Religions: How can we study the old sacred texts ?

When I read old sacred texts, I try to get rid of any prejudices and just focus only onto the text and try to understand, what information it contains.

Following problems must be solved:

  • Because most of us will not master the old languages, in which these texts are written, we must decide, which translations are trustworthy.
    • best is, to compare several translations
    • commentaries  should be read, after we have carefully read  the text  several times.  If we rely too much on a commentary, then we cannot develop an independent judgement ourselves.
  • to study important core pieces, like the Genesis for instance, it is helpful, to prepare a text document in a Text program and look at it in Outline view, so that the structure of the text can be analyzed. The structure of the outline must be modified eventually, to correctly represent the structure of the text.
  • then important key words should be checked, using cross references for them, so that we understand,  how many different meanings a key word may have.
  • a graphical representation in form of a concept map may help further, to understand the meta meaning of a text. We must be aware, that a text may have several meanings:
    • a common sense meaning
    • an encoded meaning, which can be only understood, after we have studied the total text and we then begin,  to  understand also the network of relations in it.
  • at last we should write an essay about it, because that will show us, what we did not yet understand and will also create new questions. If we read our essay after a longer time, we can check, if our understanding of the text has changed in the meantime. Do we understand it better ? Probably we will understand it better, because our brain will have gone on, to think about the text, without that we were aware of it.
    • we have saved all facts and all conclusions in the database of our brain, so that it now can work with them and find out, if other conclusions are possible and if information is still  missing. In that case it will direct our attention, to find it.

 

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