50 volumes of Sacred Books of the East might seem like an odd offering from a Bible software company, but I’m looking forward to this as a valuable addition to my library. Here’s why you might like it, too:
- For about 200 years of the biblical timeline, Israel was under ancient Persian rule. Scads of commentaries make observations about various Jewish beliefs and practices that are often seen as influenced by, or even borrowed from, the Persians during this time. Even in the New Testament, the star-following magi may be of Persian origin. Persian influence is discussed in relation to the resurrection and afterlife, judgment, developments in monotheism as well as the kinds of dualism seen in the Dead Sea Scrolls between the ‘Sons of Light’ and the ‘Sons of Darkness’ (with parallels in the theology of the Fourth Gospel). But the writings of the Persians themselves haven’t been available in Logos Bible Software. 8 volumes of the SBE are dedicated to the literature of Zoroastrianism, the religion of ancient Persia. That means with this set, we’ll be able to start linking discussions in commentaries about the Persian influence on Judaism back to the most important source materials, and we’ll be able to read about one of the most ancient monotheistic religions in their own words.
- Logos has previously offered an English translation of the Qur’an, but we get a lot of requests for a second translation. Just like some Christian Bibles are translated in a way that smoothes over some of the more difficult passages, the translation of the Qur’an that we’ve offered smoothes over some if its more difficult passages. Many of our customers have requested an alternate translation for comparison purposes, and 2 volumes of SBE are dedicated to E.H. Palmer’s translation of the Qur’an.
- The disciplines of comparative religious studies and apologetics are both greatly aided by being able to read the important source texts of the world’s most significant religions, and the ability to link modern reference works back to the sources. SBE includes coverage of:
- Confucianism (4 volumes)
- Taoism (2 volumes, including the Tao te Ching)
- Hinduism and its predecessor Vedic Brahmanism (21 volumes including the Bhagavad Gita and the Upanishads)
- Buddhism (10 volumes including the Dhammapada ascribed to Buddha himself and the Vinaya Texts)
- Zoroastrianism (8 volumes, including 3 for the Zend-Avesta, the most important of the Zoroastrian texts)
- Islam (2 volumes for the Qur’an)
- Jainism (2 volumes) [If you’re running the arithmetic, we’re still one volume shy of 50 – the last volume is an index.]
I’m always excited when we get more primary texts to enrich the linking in commentaries, dictionaries and other reference works, and the Persian literature in particular should be of direct interest to biblical studies. If any of these things excite you, check out Sacred Books of the East.