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The Scriptures

Each faith community preserves a canonical, or fixed, written text, believed to have been dictated by God or divinely communicated to human authors. These texts comprise a record of the beliefs and early history of each faith and provide adherents with guidance and inspiration. Scriptures of the three Abrahamic faiths generally began as orally transmitted accounts; over time, they were written down, and sometimes combined and re-edited. Different versions of each faith’s Scripture may still display minor variations. Collectively, the sacred Scriptures are the most widely disseminated and influential texts ever recorded.     Early Jewish and Christian texts were written by hand on scrolls. During the early centuries of the Common Era, Christian communities developed the codex or book form. The codex form was later adopted by Jews and Muslims as well, though for certain Hebrew Biblical texts, such as the Torah and the Book of Esther, the handwritten scroll format is still mandated when these are used for liturgical purposes. The advent of printing in the West in the mid 15th century ushered in a decline in the ancient scribal practice of writing sacred texts by hand, though in the Islamic tradition, the printed Qur’an became popular only in the early 20th century.