  • Marie-Theres Wacker, Weltordnung und Gericht: Studien zu 1 Henoch 22 (Würzburg: Echter Verlag 1982) ISBN 3429007941 

External links


Introductions and others:

Categories: Book of Enoch | Ge’ez language | Old Testament Apocrypha


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Not to be confused with New Confucianism, a movement that emerged in the 20th Century.

Neo-Confucianism (simplified Chinese: 宋明理学; traditional Chinese: 宋明理學; pinyin: songmingLǐxué often shortened to 理學) is a form of Confucianism that was primarily developed during the Song Dynasty and Ming Dynasty, but which can be traced back to Han Yu and Li Ao (772-841) in the Tang Dynasty. It formed the basis of Confucian orthodoxy in the Qing Dynasty of China. It attempted to merge certain basic elements of Confucianism, Daoism, and Buddhism. The most important of early Neo-Confucianists was the Chinese thinker Zhu Xi (1130–1200).[citation needed]


The Vinegar Tasters: Laozi,Buddha, and Confucius.

Confucians of the Song Dynasty (960-1279) studied the classical works of their faith, but were also familiar with Buddhist and Taoist teachings. Buddhist thought offered to them many things that they considered worthy of admiration, including ideas such as the nature of the soul and the relation of the individual to the cosmos, ideas not yet fully explored by Confucianism. Song Confucians drew greatly from Buddhist thought as well as their own traditions, thus giving rise to the English-language name of "Neo-Confucianism".

One of the most important exponents of Neo-Confucianism was Zhu Xi (1130–1200). He was a rather prolific writer, maintaining and defending his Confucian beliefs of social harmony and proper personal conduct. One of his most remembered was the book Family Rituals, where he provided detailed advice on how to conduct weddings, funerals, family ceremonies, and the veneration of ancestors. Buddhist thought soon attracted him, and he began to argue in Confucian style for the Buddhist observance of high moral standards. He also believed that it was important to practical affairs that one should engage in both academic and philosophical pursuits, although his writings are concentrated more on issues of theoretical (as opposed to practical) significance. It is reputed that he wrote many essays attempting to explain how his ideas were not Buddhist or Taoist, and included some heated denunciations of Buddhism and Taoism.

There were many competing views within the Neo-Confucian community, but overall, a system emerged that resembled both Buddhist and Taoist (Daoist) thought of the time and some of the ideas expressed in the I Ching (Book of Changes) as well as other yin yang theories associated with the Taiji symbol (Taijitu). A well known Neo-Confucian motif is paintings of Confucius, Buddha, and Lao Tzu all drinking out of the same vinegar jar, paintings associated with the slogan "The three teachings are one!"

While Neo-Confucianism incorporated Buddhist and Taoist ideas, many Neo-Confucianists strongly oppose Buddhism and Taoism. Indeed, they rejected the Buddhist and Taoist religions. One of Han Yu‘s most famous essays decries the worship of Buddhist relics. Nonetheless, Neo-Confucian writings adapted Buddhist thoughts and beliefs to the Confucian interest. In China Neo-Confucianism was an officially-recognized creed from its development during the Song dynasty until the early twentieth century, and lands in the sphere of Song China (Vietnam, and Japan) were all deeply influenced by Neo-Confucianism for more than half a millennium.

World view

Zhu Xi’s formulation of the Neo-Confucian world view is as follows. He believed that the Tao (Chinese: 道; pinyin: dào; literally "way") of Tian (Chinese: 天; pinyin: tiān; literally "heaven") is expressed in principle or li (Chinese: 理; pinyin: ), but that it is sheathed in matter or qi(Chinese: 氣; pinyin: ). In this, his system is based on Buddhist systems of the time that divided things into principle (again, li), and shi (Chinese: 事; pinyin: shì). In the Neo-Confucian formulation, li in itself is pure and almost-perfect, but with the addition of qi, base emotions and conflicts arise. Human nature is originally good, the Neo-Confucians argued (following Mencius), but not pure unless action is taken to purify it. The imperative is then to purify one’s li. However, in contrast to Buddhists and Taoists, neo-Confucians did not believe in an external world unconnected with the world of matter. In addition, Neo-Confucians in general rejected the idea of reincarnation and the associated idea of karma.

Different Neo-Confucians had differing ideas for how to do so. Zhu Xi believed in gewu (Chinese: 格物; pinyin: géwù), the Investigation of Things, essentially an academic form of observational science, based on the idea that li lies within the world. Wang Yangming (Wang Shouren), probably the second most influential Neo-Confucian, came to another conclusion: namely, that if li is in all things, and li is in one’s heart, there is no better place to seek than within oneself. His preferred method of doing so was jingzuo (Chinese: 靜坐; pinyin: jìngzuò; literally "quiet sitting"), a practice that strongly resembles zazen or Chan (Zen) meditation. Wang Yangming developed the idea of innate knowing, arguing that every person knows from birth the difference between good and evil. Such knowledge is intuitive and not rational. These revolutionizing ideas of Wang Yangming would later inspire prominent Japanese thinkers like Motoori Norinaga, who argued that because of the Shinto deities, Japanese people alone had the intuitive ability to distinguish good and evil without complex rationalization. Wang Yangming’s school of thought (Ōyōmei-gaku in Japanese) also provided, in part, an ideological basis for some samurai who sought to pursue action based on intuition rather than scholasticism. As such, it also provided an intellectual foundation for the radical political actions of low ranking samurai in the decades prior to the Meiji Ishin (1868), in which the Tokugawa authority (1600–1868) was overthrown.

The importance of li in Neo-Confucianism gave the movement its Chinese name, literally "The study of Li."

Neo-Confucianism in Korea

In medieval Korea, Joseon dynasty, neo-Confucianism was established as state ideology. Neo-Confucianism was introduced to Korea by An Hyang in Goryeo dynasty, in which Buddism was the dominant religion. At that time, Goryeo dynasty was a puppet kingdom of Yuan dynasty. Many Korean scholars visited China under Yuan dynasty and An Hyang was one of them. In 1286, he happened to read a book of Zhu Xi in Yanjing. He was so moved by this book that he transcribed this book entirely and came back to Korea with his transcribed copy. It inspired Korean intellectuals a lot and many of them embraced neo-Confucianism. They were usually from the middle class and sick of old noble class. The newly rising neo-confucian intellectuals were the leading groups to overthrow the old dynasty and set up the new dynasty, Joseon.

They set up neo-Confucianism as state ideology of the new dynasty. They regarded Buddhism as poisonous to neo-Confucian order. So Buddhism was restricted or persecuted by the new dynasty. As neo-Confucianism encouraged education, there were founded a lot of neo-Confucian schools (서원 seowon and 향교 hyanggyo) over the whole country. Such schools produced a lot of neo-Confucian scholars. Soon they passed the phase only to read and remember Chinese original, and they could develop new neo-Confucian theories. Yi Hwang and Yi I were the most prominent of them. But Neo-Confucianism in Joseon dynasty became so dogmatic that it prevented social and economical development and change. Wang Yangming‘s theory which were popular in Ming dynasty was regarded as heresy and severely condemned by Korean neo-Confucianists. And any annotations on Confucian canon which are different from Zhu Xi were excluded.

And the newly-emerging ruling class, called Sarim(사림, 士林), divided into the political factions according to their diversity of neo-Confucian views on politics. There were 2 large factions and many subfactions.

During Japanese invasions of Korea (1592–1598), many Korean neo-Confucian books and scholars were taken to Japan. They motivated Japanese scholars such as Fujiwara Seika and affected the deveopment of Japanese neo-Confucianism.

Bureaucratic examinations

Neo-Confucianism became the interpretation of Confucianism whose mastery was necessary to pass the bureaucratic examinations by the Ming, and continued in this way through the Qing dynasty until the end of the Imperial examination system in 1905. However, many scholars such as Benjamin Elman have questioned the degree to which their role as the orthodox interpretation in state examinations reflects the degree to which both the bureaucrats and Chinese gentry actually believed those interpretations, and point out that there were very active schools such as Han learning which offered competing interpretations of Confucianism.

The competing school of Confucianism was called the Evidential School or Han Learning and argued that Neo-Confucianism had caused the teachings of Confucianism to be hopelessly contaminated with Buddhist thinking. This school also criticized Neo-Confucianism for being overly concerned with empty philosophical speculation that was unconnected with reality.

Confucian canon

The Confucian canon as it exists today was essentially compiled by Zhu Xi. Zhu codified the canon of Four Books (the Great Learning, the Doctrine of the Mean, the Analects of Confucius, and the Mencius) which in the subsequent Ming and Qing Dynasties were made the core of the official curriculum for the civil service examinations.

Prominent neo-Confucian scholars



Further reading

Categories: Confucianism | Chinese philosophy | Chinese thought | Korean Confucianism | Chinese traditional religion | Japanese philosophy | Buddhist philosophy | Neo-Confucianism



From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia




Dao (Tao) · De (Te) · Wuji · Taiji ·Yin-Yang · Wu Xing · Qi · Neidan ·Wu wei


Laozi (Tao Te Ching) · Zhuangzi ·Liezi · Daozang


Three Pure Ones · Yu Huang · Guan Shengdi · Eight Immortals · Yellow Emperor · Xiwangmu · Jade Emperor · Chang’e · Other deities


Laozi · Zhuangzi · Zhang Daoling ·Zhang Jiao · Ge Hong · Chen Tuan


Tianshi Dao · Shangqing · Lingbao ·Quanzhen Dao · Zhengyi Dao ·Wuliupai

Sacred sites

Grotto-heavens · Mount Penglai

Taoism (or Daoism) refers to a variety of related philosophical and religious traditions that have influenced Eastern Asia for more than two millennia,[1] and have had a notable influence on the western world particularly since the 19th century.[2] The word 道, Tao (or Dao, depending on theromanization scheme), roughly translates as, "path" or "way" (of life), although in Chinese folk religionand philosophy it carries more abstract meanings. Taoist propriety and ethics emphasize the Three Jewels of the Tao: compassion, moderation, and humility, while Taoist thought generally focuses onnature, the relationship between humanity and the cosmos (天人相应), health and longevity, and wu wei(action through inaction), which is thought to produce harmony with the Universe.[3]

Reverence for ancestor spirits and immortals is also common in popular Taoism. Organized Taoism distinguishes its ritual activity from that of the folk religion, which some professional Taoists (Daoshi) view as debased. Chinese alchemy (including Neidan), astrology, cuisine, Zen Buddhism,[4] several Chinese martial arts, Chinese traditional medicine, feng shui, immortality, and many styles of qigong breath training disciplines have been intertwined with Taoism throughout history.

Spelling and pronunciation

 Daoism–Taoism romanization issue

A Taoist Temple in Hong Kong

In English, the words Daoism and Taoism are the subject of an ongoing controversy over the preferred romanization. The root Chinese word "way, path" is romanized tao in the older Wade–Giles system and dào in the modern Pinyin system. In linguistic terminology, English Taoism/Daoismis a calque formed from the Chinese loanword tao/dao "way; route; principle" and the nativesuffix -ism. The sometimes heated arguments over Taoism vs. Daoism involve sinology, phonemes,loanwords, and politics – not to mention whether Taoism should be pronounced /ˈtaʊ.ɪzəm/ or /ˈdaʊ.ɪzəm/.

Daoism is consistently pronounced /ˈdaʊ.ɪzəm/, but English speakers disagree whether Taoismshould be pronounced /ˈdaʊ.ɪzəm/ or /ˈtaʊ.ɪzəm/. In theory, both Wade-Giles tao and Pinyin dao are articulated identically, as are Taoism and Daoism. An investment book titled The Tao Jones Averages illustrates this /daʊ/ pronunciation’s widespread familiarity.[5] In speech, Tao and Taoismare often pronounced /ˈtaʊ/ and ˈtaʊ.ɪzəm/, reading the Chinese unaspirated lenis ("weak") /t/ as the English voiceless stop consonant /t/.Lexicography shows American and British English differences in pronouncing Taoism. A study of major English dictionaries published in Great Britain and the United States found the most common Taoism glosses were /taʊ.ɪzəm/ in British sources and /daʊ.ɪzəm, taʊ.ɪzəm/ in American ones.[6]


There is debate over how, and whether, Taoism should be subdivided. Livia Kohn divided it into the following three categories:[7]

  1. Philosophical Taoism (Daojia 道家) – A philosophical school based on the texts Dao De Jing (道德經) and Zhuangzi (莊子);
  2. Religious Taoism (Daojiao 道敎) – A family of organized Chinese religious movements originating from the Celestial Mastersmovement during the late Han Dynasty and later including the "Orthodox" (Zhengyi 正一) and "Complete Reality" (Quanzhen 全眞) sects, which claim lineages going back to Lao Zi (老子) or Zhang Daoling in the late Han Dynasty;
  3. Folk Taoism – The Chinese folk religion.

This distinction is complicated by hermeneutic (interpretive) difficulties in the categorization of Taoist schools, sects and movements.[8] Some scholars believe that there is no distinction between Daojia and Daojiao.[9] According to Kirkland, "most scholars who have seriously studied Taoism, both in Asia and the West, have finally abandoned the simplistic dichotomy of Tao-chia and Tao-chiao, ‘philosophical Taoism’ and ‘religious Taoism.’"[10]

Hansen states that the identification of "Taoism" as such first occurred in the early Han Dynasty when dao-jia was identified as a single school.[11] The writings of Laozi and Zhuangzi were linked together under this single tradition during the Han Dynasty, but notably not before.[12] It is unlikely that Zhuangzi was familiar with the text of the Daodejing.[13][14] Additionally, Graham states that Zhuangzi would not have identified himself as a Taoist, a classification that did not arise until well after his death.[14]

Taoism does not fall strictly under an umbrella or a definition of an organized religion like the Abrahamic traditions, nor can it purely be studied as the originator or a variant of Chinese folk religion, as much of the traditional religion is outside of the tenets and core teachings of Taoism.[15] Robinet asserts that Taoism is better understood as a way of life than as a religion, and that its adherents do not approach or view Taoism the way non-Taoist historians have done.[16] Henri Maspero noted that many scholarly works frame Taoism as a school of thought focused on the quest for immortality.[17]


A Taoist Temple in Taiwan, showing elements of the Jingxiang religious practice and sculptures of Dragon and Lion guardians

Taoism has never been a unified religion, but has rather consisted of numerous teachings based on various revelations. Therefore, different branches of Taoism often have very distinct beliefs. Nevertheless, there are certain core beliefs that nearly all the sects share.[18]


Taoist theology emphasizes various themes found in the Daodejing and Zhuangzi, such as naturalness, vitality, peace, "non-action" (wu wei, or ‘effortless effort’), emptiness (refinement),detachment, flexibility, receptiveness, spontaneity, the relativism of human ways of life, ways of speaking and guiding behavior.



"Tao" literally means "the way," but can also be interpreted as road, channel, path, doctrine, or line.[19] Wing-tsit Chan stated that Tao meant a system of morality to Confucianists, but the natural, eternal, spontaneous, indescribable way things began and pursued their course to Taoists.[20] Hansen disagrees that these were separate meanings and attributes.[21] Cane asserts Tao can be roughly stated to be the flow of the universe, or the force behind the natural order, equating it with the influence that keeps the universe balanced and ordered.[22] Martinson says that Tao is associated with nature, due to a belief that nature demonstrates the Tao.[23] The flow of qi, as the essential energy of action and existence, is often compared to the universal order of Tao. Tao is compared to what it is not, which according to Keller is similar to the negative theologyof Western scholars.[24] It is often considered to be the source of both existence and non-existence. LaFargue asserts that Tao is rarely an object of worship, being treated more like the Indian concepts of atman and dharma.[25]

De (Te)

For more details on this topic, see De (Chinese).

Tao is also associated with the complex concept of De () "power; virtue; integrity", that is, the active expression of Tao.[26] De is the active living, or cultivation, of that "way".[27]

Wu wei

 Wu wei

Wu wei (simplified Chinese: 无为; traditional Chinese: 無爲; pinyin: wúwéi or traditional Chinese: 無為) is a central concept in Taoism. The literal meaning of wu wei is "without action". It is often expressed by the paradox wei wu wei, meaning "action without action" or "effortless doing".[28] The practice and efficacy of wu wei are fundamental in Taoist thought, most prominently emphasized in Taoism. The goal of wu wei is alignment with Tao, revealing the soft and invisible power within all things. It is believed by Taoists that masters of wu wei can observe and follow this invisible potential, the innate in-action of the Way.[29]

In ancient Taoist texts, wu wei is associated with water through its yielding nature.[30] Taoist philosophy proposes that the universe works harmoniously according to its own ways. When someone exerts their will against the world, they disrupt that harmony. Taoism does not identify one’s will as the root problem. Rather, it asserts that one must place his will in harmony with the natural universe.[31]


Pu (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: pǔ, pú; Wade–Giles: p’u; lit. "uncut wood") is translated "uncarved block", "unhewn log", or "simplicity". It is a metaphor for the state of wu wei (無爲) and the principle of jian ().[32] It represents a passive state of receptiveness. Pu is a symbol for a state of pure potential and perception without prejudice. In this state, Taoists believe everything is seen as it is, without preconceptions or illusion.[33]

Pu is usually seen as keeping oneself in the primordial state of tao.[34] It is believed to be the true nature of the mind, unburdened by knowledge or experiences.[35] In the state of pu, there is no right or wrong, beautiful or ugly. There is no pure experience, or awareness, free from learned labels and definitions. It is this state of being that is the goal of following wu wei.


Taoists believe that man is a microcosm for the universe.[15] The body ties directly into the Chinese five elements. The five organs correlate with the five elements, the five directions and the seasons.[36] Akin to the Hermetic maxim of "as above, so below", Taoism posits that man may gain knowledge of the universe by understanding himself.[37]

In Taoism, even beyond Chinese folk religion, various rituals, exercises, and substances are said to positively affect one’s physical and mentalhealth. They are also intended to align oneself spiritually with cosmic forces, or enable ecstatic spiritual journeys.[38][39] These concepts seem basic to Taoism in its elite forms. Internal alchemy and various spiritual practices are used by some Taoists to improve health and extend life, theoretically even to the point of physical immortality.[15]


Laozi depicted as a Taoist teacher

Further information: Category:Chinese deities

The traditional Chinese religion is polytheistic. Its many deities are part of a heavenly hierarchy that mirrors the bureaucracy of Imperial China. According to their beliefs, Chinese deities may be promoted or demoted for their actions. Some deities are also simply exalted humans, such as Guan Yu, the god of honor and piety. The particular deities worshipped vary according to geographical regions and historical periods in China, though the general pattern of worship is more constant.[40]

There are disagreements regarding the proper composition of this pantheon.[41] Popular Taoism typically presents the Jade Emperor as the official head deity. Intellectual ("elite") Taoists, such as the Celestial Masters sect, usually present Laozi (Laojun, "Lord Lao") and the Three Pure Ones at the top of the pantheon of deities.[42][43]

While a number of immortals or other mysterious figures appear in the Zhuangzi, and to a lesser extent in the Tao Te Ching, these have generally not become the objects of worship. Traditional conceptions of Tao are not to be confused with the Western concepts of theism and monotheism. Being one with the Tao does not indicate a union with an eternal spirit in the Hindu sense, but rather living in accordance with nature.[23][31]


For more details on this topic, see Three Jewels of the Tao.

The Three Jewels, or Three Treasures, (Chinese: 三寶; pinyin: sānbǎo; Wade-Giles: san-pao) are basic virtues in Taoism. The Three Jewels are compassion, moderation, and humanity. They are also translated as kindness, simplicity (or the absence of excess), and modesty. Arthur Waley describes them as "[t]he three rules that formed the practical, political side of the author’s teaching". He correlated the Three Treasures with "abstention from aggressive war and capital punishment", "absolute simplicity of living", and "refusal to assert active authority".[44]


See also: Taoist sexual practices

In the Taoist view of sexuality the body is viewed as a positive asset, and mind and body are not set in contrast or opposition with each other. Sex is treated as a vital component to romantic love; however, Taoism emphasizes the need for self-control and moderation. Completeabstinence is frequently treated as equally dangerous as excessive sexual indulgence. The sexual vitality of men is portrayed as limited, while the sexual energy of women is viewed as boundless. Men are encouraged to control ejaculation to preserve this vital energy, but women are encouraged to reach orgasm without restriction. Taoists believe that a man may increase and nourish his own vitality by bringing a woman to orgasm. The female’s orgasm activates and strengthens her Jing (TCM), which has a nourishing and balancing effect on that of the male. The energy released during either one’s orgasm can be harnessed and led up the Governor vessle/channel to nourish the brain, for additional benefit to the longevity of that partner.[45]

The Chinese government prefers the celibate model of Buddhism for Taoist clergy; Quanzhen clergy take vows of celibacy, but Zhengyi clergy are often married, and often reside at home. They are called sanju Taoshi, or "Taoist priests who live at home." Numbering in the tens of thousands, the sanju Taoshi perform rituals for their local communities.[46][unreliable source?]


Taoist Priest in Macau, February 2006

Tao Te Ching

See also: Tao Te Ching

The Tao Te Ching, or Daodejing, is widely regarded to be the most influential Taoist text.[47] It is a foundational scripture of central importance in Taoism purportedly written by Lao Tzu sometime in the 3rd or 4th centuries BCE.[48][unreliable source?] However, the precise date that it was written is still the subject of debate: there are those who put it anywhere from the 6th century BCE to the 3rd century BCE.[49] It has been used as a ritual text throughout the history of religious Taoism.[50]

Taoist commentators have deeply considered the opening lines of the Tao Te Ching. They are widely discussed in both academic and mainstream literature. A common interpretation is similar toKorzybski‘s observation that "the map is not the territory".[51] The opening lines, with literal and common translation, are:

道可道,非常道。 (Tao (way or path) can be said, not usual way)
"The Way that can be described is not the true Way."
名可名,非常名。 (names can be named, not usual names)
"The Name that can be named is not the constant Name."

Tao literally means "path" or "way" and can figuratively mean "essential nature", "destiny", "principle", or "true path". The philosophical and religious "Tao" is infinite, without limitation. One view states that the paradoxical opening is intended to prepare the reader for teachings about the unteachable Tao.[52] Tao is believed to betranscendent, indistinct and without form. Hence, it cannot be named or categorized. Even the word "Tao" can be considered a dangerous temptation to make Tao a limiting "name".[53]

The Tao Te Ching is not thematically ordered. However, the main themes of the text are repeatedly expressed using variant formulations, often with only a slight difference.[54] The leading themes revolve around the nature of Tao and how to attain it. Tao is said to be unnameable and accomplishing great things through small means.[55] There is significant debate regarding which English translation of the Tao Te Ching is preferred, and which particular translation methodology is best. Discussions and disputes about various translations of the Tao Te Ching can become acrimonious, involving deeply entrenched views.[56]

Ancient commentaries on the Tao Te Ching are important texts in their own right. The Heshang Gong commentary was most likely written in the 2nd century CE, and as perhaps the oldest commentary, contains the edition of the Tao Te Ching that was transmitted to the present day.[57] Other important commentaries include the Xiang’er, one of the most important texts from the Way of the Celestial Masters, andWang Bi’s commentary.[58]


The Zhuangzi (莊子) is traditionally attributed to a Taoist sage of the same name, but this has recently been disputed in western academia. Zhuangzi also appears as a character in the book’s narrative. The Zhuangzi contains prose, poetry, humour and disputation. The book often is seen as complex and paradoxical as the arguments and subjects of discussion are not those common to classical Western philosophy, such as the doctrine of Name Rectification (Zhengming) and correctly making "this/not-this" distinctions (shi/fei).[citation needed] Among the cast of characters in the Zhuangzi’s stories is Laozi of the Tao Te Ching, as well as Confucius.


The Daozang (道藏, Treasury of Tao) is sometimes referred to as the Taoist canon. It was originally compiled during the Jin, Tang, and Songdynasties. The version surviving today was published during the Ming dynasty.[59][60] The Ming Daozang includes almost 1500 texts.[61]Following the example of the Buddhist Tripitaka, it is divided into three dong (洞, "caves", "grottoes"). They are arranged from "highest" to "lowest":[62][63]

  1. The Zhen ("real" or "truth"眞) grotto. Includes the Shangqing texts.
  2. The Xuan ("mystery"玄) grotto. Includes the Lingbao scriptures.
  3. The Shen ("divine"神) grotto. Includes texts predating the Maoshan (茅山)revelations.

Daoshi generally do not consult published versions of the Daozang, but individually choose, or inherit, texts included in the Daozang. These texts have been passed down for generations from teacher to student.[64]

The Shangqing school has a tradition of approaching Taoism through scriptural study. It is believed that by reciting certain texts often enough one will be rewarded with immortality.[65]

Other texts

While the Tao Te Ching is most famous, there are many other important texts in traditional Taoism. Taishang Ganying Pian ("Treatise of the Exalted One on Response and Retribution") discusses sin and ethics, and has become a popular morality tract in the last few centuries.[66] It asserts that those in harmony with Tao will live long and fruitful lives. The wicked, and their descendants, will suffer and have shortened lives.[55] Both the Taiping Jing ("Scripture on Great Peace") and the Baopuzi ("Book of the Master Who Keeps to Simplicity") contain early alchemical formulas that early Taoists believed could lead to immortality.[67][68]

Additionally, the Huainanzi is a compilation of the writing of eight scholars from Han dynasty that blends Daoist, Confucianist, and Legalist concepts, including theories such as Yin-Yang and the Five Phases. Patron Liu An (c. 180–122 BCE) was ruler of the state of Huainan and the grandson of the founder of the Han dynasty whose discourse at his court favored Taoist thought and who brought philosophers, poets and masters of esoteric practices to his court. This resulted in the Huainanzi.[69][unreliable source?]


 History of Taoism

White Cloud Monastery, Beijing

Some forms of Taoism may be traced to prehistoric folk religions in China that later coalesced into a Taoist tradition.[70][71] Laozi is traditionally regarded as the founder of Taoism and is closely associated in this context with "original", or "primordial", Taoism.[43] Laozi received imperial recognition as a divinity in the mid-2nd century BCE.[72] Taoism gained official status in China during the Tang Dynasty, whose emperors claimed Laozi as their relative.[73] Several Song emperors, most notablyHuizong, were active in promoting Taoism, collecting Taoist texts and publishing editions of the Daozang.[74] Aspects of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism were consciously synthesized in the Neo-Confucian school, which eventually became Imperial orthodoxy for state bureaucratic purposes.[75] The Qing Dynasty, however, much favored Confucian classics and rejected Taoist works. During the 18th century, the imperial library was constituted, but excluded virtually all Taoist books.[76] By the beginning of the 20th century, Taoism had fallen so much from favor, that only one complete copy of the Daozang still remained, at the White Cloud Monastery in Beijing.[77] Taoism is one of five religions recognised by the Peoples Republic of China and regulates its activities through a state bureaucracy (the China Taoist Association).[78]


The number of Taoists is difficult to estimate, due to a variety of factors including defining Taoism. The number of people practicing Chinese folk religion is estimated to be just under four hundred million.[79] Most Chinese people and many others have been influenced in some way by Taoist tradition. Estimates for the number of Taoists worldwide range from twenty million and possibly to as many as 400 million in China alone[80][81][82]

Taoism as with other religions in China have been oppressed and discouraged during the Cultural Revolution, thus the number of Taoists today greatly declined from the pre-Communist China.[citation needed]

Recently, there have been some efforts to revive the practice of Taoist religion. In 1956, the Chinese Taoist Association was formed, and received official approval in 1957. It was disbanded during the Cultural Revolution under Mao, but reestablished in 1980. The headquarters of the Association are at Baiyun guan, or White Cloud Temple, of the Longmen branch of Quanzhen.[83]

Geographically, Taoism flourishes best in regions populated by Chinese people: mainland China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, and variousChinese diaspora communities. Taoist literature and art has influenced the cultures of Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. Organized Taoism seems not to have attracted a large non-Chinese following, except in Korea (e.g. see Kouk Sun Do) and Vietnam, until modern times. In Taiwan 7.5 million people (33% of the population) identify themselves as Taoists.[84] In Singapore, 8.5% of the population identify themselves as Taoist.[85] There are also small numbers of Taoists in the Western world.


At certain dates, food may be set out as a sacrifice to the spirits of the deceased and/or the gods, such as during the Qingming Festival. This may include slaughtered animals, such as pigs and ducks, or fruit. Another form of sacrifice involves the burning of Joss paper, or Hell Bank Notes, on the assumption that images thus consumed by the fire will reappear—not as a mere image, but as the actual item—in the spirit world, making them available for revered ancestors and departed loved ones. At other points, a vegan diet or full fast may be observed.

Also on particular holidays, street parades take place. These are lively affairs which invariably involve firecrackers and flower-covered floats broadcasting traditional music. They also variously include lion dances and dragon dances; human-occupied puppets (often of the "Seventh Lord" and "Eighth Lord"); tongji (童乩 "spirit-medium; shaman") who cut their skin with knives; Bajiajiang, which are Kungfu-practicing honor guards in demonic makeup; and palanquins carrying god-images. The various participants are not considered performers, but rather possessed by the gods and spirits in question.[86]

Fortune-telling—including astrology, I Ching, and other forms of divination—has long been considered a traditional Taoist pursuit. Mediumshipis also widely encountered in some sects. There is an academic and social distinction between martial forms of mediumship (such as tongji) and the spirit-writing that is typically practiced through planchette writing.[87]

Many Taoists also participate in the study, analysis and writing of books. Taoists of this type tend to be civil servants, elderly retirees, or in modern times, university faculty. While there is considerable overlap with religious Taoism, there are often important divergences in interpretation. For example, Wang Bi, one of the most influential philosophical commentators on the Laozi (and Yijing), was a Confucian.[88]

A number of martial arts traditions, particularly T’ai Chi Ch’uan, Bagua Zhang, Wing Chun, Won Yuen Yat Hey Jueng, Bak Mei Pai, Bok Fou Pai, Yaw Gong Moon and Xing Yi Quan, embody Taoist principles to a greater or lesser extent, and some practitioners consider their art to be a means of practicing Taoism.[89]

Taoist symbols and images

Taoist charm from Tien HauTemple in San Francisco

The Taijitu ("yin and yang") symbol 太極圖 as well as the Ba gua 八卦 ("Eight Trigrams") are associated with Taoist symbolism.[90] While almost all Taoist organizations make use of the yin and yang symbol, one could also call it Confucian, Neo-Confucian or pan-Chinese. The yin and yang make an "S" shape, with yin (black or red) on the right. One is likely to see this symbol as decorations on Taoist organization flags and logos, temple floors, or stitched into clerical robes. According to Song Dynasty sources, it originated around the 10th century.[91] Previously, yin and yang were symbolized by a tiger and dragon.[91]

Taoist temples may fly square or triangular flags. They typically feature mystical writing or diagrams and are intended to fulfill various functions including providing guidance for the spirits of the dead, to bring good fortune, increase life span, etc.[92] Other flags and banners may be those of the gods or immortals themselves.[93]

A zigzag with seven stars is sometimes displayed, representing the Big Dipper (or the "Bushel", the Chinese equivalent). In the Shang dynasty the Big Dipper was considered a deity, while during the Han dynasty, it was considered a qi path of the circumpolar god, Taiyi.[94]

Taoist temples in southern China and Taiwan may often be identified by their roofs, which feature Chinese dragons and phoenix made from multi-colored ceramic tiles. They also stand for the harmony of yin and yang (with the phoenix being yin). A related symbol is the flaming pearl which may be seen on such roofs between two dragons, as well as on the hairpin of a Celestial Master.[95] In general though, Chinese Taoist architecture has no universal features that distinguish it from other structures.[96]

Relations with other religions and philosophies

Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism are one, a painting in the litang style portraying three men laughing by a river stream, 12th century, Song Dynasty.

See also: The Vinegar Tasters

The terms Tao and De are religious and philosophical terms shared between Taoism and Confucianism.[97] The authorship of the Tao Te Ching is assigned to Laozi, who is traditionally held to have been a teacher of Confucius.[98] However, some scholars believe the Tao Te Ching arose as a reaction to Confucianism.[99] Zhuangzi, reacting to the Confucian-Mohist ethical disputes in his "history of thought", casts Laozi as a prior step to the Mohists by name and the Confucians by implication.

Early Taoist texts reject the basic assumptions of Confucianism which relied on rituals and order, in favour of the examples of "wild" nature and individualism. Historical Taoists challenged conventional morality, while Confucians considered society debased and in need of strong ethical guidance.[100]

The entry of Buddhism into China was marked by interaction and syncretism, with Taoism in particular.[101] Originally seen as a kind of "foreign Taoism", Buddhism’s scriptures were translated into Chinese using the Taoist vocabulary.[102] Chan Buddhism was particularly modified by Taoism, integrating distrust of scripture, text and even language, as well as the Taoist views of embracing "this life", dedicated practice and the "every-moment".[103] Taoism incorporated Buddhist elements during the Tang period, such as monasteries, vegetarianism, prohibition of alcohol, the doctrine of emptiness, and collecting scripture in tripartite organisation. During the same ti