The New Testament


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Books that later formed the New Testament, like other Christian literature of the period, originated in a literary context that reveals relationships not only to other Christian writings, but also to Graeco-Roman and Jewish works. Of singular importance is the extensive use of and interaction with the Jewish Bible and what would become the Christian Old Testament. Both implicit and explicit citations, as well as countless allusions, appear throughout the books of the New Testament, from the Gospels and Acts, to the Epistles, to the Apocalypse.

The first translations usually called "versions" of the New Testament were made beginning already at the end of 2nd century. The earliest versions of the New Testament are the translations into the Syriac , Latin , and Coptic languages. Several Syriac translations were made and have come to us.

Most of the Old Syriac, however, as well as the Philoxonian version have been lost. Tatian , the Assyrian, created the Diatessaron , a gospel harmony written in Syriac around AD and the earliest form of the gospel not only in Syriac but probably also in Armenian. In the 19th century, manuscript evidence was discovered for an "Old Syriac" version of the four distinct i. These "separated" Syriac: da-Mepharreshe gospels, though old, have been shown to be later than the Diatessaron.

The Old Syriac gospels are fragmentarily preserved in two manuscripts: the 5th-century Curetonian Syriac and the Sinaitic Syriac from the 4th or 5th century. The Old Syriac version is a representative of the Western text-type. The Peshitta version was prepared in the beginning of the 5th century. It contains only 22 books neither the Minor Catholic Epistles of 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and Jude, nor the Book of Revelation were part of this translation.

The Philoxenian probably was produced in for Philoxenus, Bishop of Mabung. The Gospels were likely translated into Latin as early as the last quarter of the 2nd century in North Africa Afra.

The New Testament Books

Not much later, there were also European Latin translations Itala. There are about 80 Old Latin mansucripts. For the avoidance of confusion, these texts were written in Late Latin , not the early version of the Latin language known as Old Latin , pre 75 BC. The bewildering diversity of the Old Latin versions prompted Jerome to prepare another translation into Latin—the Vulgate. In many respects it was merely a revision of the Old Latin. There are currently around 8, manuscripts of the Vulgate. There are several dialects of the Coptic language: Bohairic northern dialect , Fayyumic , Sahidic southern dialect , Akhmimic , and others.

The first translation was made by at least the 3rd century into the Sahidic dialect cop sa. This translation represents a mixed text, mostly Alexandrian , though also with Western readings. A Bohairic translation was made later, but existed already in the 4th century. Though the translation makes less use of Greek words than the Sahidic, it does employ some Greek grammar e.

For this reason, the Bohairic translation can be helpful in the reconstruction of the early Greek text of the New Testament. The continued spread of Christianity, and the foundation of national churches, led to the translation of the Bible—often beginning with books from the New Testament—into a variety of other languages at a relatively early date: Armenian , Georgian , Ethiopic , Persian , Sogdian , and eventually Gothic , Old Church Slavonic , Arabic , and Nubian.

Historically, throughout the Christian world and in the context of Christian missionary activity , the New Testament or portions thereof has been that part of the Christian Bible first translated into the vernacular. The production of such translations grew out of the insertion of vernacular glosses in biblical texts, as well as out of the production of biblical paraphrases and poetic renditions of stories from the life of Christ e.

The 16th century saw the rise of Protestantism and an explosion of translations of the New and Old Testament into the vernacular. Most of these translations relied though not always exclusively upon one of the printed editions of the Greek New Testament edited by Erasmus , a form of this Greek text emerged as the standard and is known as the Textus Receptus.

This text, based on the majority of manuscripts is also used in the majority of translations that were made in the years to AD. Translations of the New Testament made since the appearance of critical editions of the Greek text notably those of Tischendorf , Westcott and Hort , and von Soden have largely used them as their base text. Unlike the Textus Receptus , these have a pronounced Alexandrian character. Though all Christian churches accept the New Testament as scripture, they differ in their understanding of the nature, extent, and relevance of its authority. Views of the authoritativeness of the New Testament often depend on the concept of inspiration , which relates to the role of God in the formation of the New Testament.

Generally, the greater the role of God in one's doctrine of inspiration, the more one accepts the doctrine of biblical inerrancy or authoritativeness of the Bible.

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One possible source of confusion is that these terms are difficult to define, because many people use them interchangeably or with very different meanings. This article will use the terms in the following manner:. The self-witness of the Bible to its inspiration demands a commitment to its unity. The term "inspiration" renders the Greek word theopneustos. All of these concepts depend for their meaning on the supposition that the text of Bible has been properly interpreted, with consideration for the intention of the text, whether literal history, allegory or poetry, etc.

Especially the doctrine of inerrancy is variously understood according to the weight given by the interpreter to scientific investigations of the world. The notion of unity in diversity of Scripture claims that the Bible presents a noncontradictory and consistent message concerning God and redemptive history. The fact of diversity is observed in comparing the diversity of time, culture, authors' perspectives, literary genre, and the theological themes.

Studies from many theologians considering the "unity in diversity" to be found in the New Testament and the Bible as a whole have been collected and summarized by New Testament theologian Frank Stagg. He describes them as some basic presuppositions, tenets, and concerns common among the New Testament writers, giving to the New Testament its "unity in diversity":.

Both of them are interpreted by the teachings of the Church. Both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honoured with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.

The Historicity of the New Testament

Since therefore all that the inspired authors or sacred writers affirm should be regarded as affirmed by the Holy Spirit, we must acknowledge that the books of Scripture firmly, faithfully, and without error teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the Sacred Scriptures. In Catholic terminology the teaching office is called the Magisterium. The Catholic view should not be confused with the two-source theory. While many Eastern Orthodox writers distinguish between Scripture and Tradition, Bishop Kallistos Ware says that for the Orthodox there is only one source of the Christian faith, Holy Tradition, within which Scripture exists.

In the famous words of Thomas Ken, Bishop of Bath and Wells: "As for my religion, I dye in the holy catholic and apostolic faith professed by the whole Church before the disunion of East and West, more particularly in the communion of the Church of England, as it stands distinguished from all Papal and Puritan innovations, and as it adheres to the doctrine of the Cross.


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Following the doctrine of sola scriptura , Protestants believe that their traditions of faith, practice and interpretations carry forward what the scriptures teach, and so tradition is not a source of authority in itself. This openness to doctrinal revision has extended in Liberal Protestant traditions even to the reevaluation of the doctrine of Scripture upon which the Reformation was founded, and members of these traditions may even question whether the Bible is infallible in doctrine, inerrant in historical and other factual statements, and whether it has uniquely divine authority.

However, the adjustments made by modern Protestants to their doctrine of scripture vary widely.

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Within the US, the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy is a statement, articulating evangelical views on this issue. Paragraph four of its summary states: "Being wholly and verbally God-given, Scripture is without error or fault in all its teaching, no less in what it states about God's acts in creation, about the events of world history, and about its own literary origins under God, than in its witness to God's saving grace in individual lives.

All of these churches have more ancient doctrinal statements asserting the authority of scripture, but may interpret these statements in such a way as to allow for a very broad range of teaching—from evangelicalism to skepticism. It is not an impediment to ordination in these denominations to teach that the scriptures contain errors, or that the authors follow a more or less unenlightened ethics that, however appropriate it may have seemed in the authors' time, moderns would be very wrong to follow blindly.

For example, ordination of women is universally accepted in the mainline churches, abortion is condemned as a grievous social tragedy but not always a personal sin or a crime against an unborn person, and homosexuality is sometimes recognized as a genetic propensity or morally neutral preference that should be neither encouraged nor condemned.

In North America, the most contentious of these issues among these churches at the present time is how far the ordination of gay men and lesbians should be accepted. Officials of the Presbyterian Church USA report: "We acknowledge the role of scriptural authority in the Presbyterian Church, but Presbyterians generally do not believe in biblical inerrancy. Presbyterians do not insist that every detail of chronology or sequence or prescientific description in scripture be true in literal form.

Our confessions do teach biblical infallibility. Infallibility affirms the entire truthfulness of scripture without depending on every exact detail. Those who hold a more liberal view of the Bible as a human witness to the glory of God, the work of fallible humans who wrote from a limited experience unusual only for the insight they have gained through their inspired struggle to know God in the midst of a troubled world. Therefore, they tend not to accept such doctrines as inerrancy. These churches also tend to retain the social activism of their evangelical forebears of the 19th century, placing particular emphasis on those teachings of scripture that teach compassion for the poor and concern for social justice.

The message of personal salvation is, generally speaking, of the good that comes to oneself and the world through following the New Testament's Golden Rule admonition to love others without hypocrisy or prejudice. Toward these ends, the "spirit" of the New Testament, more than the letter, is infallible and authoritative.

There are some movements that believe the Bible contains the teachings of Jesus but who reject the churches that were formed following its publication.


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These people believe all individuals can communicate directly with God and therefore do not need guidance or doctrines from a church. These people are known as Christian anarchists. Messianic Judaism generally holds the same view of New Testament authority as evangelical Protestants. Jehovah's Witnesses accept the New Testament as divinely inspired Scripture, and as infallible in every detail, with equal authority as the Hebrew Scriptures. They view it as the written revelation and good news of the Messiah , the ransom sacrifice of Jesus , and the Kingdom of God , explaining and expounding the Hebrew Bible, not replacing but vitally supplementing it.

They also view the New Testament as the primary instruction guide for Christian living, and church discipline. They generally call the New Testament the "Christian Greek Scriptures", and see only the "covenants" as "old" or "new", but not any part of the actual Scriptures themselves. Oneness Pentecostalism subscribes to the common Protestant doctrine of sola scriptura. They view the Bible as the inspired Word of God, and as absolutely inerrant in its contents though not necessarily in every translation.

The Seventh-day Adventist Church holds the New Testament as the inspired Word of God, with God influencing the "thoughts" of the Apostles in the writing, not necessarily every word though. The first fundamental belief of the Seventh-Day Adventist church stated that "The Holy Scriptures are the infallible revelation of [God's] will.

They believe instead that God inspired the thoughts of the biblical authors and apostles, and that the writers then expressed these thoughts in their own words. Regarding the teachings of the New Testament compared to the Old, and the application in the New Covenant, Adventists have traditionally taught that the Decalogue is part of the moral law of God, which was not abrogated by the ministry and death of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the fourth commandment concerning the Sabbath is as applicable to Christian believers as the other nine.

Adventists have often taught a distinction between "moral law" and "ceremonial law". According to Adventist beliefs, the moral law continues into the "New Testament era", but the ceremonial law was done away with by Jesus. How the Mosaic law should be applied came up at Adventist conferences in the past, and Adventist theologians such as A. Jones and E. Waggoner looked at the problem addressed by Paul in Galatians as not the ceremonial law, but rather the wrong use of the law legalism. Smith in particular thought the Galatians issue had been settled by Ellen White already, yet in she claimed justification by faith is "the third angel's message in verity.

Ellen White interpreted Colossians as saying that the ceremonial law was nailed to the cross. Despite the wide variety among Christian liturgies , texts from the New Testament play a role in almost all forms of Christian worship. In addition to some language derived from the New Testament in the liturgy itself e.

These readings are most often part of an established lectionary i. No readings from the Book of Revelation , however, are included in the standard lectionary of the Eastern Orthodox churches. Central to the Christian liturgy is the celebration of the Eucharist or "Holy Communion". The Words of Institution that begin this rite are drawn directly from 1 Corinthians — In addition, the communal recitation of the Lord's Prayer in the form found in the Gospel of Matthew —13 is also a standard feature of Christian worship.

Most of the influence of the New Testament upon the arts has come from the Gospels and the Book of Revelation.

The Entire New Testament

The earliest Christian art would often depict scenes from the New Testament such as the raising of Lazarus , the baptism of Jesus or the motif of the Good Shepherd. Biblical paraphrases and poetic renditions of stories from the life of Christ e. Indeed, the Passion became a central theme in Christian art and music.

The ministry and Passion of Jesus, as portrayed in one or more of the New Testament Gospels , has also been a theme in film, almost since the inception of the medium e. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Second division of the Christian biblical canon. This article is about the portion of the Christian biblical canon. For the theological concept, see New Covenant. This article cites its sources but does not provide page references.

You can help to improve it by introducing citations that are more precise. February Learn how and when to remove this template message. Matthew Mark Luke John. Jesus Christ. Jesus in Christianity Virgin birth Crucifixion Resurrection appearances. Bible Foundations. History Tradition. Denominations Groups. Related topics. Main article: Canonical gospels. Main article: Pauline epistles. Further information: Authorship of the Johannine works. This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.

Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. See also: Canon of the New Testament. A possible exception here to canonical exclusivity is the Second Apostolic Canons, which share a common source—the Apostolic Constitutions —with certain parts of the Orthodox Tewahedo New Testament broader canon.

New Testament 90 Day Bible Reading Plan

The Prayer of Euthalius and the Repose of St. John the Evangelist appear in the appendix of the Armenian Zohrab Bible; [ citation needed ] however, some of the aforementioned books, though they are found within canon lists, have nonetheless never been discovered to be part of any Armenian biblical manuscript. To varying degrees, arguments for the authenticity of these passages—especially for the one from the Gospel of John—have occasionally been made.

The epistle is nonetheless widely rejected by the vast majority of Protestants. Main article: New Testament apocrypha. Main article: Authorship of the Bible. Main article: Synoptic Gospels. Main article: Authorship of Luke—Acts. Main article: Authorship of the Pauline epistles. Main article: Authorship of the Johannine works. Main article: Language of the New Testament.

Main article: Development of the New Testament canon. Main article: New Testament manuscripts. Main article: Biblical criticism. Further information: Non-canonical books referenced in the Bible. Main article: Syriac versions of the Bible. Main articles: Vetus Latina and Vulgate. Main article: Coptic versions of the Bible. Main article: Bible translations. Main article: Biblical authority.

Further information: Nativity of Jesus in art and Passion play. The text of the famous "Hallelujah" chorus in G. Acts provides information that makes it possible to identify Luke, the author of the Gospel, as the doctor who travels with Paul and to identify Mark as someone close to Peter and Paul. This 'canon consciousness' suggests that the book of Acts was composed at a later date than is typically thought; this theory is supported by the first attestation of the book around CE.

From the time when letters began to be forged in his name 2 Thess. In the present case he writes a whole paragraph, summing up the main lessons of the epistle in terse, eager, disjointed sentences. He writes it, too, in large, bold characters Gr. Brown agrees that the references to the Jerusalem temple's destruction are seen as evidence of a post date. A Brief History of Christianity. Blackwell Publishing. Werner Georg Kummel. Abingdon Press. Redating the New Testament. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics.

Baker Reference Library. Ada, Michigan: Baker. See excerpt at: "The Dating of the New Testament". Retrieved 17 February The Book of Revelation revised ed. Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans. Free Inquiry. The First Edition of the New Testament. New York: Oxford University Press. In Kloppenberg, John S. Resources for Biblical Study. Against Marcion, Book IV. Merriam-Webster Dictionary. Retrieved 10 May The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. Schaff, Philip [c. Eerdmans Publishing Company. The Gospel according to Luke, Vol. Anchor Bible Commentary series. New York: Doubleday.

St Paul's Epistle to the Galatians 2nd ed. In Aune, David E. The Blackwell Companion to the New Testament. The Letters of Paul: Conversations in Context 5th ed. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox. Philadelphia: Fortress. Hebrews 1—8. Word Biblical Commentary series, Vol. Dallas, Texas: Word Books. Church History, Book VI. Oxford University Press. They looked to see whether the ideas and writing style of a piece conformed with those used by the author in other writings, and they examined the text for any blatant anachronisms, that is, statements about things that could not have existed at the time the alleged author was writing like the letter reputedly from an early seventeenth-century American colonist that mentions "the United States" - Arguments of this kind were used by some Christian scholars of the third century to show that Hebrews was not written by Paul or the Book of Revelation by John the son of Zebedee.

Modern scholars, as we will see, concur with these judgments. To be sure, neither of these books can be considered a forgery. Hebrews does not claim to be written by Paul it is anonymous , and the John who wrote Revelation does not claim to be the son of Zebedee it is therefore homonymous. Are there other books in the New Testament, though, that can be considered forgeries? Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic. Coniectanea Biblica, New Testament Series 9. Lund: Gleerup. Revelation , 3 volumes. Word Biblical Commentary series.

Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson. Hugoye: Journal of Syriac Studies 5 2 : — Conflict and Community in the Corinthian Church. Archived from the original on 28 November Robert Carter and Brothers. Bible Research. In Aune, David. New York: Wiley-Blackwell. The Controversy Stories in the Gospel of Matthew. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell. The four Gospels that eventually made it into the New Testament, for example, are all anonymous, written in the third person about Jesus and his companions.

None of them contains a first-person narrative 'One day, when Jesus and I went into Capernaum Most scholars today have abandoned these identifications, and recognize that the books were written by otherwise unknown but relatively well-educated Greek-speaking and writing Christians during the second half of the first century.

Oxford University Press, US. The New Testament was not written all at once. The books that compose it appeared one after another in the space of fifty years, i.

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Written in different and distant countries and addressed to particular Churches, they took some time to spread throughout the whole of Christendom, and a much longer time to become accepted. Advertise on Catholic Online Your ads on catholic. Catholic Online Email Email with Catholic feel. Catholic Online School Free Catholic education for all.

Support Free Education Tax deductible support Free education. Catholic Online on Facebook Catholic social network. Catholic Online on Twitter Catholic Tweets. Catholic Online on YouTube Enjoy our videos. Catholic Online on Instagram Shared Catholic moments. Catholic Online on Pinterest Catholic ideas style inspiration. Copyright Catholic Online. Its 27 books were gradually collected into a single volume over a period of several centuries.

They consisted of Gospels recounting the life of Jesus , an account of the works of the apostles called the Book of Acts , letters from Saint Paul and other early Christian leaders to various churches and individuals, and the remarkable apocalyptic work known as the Book of Revelation. The term New Testament came into use in the second century during a controversy among Christians over whether or not the Hebrew Bible should be included with the Christian writings as sacred scripture.

Some other works which were widely read by early churches were excluded from the New Testament and relegated to the collections known as the Apostolic Fathers generally considered orthodox and the New Testament Apocrypha including both orthodox and heretical works. Most Christians consider the New Testament to be an infallible source of doctrine, while others go even farther to affirm that it is also inerrant, or completely correct in historical and factual details as well as theologically.

In recent times, however, the authority of the New Testament books has been challenged.


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The school of historical criticism has exposed various apparent contradictions within the texts, as well as questions of authorship and dating. Some Christians, believing that the Holy Spirit 's revelation to the church is progressive, have questioned some of the New Testament's moral teachings—for example on homosexuality , church hierarchy, slavery , and the role of women—as outdated.

Today, the New Testament remains a central pillar of the Christian faith, and has played a major role in shaping modern Western culture. The term New Testament is a translation from the Latin Novum Testamentum first coined by the second century Christian writer Tertullian. It is related to the concept expressed by the prophet Jeremiah , that translates into English as new covenant :. This concept of the new covenant is also discussed in the eighth chapter of the Letter to the Hebrews , in which the "old covenant" is portrayed as inferior and even defective Hebrews Indeed, many Christians considered the "old" covenant with the Jews to be obsolete.

Use of the term New Testament to describe a collection of first and second-century Christian Greek Scriptures can be traced back to Tertullian in Against Praxeas Tertullian took the orthodox position, that the God of the Jews and the God of the Christians are one and the same. He therefore wrote:. By the fourth century, the existence—even if not the exact contents—of both an Old and New Testament had been established. Lactantius, a third—fourth century Christian author wrote in his early-fourth-century Latin Institutiones Divinae Divine Institutes :.

But all scripture is divided into two Testaments. That which preceded the advent and passion of Christ—that is, the law and the prophets —is called the Old; but those things which were written after His resurrection are named the New Testament. The Jews make use of the Old, we of the New: but yet they are not discordant, for the New is the fulfilling of the Old, and in both there is the same testator The majority of Christian denominations have settled on the same book canon.

It consists of the four narratives of Jesus Christ's ministry, called " Gospels "; a narrative of the apostles ' ministries in the early church called the Book of Acts ; 21 early letters, commonly called "epistles," written by various authors and consisting mostly of Christian counsel and instruction; and a book of apocalyptic prophecy known as the Book of Revelation. Each of the Gospels narrates the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. None of the Gospels originally had an author's name associated with it, but each has been an assigned an author according to tradition. Modern scholarship differs on precisely by whom, when, or in what original form the various gospels were written.

The first three are commonly classified as the synoptic Gospels. They contain very similar accounts of events in Jesus' life, although differing in some respects. The Gospel of John stands apart for its unique records of several miracles and sayings of Jesus not found elsewhere. Its timeline of Jesus' ministry also differs significantly from the other Gospels, and its theological outlook is also unique.

The Book of Acts , also occasionally termed Acts of the Apostles or Acts of the Holy Spirit , is a narrative of the apostles' ministry after Christ's death. It is also a sequel to the third Gospel of Luke , written by the same author. The book traces the events of the early Christian church—with the apostles Peter and Paul as the main characters—from shortly after Jesus' resurrection, through the church's spread from Jerusalem into the Gentile world, until shortly before the trial and execution of Saint Paul in Rome.

The Pauline epistles constitute those letters traditionally attributed to Paul , though his authorship of some of them is disputed. One such letter, Hebrews, is nearly universally agreed to be by someone other than Paul. The so-called Pastoral Epistles—1 and 2 Timothy and Titus—are thought by many modern scholars to have been written by a later author in Paul's name. The General or "Catholic" Epistles are those written to the church at large by various writers. Catholic in this sense simply means universal.

The book is also called the Apocalypse of John. It consists primarily of a channeled message from Jesus to seven Christian churches, together with John's dramatic vision of the Last Days, the Second Coming of Christ, and the Final Judgment.

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