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1 general introduction to the new testament

Intro to the New Testament

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1 general introduction to the new testament

  1. 1. Introduction to the New Testament
  2. 2. Language and Literature of the New Testament Koine Greek. The New Testament was written in the same kind of koiné (common) Greek as the Septuagint. The most widely spoken language of the early Christian era, koiné became the dominant tongue of the eastern Mediterranean region after the conquests of Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.E.) Koine was then spoken by so large a percentage of the population that it communicated far more effectively than Hebrew or Latin. Most of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament were composed during the half century between about 50 and 120 C.E., although a few were written as late as the mid-second century C.E. The oldest surviving Christian writings are the letters of Paul.
  3. 3. Codex Sinaitucus
  4. 4. The Oldest surviving manuscript of the a New Testament book, this fragments of the Gospel of John dates back 125 c.e. It contains 4 verses of John 18.
  5. 5. The New Testament contains several different genres (categories) of literature, although it has considerably less variety than the Hebrew Bible. Gospels. The first four books are called Gospels, a term that translates the Greek word euangelion ("good news"). Designed to proclaim the "good news" about Jesus, the Gospels tell the story of Jesus' ministry, death, and resurrection. The term Evangelist refers to the writer of an euangelion (Gospel). euangelion commonly was used to denote public proclamations about the Roman emperor. The "good news" of the emperor's military victories, welfare policies, or his being elevated to the status of a god were typical examples of Roman political "evangelizing.“
  6. 6. Paul uses euangelion to describe his message about salvation through Jesus Christ. Matthew also employs it to denote Jesus' oral teaching (Matt. 4:23; 9:35; 24:14; 26:13). Mark, however, is apparently the first to use euangelion to describe a written work about Jesus' life.
  7. 7. The only literary genre the early Christians invented, the Gospel is a narrative— a story— about Jesus' deeds and teachings. Although the Gospels recount the actions and sayings of Jesus in ostensibly chronological order, they are not real biographies in the modern sense. They do not attempt to present a complete life of Jesus or to explain what forces — social, psychological, cultural, historical, or political—caused him to become the kind of man he was.
  8. 8. Only two of the Gospels—Matthew and Luke— include traditions about Jesus' birth and infancy. None gives even a scrap of information about his formative years, education, associations, or any other experience that a modern historian would regard as essential. Luke records a single incident of Jesus' youth, a pilgrimage from his hometown of Nazareth to Jerusalem, Judaism's holy city (Luke 2:22-40). But the Gospels tell us nothing about what happened to Jesus between the ages of twelve and "about thirty" (Luke 3:23).
  9. 9. All four concentrate exclusively on the last phase of Jesus' life, the period of his public ministry when his teachings both attracted devoted followers and created bitter enemies. In all four Gospel accounts, only the final week of Jesus' human existence is related in — the events leading up to and including his arrest, trial, and execution by the Romans. The significance of Jesus' suffering and death (known as the Passion) are the central concern of each Evangelist. Even the Fourth Gospel (John), which includes a longer version of Jesus' public career than any other, devotes nearly half of its narrative to retelling the story of Jesus' last few days on earth.
  10. 10. Observing this emphasis of the Evangelists, New Testament scholars have described the Gospel form as a Passion narrative with a long introduction. All incidents in Jesus' life leading up to his crucifixion are rigorously subordinated to the climactic circumstances of his death. The Gospels' form and content are not shaped by purely historical or biographical considerations but by their respective authors' theological viewpoints. The Gospel writers are theologians, and, like all New Testament authors, the Evangelists write primarily to voice their individual understanding of Jesus' religious or theological significance.
  11. 11. A History of the Early Church. The second literary form in the New Testament is a historical narrative celebrating the deeds of a few early Christian leaders. Written by the author of Luke's Gospel, the Book of Acts continues the story of Christianity's origins Beginning with an account of Jesus' ascension to heaven and ending with the apostle Paul's preaching activity in Rome, Acts narrates a series of crucial episodes in Christianity's early development, covering the thirty years from about 30 to 60 C. E.
  12. 12. Letters, or Epistles. After the Gospel and history forms comes a collection of twenty-one letters, or epistles, all of which are ascribed to famous leaders of the early church. The first set of letters are by Paul, the most influential of all Christian missionaries, and by Pauline disciples who later wrote in his name and spirit. In addition, seven epistles (a more formal version of the letter) are attributed to other leaders associated with the original Jerusalem church, such as Peter, James, Jude, and John.
  13. 13. An Apocalypse. The Book of Revelation represents the fourth and final literary category in the Christian Scriptures. The title Revelation translates the Greek noun apokalypsis, which means an "uncovering" or "unveiling." Like other apocalyptic literature, Revelation features visions of an unseen world inhabited by spirit creatures both good and evil.
  14. 14. It highlights the cosmic struggle between God and Satan, a conflict involving both heaven and earth that ultimately sees evil defeated, God's kingdom triumphant, and the creation of a new earth and heaven (Rev. 12; 16; 20-21). Revelation's message is urgent, demanding that believers hold firm in the faith because, like all apocalyptic writers, the author believes that the universal war he visualizes is about to begin (Rev. 1:1, 3; 12:12; 22:7, 11, 12).
  15. 15. Although the twenty-seven documents comprising the New Testament generally fit into one of four broad literary genres, most also contain a number of subgenres. The Gospels, for example, include not only biographical narrations about Jesus but also such disparate forms as genealogies, parables, aphorisms, confrontation stories, prayers, reconstructions of conversations, and, in the case of John's Gospel, long metaphysical discourses. The Book of Acts similarly incorporates public speeches, private dialogs, anecdotes about individual figures, and perhaps even excerpts from a diary or travel journal.