New Testament

New Testament

Overview
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon
Christian biblical canons
A Christian biblical canon is the set of books that a Christian denomination regards as divinely inspired and thus constituting the Christian Bible...

, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

.

Unlike the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

, of which Christians hold different views, the contents of the New Testament deal explicitly with 1st century Christianity
Christianity in the 1st century
The earliest followers of Jesus composed an apocalyptic, Jewish sect, which historians refer to as Jewish Christianity. The Apostles and others following the Great Commission's decree to spread the teachings of Jesus to "all nations," had great success spreading the religion to gentiles. Peter,...

, although both the Old and New Testament are regarded, together, as Sacred Scripture. The New Testament has therefore (in whole or in part) frequently accompanied the spread of Christianity around the world
Early centers of Christianity
Early Christianity spread from Western Asia, throughout the Roman Empire, and beyond into East Africa and South Asia, reaching as far as India. At first, this development was closely connected to centers of Hebrew faith, in the Holy Land and the Jewish diaspora...

, and both reflects and serves as a source for Christian theology
Christian theology
- Divisions of Christian theology :There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.- Sub-disciplines :...

.
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Encyclopedia
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon
Christian biblical canons
A Christian biblical canon is the set of books that a Christian denomination regards as divinely inspired and thus constituting the Christian Bible...

, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

.

Unlike the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

, of which Christians hold different views, the contents of the New Testament deal explicitly with 1st century Christianity
Christianity in the 1st century
The earliest followers of Jesus composed an apocalyptic, Jewish sect, which historians refer to as Jewish Christianity. The Apostles and others following the Great Commission's decree to spread the teachings of Jesus to "all nations," had great success spreading the religion to gentiles. Peter,...

, although both the Old and New Testament are regarded, together, as Sacred Scripture. The New Testament has therefore (in whole or in part) frequently accompanied the spread of Christianity around the world
Early centers of Christianity
Early Christianity spread from Western Asia, throughout the Roman Empire, and beyond into East Africa and South Asia, reaching as far as India. At first, this development was closely connected to centers of Hebrew faith, in the Holy Land and the Jewish diaspora...

, and both reflects and serves as a source for Christian theology
Christian theology
- Divisions of Christian theology :There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.- Sub-disciplines :...

. Phrases as well as extended readings directly from the New Testament are also incorporated (along with readings from the Old Testament) into the various Christian liturgies
Christian liturgy
A liturgy is a set form of ceremony or pattern of worship. Christian liturgy is a pattern for worship used by a Christian congregation or denomination on a regular basis....

. The New Testament has influenced not only religious, philosophical
Philosophical movement
A philosophical movement is either the appearance or increased popularity of a specific school of philosophy, or a fairly broad but identifiable sea-change in philosophical thought on a particular subject...

, and political
Political movement
A political movement is a social movement in the area of politics. A political movement may be organized around a single issue or set of issues, or around a set of shared concerns of a social group...

 movements
Social movement
Social movements are a type of group action. They are large informal groupings of individuals or organizations focused on specific political or social issues, in other words, on carrying out, resisting or undoing a social change....

 in Christendom
Christendom
Christendom, or the Christian world, has several meanings. In a cultural sense it refers to the worldwide community of Christians, adherents of Christianity...

, but also left an indelible mark on its literature
Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

, art
Art
Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect....

, and music
Music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

.

The New Testament is an anthology
Anthology
An anthology is a collection of literary works chosen by the compiler. It may be a collection of poems, short stories, plays, songs, or excerpts...

, a collection of works written at different times by various authors. In almost all Christian traditions today, the New Testament consists of 27 books. The original texts were written beginning around AD 50 in Koine Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

, the lingua franca
Lingua franca
A lingua franca is a language systematically used to make communication possible between people not sharing a mother tongue, in particular when it is a third language, distinct from both mother tongues.-Characteristics:"Lingua franca" is a functionally defined term, independent of the linguistic...

of the eastern part of the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

 where they were composed. All of the works which would eventually be incorporated into the New Testament would seem to have been written no later than around 150 AD. Numerous scholars date all of them prior to AD 70, because there is no mention of the total destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, or the final years and deaths of Paul, Peter, and the other apostles.

Collections of related texts such as letters
Pauline epistles
The Pauline epistles, Epistles of Paul, or Letters of Paul, are the thirteen New Testament books which have the name Paul as the first word, hence claiming authorship by Paul the Apostle. Among these letters are some of the earliest extant Christian documents...

 of the Apostle Paul (a major collection of which must have been made already by the early 2nd century) and the Canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (asserted by Irenaeus of Lyon
Irenaeus
Saint Irenaeus , was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, then a part of the Roman Empire . He was an early church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology...

 in the late-2nd century as the Four Gospels) gradually were joined to other collections and single works in different combinations to form various Christian canons of Scripture
Development of the Christian Biblical canon
The Christian Biblical canon is the set of books Christians regard as divinely inspired and constituting the Christian Bible. Books included in the Christian Biblical canons of both the Old and New Testament were decided at the Council of Trent , by the Thirty-Nine Articles , the Westminster...

. Over time, some disputed books
Antilegomena
Antilegomena, a direct transliteration from the Greek , refers to written texts whose authenticity or value is disputed.Eusebius in his Church History written c. 325 used the term for those Christian scriptures that were "disputed" or literally those works which were "spoken against" in Early...

, such as the Book of Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

 and the Minor Catholic Epistles
General epistles
General epistles are books in the New Testament in the form of letters. They are termed "general" because for the most part their intended audience seems to be Christians in general rather than individual persons or congregations as is the case with the Pauline epistles...

 were introduced into canons
Biblical canon
A biblical canon, or canon of scripture, is a list of books considered to be authoritative as scripture by a particular religious community. The term itself was first coined by Christians, but the idea is found in Jewish sources. The internal wording of the text can also be specified, for example...

 in which they were originally absent, and other works earlier held to be Scripture such as 1 Clement, the Shepherd of Hermas, and the Diatessaron
Diatessaron
The Diatessaron is the most prominent Gospel harmony created by Tatian, an early Christian apologist and ascetic. The term "diatessaron" is from Middle English by way of Latin, diatessarōn , and ultimately Greek, διὰ τεσσάρων The Diatessaron (c 160 - 175) is the most prominent Gospel harmony...

 were excluded from the New Testament. Interestingly, although the Old Testament canon is not uniform within Christianity, with e.g. Roman Catholics, Protestants
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

, the Greek Orthodox Church
Greek Orthodox Church
The Greek Orthodox Church is the body of several churches within the larger communion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity sharing a common cultural tradition whose liturgy is also traditionally conducted in Koine Greek, the original language of the New Testament...

, the Slavic Orthodox Churches
Slavic Orthodox
Slavic Orthodox Church or Slavonic Orthodox Church is an umbrella term for East Orthodox churches that use Church Slavonic in liturgy, the latter being of Byzantine Rite...

, and the Armenian Orthodox Church differing as to which books are included, the twenty-seven-book canon of the New Testament has, since at least Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

, been almost universally recognized within Christianity
Christianity
Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

 (see twenty-seven book canon
Development of the New Testament canon
The Canon of the New Testament is the set of books Christians regard as divinely inspired and constituting the New Testament of the Christian Bible. For most, it is an agreed-upon list of twenty-seven books that includes the Canonical Gospels, Acts, letters of the Apostles, and Revelation...

; exceptions include the New Testament of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the canon of which—like that of their Old Testament—has not been unequivocally fixed and Martin Luther's attempt
Luther's canon
Luther's canon is the name of the biblical canon attributed to Martin Luther, which has influenced Protestants since the 16th century Protestant Reformation. As of today, it is the official canon of the Lutheran Church...

 to exclude four books from the New Testament). The New Testament consists of four narratives of the life, teaching, and death of Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

, called "gospel
Gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...

s"; a narrative of the Apostles' ministries in the early church
Early Christianity
Early Christianity is generally considered as Christianity before 325. The New Testament's Book of Acts and Epistle to the Galatians records that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included James, Peter and John....

, called the "Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

" and probably by the same author as the Gospel of Luke
Gospel of Luke
The Gospel According to Luke , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels. This synoptic gospel is an account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It details his story from the events of his birth to his Ascension.The...

, which it continues; twenty-one letters, often called "epistles" in the biblical context, written by various authors and consisting mostly of Christian counsel, instruction, and conflict resolution; and an Apocalypse
Apocalypse
An Apocalypse is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted. The Apocalypse of John is the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament...

, the Book of Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

.

The Gospels



Each of the four gospels in the New Testament narrates the life, death and resurrection of Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 of Nazareth
Nazareth
Nazareth is the largest city in the North District of Israel. Known as "the Arab capital of Israel," the population is made up predominantly of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel...

. Since the 2nd century, they have been referred to as "The Gospel of ..." or "The Gospel according to ..." followed by the name of the author. Whatever these admittedly early ascriptions may imply about the sources behind or the perception of these gospels, they appear to have been originally anonymous compositions.
  • The Gospel of Matthew
    Gospel of Matthew
    The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

    , ascribed to the Apostle Matthew
    Matthew the Evangelist
    Matthew the Evangelist was, according to the Bible, one of the twelve Apostles of Jesus and one of the four Evangelists.-Identity:...

    . This gospel begins with a genealogy
    Genealogy
    Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members...

     of Jesus and a story of his birth that includes a visit from magi
    Biblical Magi
    The Magi Greek: μάγοι, magoi), also referred to as the Wise Men, Kings, Astrologers, or Kings from the East, were a group of distinguished foreigners who were said to have visited Jesus after his birth, bearing gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh...

     and a flight into Egypt
    Flight into Egypt
    The flight into Egypt is a biblical event described in the Gospel of Matthew , in which Joseph fled to Egypt with his wife Mary and infant son Jesus after a visit by Magi because they learn that King Herod intends to kill the infants of that area...

    , and it ends with the commissioning of the disciples
    Great Commission
    The Great Commission, in Christian tradition, is the instruction of the resurrected Jesus Christ to his disciples, that they spread his teachings to all the nations of the world. It has become a tenet in Christian theology emphasizing missionary work, evangelism, and baptism...

     by the resurrected Jesus.
  • The Gospel of Mark
    Gospel of Mark
    The Gospel According to Mark , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Mark or simply Mark, is the second book of the New Testament. This canonical account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth is one of the three synoptic gospels. It was thought to be an epitome, which accounts for its place as the second...

    , ascribed to Mark the Evangelist
    Mark the Evangelist
    Mark the Evangelist is the traditional author of the Gospel of Mark. He is one of the Seventy Disciples of Christ, and the founder of the Church of Alexandria, one of the original four main sees of Christianity....

    , who (since he was not one of "The Twelve") later tradition held to have utilized the teaching of the Apostle Peter
    Saint Peter
    Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

     in his gospel. This gospel begins with the preaching of John the Baptist
    John the Baptist
    John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...

     and the baptism of Jesus
    Baptism of Jesus
    The baptism of Jesus marks the beginning of Jesus Christ's public ministry. This event is recorded in the Canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. In John 1:29-33 rather than a direct narrative, the Baptist bears witness to the episode...

    . Two different secondary endings were affixed to this gospel in the 2nd century.
  • The Gospel of Luke
    Gospel of Luke
    The Gospel According to Luke , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels. This synoptic gospel is an account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It details his story from the events of his birth to his Ascension.The...

    , ascribed to Luke
    Luke the Evangelist
    Luke the Evangelist was an Early Christian writer whom Church Fathers such as Jerome and Eusebius said was the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles...

    , who was also not one of "The Twelve", but was mentioned as a companion of the Apostle Paul
    Paul of Tarsus
    Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

     and as a physician. This gospel begins with parallel stories of the birth and childhood of John the Baptist
    John the Baptist
    John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...

     and Jesus
    Jesus
    Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

     and ends with appearances of the resurrected Jesus and his ascension into heaven.
  • The Gospel of John
    Gospel of John
    The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

    , ascribed to the Apostle John
    John the Apostle
    John the Apostle, John the Apostle, John the Apostle, (Aramaic Yoħanna, (c. 6 - c. 100) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James, another of the Twelve Apostles...

    . This gospel begins with a philosophical prologue and ends with appearances of the resurrected Jesus.


The first three gospels listed above are classified as the Synoptic Gospels
Synoptic Gospels
The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in the same sequence, and sometimes exactly the same wording. This degree of parallelism in content, narrative arrangement, language, and sentence structures can only be...

. They contain similar accounts of the events in Jesus' life and his teaching, due to their literary interdependence (see below under Authorship). The Gospel of John is structured differently and includes stories of several miracles of Jesus and his sayings not found in the other three. These four gospels that were eventually included in the New Testament were only a few among many other early Christian gospels. The existence of such texts is even mentioned at the beginning of the Gospel of Luke (Luke 1:1-4). Other early Christian gospels such as the so-called "Jewish-Christian Gospels
Jewish-Christian Gospels
Jewish-Christian Gospels are non-canonical Gospels used by various Jewish Christian groups that were declared heretical by other members of the Early Church. They are mentioned by Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Eusebius, Epiphanius and Jerome...

" or the Gospel of Thomas
Gospel of Thomas
The Gospel According to Thomas, commonly shortened to the Gospel of Thomas, is a well preserved early Christian, non-canonical sayings-gospel discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in December 1945, in one of a group of books known as the Nag Hammadi library...

, also offer both a window into the context of early Christianity
Early Christianity
Early Christianity is generally considered as Christianity before 325. The New Testament's Book of Acts and Epistle to the Galatians records that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included James, Peter and John....

 and may provide some assistance in the reconstruction of the historical Jesus
Historical Jesus
The term historical Jesus refers to scholarly reconstructions of the 1st-century figure Jesus of Nazareth. These reconstructions are based upon historical methods including critical analysis of gospel texts as the primary source for his biography, along with consideration of the historical and...

.

Acts of the Apostles


The Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

, also simply referred to as the "book of Acts" or "Acts", is a narrative of the apostles' ministry after Christ's death and resurrection, from which point it resumes and functions as a sequel to the Gospel of Luke
Gospel of Luke
The Gospel According to Luke , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels. This synoptic gospel is an account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It details his story from the events of his birth to his Ascension.The...

. Examining style, phraseology, and other evidence, modern scholarship generally concludes that Acts and the Gospel of Luke share the same author, referred to as Luke-Acts
Luke-Acts
Luke-Acts is the name usually given by Biblical scholars to the hypothetical composite work of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament. Together they describe the Ministry of Jesus and the subsequent lives of the Apostles and the Apostolic Age.Both the books of Luke and...

. This is also suggested by the dedication to a certain "Theophilus" at the beginning of both works.
  • The Acts of the Apostles
    Acts of the Apostles
    The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

    , thought to have been written by the author of the Gospel of Luke
    Gospel of Luke
    The Gospel According to Luke , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels. This synoptic gospel is an account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It details his story from the events of his birth to his Ascension.The...

     for the reasons mentioned above.

Pauline epistles



The Pauline epistles
Pauline epistles
The Pauline epistles, Epistles of Paul, or Letters of Paul, are the thirteen New Testament books which have the name Paul as the first word, hence claiming authorship by Paul the Apostle. Among these letters are some of the earliest extant Christian documents...

 (forming the Corpus Paulinum) constitute those epistle
Epistle
An epistle is a writing directed or sent to a person or group of people, usually an elegant and formal didactic letter. The epistle genre of letter-writing was common in ancient Egypt as part of the scribal-school writing curriculum. The letters in the New Testament from Apostles to Christians...

s written in the name of the Apostle Paul
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

. The authorship of a number of these is disputed (see below under Authorship). These letters were written to Christian communities in specific cities or geographical regions, often to address issues faced by that particular community. Prominent themes include the relationship both to broader "pagan" society, to Judaism, and to other Christians.
  • Epistle to the Romans
    Epistle to the Romans
    The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, often shortened to Romans, is the sixth book in the New Testament. Biblical scholars agree that it was composed by the Apostle Paul to explain that Salvation is offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ...

  • First Epistle to the Corinthians
    First Epistle to the Corinthians
    The first epistle of Paul the apostle to the Corinthians, often referred to as First Corinthians , is the seventh book of the New Testament of the Bible...

  • Second Epistle to the Corinthians
    Second Epistle to the Corinthians
    The second epistle of Paul the apostle to the Corinthians, often referred to as Second Corinthians , is the eighth book of the New Testament of the Bible...

  • Epistle to the Galatians
    Epistle to the Galatians
    The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, often shortened to Galatians, is the ninth book of the New Testament. It is a letter from Paul of Tarsus to a number of Early Christian communities in the Roman province of Galatia in central Anatolia...

  • Epistle to the Ephesians
    Epistle to the Ephesians
    The Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians, often shortened to Ephesians, is the tenth book of the New Testament. Its authorship has traditionally been credited to Paul, but it is considered by some scholars to be "deutero-Pauline," that is, written in Paul's name by a later author strongly influenced by...

  • Epistle to the Philippians
    Epistle to the Philippians
    The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians, usually referred to simply as Philippians, is the eleventh book in the New Testament. Biblical scholars agree that it was written by St. Paul to the church of Philippi, an early center of Christianity in Greece around 62 A.D. Other scholars argue for an...

  • Epistle to the Colossians
    Epistle to the Colossians
    The Epistle of Paul to the Colossians, usually referred to simply as Colossians, is the 12th book of the New Testament. It was written, according to the text, by Paul the Apostle to the Church in Colossae, a small Phrygian city near Laodicea and approximately 100 miles from Ephesus in Asia...

  • First Epistle to the Thessalonians
    First Epistle to the Thessalonians
    The First Epistle to the Thessalonians, usually referred to simply as First Thessalonians and often written 1 Thessalonians, is a book from the New Testament of the Christian Bible....

  • Second Epistle to the Thessalonians
    Second Epistle to the Thessalonians
    The Second Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians, often referred to as Second Thessalonians and written 2 Thessalonians, is a book from the New Testament of the Christian Bible...

  • Epistle to Philemon
    Epistle to Philemon
    Paul's Epistle to Philemon, usually referred to simply as Philemon, is a prison letter to Philemon from Paul of Tarsus. Philemon was a leader in the Colossian church. This letter, which is one of the books of the New Testament, deals with forgiveness.Philemon was a wealthy Christian of the house...


Pastoral Epistles


The Pastoral Epistles are addressed to individuals with pastoral oversight of churches and discuss issues of Christian living, doctrine and leadership. They often address different concerns to those of the preceding epistles.
  • First Epistle to Timothy
    First Epistle to Timothy
    The First Epistle of Paul to Timothy, usually referred to simply as First Timothy and often written 1 Timothy, is one of three letters in the New Testament of the Bible often grouped together as the Pastoral Epistles, the others being Second Timothy and Titus...

  • Second Epistle to Timothy
    Second Epistle to Timothy
    The Second Epistle of Paul to Timothy, usually referred to simply as Second Timothy and often written 2 Timothy, is one of the three Pastoral Epistles traditionally attributed to Saint Paul, and is part of the New Testament...

  • Epistle to Titus
    Epistle to Titus
    The Epistle of Paul to Titus, usually referred to simply as Titus, is one of the three Pastoral Epistles , traditionally attributed to Saint Paul, and is part of the New Testament...


Hebrews


Though the Letter to the Hebrews does not internally claim to have been written by the Apostle Paul
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

, in antiquity, certain circles began to ascribe it to Paul in an attempt to provide the anonymous work an explicit apostolic pedigree. In the 3rd century, Origen
Origen
Origen , or Origen Adamantius, 184/5–253/4, was an early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. As early as the fourth century, his orthodoxy was suspect, in part because he believed in the pre-existence of souls...

 wrote of the letter, "Men of old have handed it down as Paul's, but who wrote the Epistle God only knows."
  • Letter to the Hebrews, anonymous

Catholic epistles


The Catholic Epistles
General epistles
General epistles are books in the New Testament in the form of letters. They are termed "general" because for the most part their intended audience seems to be Christians in general rather than individual persons or congregations as is the case with the Pauline epistles...

 consist of both letters and treatises in the form of letters written to the church at large. The term "catholic" (Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

: καθολική, katholikē), used to describe these letters already in the oldest manuscripts containing them, here simply means "universal". The letters are therefore also referred to as the "General Epistles
General epistles
General epistles are books in the New Testament in the form of letters. They are termed "general" because for the most part their intended audience seems to be Christians in general rather than individual persons or congregations as is the case with the Pauline epistles...

". The authorship of a number of these is disputed (see below under Authorship).
  • Epistle of James
    Epistle of James
    The Epistle of James, usually referred to simply as James, is a book in the New Testament. The author identifies himself as "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ", with "the earliest extant manuscripts of James usually dated to mid-to-late third century."There are four views...

    , written by an author named "James", often identified with James, the brother of Jesus
    James the Just
    James , first Bishop of Jerusalem, who died in 62 AD, was an important figure in Early Christianity...

    .
  • First Epistle of Peter
    First Epistle of Peter
    The First Epistle of Peter, usually referred to simply as First Peter and often written 1 Peter, is a book of the New Testament. The author claims to be Saint Peter the apostle, and the epistle was traditionally held to have been written during his time as bishop of Rome or Bishop of Antioch,...

    , ascribed to the Apostle Peter
    Saint Peter
    Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

    .
  • Second Epistle of Peter
    Second Epistle of Peter
    The Second Epistle of Peter, often referred to as Second Peter and written 2 Peter or in Roman numerals II Peter , is a book of the New Testament of the Bible, traditionally ascribed to Saint Peter, but in modern times NT scholars regard it as pseudepigraphical.It is the first New Testament book...

    , ascribed to the Apostle Peter
    Saint Peter
    Saint Peter or Simon Peter was an early Christian leader, who is featured prominently in the New Testament Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The son of John or of Jonah and from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, his brother Andrew was also an apostle...

    , though widely considered not to have been written by him.
  • First Epistle of John
    First Epistle of John
    The First Epistle of John, often referred to as First John and written 1 John, is a book of the New Testament. This fourth catholic or "general" epistle is attributed to John the Evangelist, traditionally thought to be the author of the Gospel of John and the other two Epistles of John. This...

    , ascribed to the Apostle John
    John the Apostle
    John the Apostle, John the Apostle, John the Apostle, (Aramaic Yoħanna, (c. 6 - c. 100) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James, another of the Twelve Apostles...

    .
  • Second Epistle of John
    Second Epistle of John
    The Second Epistle of John, often referred to as Second John and often written 2 John, is a book of the New Testament attributed to John the Evangelist, traditionally thought to be the author of the Gospel of John and the other two epistles of John.- Composition :The language of this epistle is...

    , ascribed to the Apostle John
    John the Apostle
    John the Apostle, John the Apostle, John the Apostle, (Aramaic Yoħanna, (c. 6 - c. 100) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James, another of the Twelve Apostles...

    .
  • Third Epistle of John
    Third Epistle of John
    The Third Epistle of John, often referred to as Third John and written 3 John, is a book of the New Testament attributed to John the Evangelist, traditionally thought to be the author of the Gospel of John and the other two epistles of John...

    , ascribed to the Apostle John
    John the Apostle
    John the Apostle, John the Apostle, John the Apostle, (Aramaic Yoħanna, (c. 6 - c. 100) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James, another of the Twelve Apostles...

    .
  • Epistle of Jude
    Epistle of Jude
    The Epistle of Jude, often shortened to Jude, is the penultimate book of the New Testament and is attributed to Jude, the brother of James the Just. - Composition :...

    , written under the name of Jude, the brother of Jesus and James
    Jude, brother of Jesus
    Jude was the brother of Jesus, according to the New Testament. He is traditionally identified as the author of the Epistle of Jude, a short epistle which is reckoned among the seven General epistles of the New Testament and considered canonical by Christians.-Sources: and write of Jesus family:...

    .

Book of Revelation



The final book of the New Testament is the Book of Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

, also known as the Apocalypse of John. Its authorship has been attributed either to the Apostle John
John the Apostle
John the Apostle, John the Apostle, John the Apostle, (Aramaic Yoħanna, (c. 6 - c. 100) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James, another of the Twelve Apostles...

 (in which case it is often thought that the Apostle John
John the Apostle
John the Apostle, John the Apostle, John the Apostle, (Aramaic Yoħanna, (c. 6 - c. 100) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James, another of the Twelve Apostles...

 is John the Evangelist
John the Evangelist
Saint John the Evangelist is the conventional name for the author of the Gospel of John...

, i.e. author of the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

) or to another John designated "John of Patmos
John of Patmos
John of Patmos is the name given, in the Book of Revelation, as the author of the apocalyptic text that is traditionally cannonized in the New Testament...

" after the island where the text says the revelation was received (1:9). For a discussion of authorship see Authorship of the Johannine works
Authorship of the Johannine works
Authorship of the Johannine works has been debated by scholars since at least the 2nd century. The main debate centers on who authored the writings, and which of the writings, if any, can be ascribed to a common author.Ancient tradition attributes all the books to John the Apostle...

. The work opens with letters to seven churches
Seven churches of Asia
The Seven Churches of Revelation, also known as The Seven Churches of the Apocalypse and The Seven Churches of Asia , are seven major churches of Early Christianity, as mentioned in the New Testament Book of Revelation and written to by Ignatius of Antioch...

 and thereafter takes the form of an apocalypse
Apocalypse
An Apocalypse is a disclosure of something hidden from the majority of mankind in an era dominated by falsehood and misconception, i.e. the veil to be lifted. The Apocalypse of John is the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament...

, a literary genre popular in ancient Judaism and Christianity.

Order of the books in the New Testament



The order in which the books of the New Testament appear differs between some collections and ecclesiastical traditions. In the Latin West, prior to the Vulgate
Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

 (an early 5th-century Latin version of the Bible), the Four Gospels were arranged in the following order: Matthew, John, Luke, and Mark. The Syriac Peshitta
Peshitta
The Peshitta is the standard version of the Bible for churches in the Syriac tradition.The Old Testament of the Peshitta was translated into Syriac from the Hebrew, probably in the 2nd century AD...

 places the Major Catholic Epistles
General epistles
General epistles are books in the New Testament in the form of letters. They are termed "general" because for the most part their intended audience seems to be Christians in general rather than individual persons or congregations as is the case with the Pauline epistles...

 (James, 1 Peter, and 1 John) immediately after Acts and before the Pauline Epistles. The order of an early edition of the letters of Paul is based on the size of the letters: longest to shortest, though keeping 1 and 2 Corinthians and 1 and 2 Thessalonians together. The Pastoral Epistles were apparently not part of the Corpus Paulinum in which this order originated and were later inserted after 2 Thessalonians and before Philemon. Hebrews was variously incorporated into the Corpus Paulinum either after 2 Thessalonians, after Philemon (i.e. at the very end), or after Romans.

The New Testament of the 16th-century Luther Bible
Luther Bible
The Luther Bible is a German Bible translation by Martin Luther, first printed with both testaments in 1534. This translation became a force in shaping the Modern High German language. The project absorbed Luther's later years. The new translation was very widely disseminated thanks to the printing...

 continues, to this day, to place Hebrews, James, Jude, and the Apocalypse last. This reflects the thoughts of the Reformer Martin Luther on the canonicity of these books
Luther's canon
Luther's canon is the name of the biblical canon attributed to Martin Luther, which has influenced Protestants since the 16th century Protestant Reformation. As of today, it is the official canon of the Lutheran Church...

.

Apocrypha



The books that eventually found a permanent place in the New Testament were not the only works of Christian literature produced in the earliest Christian centuries. The long process of canonization
Development of the New Testament canon
The Canon of the New Testament is the set of books Christians regard as divinely inspired and constituting the New Testament of the Christian Bible. For most, it is an agreed-upon list of twenty-seven books that includes the Canonical Gospels, Acts, letters of the Apostles, and Revelation...

 began early, sometimes with tacit reception of traditional texts, sometimes with explicit selection or rejection of particular texts as either acceptable or unacceptable for use in a given context (e.g., not all texts that were acceptable for private use were considered appropriate for use in the liturgy
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

). These decisions were not necessarily based upon an assessment of the religious ideas or theology of the work in question (for other factors, see below under Canonization). Over the course of history, those works of early Christian literature that survived but that did not become part of the New Testament have been variously grouped by theologians and scholars. Drawing upon, though redefining, an older term used in early Christianity
Early Christianity
Early Christianity is generally considered as Christianity before 325. The New Testament's Book of Acts and Epistle to the Galatians records that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included James, Peter and John....

 and among Protestants when referring to those books found in the Christian Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 though not in the Jewish Bible
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

, modern scholars began to refer to these works of early Christian literature not included in the New Testament as "apocryphal", by which was meant "non-canonical". Collected editions of these works were then referred to as the "New Testament Apocrypha
New Testament apocrypha
The New Testament apocrypha are a number of writings by early Christians that claim to be accounts of Jesus and his teachings, the nature of God, or the teachings of his apostles and of their lives. These writings often have links with books regarded as "canonical"...

". Typically excluded from such published collections are the following groups of works: The Apostolic Fathers
Apostolic Fathers
The Apostolic Fathers are a small number of Early Christian authors who lived and wrote in the second half of the first century and the first half of the second century. They are acknowledged as leaders in the early church, although their writings were not included in the New Testament...

, the 2nd-century Christian apologists, the Alexandrians
Alexandrian school
The Alexandrian school is a collective designation for certain tendencies in literature, philosophy, medicine, and the sciences that developed in the Hellenistic cultural center of Alexandria, Egypt during the Hellenistic and Roman periods....

, Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

, Methodius of Olympus
Methodius of Olympus
The Church Father and Saint Methodius of Olympus was a Christian bishop, ecclesiastical author, and martyr.-Life:Few reports have survived on the life of this first scientific opponent of Origen; even these short accounts present many difficulties. Eusebius does not mention him in his Church...

, Novatian, Cyprian
Cyprian
Cyprian was bishop of Carthage and an important Early Christian writer, many of whose Latin works are extant. He was born around the beginning of the 3rd century in North Africa, perhaps at Carthage, where he received a classical education...

, martyrdoms, and the Desert Fathers
Desert Fathers
The Desert Fathers were hermits, ascetics, monks, and nuns who lived mainly in the Scetes desert of Egypt beginning around the third century AD. The most well known was Anthony the Great, who moved to the desert in 270–271 and became known as both the father and founder of desert monasticism...

. Almost all other Christian literature from the period, and sometimes including works composed well into Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity
Late Antiquity is a periodization used by historians to describe the time of transition from Classical Antiquity to the Middle Ages, in both mainland Europe and the Mediterranean world. Precise boundaries for the period are a matter of debate, but noted historian of the period Peter Brown proposed...

, are relegated to the so-called "New Testament Apocrypha
New Testament apocrypha
The New Testament apocrypha are a number of writings by early Christians that claim to be accounts of Jesus and his teachings, the nature of God, or the teachings of his apostles and of their lives. These writings often have links with books regarded as "canonical"...

". These "apocryphal" works are nevertheless important for the study of the New Testament in that they were produced in the same ancient context and often using the same language as those books that would eventually form the New Testament. Some of these later works are dependent upon (either directly or indirectly) books that would later come to be in the New Testament or upon the ideas expressed in them. There is even an example of a pseudepigraphical letter composed under the guise of a presumably lost letter of the Apostle Paul, the Epistle to the Laodiceans
Epistle to the Laodiceans
An Epistle to the Laodiceans, purportedly written by Paul of Tarsus to the Laodicean Church, is mentioned in the canonical Epistle to the Colossians...

.

Language



The major languages spoken by both Jews and Greeks in the Holy Land
Holy Land
The Holy Land is a term which in Judaism refers to the Kingdom of Israel as defined in the Tanakh. For Jews, the Land's identifiction of being Holy is defined in Judaism by its differentiation from other lands by virtue of the practice of Judaism often possible only in the Land of Israel...

 at the time of Jesus
Cultural and historical background of Jesus
Most scholars who study the Historical Jesus and Early Christianity believe that the Canonical Gospels and life of Jesus must be viewed as firmly placed within his historical and cultural context, rather than purely in terms of Christian orthodoxy...

 were Aramaic
Aramaic of Jesus
It is generally agreed that the historical Jesus primarily spoke Aramaic, perhaps along with some Hebrew and Greek . The towns of Nazareth and Capernaum, where Jesus lived, were primarily Aramaic-speaking communities, although Greek was widely spoken in the major cities of the Eastern Mediterranean...

 and Koine Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

, and to a limited extent a colloquial dialect of Mishnaic Hebrew. It is generally agreed that the historical Jesus
Historical Jesus
The term historical Jesus refers to scholarly reconstructions of the 1st-century figure Jesus of Nazareth. These reconstructions are based upon historical methods including critical analysis of gospel texts as the primary source for his biography, along with consideration of the historical and...

 primarily spoke Aramaic
Aramaic of Jesus
It is generally agreed that the historical Jesus primarily spoke Aramaic, perhaps along with some Hebrew and Greek . The towns of Nazareth and Capernaum, where Jesus lived, were primarily Aramaic-speaking communities, although Greek was widely spoken in the major cities of the Eastern Mediterranean...

. The majority view is that all of the books that would eventually form the New Testament were written in Koine Greek. As Christianity spread
Early centers of Christianity
Early Christianity spread from Western Asia, throughout the Roman Empire, and beyond into East Africa and South Asia, reaching as far as India. At first, this development was closely connected to centers of Hebrew faith, in the Holy Land and the Jewish diaspora...

, these books were later translated into other languages, most notably, Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, Syriac
Syriac language
Syriac is a dialect of Middle Aramaic that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. Having first appeared as a script in the 1st century AD after being spoken as an unwritten language for five centuries, Classical Syriac became a major literary language throughout the Middle East from...

, and Coptic
Coptic language
Coptic or Coptic Egyptian is the current stage of the Egyptian language, a northern Afro-Asiatic language spoken in Egypt until at least the 17th century. Egyptian began to be written using the Greek alphabet in the 1st century...

. However, some of the Church Fathers
Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

 imply or claim that Matthew was originally written in Hebrew
Hebrew Gospel of Matthew
The Rabbinical translations of Matthew are rabbinical versions of the Gospel of Matthew that are written in Hebrew; Shem-Tob's Matthew, the Du Tillet Matthew, and the Münster Matthew, and which were used in polemical debate with Christians....

 or Aramaic. Nevertheless, the Gospel of Matthew known today was composed in Greek and is neither directly dependent upon nor a translation of a text in a Semitic language
Semitic languages
The Semitic languages are a group of related languages whose living representatives are spoken by more than 270 million people across much of the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa...

, though the citation of texts from the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 demonstrates that the author of the Gospel of Matthew did know Hebrew.

Gospels and Acts


Most scholars hold to the two-source hypothesis which claims that the Gospel of Mark
Gospel of Mark
The Gospel According to Mark , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Mark or simply Mark, is the second book of the New Testament. This canonical account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth is one of the three synoptic gospels. It was thought to be an epitome, which accounts for its place as the second...

 was written first. According to the hypothesis, the authors of the Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

 and the Gospel of Luke
Gospel of Luke
The Gospel According to Luke , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels. This synoptic gospel is an account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It details his story from the events of his birth to his Ascension.The...

 then used the Gospel of Mark and the hypothetical Q document, in addition to some other sources, to write their individual gospels. These three gospels are called the Synoptic gospels
Synoptic Gospels
The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in the same sequence, and sometimes exactly the same wording. This degree of parallelism in content, narrative arrangement, language, and sentence structures can only be...

 since they are all very similar. Scholars agree that the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

 was written last, by using a different tradition and body of testimony. In addition, most scholars agree that the author of Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

. Scholars hold that these books constituted two halves of a single work, Luke-Acts
Luke-Acts
Luke-Acts is the name usually given by Biblical scholars to the hypothetical composite work of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament. Together they describe the Ministry of Jesus and the subsequent lives of the Apostles and the Apostolic Age.Both the books of Luke and...

.
Strictly speaking, each gospel (and Acts) is anonymous. The Gospel of John is somewhat of an exception, although the author simply refers to himself as "the disciple Jesus loved" and claims to be a member of Jesus' inner circle. The identities of each author were agreed upon at an early date, certainly no later than the early 2nd century. It is likely that the issue of the authorship of each gospel had been settled at least somewhat earlier, as the earliest sources are in complete agreement on the issue. Indeed, no one questioned the early 2nd century consensus until the 18th century.

Few scholars today question the traditional claim that Luke the Evangelist
Luke the Evangelist
Luke the Evangelist was an Early Christian writer whom Church Fathers such as Jerome and Eusebius said was the author of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles...

, an associate of St. Paul who was probably not an eyewitness to Jesus' ministry, wrote the Gospel of Luke and Acts of the Apostles. Scholars are more divided though deferential to the traditional claim that Mark the Evangelist
Mark the Evangelist
Mark the Evangelist is the traditional author of the Gospel of Mark. He is one of the Seventy Disciples of Christ, and the founder of the Church of Alexandria, one of the original four main sees of Christianity....

, an associate of St. Peter who might have been an eyewitness to Jesus' ministry, wrote the Gospel of Mark. Scholars are more divided over the traditional claim that Matthew the Apostle wrote the Gospel of Matthew and that John the Apostle
John the Apostle
John the Apostle, John the Apostle, John the Apostle, (Aramaic Yoħanna, (c. 6 - c. 100) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James, another of the Twelve Apostles...

 wrote the Gospel of John. Opinion, however, is widely divided on this issue and there is no widespread consensus.

Lucan Texts


The Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles were both written by the same author, and are thus referred to as the Lucan Texts. The most direct evidence comes from the prefaces of each book. Both prefaces were addressed to Theophilus
Theophilus (Biblical)
Theophilus is the name or honorary title of the person to whom the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles are addressed...

, and the preface to the Acts of the Apostles references "my former book" about the ministry of Jesus. Furthermore, there are linguistic and theological similarities between the two works, suggesting that they have a common author. The traditional view of Lukan authorship is “widely held as the view which most satisfactorily explains all the data.” The list of scholars maintaining authorship of Luke-Acts
Luke-Acts
Luke-Acts is the name usually given by Biblical scholars to the hypothetical composite work of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament. Together they describe the Ministry of Jesus and the subsequent lives of the Apostles and the Apostolic Age.Both the books of Luke and...

 by Luke is lengthy, and represents scholars from a wide range of theological opinion. Luke is considered by many scholars to be the pinnacle of what are known as the Synoptic Gospels, or the pinnacle of Synoptic Theology.

Pauline epistles



The Pauline epistles
Pauline epistles
The Pauline epistles, Epistles of Paul, or Letters of Paul, are the thirteen New Testament books which have the name Paul as the first word, hence claiming authorship by Paul the Apostle. Among these letters are some of the earliest extant Christian documents...

 are the thirteen books in the New Testament traditionally attributed to Paul of Tarsus
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

. Some consider the anonymous Epistle to the Hebrews
Epistle to the Hebrews
The Epistle to the Hebrews is one of the books in the New Testament. Its author is not known.The primary purpose of the Letter to the Hebrews is to exhort Christians to persevere in the face of persecution. The central thought of the entire Epistle is the doctrine of the Person of Christ and his...

 a fourteenth Pauline epistle.

Seven letters are generally classified as “undisputed”, expressing contemporary scholarly near consensus that they are the work of Paul: Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon. Six additional letters bearing Paul's name do not currently enjoy the same academic consensus: Ephesians, Colossians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, and Titus. The first three, called the "Deutero-Pauline Epistles," have no consensus on whether or not they are authentic letters of Paul. The latter three, the "Pastoral Epistles", are widely regarded as pseudepigrapha
Pseudepigraphy
Pseudepigrapha are falsely attributed works, texts whose claimed authorship is unfounded; a work, simply, "whose real author attributed it to a figure of the past." The word "pseudepigrapha" is the plural of "pseudepigraphon" ; the Anglicized forms...

, though certain scholars do consider St Paul to be the author. There are two examples of pseudonymous letters written in Paul’s name apart from the alleged New Testament epistles: These are the Epistle to the Laodiceans
Epistle to the Laodiceans
An Epistle to the Laodiceans, purportedly written by Paul of Tarsus to the Laodicean Church, is mentioned in the canonical Epistle to the Colossians...

 and 3 Corinthians
Third Epistle to the Corinthians
The Third Epistle to the Corinthians is believed to be a pseudepigraphical text under the name of Paul of Tarsus. It is also found in the Acts of Paul, and was framed as Paul's response to the Epistle of the Corinthians to Paul. The earliest extant copy is Bodmer Papyrus X.In the West it was not...

. Since the early centuries of the church, there has been debate concerning the authorship of the anonymous Epistle to the Hebrews, and contemporary scholars reject Pauline authorship. The epistles all share common themes, emphasis, vocabulary and style; they exhibit a uniformity of doctrine concerning the Mosaic Law
Ten Commandments
The Ten Commandments, also known as the Decalogue , are a set of biblical principles relating to ethics and worship, which play a fundamental role in Judaism and most forms of Christianity. They include instructions to worship only God and to keep the Sabbath, and prohibitions against idolatry,...

, Jesus, faith, and various other issues. All of these letters easily fit into the chronology of Paul's journeys depicted in Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

.

Other epistles


The author of the Epistle of James
Epistle of James
The Epistle of James, usually referred to simply as James, is a book in the New Testament. The author identifies himself as "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ", with "the earliest extant manuscripts of James usually dated to mid-to-late third century."There are four views...

 identifies himself in the opening verse as "James, a servant of God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 and of the Lord Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 Christ". From the middle of the 3rd century, patristic authors cited the Epistle as written by James the Just
James the Just
James , first Bishop of Jerusalem, who died in 62 AD, was an important figure in Early Christianity...

. Ancient and modern scholars have always been divided on the issue of authorship. Many consider the epistle to be written in the late 1st or early 2nd centuries.

The author of the First Epistle of Peter
First Epistle of Peter
The First Epistle of Peter, usually referred to simply as First Peter and often written 1 Peter, is a book of the New Testament. The author claims to be Saint Peter the apostle, and the epistle was traditionally held to have been written during his time as bishop of Rome or Bishop of Antioch,...

 identifies himself in the opening verse as "Peter, an apostle
Apostle (Christian)
The term apostle is derived from Classical Greek ἀπόστολος , meaning one who is sent away, from στέλλω + από . The literal meaning in English is therefore an "emissary", from the Latin mitto + ex...

 of Jesus", and the view that the epistle was written by St. Peter is attested to by a number of Church Fathers
Church Fathers
The Church Fathers, Early Church Fathers, Christian Fathers, or Fathers of the Church were early and influential theologians, eminent Christian teachers and great bishops. Their scholarly works were used as a precedent for centuries to come...

: Irenaeus
Irenaeus
Saint Irenaeus , was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, then a part of the Roman Empire . He was an early church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology...

 (140-203), Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

 (150-222), Clement of Alexandria
Clement of Alexandria
Titus Flavius Clemens , known as Clement of Alexandria , was a Christian theologian and the head of the noted Catechetical School of Alexandria. Clement is best remembered as the teacher of Origen...

 (155-215) and Origen of Alexandria (185-253). Unlike The Second Epistle of Peter, the authorship of which was debated in antiquity, there was little debate about Peter’s authorship of this first epistle until the 18th century. Although 2 Peter internally purports to be a work of the apostle, many biblical scholars have concluded that Peter is not the author. For an early date and (usually) for a defense of the Apostle Peter's authorship see Kruger, Zahn, Spitta, Bigg, and Green.

Johannine Literature


What is studied as Johannine Literature are five works in the New Testament Canon that are linked based on authorship. The Gospel of John, the three Epistles of John, and Revelation were largely agreed upon as being penned by the same hand according to the Patristic Literature. This up for debate in modern scholarly circles, but for the purposes of analyzation in academic and scholarly settings the Gospel and Epistles are combined under the construct "Johannine Literature" while the book of Revelation falls under "Apocryphal Literature." The Johannine corpus is also strongly associated with the Church at Ephesus, which John is purported to have pastored during the 1st century.

Johannine Epistles


The First Epistle of John
First Epistle of John
The First Epistle of John, often referred to as First John and written 1 John, is a book of the New Testament. This fourth catholic or "general" epistle is attributed to John the Evangelist, traditionally thought to be the author of the Gospel of John and the other two Epistles of John. This...

 is traditionally held to have been composed by John the Apostle
John the Apostle
John the Apostle, John the Apostle, John the Apostle, (Aramaic Yoħanna, (c. 6 - c. 100) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James, another of the Twelve Apostles...

 (the author of the Gospel of John
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

) when the writer was in advanced age. The epistle's content, language and conceptual style indicate that it may have had the same author as the Gospel of John, 2 John, and 3 John. Eusebius claimed that the author of 2nd and 3rd John were not John the Apostle
John the Apostle
John the Apostle, John the Apostle, John the Apostle, (Aramaic Yoħanna, (c. 6 - c. 100) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James, another of the Twelve Apostles...

 an "elder John" which refers either to the apostle at an advanced age or a hypothetical second individual ("John the Elder"). Scholars today are divided on the issue. The Epistle of Jude
Epistle of Jude
The Epistle of Jude, often shortened to Jude, is the penultimate book of the New Testament and is attributed to Jude, the brother of James the Just. - Composition :...

 title is written as follows: "Jude, a servant of Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 Christ and a brother of James" (NRSV
New Revised Standard Version
The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible is an English translation of the Bible released in 1989 in the USA. It is a thorough revision of the Revised Standard Version .There are three editions of the NRSV:...

). The debate has continued over the author's identity as the apostle, the brother of Jesus, both, or neither.

Revelation (The Apocalyptic Vision of John)


The author of the Book of Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

 identifies himself several times as "John". The author also states that he was on Patmos
Patmos
Patmos is a small Greek island in the Aegean Sea. One of the northernmost islands of the Dodecanese complex, it has a population of 2,984 and an area of . The highest point is Profitis Ilias, 269 meters above sea level. The Municipality of Patmos, which includes the offshore islands of Arkoi ,...

 when he received his first vision. As a result, the author of Revelation is sometimes referred to as John of Patmos
John of Patmos
John of Patmos is the name given, in the Book of Revelation, as the author of the apocalyptic text that is traditionally cannonized in the New Testament...

. The author, named John, has traditionally been identified with John the Apostle
John the Apostle
John the Apostle, John the Apostle, John the Apostle, (Aramaic Yoħanna, (c. 6 - c. 100) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James, another of the Twelve Apostles...

, to whom the Gospel of John is also attributed. The traditional view holds that John the Apostle
John the Apostle
John the Apostle, John the Apostle, John the Apostle, (Aramaic Yoħanna, (c. 6 - c. 100) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. He was the son of Zebedee and Salome, and brother of James, another of the Twelve Apostles...

—considered to have written the Gospel
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

 and the epistles of John
Epistles of John
Three books in the New Testament, thought to have been written between 90-100, are collectively called the Epistles of John:*First Epistle of John*Second Epistle of John*Third Epistle of JohnThe traditional author of these letters is John the Evangelist....

—was exiled to the island of Patmos during the reign of the Roman emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 Domitian
Domitian
Domitian was Roman Emperor from 81 to 96. Domitian was the third and last emperor of the Flavian dynasty.Domitian's youth and early career were largely spent in the shadow of his brother Titus, who gained military renown during the First Jewish-Roman War...

, and there wrote Revelation. Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr, also known as just Saint Justin , was an early Christian apologist. Most of his works are lost, but two apologies and a dialogue survive. He is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church....

 (c. 100-165 AD) who was acquainted with Polycarp
Polycarp
Saint Polycarp was a 2nd century Christian bishop of Smyrna. According to the Martyrdom of Polycarp, he died a martyr, bound and burned at the stake, then stabbed when the fire failed to touch him...

, who had been mentored by John, makes a possible allusion to this book, and credits John as the source. Irenaeus
Irenaeus
Saint Irenaeus , was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, then a part of the Roman Empire . He was an early church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology...

 (c. 115-202) assumes it as a conceded point. According to the Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, modern scholars are divided between the apostolic view and several alternative hypotheses which have been put forth in the last hundred years or so.

Dates of composition


The earliest works which came to be part of the New Testament are the letters of the Apostle Paul. The Gospel of Mark has been dated from as early as the 50s, although many scholars date between the range of 65 and 72. Many scholars believe that Matthew and Luke were written after the composition of Mark as they make use of Mark's content. Therefore they are generally dated later than Mark, although the extent is debated. Matthew has been dated between 70 and 85. Luke has been placed within 80 to 95. However, a select few scholars date the Gospel of Luke much earlier, as Luke indicates in the book of Acts that he has already written the Gospel of Luke prior to writing the introduction to Acts.

The earliest of the books of the New Testament was First Thessalonians, an epistle of Paul
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

, written probably in AD 51, or possibly Galatians
Epistle to the Galatians
The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, often shortened to Galatians, is the ninth book of the New Testament. It is a letter from Paul of Tarsus to a number of Early Christian communities in the Roman province of Galatia in central Anatolia...

 in 49 according to one of two theories of its writing. Of the pseudepigraphical epistles, scholars tend to place them somewhere between 70 and 150, with Second Peter usually being the latest.

In the 1830s German scholars of the Tübingen school tried to date the books as late as the 3rd century, but the discovery of some New Testament manuscripts
Biblical manuscript
A biblical manuscript is any handwritten copy of a portion of the text of the Bible. The word Bible comes from the Greek biblia ; manuscript comes from Latin manu and scriptum...

 and fragments from the 2nd and 3rd centuries, one of which dates as early as AD 125 (Papyrus 52), disproves a 3rd century date of composition for any book now in the New Testament. Additionally, a letter to the church at Corinth
First Epistle of Clement
The First Epistle of Clement, is a letter addressed to the Christians in the city of Corinth. The letter dates from the late 1st or early 2nd century, and ranks with Didache as one of the earliest — if not the earliest — of extant Christian documents outside the canonical New Testament...

 in the name of Clement of Rome in AD. 95 quotes from 10 of the 27 books of the New Testament, and a letter to the church at Philippi in the name of Polycarp
Polycarp's letter to the Philippians
The Letter to the Philippians is an epistle composed around 110 to 140 ADby one of the Apostolic Fathers, Polycarp of Smyrna from Antioch, to the early Christian church in Philippi...

 in 120 quotes from 16 books. Therefore, some of the books of the New Testament were at least in a first-draft stage, though there is negligible evidence in these quotes or among biblical manuscripts for the existence of different early drafts. Other books were probably not completed until later, assuming they must have been quoted by Clement or Polycarp
Polycarp
Saint Polycarp was a 2nd century Christian bishop of Smyrna. According to the Martyrdom of Polycarp, he died a martyr, bound and burned at the stake, then stabbed when the fire failed to touch him...

. There are trivial discrepancies between manuscripts; the majority of the errors are clearly errors of transcription or very minor in scope.

However, John A. T. Robinson and other scholars argued for a much earlier dating, based on the fact that the New Testament writings make no mention of (1) the Great Fire of Rome (A.D. 64), one of the most destructive fires in Roman history, which Emperor Nero blamed on the Christians, and led to the first major persecution of believers; (2) the final years and deaths of Paul, who wrote most of the epistles, Peter, whom Catholics recognize as the first pope, and the other apostles; (3) Nero's suicide (A.D. 68); or (4) the total destruction of the temple in Jerusalem (A.D. 70), which Robinson thought should certainly have appeared, considering the importance of that event for Jews and Christians of that time. Jesus prophesies its total destruction in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but the fulfillment of that prophecy never appears anywhere in the New Testament. Therefore, Robinson claimed that every book which would come to form the New Testament was written before AD. 70.

Etymology of the term "New Testament"


Use of the term New Testament to describe a collection of Christian scriptures can be traced back to the Latin Novum Testamentum first coined by Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

, who was probably referring to the Latin Vetus Latina
Vetus Latina
Vetus Latina is a collective name given to the Biblical texts in Latin that were translated before St Jerome's Vulgate Bible became the standard Bible for Latin-speaking Western Christians. The phrase Vetus Latina is Latin for Old Latin, and the Vetus Latina is sometimes known as the Old Latin Bible...

. Some believe this in turn is a translation of the earlier Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

 καινὴ διαθήκη. This Greek phrase is found in the text of the New Testament itself, but it carries the meaning "New Covenant
New Covenant
The New Covenant is a concept originally derived from the Hebrew Bible. The term "New Covenant" is used in the Bible to refer to an epochal relationship of restoration and peace following a period of trial and judgment...

" and is so translated (see Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:25, 2 Corinthains 3:6, Hebrews 8:8, and Hebrews 9:15; cf. 2 Cor 3:14) in most English translations of the Bible
English translations of the Bible
The efforts of translating the Bible from its original languages into over 2,000 others have spanned more than two millennia. Partial translations of the Bible into languages of the English people can be traced back to the end of the 7th century, including translations into Old English and Middle...

. The phrase also appears earlier, in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

). In Jeremiah
Jeremiah
Jeremiah Hebrew:יִרְמְיָה , Modern Hebrew:Yirməyāhū, IPA: jirməˈjaːhu, Tiberian:Yirmĭyahu, Greek:Ἰερεμίας), meaning "Yahweh exalts", or called the "Weeping prophet" was one of the main prophets of the Hebrew Bible...

 31:31, the Septuagint used this Greek phrase to translate the original Hebrew
Biblical Hebrew language
Biblical Hebrew , also called Classical Hebrew , is the archaic form of the Hebrew language, a Canaanite Semitic language spoken in the area known as Canaan between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Biblical Hebrew is attested from about the 10th century BCE, and persisted through...

 ברית חדשה (berit chadashah). The Hebrew term is also usually translated New Covenant. Nonetheless, "New Testament" and "New Covenant", though different terms, are commonly conflated.

As a result, some claim the term was first used by Early Christians to refer to the New Covenant that was the basis for their relationship with God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

. About two centuries later at the time of Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

 and Lactantius
Lactantius
Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius was an early Christian author who became an advisor to the first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine I, guiding his religious policy as it developed, and tutor to his son.-Biography:...

, the phrase was being used to designate a particular collection of books that some believed embodied this new covenant.

Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

, writing in the early-3rd century, offers the first known use the terms novum testamentum/new testament and vetus testamentum/old testament. In Against Marcion book 3 (written in the early 3rd century, c. AD 208), chapter 14, he writes of

the Divine Word, who is doubly edged with the two testaments of the law
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 and the gospel
Gospel
A gospel is an account, often written, that describes the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In a more general sense the term "gospel" may refer to the good news message of the New Testament. It is primarily used in reference to the four canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John...



And in book 4, chapter 6, he writes that

it is certain that the whole aim at which he [Marcion] has strenuously laboured even in the drawing up of his Antitheses, centres in this, that he may establish a diversity between the Old and the New Testaments, so that his own Christ
Christ
Christ is the English term for the Greek meaning "the anointed one". It is a translation of the Hebrew , usually transliterated into English as Messiah or Mashiach...

 may be separate from the Creator, as belonging to this rival god, and as alien from the law and the prophets.

By the 4th century, the existence—even if not the exact contents—of both an Old and New Testament had been established. Lactantius
Lactantius
Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius was an early Christian author who became an advisor to the first Christian Roman emperor, Constantine I, guiding his religious policy as it developed, and tutor to his son.-Biography:...

, a Christian author of the 3rd and 4th century who wrote in Latin, in his early-4th-century Divine Institutes, book 4, chapter 20, wrote:

But all scripture is divided into two Testaments. That which preceded the advent and passion of Christ—that is, the law
Torah
Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five books of the bible—Genesis , Exodus , Leviticus , Numbers and Deuteronomy Torah- A scroll containing the first five books of the BibleThe Torah , is name given by Jews to the first five...

 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, even Christ, who, having suffered death for us, made us heirs of His everlasting kingdom, the people of the Jews being deprived and disinherited. As the prophet Jeremiah testifies when he speaks such things: [Jer 31:31–32] "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new testament to the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not according to the testament which I made to their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; for they continued not in my testament, and I disregarded them, saith the Lord." ... For that which He said above, that He would make a new testament to the house of Judah, shows that the old testament which was given by Moses was not perfect; but that which was to be given by Christ would be complete.

Canonization


The process of the canonization of the New Testament was complex and lengthy. It was characterized by a compilation of books that the apostolic tradition considered authoritative in worship and teaching, relevant to the historical situations in which they lived, and consonant with the Old Testament.

The New Testament canon developed over many centuries. The 3rd century Church Father Origen
Origen
Origen , or Origen Adamantius, 184/5–253/4, was an early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. As early as the fourth century, his orthodoxy was suspect, in part because he believed in the pre-existence of souls...

 was largely responsible for the collection of usage information regarding the texts which became the New Testament. The information used to create the late-4th-century Easter Letter
Easter letter
In AD 367, Athanasius of Alexandria authored the 39th Festal Letter, or Easter letter, which was approved at the Quinisext Council. In it, he listed the same 27 books of the New Testament that are in use today...

, which declared accepted Christian writings, was probably based on the Ecclesiastical History [HE] of Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea also called Eusebius Pamphili, was a Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon...

, wherein he uses the information passed on to him by Origen to create both his list at HE 3:25 and Origen’s list at HE 6:25. Eusebius got his information about what texts were then accepted and what were then disputed
Antilegomena
Antilegomena, a direct transliteration from the Greek , refers to written texts whose authenticity or value is disputed.Eusebius in his Church History written c. 325 used the term for those Christian scriptures that were "disputed" or literally those works which were "spoken against" in Early...

, by the third-century churches throughout the known world
Early centers of Christianity
Early Christianity spread from Western Asia, throughout the Roman Empire, and beyond into East Africa and South Asia, reaching as far as India. At first, this development was closely connected to centers of Hebrew faith, in the Holy Land and the Jewish diaspora...

, a great deal of which Origen knew of firsthand from his extensive travels, from the library and writings of Origen. In fact, Origen would have possibly included in his list of “inspired writings” other texts which were kept out by the likes of Eusebius, including the Epistle of Barnabas
Epistle of Barnabas
The Epistle of Barnabas is a Greek epistle containing twenty-one chapters, preserved complete in the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus where it appears at the end of the New Testament...

, Shepherd of Hermas, and 1 Clement. Notwithstanding these facts, "Origen is not the originator of the idea of biblical canon, but he certainly gives the philosophical and literary-interpretative underpinnings for the whole notion."

On the question of NT Canon formation generally, New Testament scholar Lee Martin McDonald has written that:

Although a number of Christians have thought that church councils determined what books were to be included in the biblical canons, a more accurate reflection of the matter is that the councils recognized or acknowledged those books that had already obtained prominence from usage among the various early Christian communities.


Christian scholars assert that when these bishops and councils spoke on the matter, they were not defining something new, but instead "were ratifying what had already become the mind of the Church".

Some synods of the 4th century published lists of canonical books (e.g. Hippo
Synod of Hippo
The Synod of Hippo refers to the synod of 393 which was hosted in Hippo Regius in northern Africa during the early Christian Church. Additional synods were held in 394, 397, 401 and 426....

 and Carthage). The existing 27-book canon of the New Testament was reconfirmed (for Roman Catholicism) in the 16th century with the Council of Trent
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It is considered to be one of the Church's most important councils. It convened in Trent between December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563 in twenty-five sessions for three periods...

 (also called the Tridentine Council) of 1546, the Thirty-Nine Articles
Thirty-Nine Articles
The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion are the historically defining statements of doctrines of the Anglican church with respect to the controversies of the English Reformation. First established in 1563, the articles served to define the doctrine of the nascent Church of England as it related to...

 of 1563 for the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

, the Westminster Confession of Faith
Westminster Confession of Faith
The Westminster Confession of Faith is a Reformed confession of faith, in the Calvinist theological tradition. Although drawn up by the 1646 Westminster Assembly, largely of the Church of England, it became and remains the 'subordinate standard' of doctrine in the Church of Scotland, and has been...

 of 1647 for Calvinism
Calvinism
Calvinism is a Protestant theological system and an approach to the Christian life...

, and the Synod of Jerusalem
Synod of Jerusalem
The Synod of Jerusalem was convened by Greek Orthodox Patriarch Dositheos Notaras in March, 1672. Because the occasion was the consecration of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, it is also called the Synod of Bethlehem....

 of 1672 for Eastern Orthodoxy. Although these councils did include statements about the canon, when it came to the New Testament they were only reaffirming the existing canon, including the Antilegomena
Antilegomena
Antilegomena, a direct transliteration from the Greek , refers to written texts whose authenticity or value is disputed.Eusebius in his Church History written c. 325 used the term for those Christian scriptures that were "disputed" or literally those works which were "spoken against" in Early...

.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia
Catholic Encyclopedia
The Catholic Encyclopedia, also referred to as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia and the Original Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in the United States. The first volume appeared in March 1907 and the last three volumes appeared in 1912, followed by a master index...

 article on the Canon of the New Testament: "The idea of a complete and clear-cut canon of the New Testament existing from the beginning, that is from Apostolic times, has no foundation in history. The Canon of the New Testament, like that of the Old, is the result of a development, of a process at once stimulated by disputes with doubters, both within and without the Church, and retarded by certain obscurities and natural hesitations, and which did not reach its final term until the dogmatic definition of the Tridentine Council
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It is considered to be one of the Church's most important councils. It convened in Trent between December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563 in twenty-five sessions for three periods...

."

In the initial centuries of the Christian church, Early Christianity
Early Christianity
Early Christianity is generally considered as Christianity before 325. The New Testament's Book of Acts and Epistle to the Galatians records that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included James, Peter and John....

, there was no single New Testament canon that was universally recognized.

One of the earliest attempts at solidifying a canon was made by Marcion, c. AD 140, who accepted only a modified version of Luke (Gospel of Marcion
Gospel of Marcion
The Gospel of Marcion, called by its adherents the Gospel of the Lord, was a text used by the mid-2nd century Christian teacher Marcion to the exclusion of the other gospels...

) and ten of Paul's letters, while rejecting the Old Testament entirely. His canon was increasingly rejected by other groups of Christians, notably the proto-orthodox Christians
Proto-orthodox Christianity
Proto-orthodox Christianity is a term, coined by New Testament scholar Bart D. Ehrman, used to describe the Early Christian movement which was the precursor of Christian orthodoxy...

, as was his theology, Marcionism
Marcionism
Marcionism was an Early Christian dualist belief system that originated in the teachings of Marcion of Sinope at Rome around the year 144; see also Christianity in the 2nd century....

. Adolf Harnack in Origin of the New Testament (1914) observed that the church at this time was largely an Old Testament Church (one that "follows the Testament of the Creator-God") without a New Testament canon and that it gradually formulated its New Testament canon in response to the challenge posed by Marcion.

The Muratorian fragment
Muratorian fragment
The Muratorian fragment is a copy of perhaps the oldest known list of the books of the New Testament. The fragment, consisting of 85 lines, is a 7th-century Latin manuscript bound in an eighth or 7th century codex that came from the library of Columban's monastery at Bobbio; it contains internal...

, dated at between 170 (based on an internal reference to Pope Pius I
Pope Pius I
Pope Saint Pius I was Bishop of Rome, according to the Annuario Pontificio, from 142 or 146 to 157 or 161, respectively. Others suggest that his pontificate was perhaps from 140 to 154.-Early life:...

 and arguments put forth by Bruce Metzger
Bruce Metzger
Bruce Manning Metzger was a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and Bible editor who served on the board of the American Bible Society. He was a scholar of Greek, New Testament and Old Testament, and wrote prolifically on these subjects.- Biography :Metzger was born in Middletown,...

) and as late as the end of the 4th century (according to the Anchor Bible Dictionary), may be the earliest known New Testament canon attributed to mainstream (that is, not Marcionite) Christianity. It is similar, but not identical, to the modern New Testament canon.

The oldest clear endorsement of Mark, Matthew, Luke, and John being the only legitimate gospels was written c. 180 AD. It was a claim made by Bishop Irenaeus
Irenaeus
Saint Irenaeus , was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, then a part of the Roman Empire . He was an early church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology...

 in his polemic Against the Heresies, for example III.XI.8: "It is not possible that the gospels can be either more or fewer in number than they are. For, since there are four zones of the world in which we live, and four principal winds, while the church is scattered throughout all the world, and the “pillar and ground” of the church is the gospel and the spirit of life; it is fitting that she should have four pillars, breathing out immortality on every side, and vivifying men afresh."

At least, then, the books considered to be authoritative by Irenaeus included the four gospels and many of the letters of Paul, though, based on the arguments Irenaeus made in support of only four authentic gospels, some interpreters deduce that the fourfold Gospel must have still been a novelty in Irenaeus's time. Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr, also known as just Saint Justin , was an early Christian apologist. Most of his works are lost, but two apologies and a dialogue survive. He is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church....

, Irenaeus, and Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

 (all 2nd century) held the letters of Paul to be on par with the Hebrew scriptures as being divinely inspired, yet others rejected him. Other books were held in high esteem but were gradually relegated to the status of New Testament Apocrypha
New Testament apocrypha
The New Testament apocrypha are a number of writings by early Christians that claim to be accounts of Jesus and his teachings, the nature of God, or the teachings of his apostles and of their lives. These writings often have links with books regarded as "canonical"...

.

Eusebius, c. 300, gave a detailed list of New Testament writings in his Ecclesiastical History Book 3, Chapter XXV:
"1... First then must be put the holy quaternion of the gospels; following them the Acts of the Apostles
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

... the epistles of Paul
Pauline epistles
The Pauline epistles, Epistles of Paul, or Letters of Paul, are the thirteen New Testament books which have the name Paul as the first word, hence claiming authorship by Paul the Apostle. Among these letters are some of the earliest extant Christian documents...

... the epistle of John
First Epistle of John
The First Epistle of John, often referred to as First John and written 1 John, is a book of the New Testament. This fourth catholic or "general" epistle is attributed to John the Evangelist, traditionally thought to be the author of the Gospel of John and the other two Epistles of John. This...

... the epistle of Peter
First Epistle of Peter
The First Epistle of Peter, usually referred to simply as First Peter and often written 1 Peter, is a book of the New Testament. The author claims to be Saint Peter the apostle, and the epistle was traditionally held to have been written during his time as bishop of Rome or Bishop of Antioch,...

... After them is to be placed, if it really seem proper, the Book of Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

, concerning which we shall give the different opinions at the proper time. These then belong among the accepted writings."

"3 Among the disputed writings [Antilegomena
Antilegomena
Antilegomena, a direct transliteration from the Greek , refers to written texts whose authenticity or value is disputed.Eusebius in his Church History written c. 325 used the term for those Christian scriptures that were "disputed" or literally those works which were "spoken against" in Early...

], which are nevertheless recognized by many, are extant the so-called epistle of James
Epistle of James
The Epistle of James, usually referred to simply as James, is a book in the New Testament. The author identifies himself as "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ", with "the earliest extant manuscripts of James usually dated to mid-to-late third century."There are four views...

 and that of Jude
Epistle of Jude
The Epistle of Jude, often shortened to Jude, is the penultimate book of the New Testament and is attributed to Jude, the brother of James the Just. - Composition :...

, also the second epistle of Peter
Second Epistle of Peter
The Second Epistle of Peter, often referred to as Second Peter and written 2 Peter or in Roman numerals II Peter , is a book of the New Testament of the Bible, traditionally ascribed to Saint Peter, but in modern times NT scholars regard it as pseudepigraphical.It is the first New Testament book...

, and those that are called the second
Second Epistle of John
The Second Epistle of John, often referred to as Second John and often written 2 John, is a book of the New Testament attributed to John the Evangelist, traditionally thought to be the author of the Gospel of John and the other two epistles of John.- Composition :The language of this epistle is...

 and third of John
Third Epistle of John
The Third Epistle of John, often referred to as Third John and written 3 John, is a book of the New Testament attributed to John the Evangelist, traditionally thought to be the author of the Gospel of John and the other two epistles of John...

, whether they belong to the evangelist
John the Evangelist
Saint John the Evangelist is the conventional name for the author of the Gospel of John...

 or to another person of the same name. Among the rejected [Kirsopp Lake translation: "not genuine"] writings must be reckoned also the Acts of Paul
Acts of Paul
The Acts of Paul is one of the major works and earliest pseudepigraphal series from the New Testament also known as Apocryphal Acts, an approximate date given to the Acts of Paul is 160 CE. The Acts were first mentioned by Tertullian. Tertullian found it heretical because it encouraged women to...

, and the so-called Shepherd, and the Apocalypse of Peter
Apocalypse of Peter
The recovered Apocalypse of Peter or Revelation of Peter is an example of a simple, popular early Christian text of the 2nd century; it is an example of Apocalyptic literature with Hellenistic overtones. The text is extant in two incomplete versions of a lost Greek original, one Koine Greek, and an...

, and in addition to these the extant epistle of Barnabas
Epistle of Barnabas
The Epistle of Barnabas is a Greek epistle containing twenty-one chapters, preserved complete in the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus where it appears at the end of the New Testament...

, and the so-called Teachings of the Apostles
Didache
The Didache or The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles is a brief early Christian treatise, dated by most scholars to the late first or early 2nd century...

; and besides, as I said, the Apocalypse of John
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

, if it seem proper, which some, as I said, reject, but which others class with the accepted books. And among these some have placed also the Gospel according to the Hebrews
Gospel of the Hebrews
The Gospel of the Hebrews , commonly shortened from the Gospel according to the Hebrews or simply called the Hebrew Gospel, is a hypothesised lost gospel preserved in fragments within the writings of the Church Fathers....

... And all these may be reckoned among the disputed books."

"6... such books as the Gospels of Peter
Gospel of Peter
The Gospel According to Peter , commonly called the Gospel of Peter, is one of the non-Canonical gospels which were rejected by the Church Fathers and the Catholic Church's synods of Carthage and Rome, which established the New Testament canon, as apocryphal...

, of Thomas
Gospel of Thomas
The Gospel According to Thomas, commonly shortened to the Gospel of Thomas, is a well preserved early Christian, non-canonical sayings-gospel discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in December 1945, in one of a group of books known as the Nag Hammadi library...

, of Matthias
Gospel of Matthias
The Gospel of Matthias is a lost text from the New Testament apocrypha, ascribed to Matthias, the apostle chosen by lots to replace Judas Iscariot . The content has been surmised from various descriptions of it in ancient works by church fathers . There is too little evidence to decide whether a...

, or of any others besides them, and the Acts of Andrew
Acts of Andrew
The Acts of Andrew , is the earliest testimony of the acts and miracles of the Apostle Andrew. The surviving version is alluded to in a 3rd century work, the Coptic Manichaean Psalter, providing a terminus ante quem, according to its editors, M.R. James and Jean-Marc Prieur in The Anchor Bible...

 and John
Acts of John
The Acts of John is a collection of narratives and traditions concerning John the Apostle, well described as a "library of materials" , inspired by the Gospel of John, long known in fragmentary form...

 and the other apostles... they clearly show themselves to be the fictions of heretics. Wherefore they are not to be placed even among the rejected writings, but are all of them to be cast aside as absurd and impious."


Revelation is counted as both accepted (Kirsopp Lake translation: "Recognized") and disputed, which has caused some confusion over what exactly Eusebius meant by doing so. From other writings of the church fathers, it was disputed with several canon lists rejecting its canonicity. EH 3.3.5 adds further detail on Paul: "Paul's fourteen epistles are well known and undisputed. It is not indeed right to overlook the fact that some have rejected the Epistle to the Hebrews
Epistle to the Hebrews
The Epistle to the Hebrews is one of the books in the New Testament. Its author is not known.The primary purpose of the Letter to the Hebrews is to exhort Christians to persevere in the face of persecution. The central thought of the entire Epistle is the doctrine of the Person of Christ and his...

, saying that it is disputed by the church of Rome, on the ground that it was not written by Paul." EH 4.29.6 mentions the Diatessaron
Diatessaron
The Diatessaron is the most prominent Gospel harmony created by Tatian, an early Christian apologist and ascetic. The term "diatessaron" is from Middle English by way of Latin, diatessarōn , and ultimately Greek, διὰ τεσσάρων The Diatessaron (c 160 - 175) is the most prominent Gospel harmony...

: "But their original founder, Tatian, formed a certain combination and collection of the gospels, I know not how, to which he gave the title Diatessaron, and which is still in the hands of some. But they say that he ventured to paraphrase certain words of the apostle [Paul], in order to improve their style."

In 331, Constantine I
Constantine I and Christianity
During the reign of the Emperor Constantine the Great, Christianity became the dominant religion of the Roman Empire. Constantine, also known as Constantine I, had a significant religious experience following his victory at the Battle of Milvian Bridge in 312...

 commissioned Eusebius to deliver fifty Bibles
Fifty Bibles of Constantine
The Fifty Bibles of Constantine were fifty Bibles commissioned in 331 by Constantine I and prepared by Eusebius of Caesarea. They were made for the use of the Bishop of Constantinople in the growing number of orthodox churches. It was described by Eusebius in his Life of Constantine and his account...

 for the Church of Constantinople. Athanasius (Apol. Const. 4) recorded Alexandrian scribes around 340 preparing Bibles for Constans
Constans
Constans , was Roman Emperor from 337 to 350. He defeated his brother Constantine II in 340, but anger in the army over his personal life and preference for his barbarian bodyguards saw the general Magnentius rebel, resulting in Constans’ assassination in 350.-Career:Constans was the third and...

. Little else is known, though there is plenty of speculation. For example, it is speculated that this may have provided motivation for canon lists, and that Codex Vaticanus and Codex Sinaiticus
Codex Sinaiticus
Codex Sinaiticus is one of the four great uncial codices, an ancient, handwritten copy of the Greek Bible. It is an Alexandrian text-type manuscript written in the 4th century in uncial letters on parchment. Current scholarship considers the Codex Sinaiticus to be one of the best Greek texts of...

 may be examples of these Bibles. Together with the Peshitta
Peshitta
The Peshitta is the standard version of the Bible for churches in the Syriac tradition.The Old Testament of the Peshitta was translated into Syriac from the Hebrew, probably in the 2nd century AD...

 and Codex Alexandrinus
Codex Alexandrinus
The Codex Alexandrinus is a 5th century manuscript of the Greek Bible,The Greek Bible in this context refers to the Bible used by Greek-speaking Christians who lived in Egypt and elsewhere during the early history of Christianity...

, these are the earliest extant Christian Bibles. There is no evidence among the canons of the First Council of Nicaea of any determination on the canon.

The New Testament canon as it is now was first listed by St. Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria
Athanasius of Alexandria [b. ca. – d. 2 May 373] is also given the titles St. Athanasius the Great, St. Athanasius I of Alexandria, St Athanasius the Confessor and St Athanasius the Apostolic. He was the 20th bishop of Alexandria. His long episcopate lasted 45 years Athanasius of Alexandria [b....

, in 367, in a letter written to his churches in Egypt, Festal Letter 39. Also cited is the Council of Rome
Council of Rome
The Council of Rome was a meeting of Christian Church officials and theologians which took place in 382 under the authority of the bishop of Rome, Damasus I. The previous year, the Emperor Theodosius I had appointed the "dark horse" candidate Nectarius Archbishop of Constantinople...

, but not without controversy. That canon gained wider and wider recognition until it was accepted at the Third Council of Carthage in 397 and 419. Even this council did not settle the matter, however. Certain books, referred to as Antilegomena
Antilegomena
Antilegomena, a direct transliteration from the Greek , refers to written texts whose authenticity or value is disputed.Eusebius in his Church History written c. 325 used the term for those Christian scriptures that were "disputed" or literally those works which were "spoken against" in Early...

, continued to be questioned, especially James
Epistle of James
The Epistle of James, usually referred to simply as James, is a book in the New Testament. The author identifies himself as "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ", with "the earliest extant manuscripts of James usually dated to mid-to-late third century."There are four views...

 and Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

. Even as late as the 16th century, the Reformer Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

 questioned (but in the end did not reject) the Epistle of James
Epistle of James
The Epistle of James, usually referred to simply as James, is a book in the New Testament. The author identifies himself as "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ", with "the earliest extant manuscripts of James usually dated to mid-to-late third century."There are four views...

, the Epistle of Jude
Epistle of Jude
The Epistle of Jude, often shortened to Jude, is the penultimate book of the New Testament and is attributed to Jude, the brother of James the Just. - Composition :...

, the Epistle to the Hebrews
Epistle to the Hebrews
The Epistle to the Hebrews is one of the books in the New Testament. Its author is not known.The primary purpose of the Letter to the Hebrews is to exhort Christians to persevere in the face of persecution. The central thought of the entire Epistle is the doctrine of the Person of Christ and his...

 and the Book of Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

. To this day, German-language
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 Luther Bible
Luther Bible
The Luther Bible is a German Bible translation by Martin Luther, first printed with both testaments in 1534. This translation became a force in shaping the Modern High German language. The project absorbed Luther's later years. The new translation was very widely disseminated thanks to the printing...

s are printed with these four books at the end of the canon, rather than in their traditional order as in other editions of the Bible. In light of this questioning of the canon of Scripture by Protestants in the 16th century, the (Roman Catholic) Council of Trent
Council of Trent
The Council of Trent was the 16th-century Ecumenical Council of the Roman Catholic Church. It is considered to be one of the Church's most important councils. It convened in Trent between December 13, 1545, and December 4, 1563 in twenty-five sessions for three periods...

 reaffirmed the traditional western canon (i.e., the canon accepted at the 4th-century Council of Rome
Council of Rome
The Council of Rome was a meeting of Christian Church officials and theologians which took place in 382 under the authority of the bishop of Rome, Damasus I. The previous year, the Emperor Theodosius I had appointed the "dark horse" candidate Nectarius Archbishop of Constantinople...

 and Council of Carthage), thus making the Canon of Trent
Canon of Trent
Though many canons or canon laws were formulated as a result of the 16th century Ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church known as the Council of Trent, the phrase Canon of Trent usually refers to the list of biblical books that were from then on to be considered canonical...

 and the Vulgate
Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

 Bible dogma in the Catholic Church. Later, Pope Pius XI
Pope Pius XI
Pope Pius XI , born Ambrogio Damiano Achille Ratti, was Pope from 6 February 1922, and sovereign of Vatican City from its creation as an independent state on 11 February 1929 until his death on 10 February 1939...

 on June 2, 1927 decreed the Comma Johanneum
Comma Johanneum
The Comma Johanneum is a comma in the First Epistle of John according to the Latin Vulgate text as transmitted since the Early Middle Ages, based on Vetus Latina minority readings dating to the 7th century...

 was open to dispute and Pope Pius XII
Pope Pius XII
The Venerable Pope Pius XII , born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli , reigned as Pope, head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of Vatican City State, from 2 March 1939 until his death in 1958....

 on 3 September 1943 decreed the Divino Afflante Spiritu
Divino Afflante Spiritu
Divino Afflante Spiritu is an encyclical letter issued by Pope Pius XII on September 30, 1943. It inaugurated the modern period of Roman Catholic Bible studies by permitting the limited use of modern methods of biblical criticism. The Catholic bible scholar Raymond E...

 which allowed translations based on other versions than just the Latin Vulgate
Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

, notably in English the New American Bible
New American Bible
The New American Bible is a Catholic Bible translation first published in 1970. It had its beginnings in the Confraternity Bible, which began to be translated from the original languages in 1948....

.

A letter entitled Epistle to the Laodiceans
Epistle to the Laodiceans
An Epistle to the Laodiceans, purportedly written by Paul of Tarsus to the Laodicean Church, is mentioned in the canonical Epistle to the Colossians...

, consisting of 20 short lines, is found in some editions of the Vulgate
Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

, known only in Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

. The text was almost unanimously considered pseudepigraphal when Biblical canon was decided upon, and does not appear in any Greek copies of the Bible at all, nor is it known in Syriac or other versions. The epistle also appeared in John Wycliffe's Bible and in all the early German translations before Martin Luther
Martin Luther
Martin Luther was a German priest, professor of theology and iconic figure of the Protestant Reformation. He strongly disputed the claim that freedom from God's punishment for sin could be purchased with money. He confronted indulgence salesman Johann Tetzel with his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517...

's, and was thus evidently considered scriptural by much of the western church for quite some time.

Early manuscripts


Like other literature from antiquity
Ancient history
Ancient history is the study of the written past from the beginning of recorded human history to the Early Middle Ages. The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, with Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing, from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC...

, the text of the New Testament was (prior to the advent of the printing press
Printing press
A printing press is a device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a print medium , thereby transferring the ink...

) preserved and transmitted in manuscripts. Manuscripts containing at least a part of the New Testament number in the thousands. The earliest of these (like manuscripts containing other literature) are often very fragmentarily preserved. Some of these fragments have even been thought to date as early as the 2nd century (i.e., Papyrus 90, Papyrus 98, Papyrus 104, and famously Rylands Library Papyrus P52
Rylands Library Papyrus P52
The Rylands Library Papyrus P52, also known as the St John's fragment, is a fragment from a papyrus codex, measuring only 3.5 by 2.5 inches at its widest; and conserved with the Rylands Papyri at the John Rylands University Library , Manchester, UK...

, though the early date of the latter has recently been called into question). For each subsequent century, more and more manuscripts survive that contain a portion or all of the books that were held to be part of the New Testament at that time (for example, the New Testament of the 4th-century Codex Sinaiticus
Codex Sinaiticus
Codex Sinaiticus is one of the four great uncial codices, an ancient, handwritten copy of the Greek Bible. It is an Alexandrian text-type manuscript written in the 4th century in uncial letters on parchment. Current scholarship considers the Codex Sinaiticus to be one of the best Greek texts of...

, once a complete Bible, contains the Epistle of Barnabas
Epistle of Barnabas
The Epistle of Barnabas is a Greek epistle containing twenty-one chapters, preserved complete in the 4th century Codex Sinaiticus where it appears at the end of the New Testament...

 and the Shepherd of Hermas), though occasionally these manuscripts contain other works as well (e.g., Papyrus 72
Papyrus 72
Papyrus 72 is an early New Testament papyrus. It contains all the text of 1 Peter, 2 Peter, and Jude. Paleographically it had been assigned to the 3rd or 4th century.- Description :...

 and the Crosby-Schøyen Codex). The date at which a manuscript was written, however, does not necessarily reflect the date of the form of text it contains. That is, later manuscripts can, and occasionally do, contain older forms of text or older readings.

Some of the more important manuscripts containing an early text of books of the New Testament are:
  • The Chester Beatty Papyri
    Chester Beatty Papyri
    The Chester Beatty Biblical Papyri or simply the Chester Beatty Papyri are a group of early papyrus manuscripts of biblical texts. The manuscripts are in Greek and are of Christian origin. There are eleven manuscripts in the group, seven consisting of portions of Old Testament books, three...

     (Greek; the New Testament portions of which were copied in the 3rd century)
  • The Bodmer Papyri
    Bodmer Papyri
    The Bodmer Papyri are a group of twenty-two papyri discovered in Egypt in 1952. They are named after Martin Bodmer who purchased them. The papyri contain segments from the Old and New Testaments, early Christian literature, Homer and Menander. The oldest, P66 dates to c. 200. The papyri are kept at...

     (Greek and Coptic; the New Testament portions of which were copied in the 3rd and 4th centuries)
  • Codex Bobiensis
    Codex Bobiensis
    Codex Bobiensis is a fragmentary Latin manuscript of the bible. Specifically, it is an example of a Vetus Latina bible, which were used from the 2nd century until Jerome's Latin translation, the Vulgate, was written in the 5th century. The text contains parts of the Gospel of Mark and Gospel of...

     (Latin; copied in the 4th century, but containing at least a 3rd-century form of text)
  • Uncial 0171
    Uncial 0171
    Uncial 0171 , ε 07 is two vellum leaves of a late third century Greek uncial codex containing fragments Matthew and Luke. In the Berlin Matthew and Florence Luke are taken. Matthew is a part of the Medici Library collection in Florence, Luke – Staatliche Museen zu Berlin Uncial 0171 (in the...

     (Greek; copied in the late-third or early 4th century)
  • Syriac Sinaiticus (Syriac; copied in the 4th century)
  • Schøyen Manuscript
    Schoyen Collection
    The Schøyen Collection is the largest private manuscript collection in the world, mostly located in Oslo and London. Formed in the 20th century by Martin Schøyen, it comprises manuscripts of global provenance, spanning 5,000 years of history. It contains more than 13,000 manuscript items; the...

     2560 (Coptic; copied in the 4th century)
  • Codex Vaticanus
    Codex Vaticanus
    The Codex Vaticanus , is one of the oldest extant manuscripts of the Greek Bible , one of the four great uncial codices. The Codex is named for the residence in the Vatican Library, where it has been stored since at least the 15th century...

     (Greek; copied in the 4th century)
  • Codex Sinaiticus
    Codex Sinaiticus
    Codex Sinaiticus is one of the four great uncial codices, an ancient, handwritten copy of the Greek Bible. It is an Alexandrian text-type manuscript written in the 4th century in uncial letters on parchment. Current scholarship considers the Codex Sinaiticus to be one of the best Greek texts of...

     (Greek; copied in the 4th century)
  • Codex Vercellensis
    Codex Vercellensis
    The title Codex Vercellensis refers to two manuscript codices preserved in the cathedral library of Vercelli, in the Piedmont Region, Italy.- Old Latin Codex Vercellensis :...

     (Latin; copied in the 4th century)
  • Curetonian Gospels
    Curetonian Gospels
    The Curetonian Gospels, designated by the siglum syrcur, are contained in a manuscript of the four gospels of the New Testament in Old Syriac, a translation from the Aramaic originals, according to William Cureton differing considerably from the canonical Greek texts, with which they had been...

     (Syriac; copied in the 5th century)

Textual variation



Textual criticism
Textual criticism
Textual criticism is a branch of literary criticism that is concerned with the identification and removal of transcription errors in the texts of manuscripts...

 deals with the identification and removal of transcription
Transcription (linguistics)
Transcription in the linguistic sense is the systematic representation of language in written form. The source can either be utterances or preexisting text in another writing system, although some linguists only consider the former as transcription.Transcription should not be confused with...

 errors in the texts
Writing
Writing is the representation of language in a textual medium through the use of a set of signs or symbols . It is distinguished from illustration, such as cave drawing and painting, and non-symbolic preservation of language via non-textual media, such as magnetic tape audio.Writing most likely...

 of manuscripts. Ancient scribes
Scribes
Scribes is a minimalist and extensible text editor for GNOME that combines simplicity with power. Scribes focuses on ways workflow and productivity can be intelligently automated and radically improved...

 made errors or alterations (such as including non-authentic additions
Interpolation (manuscripts)
An interpolation, in relation to literature and especially ancient manuscripts, is an entry or passage in a text that was not written by the original author...

). The New Testament has been preserved in more than 5,800 Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 manuscripts, 10,000 Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 manuscripts and 9,300 manuscripts in various other ancient languages including Syriac
Syriac language
Syriac is a dialect of Middle Aramaic that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. Having first appeared as a script in the 1st century AD after being spoken as an unwritten language for five centuries, Classical Syriac became a major literary language throughout the Middle East from...

, Slavic
Slavic languages
The Slavic languages , a group of closely related languages of the Slavic peoples and a subgroup of Indo-European languages, have speakers in most of Eastern Europe, in much of the Balkans, in parts of Central Europe, and in the northern part of Asia.-Branches:Scholars traditionally divide Slavic...

, Ethiopic and Armenian
Armenian language
The Armenian language is an Indo-European language spoken by the Armenian people. It is the official language of the Republic of Armenia as well as in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The language is also widely spoken by Armenian communities in the Armenian diaspora...

. Even if the original Greek versions were lost, the entire New Testament could still be assembled from the translations. In addition, there are so many quotes from the New Testament in early church documents and commentaries that the entire New Testament could also be assembled from these alone. Not all biblical manuscripts come from orthodox Christian writers. For example, the Gnostic writings of Valentinus
Valentinus (Gnostic)
Valentinus was the best known and for a time most successful early Christian gnostic theologian. He founded his school in Rome...

 come from the 2nd century AD, and these Christians were regarded as heretics by the mainstream church. The sheer number of witnesses presents unique difficulties, but it also gives scholars a better idea of how close modern bibles are to the original versions. On noting the large number of surviving ancient manuscripts, Bruce Metzger
Bruce Metzger
Bruce Manning Metzger was a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and Bible editor who served on the board of the American Bible Society. He was a scholar of Greek, New Testament and Old Testament, and wrote prolifically on these subjects.- Biography :Metzger was born in Middletown,...

 sums up the view on the issue by saying "The more often you have copies that agree with each other, especially if they emerge from different geographical areas, the more you can cross-check them to figure out what the original document was like. The only way they'd agree would be where they went back genealogically in a family tree that represents the descent of the manuscripts.

A similar type of textual criticism is applied to other ancient texts. There are far fewer witnesses to classical texts than to the Bible, and unlike the New Testament where the earliest witnesses are often within a couple decades of the original, the earliest existing manuscripts of most classical texts were written about a millennium after their composition. For example, the earliest surviving copies of parts of the Roman historian Tacitus'
Tacitus
Publius Cornelius Tacitus was a senator and a historian of the Roman Empire. The surviving portions of his two major works—the Annals and the Histories—examine the reigns of the Roman Emperors Tiberius, Claudius, Nero and those who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors...

 main work, the Annals of Imperial Rome (written in 116 AD), come from a single manuscript written in 850 AD, although for other parts of his work, the earliest copies come from the 11th century, while other parts of his work have been lost. The earliest copies of The Jewish War by Josephus
Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 (originally composed in the 1st century AD), in contrast, come from nine manuscripts written in the 10th, 11th and 12th centuries. After the bible, the next best preserved ancient work is Homer's Iliad
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

, with 650 copies originating about 1,000 years after the original copy. Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic War (written in the 50s BC) survives in nine copies written in the 8th century. Thucydides'
Thucydides
Thucydides was a Greek historian and author from Alimos. His History of the Peloponnesian War recounts the 5th century BC war between Sparta and Athens to the year 411 BC...

 history of the Peloponesian War and Herodotus'
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 history of the Persian War
Greco-Persian Wars
The Greco-Persian Wars were a series of conflicts between the Achaemenid Empire of Persia and city-states of the Hellenic world that started in 499 BC and lasted until 449 BC. The collision between the fractious political world of the Greeks and the enormous empire of the Persians began when Cyrus...

 (both written in the 5th century BC) survives in about eight early copies, the oldest ones dating from the 10th century AD. Biblical scholar F. F. Bruce
F. F. Bruce
Frederick Fyvie Bruce was a Biblical scholar and one of the founders of the modern evangelical understanding of the Bible...

 has said "the evidence for our New Testament writings is ever so much greater than the evidence for many writings of classical authors, the authenticity of which no one dreams of questioning...It is a curious fact that historians have often been much readier to trust the New Testament records than have many theologians."

In attempting to determine the original text of the New Testament books, some modern textual critics have identified sections as additions of material, centuries after the gospel was written. These are called interpolations
Interpolation (manuscripts)
An interpolation, in relation to literature and especially ancient manuscripts, is an entry or passage in a text that was not written by the original author...

. In modern translations of the Bible, the results of textual criticism have led to certain verses, words and phrases being left out or marked as not original. According to Bart D. Ehrman
Bart D. Ehrman
Bart D. Ehrman is an American New Testament scholar, currently the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill....

, "These scribal additions are often found in late medieval manuscripts of the New Testament, but not in the manuscripts of the earlier centuries." Most modern Bibles have footnotes to indicate passages that have disputed source documents. Bible Commentaries also discuss these, sometimes in great detail. While many variations have been discovered between early copies of biblical texts, almost all have no importance, as they are variations in spelling, punctuation, or grammar. Also, many of these variants are so particular to the Greek language that they would not appear in translations into other languages. For example, order of words (i.e. "man bites dog" versus "dog bites man") often does not matter in Greek, so textual variants that flip the order of words often have no consequences. Outside of these unimportant variants, there are a couple variants of some importance, although even these are minor and can be left out of modern bibles without affecting any matter of theology or interpretation. The two most commonly cited examples are the last verses
Mark 16
Mark 16 is the final chapter of the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It begins with the discovery of the empty tomb by Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome — there they encounter a man dressed in white who announces the Resurrection of Jesus.Verse 8 ends...

 of the Gospel of Mark and the story of the adulterous woman in the Gospel of John. Some critics also believe the explicit reference
Comma Johanneum
The Comma Johanneum is a comma in the First Epistle of John according to the Latin Vulgate text as transmitted since the Early Middle Ages, based on Vetus Latina minority readings dating to the 7th century...

 to the Trinity
Trinity
The Christian doctrine of the Trinity defines God as three divine persons : the Father, the Son , and the Holy Spirit. The three persons are distinct yet coexist in unity, and are co-equal, co-eternal and consubstantial . Put another way, the three persons of the Trinity are of one being...

 in 1 John to have been a later addition. According to Normal Geisler and William Nix, "The New Testmaent, then, has not only survived in more manuscripts than any other book from antiquity, but it has survived in a purer form than any other great book—a form that is 99.5% pure"

The often referred to Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, a book written to prove the validity of the New Testament, says: ” A study of 150 Greek [manuscripts] of the Gospel of Luke has revealed more than 30,000 different readings... It is safe to say that there is not one sentence in the New Testament in which the [manuscript] is wholly uniform.” Most of the variation took place within the first three Christian centuries. By the 4th century, textual "families" or types of text become discernable among New Testament manuscripts
Biblical manuscript
A biblical manuscript is any handwritten copy of a portion of the text of the Bible. The word Bible comes from the Greek biblia ; manuscript comes from Latin manu and scriptum...

. A "text-type" is the name given to a family of texts with similar readings due to common ancestors and mutual correction. Many early manuscripts, however, contain individual readings from several different earlier forms of text. Modern texual critics have identified the following text-types among textual witnesses to the New Testament: The Alexandrian text-type
Alexandrian text-type
The Alexandrian text-type , associated with Alexandria, is one of several text-types used in New Testament textual criticism to describe and group the textual character of biblical manuscripts...

 is usually considered to generally preserve many early readings. It is represented, e.g., by Codex Vaticanus, Codex Sinaiticus
Codex Sinaiticus
Codex Sinaiticus is one of the four great uncial codices, an ancient, handwritten copy of the Greek Bible. It is an Alexandrian text-type manuscript written in the 4th century in uncial letters on parchment. Current scholarship considers the Codex Sinaiticus to be one of the best Greek texts of...

 and the Bodmer Papyri
Bodmer Papyri
The Bodmer Papyri are a group of twenty-two papyri discovered in Egypt in 1952. They are named after Martin Bodmer who purchased them. The papyri contain segments from the Old and New Testaments, early Christian literature, Homer and Menander. The oldest, P66 dates to c. 200. The papyri are kept at...

. The Western text-type
Western text-type
The Western text-type is one of several text-types used in textual criticism to describe and group the textual character of Greek New Testament manuscripts...

 is generally longer and can be paraphrastic, but can also preserve early readings. The Western version of the Acts of the Apostles is, notably, 8.5% longer than the Alexandrian form of the text. Examples of the Western text are found in Codex Bezae
Codex Bezae
The Codex Bezae Cantabrigensis, designated by siglum Dea or 05 , δ 5 , is a codex of the New Testament dating from the 5th century written in an uncial hand on vellum. It contains, in both Greek and Latin, most of the four Gospels and Acts, with a small fragment of the 3 John...

, Codex Claromontanus
Codex Claromontanus
Codex Claromontanus, symbolized by Dp or 06 , δ 1026 , is a Greek-Latin diglot uncial manuscript of the New Testament, written in an uncial hand on vellum. The Greek and Latin text on facing pages...

, Codex Washingtonianus
Codex Washingtonianus
The Codex Washingtonianus or Codex Washingtonensis, designated by W or 032 , ε 014 , also called the Washington Manuscript of the Gospels, and The Freer Gospel, contains the four biblical gospels and was written in Greek on vellum in the fourth or fifth century...

, the Old Latin
Vetus Latina
Vetus Latina is a collective name given to the Biblical texts in Latin that were translated before St Jerome's Vulgate Bible became the standard Bible for Latin-speaking Western Christians. The phrase Vetus Latina is Latin for Old Latin, and the Vetus Latina is sometimes known as the Old Latin Bible...

 (i.e., Latin translations made prior to the Vulgate
Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

), as well as in quotations by Marcion, Tatian
Tatian
Tatian the Assyrian was an Assyrian early Christian writer and theologian of the 2nd century.Tatian's most influential work is the Diatessaron, a Biblical paraphrase, or "harmony", of the four gospels that became the standard text of the four gospels in the Syriac-speaking churches until the...

, Irenaeus
Irenaeus
Saint Irenaeus , was Bishop of Lugdunum in Gaul, then a part of the Roman Empire . He was an early church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early development of Christian theology...

, Tertullian
Tertullian
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, anglicised as Tertullian , was a prolific early Christian author from Carthage in the Roman province of Africa. He is the first Christian author to produce an extensive corpus of Latin Christian literature. He also was a notable early Christian apologist and...

 and Cyprian
Cyprian
Cyprian was bishop of Carthage and an important Early Christian writer, many of whose Latin works are extant. He was born around the beginning of the 3rd century in North Africa, perhaps at Carthage, where he received a classical education...

. A text-type referred to as the "Caesarean text-type
Caesarean text-type
Caesarean text-type is the term proposed by certain scholars to denote a consistent pattern of variant readings that is claimed to be apparent in certain Greek manuscripts of the four Gospels, but which is not found in any of the other commonly recognized New Testament text-types; the Byzantine...

" and thought to have included witnesses such as Codex Koridethi
Codex Koridethi
The Codex Koridethi, also named Codex Coridethianus, designated by Θ, 038, or Theta , ε 050 , is a 9th century manuscript of the four Gospels. It is written in Greek with uncial script in two columns per page, in 25 lines per page...

 and minuscule 565, can today be described neither as "Caesarean" nor as a text-type as was previously thought. However, the Gospel of Mark in Papyrus 45
Papyrus 45
Papyrus 45 is an early New Testament manuscript which is a part of the Chester Beatty Papyri. It was probably created around 250 in Egypt. It contains the texts of Matthew 20-21 and 25-26; Mark 4-9 and 11-12; Luke 6-7 and 9-14; John 4-5 and 10-11; and Acts 4-17...

, Codex Washingtonianus
Codex Washingtonianus
The Codex Washingtonianus or Codex Washingtonensis, designated by W or 032 , ε 014 , also called the Washington Manuscript of the Gospels, and The Freer Gospel, contains the four biblical gospels and was written in Greek on vellum in the fourth or fifth century...

 and in Family 13
Family 13
Family 13, also known Ferrar Group , is a group of Greek Gospel manuscripts, varying in date from the 11th to the 15th century, which display a distinctive pattern of variant readings — especially in placing the story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery in the Gospel of Luke, rather than in...

 does indeed reflect a distinct type of text. Increasing standardization of distinct (and once local) text-types eventually gave rise to the Byzantine text-type
Byzantine text-type
The Byzantine text-type is one of several text-types used in textual criticism to describe the textual character of Greek New Testament manuscripts. It is the form found in the largest number of surviving manuscripts, though not in the oldest...

. Since most manuscripts of the New Testament do not derive from the first several centuries, that is, they were copied after the rise of the Byzantine text-type, this form of text is found the majority of extant manuscripts and is therefore often called the "Majority Text." As with all of the other (earlier) text-types, the Byzantine can also occasionally preserve early readings.

Establishing a critical text



The textual variation among manuscript copies of books in the New Testament prompted attempts to discern the earliest form of text already in antiquity (e.g., by the 3rd century Christian author Origen
Origen
Origen , or Origen Adamantius, 184/5–253/4, was an early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. As early as the fourth century, his orthodoxy was suspect, in part because he believed in the pre-existence of souls...

). The efforts began in earnest again during the Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

, which saw a revival of the study of ancient Greek texts. During this period, modern textual criticism
Textual criticism
Textual criticism is a branch of literary criticism that is concerned with the identification and removal of transcription errors in the texts of manuscripts...

 was born. In this context, Christian humanists
Christian humanism
Christian humanism is the position that universal human dignity and individual freedom are essential and principal components of, or are at least compatible with, Christian doctrine and practice. It is a philosophical union of Christian and humanist principles.- Origins :Christian humanism may have...

 such as Lorenzo Valla
Lorenzo Valla
Lorenzo Valla was an Italian humanist, rhetorician, and educator. His family was from Piacenza; his father, Luciave della Valla, was a lawyer....

 and Erasmus promoted a return to the original Greek of the New Testament. This was the beginning of modern New Testament textual criticism, which over subsequent centuries would increasingly incorporate more and more manuscripts, in more languages (i.e., versions of the New Testament), as well as citations of the New Testament by ancient authors and the New Testament text in lectionaries
Lectionary
A Lectionary is a book or listing that contains a collection of scripture readings appointed for Christian or Judaic worship on a given day or occasion.-History:...

 in order to reconstruct the earliest recoverable form of the New Testament text and the history of changes to it.

Relationship to earlier and contemporaneous literature



The books which later came to form 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
Classics
Classics is the branch of the Humanities comprising the languages, literature, philosophy, history, art, archaeology and other culture of the ancient Mediterranean world ; especially Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome during Classical Antiquity Classics (sometimes encompassing Classical Studies or...

 and Jewish works. Of singular importance is the extensive use of and interaction with the Jewish Bible
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

 and what would become the Christian Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

. 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. Other early Jewish and Graeco-Roman literature, though far less utilized, is also cited in books that would come to form the New Testament.

Early versions


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
Syriac language
Syriac is a dialect of Middle Aramaic that was once spoken across much of the Fertile Crescent. Having first appeared as a script in the 1st century AD after being spoken as an unwritten language for five centuries, Classical Syriac became a major literary language throughout the Middle East from...

, Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, and Coptic
Coptic language
Coptic or Coptic Egyptian is the current stage of the Egyptian language, a northern Afro-Asiatic language spoken in Egypt until at least the 17th century. Egyptian began to be written using the Greek alphabet in the 1st century...

 languages. These three versions were made directly from the Greek, and are frequently cited in the apparatuses of modern critical editions.

Syriac




Syriac was spoken in Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, and Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, and with dialect in Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

, where it was known as Aramaic. 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
Tatian
Tatian the Assyrian was an Assyrian early Christian writer and theologian of the 2nd century.Tatian's most influential work is the Diatessaron, a Biblical paraphrase, or "harmony", of the four gospels that became the standard text of the four gospels in the Syriac-speaking churches until the...

, the Syrian, created the Diatessaron
Diatessaron
The Diatessaron is the most prominent Gospel harmony created by Tatian, an early Christian apologist and ascetic. The term "diatessaron" is from Middle English by way of Latin, diatessarōn , and ultimately Greek, διὰ τεσσάρων The Diatessaron (c 160 - 175) is the most prominent Gospel harmony...

, a gospel harmony written in Syriac around AD 170 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.e., not harmonized) gospels. 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
Curetonian Gospels
The Curetonian Gospels, designated by the siglum syrcur, are contained in a manuscript of the four gospels of the New Testament in Old Syriac, a translation from the Aramaic originals, according to William Cureton differing considerably from the canonical Greek texts, with which they had been...

 and the Sinaitic Syriac from the 4th or 5th century. No Old Syriac manuscripts of other portions of the New Testament survive, though Old Syriac readings, e.g. from the Pauline Epistles
Pauline epistles
The Pauline epistles, Epistles of Paul, or Letters of Paul, are the thirteen New Testament books which have the name Paul as the first word, hence claiming authorship by Paul the Apostle. Among these letters are some of the earliest extant Christian documents...

, can be discerned in citations made by Eastern fathers and in later Syriac versions. The Old Syriac version is a representative of the Western text-type
Western text-type
The Western text-type is one of several text-types used in textual criticism to describe and group the textual character of Greek New Testament manuscripts...

.
The Peshitta
Peshitta
The Peshitta is the standard version of the Bible for churches in the Syriac tradition.The Old Testament of the Peshitta was translated into Syriac from the Hebrew, probably in the 2nd century AD...

 version was prepared in the beginning of the 5th century. It contains only 22 books (neither the Minor Catholic Epistles
General epistles
General epistles are books in the New Testament in the form of letters. They are termed "general" because for the most part their intended audience seems to be Christians in general rather than individual persons or congregations as is the case with the Pauline epistles...

 of 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, and Jude, nor the Book of Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

 were part of this translation).

The Philoxenian probably was produced in 508 for Philoxenus, Bishop of Mabung.

Latin



The Gospels were likely translated into Latin as early as the last quarter of the 2nd century in North Africa (Afra). Not much later, there were also European Latin translations (Itala). There are about 80 Old Latin mansucripts. The Old Latin
Vetus Latina
Vetus Latina is a collective name given to the Biblical texts in Latin that were translated before St Jerome's Vulgate Bible became the standard Bible for Latin-speaking Western Christians. The phrase Vetus Latina is Latin for Old Latin, and the Vetus Latina is sometimes known as the Old Latin Bible...

 versions often contain readings with a Western type of text.

The bewildering diversity of the Old Latin versions prompted Jerome
Jerome
Saint Jerome was a Roman Christian priest, confessor, theologian and historian, and who became a Doctor of the Church. He was the son of Eusebius, of the city of Stridon, which was on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia...

 to prepare another translation into Latin - the Vulgate
Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

. In many respects it was merely a revision of the Old Latin. There are currently around 8,000 manuscripts of the Vulgate.

Coptic



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 (copsa). This translation represents a mixed text, mostly Alexandrian
Alexandrian text-type
The Alexandrian text-type , associated with Alexandria, is one of several text-types used in New Testament textual criticism to describe and group the textual character of biblical manuscripts...

, though also with Western
Western text-type
The Western text-type is one of several text-types used in textual criticism to describe and group the textual character of Greek New Testament manuscripts...

 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.g., in word-order and the use of particles such as the syntactic construction μεν — δε). For this reason, the Bohairic translation can be helpful in the reconstruction of the early Greek text of the New Testament.

Other ancient translations



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
Armenian language
The Armenian language is an Indo-European language spoken by the Armenian people. It is the official language of the Republic of Armenia as well as in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The language is also widely spoken by Armenian communities in the Armenian diaspora...

, Georgian
Georgian language
Georgian is the native language of the Georgians and the official language of Georgia, a country in the Caucasus.Georgian is the primary language of about 4 million people in Georgia itself, and of another 500,000 abroad...

, Ethiopic, Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

, Soghdian, and eventually Gothic
Gothic language
Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

, Old Church Slavonic, Arabic, and Nubian
Nubian languages
The Nubian language group, according to the most recent research by Bechhaus-Gerst comprises the following varieties:# Nobiin ....

.

Modern translations



Historically, throughout the Christian world
Christendom
Christendom, or the Christian world, has several meanings. In a cultural sense it refers to the worldwide community of Christians, adherents of Christianity...

 and in the context of Christian missionary activity
Mission (Christian)
Christian missionary activities often involve sending individuals and groups , to foreign countries and to places in their own homeland. This has frequently involved not only evangelization , but also humanitarian work, especially among the poor and disadvantaged...

, the New Testament (or portions thereof) has been that part of the Christian Bible first translated into the vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

. The production of such translations grew out of the insertion of vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

 gloss
Gloss
A gloss is a brief notation of the meaning of a word or wording in a text. It may be in the language of the text, or in the reader's language if that is different....

es in biblical texts, as well as out of the production of biblical paraphrase
Biblical paraphrase
A Biblical paraphrase is a literary work that has as its goal not the translation of the Bible but, rather, the rendering of the Bible into a work that retells all or part of the Bible in a manner that accords with a particular set of theological or political doctrines...

s and poetic renditions of stories from the life of Christ (e.g., the Heliand
Heliand
The Heliand is an epic poem in Old Saxon, written in the first half of the 9th century. The title means saviour in Old Saxon , and the poem is a Biblical paraphrase that recounts the life of Jesus in the alliterative verse style of a Germanic saga...

).

The 16th century saw the rise of Protestantism
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 and an explosion of translations of the New (and Old) Testament into the vernacular
Vernacular
A vernacular is the native language or native dialect of a specific population, as opposed to a language of wider communication that is not native to the population, such as a national language or lingua franca.- Etymology :The term is not a recent one...

. Notable are those of Martin Luther
Luther Bible
The Luther Bible is a German Bible translation by Martin Luther, first printed with both testaments in 1534. This translation became a force in shaping the Modern High German language. The project absorbed Luther's later years. The new translation was very widely disseminated thanks to the printing...

 (1522), Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples
Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples
Jacques Lefèvre d’Étaples or Jacob Faber Stapulensis was a French theologian and humanist. He was a precursor of the Protestant movement in France. The "d’Étaples" was not part of his name as such, but used to distinguish him from Jacques Lefèvre of Deventer, a less significant contemporary, a...

 (1523), the Froschau Bible
Zürich Bible
The Zürich Bible is a Bible translation historically based on the translation by Huldrych Zwingli. Recent editions have the stated aim of maximal philological exactitude.-Froschau Bible:...

 (1525–1529, revised in 1574), William Tyndale
Tyndale Bible
The Tyndale Bible generally refers to the body of biblical translations by William Tyndale. Tyndale’s Bible is credited with being the first English translation to work directly from Hebrew and Greek texts. Furthermore it was the first English biblical translation that was mass produced as a result...

 (1526, revised in 1534, 1535 and 1536), the Brest Bible
Brest Bible
The Brest Bible was the first comprehensive Polish language Protestant Bible translation, published in 1563 in Brest and dedicated to King Sigismund II Augustus....

 (1563), and the Authorized Version (also called the "King James Version") (1611). 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
Textus Receptus
Textus Receptus is the name subsequently given to the succession of printed Greek texts of the New Testament which constituted the translation base for the original German Luther Bible, the translation of the New Testament into English by William Tyndale, the King James Version, and for most other...

. This text, based on a handful of manuscripts of the Byzantine text-type
Byzantine text-type
The Byzantine text-type is one of several text-types used in textual criticism to describe the textual character of Greek New Testament manuscripts. It is the form found in the largest number of surviving manuscripts, though not in the oldest...

, was the basis for other translations from the Greek until the latter part of the 19th century.

Translations of the New Testament made since the appearance of better critical editions of the Greek text (notably those of Tischendorf
Constantin von Tischendorf
Lobegott Friedrich Constantin Tischendorf was a noted German Biblical scholar. He deciphered the Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus, a 5th century Greek manuscript of the New Testament, in the 1840s, and rediscovered the Codex Sinaiticus, a 4th century New Testament manuscript, in 1859.Tischendorf...

, Westcott and Hort
The New Testament in the Original Greek
The New Testament in the Original Greek is the name of a Greek language version of the New Testament published in 1881. It is also known as the Westcott and Hort text, after its editors Brooke Foss Westcott and Fenton John Anthony Hort...

, and von Soden) have largely used them as their base text
Source text
A source text is a text from which information or ideas are derived. In translation, a source text is the original text that is to be translated into another language.-Description:...

. Unlike the Textus Receptus
Textus Receptus
Textus Receptus is the name subsequently given to the succession of printed Greek texts of the New Testament which constituted the translation base for the original German Luther Bible, the translation of the New Testament into English by William Tyndale, the King James Version, and for most other...

, these have a pronounced Alexandrian character. Standard critical editions are those of Souter
Alexander Souter
Alexander Souter was a Scottish biblical scholar.-Biography:Souter was born in Perth, and studied at the University of Aberdeen and the University of Cambridge. He subsequently became a Latin assistant at Aberdeen. While at Cambridge he studied under J. E. B...

, Vogels, Bover, Merk, and Nestle-Aland
Novum Testamentum Graece
Novum Testamentum Graece is the Latin name editions of the original Greek-language version of the New Testament.The first printed edition was the Complutensian Polyglot Bible by Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, printed in 1514, but not published until 1520...

 (the text, though not the full critical apparatus of which is reproduced in the United Bible Societies
United Bible Societies
The United Bible Societies is a worldwide association of Bible societies. In 1946 delegates from 13 countries formed the UBS, as an effort to coordinate the activities of the bible societies. The first headquarters were London and in Geneva...

' "Greek New Testament"). Notable translations of the New Testament based on these most recent critical editions include the Revised Standard Version
Revised Standard Version
The Revised Standard Version is an English translation of the Bible published in the mid-20th century. It traces its history to William Tyndale's New Testament translation of 1525. The RSV is an authorized revision of the American Standard Version of 1901...

 (1946, revised in 1971), La Bible de Jérusalem (1961, revised in 1973 and 2000), the Einheitsübersetzung
Einheitsübersetzung
Einheitsübersetzung is a German translation of the bible for liturgical use in the Roman Catholic worship. It is published by the Katholischen Bibelwerk and was compiled from 1962 to 1980 by catholic theologians with contributions from Evangelical theologians. Collaboration was done on the New...

 (1970, final edition 1979), the New American Bible
New American Bible
The New American Bible is a Catholic Bible translation first published in 1970. It had its beginnings in the Confraternity Bible, which began to be translated from the original languages in 1948....

 (1970, revised in 1986), the Traduction Oecuménique de la Bible
Traduction Oecuménique de la Bible
The Traduction œcuménique de la Bible TOB is a French ecumenical translation of the Bible, made in 1975-1976 by Catholics and Protestants....

 (1988, revised in 2004), and the New Revised Standard Version
New Revised Standard Version
The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible is an English translation of the Bible released in 1989 in the USA. It is a thorough revision of the Revised Standard Version .There are three editions of the NRSV:...

 (1989).

Authority



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
Biblical inspiration
Biblical inspiration is the doctrine in Christian theology that the authors and editors of the Bible were led or influenced by God with the result that their writings many be designated in some sense the word of God.- Etymology :...

, 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
Doctrine
Doctrine is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the body of teachings in a branch of knowledge or belief system...

 of biblical inerrancy
Biblical inerrancy
Biblical inerrancy is the doctrinal position that the Bible is accurate and totally free of error, that "Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact." Some equate inerrancy with infallibility; others do not.Conservative Christians generally believe that...

 and/or authoritativeness of the Bible. 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:
  • Infallibility relates to the absolute correctness of the Bible in matters of doctrine.
  • Inerrancy relates to the absolute correctness of the Bible in factual assertions (including historical and scientific assertions).
  • Authoritativeness relates to the correctness of the Bible in questions of practice in morality.


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
Literal and figurative language
Literal and figurative language is a distinction in traditional systems for analyzing language. Literal language refers to words that do not deviate from their defined meaning. Figurative language refers to words, and groups of words, that exaggerate or alter the usual meanings of the component...

 history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

, allegory
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 or poetry
Poetry
Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning...

, etc. Especially the doctrine of inerrancy is variously understood according to the weight given by the interpreter to scientific investigations of the world.

Roman Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and classical Anglicanism


For the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

, there are two sources of revelation: Scripture and Tradition
Apostolic Tradition
The Apostolic Tradition is an early Christian treatise which belongs to genre of the Church Orders. It has been described as of "incomparable importance as a source of information about church life and liturgy in the third century".Re-discovered in the 19th century, it was given the name of...

. Both of them are interpreted by the teachings of the church. The Roman Catholic view is expressed clearly in the Catechism of the Catholic Church
Catechism of the Catholic Church
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the official text of the teachings of the Catholic Church. A provisional, "reference text" was issued by Pope John Paul II on October 11, 1992 — "the thirtieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council" — with his apostolic...

 (1992):

§ 83: As a result the church, to whom the transmission and interpretation of Revelation
Revelation
In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing, through active or passive communication with a supernatural or a divine entity...

 is entrusted, does not derive her certainty about all revealed truths from the holy Scriptures alone. Both scripture and tradition must be accepted and honoured with equal sentiments of devotion and reverence.


§ 107: The inspired books teach the truth. 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
Magisterium
In the Catholic Church the Magisterium is the teaching authority of the Church. This authority is understood to be embodied in the episcopacy, which is the aggregation of the current bishops of the Church in union with the Pope, led by the Bishop of Rome , who has authority over the bishops,...

.

The Eastern Orthodox
Eastern Orthodox Church
The Orthodox Church, officially called the Orthodox Catholic Church and commonly referred to as the Eastern Orthodox Church, is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece,...

 churches do not accept this two-source theory; rather, they hold that there is a single source of revelation, Holy Tradition, of which Scripture is the most important part.

Traditional Anglicans
Anglican Communion
The Anglican Communion is an international association of national and regional Anglican churches in full communion with the Church of England and specifically with its principal primate, the Archbishop of Canterbury...

 believe that "Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation," (Article VI), but also that the Catholic Creeds "ought thoroughly to be received and believed" (Article VIII), and that the Church "hath authority in Controversies of Faith" and is "a witness and keeper of Holy Writ" (Article XX). Classical Anglicanism, therefore, like Orthodoxy, holds that Holy Tradition is the only safe guardian against perversion and innovation in the interpretation of Scripture; 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."

Protestantism


Following the doctrine of sola scriptura
Sola scriptura
Sola scriptura is the doctrine that the Bible contains all knowledge necessary for salvation and holiness. Consequently, sola scriptura demands that only those doctrines are to be admitted or confessed that are found directly within or indirectly by using valid logical deduction or valid...

, 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. Their traditions derive authority from the Bible, and are therefore always open to reëvaluation. This openness to doctrinal revision has extended in Liberal
Liberal Christianity
Liberal Christianity, sometimes called liberal theology, is an umbrella term covering diverse, philosophically and biblically informed religious movements and ideas within Christianity from the late 18th century and onward...

 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
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 to their doctrine of scripture vary widely.

American evangelical and fundamentalist Protestantism


Certain American conservatives, fundamentalists
Fundamentalist Christianity
Christian fundamentalism, also known as Fundamentalist Christianity, or Fundamentalism, arose out of British and American Protestantism in the late 19th century and early 20th century among evangelical Christians...

 and evangelicals believe that the scriptures are both human and divine in origin: human in their manner of composition, but divine in that their source is God, the Holy Spirit, who governed the writers of scripture in such a way that they recorded nothing at all contrary to the truth. Fundamentalists accept the enduring authority and impugnity of a prescientific interpretation of the Bible. In the United States this particularly applies to issues such as the ordination of women
Ordination of women
Ordination in general religious usage is the process by which a person is consecrated . The ordination of women is a regular practice among some major religious groups, as it was of several religions of antiquity...

, abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

, evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

, and homosexuality
Homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

. However, although American evangelicals are overwhelmingly opposed to such things, other evangelicals are increasingly willing to consider that the views of the biblical authors may have been culturally conditioned, and they may even argue that there is room for change along with cultural norms and scientific advancements.
Both fundamentalists and evangelicals profess belief in the inerrancy of the Bible.

Evangelicals, on the other hand, tend to avoid interpretations of the Bible that would directly contradict generally accepted scientific assertions of fact. They do not impute error to biblical authors, but rather entertain various theories of literary intent which might give credibility to human progress in knowledge of the world, while still accepting the divine inspiration of the scriptures.

Within the US, the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy
Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy
The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy was formulated in October 1978 by more than 200 evangelical leaders at a conference sponsored by the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy, held in Chicago. The statement was designed to defend the position of Biblical inerrancy against a perceived...

 (1978) 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."

American mainline and liberal Protestantism


Mainline American Protestant denominations, including the United Methodist Church
United Methodist Church
The United Methodist Church is a Methodist Christian denomination which is both mainline Protestant and evangelical. Founded in 1968 by the union of The Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church, the UMC traces its roots back to the revival movement of John and Charles Wesley...

, Presbyterian Church USA, The Episcopal Church, and Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America is a mainline Protestant denomination headquartered in Chicago, Illinois. The ELCA officially came into existence on January 1, 1988, by the merging of three churches. As of December 31, 2009, it had 4,543,037 baptized members, with 2,527,941 of them...

, do not teach the doctrine of inerrancy as set forth in the Chicago Statement. 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
Ordination of women
Ordination in general religious usage is the process by which a person is consecrated . The ordination of women is a regular practice among some major religious groups, as it was of several religions of antiquity...

 is universally accepted in the mainline churches, abortion
Abortion
Abortion is defined as the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced...

 is condemned as a grievous social tragedy but not always a personal sin
Sin
In religion, sin is the violation or deviation of an eternal divine law or standard. The term sin may also refer to the state of having committed such a violation. Christians believe the moral code of conduct is decreed by God In religion, sin (also called peccancy) is the violation or deviation...

 or a crime against an unborn person, and homosexuality
Homosexuality
Homosexuality is romantic or sexual attraction or behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality refers to "an enduring pattern of or disposition to experience sexual, affectional, or romantic attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same...

 is 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
Social justice
Social justice generally refers to the idea of creating a society or institution that is based on the principles of equality and solidarity, that understands and values human rights, and that recognizes the dignity of every human being. The term and modern concept of "social justice" was coined by...

. The message of personal salvation
Salvation
Within religion salvation is the phenomenon of being saved from the undesirable condition of bondage or suffering experienced by the psyche or soul that has arisen as a result of unskillful or immoral actions generically referred to as sins. Salvation may also be called "deliverance" or...

 is, generally speaking, of the good that comes to oneself and the world through following the New Testament's Golden Rule
Ethic of reciprocity
The Golden Rule or ethic of reciprocity is a maxim, ethical code, or moralitythat essentially states either of the following:* : One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself....

 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. 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
Christian anarchism
Christian anarchism is a movement in political theology that combines anarchism and Christianity. It is the belief that there is only one source of authority to which Christians are ultimately answerable, the authority of God as embodied in the teachings of Jesus...

.

Latter-day Saints


Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (or Mormons
Mormons
The Mormons are a religious and cultural group related to Mormonism, a religion started by Joseph Smith during the American Second Great Awakening. A vast majority of Mormons are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while a minority are members of other independent churches....

) "revere the Bible [i.e. both Old and New Testaments] as the word of God." Latter-day Saints also believe the "Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ [to be] a companion volume of scripture to the Bible,...[confirming] and [testifying] of the truthfulness of the messages in the Bible." To Latter-day Saints, "the Bible and the Book of Mormon complement each other, both providing a witness that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Redeemer of the world."

Messianic Judaism


Messianic Judaism
Messianic Judaism
Messianic Judaism is a syncretic religious movement that arose in the 1960s and 70s. It blends evangelical Christian theology with elements of Jewish terminology and ritual....

 generally holds the same view of New Testament authority as evangelical Protestants.

In the liturgy


Despite the wide variety among Christian liturgies
Christian liturgy
A liturgy is a set form of ceremony or pattern of worship. Christian liturgy is a pattern for worship used by a Christian congregation or denomination on a regular basis....

, texts from the New Testament play a role in almost all forms of Christian worship
Christian worship
In Christianity, worship is adoration and contemplation of God.-Overview:Throughout most of Christianity's history, corporate Christian worship has been primarily liturgical, characterized by prayers and hymns, with texts rooted in, or closely related to, the Scripture, particularly the Psalter;...

. In addition to some language derived from the New Testament in the liturgy
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 itself (e.g., the Trisagion
Trisagion
The Trisagion , sometimes called by its opening line Agios O Theos or by the Latin Tersanctus, is a standard hymn of the Divine Liturgy in most of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, Oriental Orthodox Churches and Catholic Churches.In those Churches which use the Byzantine Rite, the Trisagion is chanted...

 may be based on Apocalypse 4:8, and the beginning of the "Hymn of Praise" draws upon Luke 2:14), the reading of extended passages from the New Testament is a practice common to almost all Christian worship
Christian worship
In Christianity, worship is adoration and contemplation of God.-Overview:Throughout most of Christianity's history, corporate Christian worship has been primarily liturgical, characterized by prayers and hymns, with texts rooted in, or closely related to, the Scripture, particularly the Psalter;...

, liturgical or not. These readings
Lection
A lection is a reading, in this context, from Scripture.The custom of reading the books of Moses in the synagogues on the Sabbath day was a very ancient one. The addition of lections from the prophetic books had been made afterwards and was in existence at the time of Jesus, as may be gathered...

 are most often part of an established lectionary
Lectionary
A Lectionary is a book or listing that contains a collection of scripture readings appointed for Christian or Judaic worship on a given day or occasion.-History:...

 (i.e., selected texts
Lection
A lection is a reading, in this context, from Scripture.The custom of reading the books of Moses in the synagogues on the Sabbath day was a very ancient one. The addition of lections from the prophetic books had been made afterwards and was in existence at the time of Jesus, as may be gathered...

 to be read at church services on specific days), and (together with an Old Testament reading and a Psalm) include a non-gospel reading from the New Testament and culminate with a Gospel reading
Gospel (liturgy)
The Gospel in Christian liturgy refers to a reading from the Gospels used during various religious services, including Mass or Divine Liturgy . In many Christian churches, all present stand when a passage from one of the Gospels is read publicly, and sit when a passage from a different part of the...

. No readings from the Book of Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

, however, are included in the standard lectionary
Lectionary
A Lectionary is a book or listing that contains a collection of scripture readings appointed for Christian or Judaic worship on a given day or occasion.-History:...

 of the Eastern Orthodox churches.

Central to the Christian liturgy
Christian liturgy
A liturgy is a set form of ceremony or pattern of worship. Christian liturgy is a pattern for worship used by a Christian congregation or denomination on a regular basis....

 is the celebration of the Eucharist
Eucharist
The Eucharist , also called Holy Communion, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Blessed Sacrament, the Lord's Supper, and other names, is a Christian sacrament or ordinance...

 or "Holy Communion". The Words of Institution
Words of Institution
The Words of Institution are words echoing those of Jesus himself at his Last Supper that, when consecrating bread and wine, Christian Eucharistic liturgies include in a narrative of that event...

 that begin this rite are drawn directly from 1 Corinthians 11:23-26. In addition, the communal recitation of the Lord's Prayer
Lord's Prayer
The Lord's Prayer is a central prayer in Christianity. In the New Testament of the Christian Bible, it appears in two forms: in the Gospel of Matthew as part of the discourse on ostentation in the Sermon on the Mount, and in the Gospel of Luke, which records Jesus being approached by "one of his...

 (in the form found in the Gospel of Matthew 6:9-13) is also a standard feature of Christian worship
Christian worship
In Christianity, worship is adoration and contemplation of God.-Overview:Throughout most of Christianity's history, corporate Christian worship has been primarily liturgical, characterized by prayers and hymns, with texts rooted in, or closely related to, the Scripture, particularly the Psalter;...

.

In the arts



Most of the influence of the New Testament upon the arts
The arts
The arts are a vast subdivision of culture, composed of many creative endeavors and disciplines. It is a broader term than "art", which as a description of a field usually means only the visual arts. The arts encompass visual arts, literary arts and the performing arts – music, theatre, dance and...

 has come from the Gospels and the Book of Revelation
Book of Revelation
The Book of Revelation is the final book of the New Testament. The title came into usage from the first word of the book in Koine Greek: apokalupsis, meaning "unveiling" or "revelation"...

. Literary expansion of the narratives of Jesus' birth
Nativity of Jesus
The Nativity of Jesus, or simply The Nativity, refers to the accounts of the birth of Jesus in two of the Canonical gospels and in various apocryphal texts....

 found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke began already in the 2nd century and the portrayal of the Nativity
Nativity of Jesus
The Nativity of Jesus, or simply The Nativity, refers to the accounts of the birth of Jesus in two of the Canonical gospels and in various apocryphal texts....

 has continued in various art forms to this day. The earliest Christian art would often depict scenes from the New Testament such as the raising of Lazarus
Raising of Lazarus
The Raising of Lazarus or the Resurrection of Lazarus is one of the miracles of Jesus in the Gospels in which Jesus brings Lazarus of Bethany back to life four days after his burial....

, the baptism of Jesus
Baptism of Jesus
The baptism of Jesus marks the beginning of Jesus Christ's public ministry. This event is recorded in the Canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. In John 1:29-33 rather than a direct narrative, the Baptist bears witness to the episode...

 or the motif of the "Good Shepherd
Good Shepherd
Good Shepherd may refer to:In Christianity:* The Good Shepherd , pericope found in John 10:1-21, and a popular image in which the Good Shepherd represents Jesus...

". Biblical paraphrase
Biblical paraphrase
A Biblical paraphrase is a literary work that has as its goal not the translation of the Bible but, rather, the rendering of the Bible into a work that retells all or part of the Bible in a manner that accords with a particular set of theological or political doctrines...

s and poetic renditions of stories from the life of Christ (e.g., the Heliand
Heliand
The Heliand is an epic poem in Old Saxon, written in the first half of the 9th century. The title means saviour in Old Saxon , and the poem is a Biblical paraphrase that recounts the life of Jesus in the alliterative verse style of a Germanic saga...

) became popular in the middle ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

, as did the portrayal of the arrest
Arrest of Jesus
The arrest of Jesus is a pivotal event recorded in the Canonical gospels. The event ultimately leads, in the Gospel accounts, to Jesus' crucifixion...

, trial and execution
Crucifixion of Jesus
The crucifixion of Jesus and his ensuing death is an event that occurred during the 1st century AD. Jesus, who Christians believe is the Son of God as well as the Messiah, was arrested, tried, and sentenced by Pontius Pilate to be scourged, and finally executed on a cross...

 of Jesus in Passion play
Passion play
A Passion play is a dramatic presentation depicting the Passion of Jesus Christ: his trial, suffering and death. It is a traditional part of Lent in several Christian denominations, particularly in Catholic tradition....

s. Indeed, the Passion
Passion (Christianity)
The Passion is the Christian theological term used for the events and suffering – physical, spiritual, and mental – of Jesus in the hours before and including his trial and execution by crucifixion...

 became a central theme in Christian art
Crucifixion in the arts
Crucifixion and crucifixes have appeared in the arts and popular culture from before the era of the pagan Roman Empire. The crucifixion of Jesus has been depicted in religious art since the 4th century CE...

 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.g., "La Passion", France, 1903).

See also

  • Biblical criticism
    Biblical criticism
    Biblical criticism is the scholarly "study and investigation of Biblical writings that seeks to make discerning judgments about these writings." It asks when and where a particular text originated; how, why, by whom, for whom, and in what circumstances it was produced; what influences were at work...

  • Chronology of Jesus
    Chronology of Jesus
    The chronology of Jesus aims to establish a historical order for some of the events of the life of Jesus in the four canonical gospels. The Christian gospels were primarily written as theological documents rather than historical chronicles and their authors showed little interest in an absolute...

  • List of Gospels
  • New Testament view on Jesus' life
    New Testament view on Jesus' life
    The four canonical gospels of the New Testament are the primary sources of information for the doctrinal Christian narrative of the life of Jesus. There is not a single New Testament "view" on the life of Jesus, the four Canonical gospels tell different but connected stories...

  • Gospel harmony
    Gospel harmony
    A Gospel harmony is an attempt to merge or harmonize the canonical gospels of the Four Evangelists into a single gospel account, the earliest known example being the Diatesseron by Tatian in the 2nd century. A gospel harmony may also establish a chronology for the events of the life of Jesus...

  • Non-canonical books referenced in the New Testament
  • Textual variants in the New Testament
    Textual variants in the New Testament
    Textual variants arise when a copyist makes deliberate or inadvertent alterations to a text being reproduced. Some common alterations include the deletion, rearrangement, repetition, or replacement of one or more words when the copyist's eye returns to a similar word in the wrong location of the...

  • Novum Testamentum Graece
    Novum Testamentum Graece
    Novum Testamentum Graece is the Latin name editions of the original Greek-language version of the New Testament.The first printed edition was the Complutensian Polyglot Bible by Cardinal Francisco Jiménez de Cisneros, printed in 1514, but not published until 1520...


Further reading

  • Brown, Raymond E.
    Raymond E. Brown
    The Reverend Raymond Edward Brown, S.S. , was an American Roman Catholic priest, a member of the Sulpician Fathers and a major Biblical scholar of his era...

     (1997). An Introduction to the New Testament. Anchor Bible Reference Library; New York: Doubleday.
  • Bultmann, Rudolf
    Rudolf Bultmann
    Rudolf Karl Bultmann was a German theologian of Lutheran background, who was for three decades professor of New Testament studies at the University of Marburg...

     (1951–1955). Theology of the New Testament, English translation, 2 volumes. New York: Scribner.
  • von Campenhausen, Hans (1972). The Formation of the Christian Bible, English translation. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.
  • Conzelmann, Hans
    Hans Conzelmann
    Hans Conzelmann was a German scholar who made many contributions to New Testament research in the twentieth century. One of his major works was Die Mitte Der Zeit , literally 'The Middle of Time', which was translated into English under the title, The Theology of St. Luke...

     and Lindemann, Andreas (1999). Interpreting the New Testament: An Introduction to the Principles and Methods of New Testament Exegesis, English translation. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson.
  • Dormeyer, Detlev (1998). The New Testament among the Writings of Antiquity, English translation. Sheffield.
  • Duling, Dennis C. and Perrin, Norman
    Norman Perrin
    Norman Perrin was Associate Professor of New Testament, at the Divinity School, University of Chicago. Professor Perrin was internationally known for his work on Redaction Criticism of the New Testament....

     (1993). The New Testament: Proclamation and Parenesis, Myth and History, 3d edition. New York: Harcourt Brace.
  • Ehrman, Bart D.
    Bart D. Ehrman
    Bart D. Ehrman is an American New Testament scholar, currently the James A. Gray Distinguished Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill....

     (2007). The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings, 4th edition. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Goodspeed, Edgar J.
    Edgar J. Goodspeed
    Edgar Johnson Goodspeed was an American liberal theologian and scholar of Greek and the New Testament. He taught for many years at the University of Chicago, whose collection of New Testament manuscripts he enriched by his searches...

     (1937). An Introduction to the New Testament. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Levine, Amy-Jill
    Amy-Jill Levine
    Amy-Jill Levine is E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, Department of Religious Studies, and Graduate Department of Religion.-Biography:...

     and Brettler, Marc Z., editors, The Jewish Annotated New Testament, Oxford University Press, USA, (November 15, 2011), hardcover, 700 pages,
  • Koester, Helmut
    Helmut Koester
    Helmut Koester is a German-born American scholar of the New Testament and currently Morison Research Professor of Divinity and Winn Research Professor of Ecclesiastical History at Harvard Divinity School. He teaches courses at both the Divinity School and at Harvard Extension School, and was the...

     (1995 and 2000). Introduction to the New Testament, 2d edition, 2 volumes. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
  • Kümmel, Werner Georg (1996). Introduction to the New Testament, revised and enlarged English translation. Nashville: Abingdon Press.
  • Mack, Burton L.
    Burton L. Mack
    Burton L. Mack is an author and scholar of early Christian history and the New Testament. He is John Wesley Professor emeritus in early Christianity at the Claremont School of Theology in Claremont, California. Mack is primarily a scholar of Christian origins, approaching it from the angle of...

     (1995). Who Wrote the New Testament?. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.
  • Neill, Stephen
    Stephen Neill
    Stephen Charles Neill was a Anglican missionary, bishop, and scholar from Scotland. He was proficient in a number of languages including Greek, Latin and Tamil. He was educated and later worked in Trinity College, Cambridge...

     and Wright, Tom (1988). The Interpretation of the New Testametnt, 1861-1986, new edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Schnelle, Udo (1998). The History and Theology of the New Testament Writings, English translation. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.
  • Zahn, Theodor
    Theodor Zahn
    Theodor Zahn or Theodor von Zahn was a biblical scholar born in Rhineland, Prussia . He was professor of Theology at Erlangen, and distinguished for his eminent scholarship in connection with the matter especially of the New Testament canon. He stood at the head of the conservative New Testament...

     (1910). Introduction to the New Testament, English translation, 3 volumes. Edinburgh: T&T Clark.

External links


General references


Development and authorship

  • The Gospels in the official canon, and some that were not included in the Bible
  • New Testament Timeline
  • Dating the New Testament A compilation of the dates ascribed by various scholars
    Argumentum ad populum
    In logic, an argumentum ad populum is a fallacious argument that concludes a proposition to be true because many or most people believe it; which alleges: "If many believe so, it is so."...

     to the composition of the New Testament documents, accompanied by an odd statistical average of the dates

Greek