Start Date

20-5-2011

Description

Conventional wisdom holds that primal cultures transmitted their religious beliefs and practices orally rather than by writing. While this was true of some cultures, it has not been the case with all. The Abrahamic faiths—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—are all “word-based” faiths, having always emphasized written language. Indeed, both Christianity and Islam share the idea of “The Word” as a concept transcending mere linguistics.

Both the Scriptures and the attendant writings of these faiths (i.e., the Talmud, creeds, catechisms, theological treatises and other such works) are all word-based documents which in many cases took centuries to forge. This is not to say that the Abrahamic faiths have never had oral traditions. The Hebrew religion, for instance, consisted of two streams: the written Torah and the oral Torah, or Midrash. Muslims developed their ahadith—traditions regarding the Prophet Muhammad’s life. But since the Hebrew and the Muslim oral traditions were eventually reduced to writing, our chief contention is further supported: in these religions, writing has always been preferred to orality.

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May 20th, 12:00 AM

The Word and Words in the Abrahamic Faiths

Conventional wisdom holds that primal cultures transmitted their religious beliefs and practices orally rather than by writing. While this was true of some cultures, it has not been the case with all. The Abrahamic faiths—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—are all “word-based” faiths, having always emphasized written language. Indeed, both Christianity and Islam share the idea of “The Word” as a concept transcending mere linguistics.

Both the Scriptures and the attendant writings of these faiths (i.e., the Talmud, creeds, catechisms, theological treatises and other such works) are all word-based documents which in many cases took centuries to forge. This is not to say that the Abrahamic faiths have never had oral traditions. The Hebrew religion, for instance, consisted of two streams: the written Torah and the oral Torah, or Midrash. Muslims developed their ahadith—traditions regarding the Prophet Muhammad’s life. But since the Hebrew and the Muslim oral traditions were eventually reduced to writing, our chief contention is further supported: in these religions, writing has always been preferred to orality.