Religious founders don't found their religion!

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Something I thought was a bit strange while originally looking at different world religions...

Lao Zi did not write the Tao-Te Ching - it was compiled by later followers,

Kong Zi did not write the Analechts of Confucius - it was compiled by later followers,

Buddha did not write the Pali Canon - it was compiled by later followers,

Muhammed did not write the Qur'an - it was compiled by later followers,

Jesus of Nazareth did not write any New Testament texts - they were compiled by later followers,

Guru Nanak did not write the Adi Granth - it was compiled by later followers.

Does anyone not find any of this strange?

In some instances, such as Muhammed, he is traditionally believed to have been illiterate anyway. But the others, so far as I can tell, could easily be considered as literate either by direct or indirect inference fom their lives and teachings.

So what's going on? Does this mean that such central texts have become all the more polluted by their writing and compilation by figures never claiming to be divine?

So strange that literate people, claimed to be in possession of profound and Divine insight, should not write their own words. Am I the only one confused by this?
Perhaps they were all too busy being inspired, parchment and ink being too laborios a process to distract oneself with!
Allah wrote the words of the Qur'an on the heart of the Prophet (pbuh) himself. As he could not write, he had to use his voice, which is the most beautiful method of human communication. Anyone who has listened to the call of the Imans must surely know that. No one should ever think little of oral tradition, for it is the voice that powered it.
It's bad that. It just tells me what I've been inclined to believe all along and that is that any real spiritual revelation inevitably becomes polluted in the hands of men (literally maybe).
I don't believe the followers would be free of politics. And believing any early religion free of political interference, of political pollution into the word being carried,,,well that's more faith than I can carry.
There is always the danger of pollution by those who come after. I believe that oral traditions are quite resilient to change and as reliable as written records, which are also open to abuse.
But politics is always a danger. I am still trying to find for myself what effect that may have had on the the canon.
Just noting, in connection with Omar's post, that the only purpose of the Koran is to preserve the Surahs -- they are, according to Allah, to be recited. (And remembering that one of my skills is to read aloud the appointed Scriptures in a way that brings them home to the congregation.)

But I have one great complaint with the OP -- it equates the sacred texts of a religion with that religion. As someone who's fought the "hristianity equals the Bible" evangelicals for four years now, I couldn't help but notice that.
[quote author=Polycarp link=board=3;threadid=72;start=msg937#msg937 date=1056242075]
But I have one great complaint with the OP -- it equates the sacred texts of a religion with that religion. As someone who's fought the "hristianity equals the Bible" evangelicals for four years now, I couldn't help but notice that.

I don’t believe the intention here is to support the position of sola scriptura, as much as nod to the fact that historically speaking, religious beliefs are principally shaped by those religious texts held to be most authoritative.

Which is why it's interesting to note how little direct input most religious founders actually have in establishing the very literary traditions that define their own followings.

For example, if we are led to believe that Jesus was literate, as the Gospels imply, then it absolutely begs the question of why Jesus never wrote anything for posterity.
If the oral tradition is the stronger then why would the literary form be required? It is easier to destroy books than ideas transmitted orally. It may have been the preferred method of choice precisely because it was more durable. Literaacy may not have been great either so the demand for written lit may not have been great in the first place, not by those who would most directly use them. If religion spreads first through the illiterate classes then the oral tradition would be best preserved. Whether the oral and written accounts actually tally is another problem altogether.
Certainly that's true in some cases. It's an especial point that Jesus was referenced as being literate in the Gospels (I believe it's Matthew that has him reciting Isaiah in the synagogue). In which case, there's a pertinent reason for asking why Jesus - either as the Son of God, or else as a wise man (across the breadth of "orthodoxy" and "heresy") never left a written record from himself.

However, it's also worth noting that Kong Zi (Confuscius) is recorded as having been a minor civil servant - hence he would be expected to have a capacity for literacy.

The same for Buddha - I'm sure his noble upbringing would have ensured him trained and versed in Sanskrit texts.

Muhammed is stated as illiterate by tradition, hence the need for oral transmission (which I believe is implicitly implied in Islamic history).

As for Lao Zi - without referencing I don;t remember much of his own background, but Taosim itself is very much an oral animistic tradition in the first place, so the ideas were not person specific, though the composition of them into the form of the Tao-Te Ching would be.

Guru Nanak for the Sikhs I know little of.
brian said:
[quote author=Polycarp link=board=3;threadid=72;start=msg937#msg937 date=1056242075]
For example, if we are led to believe that Jesus was literate, as the Gospels imply, then it absolutely begs the question of why Jesus never wrote anything for posterity.

Jesus did write something, though perhaps not for posterity and its mentioned in the gospels.

When he was asked to judge the woman taken in adultery, he wrote on the ground with a stick or was it his finger.

As somebody has mentioned, books can be burned, but words and thoughts and ideas last forever, oral tradition should be encouraged.

I HAVE OFTEN wondered what 'on earth' he wrote?

What do you guys think ?

I know what he said - "He who is without sin cast the first stone"
I like that observation El Greko. I can't speak about who, how or why a lot of the religious scriptures mentioned here were written, but I am currently reading Lost Christianities, by Bart Ehrman. I can not vouch for everything he has written in the book, not being familiar with his past history, but it has been interesting to read about the different ways in which some of the texts we know today came into being, whether written or found.

The book is also interesting in the respect that it points out that we know of texts that have been lost, for different reasons over the centuries, due to references to them in other texts. In some cases, all that remains of many ancient texts are sentences here and there, notated in other texts.

It seems that things are somewhat as Elizabeth has stated, original texts have been altered over the centuries, meanings and messages potentially changed in some cases by activities as simple as copying text by hand repeatedly. It would be interesting, for me anyway, to meet some of the people who were the original inspiration for a lot of the scriptures we have today, simply to see how they feel about how close to their original messages and teachings the texts are.
Rakehel said:
It would be interesting, for me anyway, to meet some of the people who were the original inspiration for a lot of the scriptures we have today, simply to see how they feel about how close to their original messages and teachings the texts are.
I have a funny feeling that a number of them would be quite horrified by the degree of doctrination, when they themselves rebelled against that very process. :)
Dear Friends,

Interesting topic. And one that is near and dear to my heart. It is true that none of the former dispensations have left any writings in their own hand. As to why, only God knows for sure.

Literacy of the intended audience at the time of revelation was probably a determining factor in whether oral or written records were necessary. I believe the intended audience is the important aspect of this equation. God doeth as He willeth. If He had willed it, all could have left a written record.

Islam in this regard has the most accurate historical record since it was written down at the time.

The Baha'i Faith is unique in religious history in this regard, for the first time a prophet has left for posterity writings in His own hand. Baha'u'llah, the prophet founder of the Baha'i Faith wrote over 100 volumes. Earlier writings were in His own hand, later writings were dictated and written down by His secretary. This being due to an attempt on His life by poisoning which upon recovering left Him with shaky hands. His orginal writings are kept in the Archives Building at the Baha'i World Center on Mt. Carmel in Haifa, Israel.

My understanding of this process (IMHO) is that all of the prophets from Abraham to Mohammed were all prophets of the prophetic cycle, Mohammed being the seal of the prophets, the last prophet of the prophetic cycle was given the authority by God to give us a more direct link to the History of the Faith. Baha'u'llah, being a prophet of the cycle of fulfillment was given greater authority in this regard. All of the prophets are equal in the sight of God, all possessed the same knowledge, God entrusted each with a specific mission which they all fulfilled to the letter. It's all a part of God's plan.

The authority to choose rests with God.

Loving Greetings, Harmony
I hate to disagree here, but concerning the Master (known as Jesus, to the western world) He did write and His close followers too. Paul had access to some of the logia of the Master and he borrowed portions of these to wind into his own thesis of salvation. So yes, some of what Paul supposedly wrote was actually written by the Master. Paul did not understand the Masters teachings and so misrepresented them and claimed them as his own.
Christianity as it is known was not the vision of the Master for the world. Such a church as arose was far from His wishes, but were the result of the betraying influences at work against the Divine Plan.
Which is also an interesting point. Not in any way to discredit Paul, he was an incredible person, but I'm finding out that many historians also feel that he did not actually write everything attributed to him in the Bible. There are many different reasons why they feel that, but if one looks at the "tone" and style of certain writing it can be seen that they appear different at times. I do agree though, if texts weren't surpressed by some church bodies over the centuries, or lost, it is probably true that everything was mostly word-of-mouth.
During the time when the Quran was being revealed, the Prophet(PBUH) told the Muslims about the revelations who also memorised it. Some people told the Prophet(PBUH) that they could not memorize the verses and asked for permission if they could write the verses of the Quran to learn and have record of. Most of the Muslims at that time had learnd the Quran by heart. It was sometime after the death of Prophet Muhammad(PBUH), during a war when many people who had memorised the Quarn died. It was then that the most aunthatic copies of the Quran, written and stored were brought forward, revised and the Quran was written in books and all. NO, not even a single verse has been polluted,missed out or added. The sequence of the Quran was also described by Phophet Muhammed(PBUH).

That fact that Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) was illiterate removed many alligations brought forward by the pagens of Makkah. That claimed that the Prophet Muhammad(PBUH) coppied or wrote the Quran by himself and that the Quran was not a word of God. How can a person who is illiterate bring forward such a Book. It had to be a devine revelation.
Hi Mohsin, and welcome to CR. :)

I was actually under the impression that the Quran was far more complex than this, and that there was at least one other version, destroyed by one of the later "5 Caliphs"?? I'll have to check up on that, and raise the issue of Quranic history as a new thread in the Islam section.
There are some who think that Jesus wrote much of the book of Revelation.

Didn't Muhammad repeatedly visit God in a cave and alternatively a writer who wrote down the messages he received from God?
Unlike the Hadiths, in which there are some which are doubtful as many people claimed it or made it up that they heard the Prophet(P.B.U.H) say or do that, the Quran is a complete revelation compiled during the life time of the Prophet(P.B.U.H). Yes there were some doubts and the most authentic one was take and the rest were destroyed. A version of such is present in a Turkish museum.
The first revelation That Prophet Muhammad(P.B.U.H) received was in a cave. Later on there were several others that were revealed there. Prophet Muhammad(P.B.U.H) was directy tought the holy Quran and yes there were written copies i.e the revealed verses were written down for those who could not memorise it. The Prophet(P.B.U.H) did not need the written copies for himself.