This book introduces a new approach to the comparative study of sacred texts - here the Christian Bible, the Islamic Koran, the Hindu Veda and the Buddhist Tipiaka. The author demonstrates that, in spite of their great differences, these works show a fundamental analogy.Considered as canonical within their own religious context, each text possesses absolute authority in comparison with other authoritative texts from their respective religious traditions. This fundamental analogy allows one to describe the growth and history of these canons, step by step, as a process that takes place in analogous phases that are clearly distinguishable. The author follows a strictly phenomenological method: he tries to understand the development of these canons in terms of a potential that lies within the phenomena themselves, i.e. the texts, while refraining in any way from assessing their claim to absolute authority.
In part I the author describes the development from the 'revelation' of the texts to a climax with respect to reflection on the canons. This climax has been reached in all four cases. Part II investigates the crisis that these canons are currently undergoing as a consequence of the modern intellectual climate. Can we expect that this crisis will be overcome by the canons? And if so, will they be in a position of mutual exclusion or will they form a sort of unity such as, for example, the Old and New Testament in the Christian Bible? Finally the author traces what the religions themselves have postulated about the future of their respective canons. The result is surprising: the current crisis is only faint reflection of what, according to age-old predictions, awaits the canons in the future.