There are well over 4,000 different religions in the world today. They vary by geographical spread, number of adherents, language, hierarchy and, of course, beliefs. Some of these thousands of religions are commonly known while others have unfamiliar names despite the number of adherents. Atheism, for example, is a religion with which almost everyone alive has at least a passing familiarity. Cao Dai, Tenrikyo and Zoroastrianism, however, are not household names for most of the world despite these religions having a combined total of nearly 10 million adherents.
While the number of living religions is staggering, nearly 75 percent of the population belongs to one of five religions: Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism. These five religions are considered to be the most influential in the world and are often referred to as the “world religions” due to their size and influence. The adherents of Islam and Christianity alone make up nearly half of the world’s total population.
Outsiders are often curious about the other world religions. More than one Buddhist has eyed a Christian church curiously, and plenty of Jews wonder what is going on inside a Hindu temple. One way that many people seek to understand other religions is by reading the doctrines, myths and teachings that form the foundation for daily practice. Such information is often considered to be stored in sacred or revered texts, so what are the holy books of the five major world religions?