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Chapter 11 of Textbook. Books of the New Testament: An Overview. The New Testament : - See Table 11.3, “Approximate Order of Composition of New Testament Books,” p. 357 in Textbook (see also Box 11.1, “Organization of the Hebrew and Christian-Greek Scriptures,” p. 344 in Textbook .

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Chapter 11 of textbook l.jpg

Chapter 11 of Textbook

Books of the New Testament: An Overview


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The New Testament:

- See Table 11.3, “Approximate Order of Composition of New Testament Books,” p. 357 in Textbook (see also Box 11.1, “Organization of the Hebrew and Christian-Greek Scriptures,” p. 344 in Textbook.


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  • Introduction:

  • The NT consists of 27 books (see Table 11.3, p. 357);

  • The early Christians added these books to those of the Hebrew Scriptures (or Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures) to form what is now called the Christian Bible (see pp. 9-11 of Textbook);

  • Thus, the Christian Bible consists of an Old and a New Testament/Covenant.


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  • The New Testament may be arranged:

    • Four Gospels (story of Jesus);

    • Book of Acts - a theological account of the early Church (“Church history”);

    • Letters of Paul and other Church leaders ; and

    • Book of Hebrews, Catholic Epistles, and an Apocalypse/Revelation.

    • (see Textbook, p. 344, Box 11.1).


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  • The Gospels:

  • The word Gospel derives from the Greek evangelion, meaning “Good News”;

  • It is a new literary category created by the early Christian community;

  • Gospel is a proclamation about the person of Jesus…;

  • Thus, in the NT there are four versions of the one Gospel/ “Good News”.


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  • The Evangelists:

  • The authors …. are called “Evangelists”;

  • The Evangelists are believers in the person of Jesus of Nazareth;

  • They proclaim the “Good News” about the person of Jesus;

  • Their purpose is theological (John 20.31);


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  • The Gospels (contd.):

  • The Gospels are not biographies …. (see John 20.30);

  • The Evangelists focus on Jesus’ adult ministry and passion - suffering and death;

  • They provide very little information about Jesus’ early life;

  • They emphasize his public career;

  • They declare, “God works through the person of Jesus”;

  • They stress the redemptive activity of Jesus;


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  • The Evangelists:

  • The Evangelists proclaim Jesus as the Messiah/“Anointed One”/Christos (see Textbook, pp. 333-36);

  • Jesus for them is the universal Saviour;

  • For the Evangelists, God makes the divine will known through the person of Jesus (see Hebrews 1.1-3);


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  • The Gospels:

  • Composed 40-65 years after the death of Jesus (see Table 11.2: “Major Events in the NT History”, pp. 348-49);

  • They are four different attempts ….to say what was important about the Christ/Messiah/Anointed One;

  • The Gospels are theological works.


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  • Acts:

  • Composed by the same author who wrote “the Gospel according to Luke”;

  • It shows the same religious preoccupations;

  • It is not a “history” of the early Christian Church in the sense of present-day understanding of history;

  • It was written ca. 80-90 C.E. (see, Table 11.2, p. 349).


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  • Letters of Paul:

  • See Tables 11.2 (pp. 348) and Box 14.4 (p. 466) for “A Tentative Sequence of Events in Paul’s Life” - chronology on Paul and his letters;

  • Paul’s letters are the earliest documents of the NT;

  • Written between 50 and 62 C.E.;

  • They are written to newly found Churches in Asia Minor, Greece, and Italy;


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  • Other NT Works:

  • Letter to the Hebrews;

  • Revelation/Apocalypse;

  • General (Catholic) Epistles (James; 1 and 2 Peter; 1, 2, and 3 John; and Jude)

  • etc. (See Table 11.2, p. 349 in Textbook).


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  • The Synoptic Gospels:

  • The first three accounts of the Gospel;

  • Matthew, Mark, and Luke;

  • Why called Synoptic?

  • How do they differ from the “Gospel according to John”?


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  • The Synoptic Problem (see Fig. 11.2, p. 351 in Textbook):

  • The first three Gospels resemble each other closely;

  • What is the nature of their relationship?

  • Which gospel account is the source for the others?

  • Thus, questions of authorship, chronological priority, dates of composition, etc.


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  • The Two-Document Theory:

  • Source Criticism (see Textbook, pp. 29, 351);

  • Recognition that Mark was the source for the chronological framework in Matthew and Luke;

  • A second source that Matthew and Luke used;

  • This source, a collection of Jesus’ sayings, is called Q (from the German term for source (quelle);

  • Sources M and L;

  • See Figure 11.2, p. 351 in Textbook;


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  • How the Written Gospels Came to Be - From Oral Preaching to Written Gospels:

  • Four stages are generally recognized (see Box 11.3, “From Oral Kerygma to Written Gospel”…p. 352 in Textbook):

  • Stage I: The Exclusively Oral Traditions Stage (30-70 C.E.):

    • The stage of Jesus’ preaching; and

    • His earliest followers’ preaching about him;

    • A period of about 40 years 30-70 C.E.;

    • The Kerygma (proclamation about Jesus);


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  • Stage I: The Written GospelsOral Stage (contd.):

  • This done originally in Aramaic - in Galilee, Judea, and nearby regions (Decapolis);

  • The message then taken to Greek-speaking areas; to other ethnic groups; religions;

  • What happens when you bring a message orally from one region and/or culture and proclaim it orally in a different language in another region and/or culture?

  • To another ethnic group?

  • To another religious group?

  • Can this explain why Jesus’ sayings are reported differently in different accounts of the Gospel?


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  • Stage I: The Written GospelsOral Stage (contd.):

  • The importance of Form Criticism (see Textbook, p. 353);

  • The identification and study of pericopes, or the individual, orally transmitted building blocks from which the longer Gospel account is constructed (see Textbook, pp. 29, 353, and G-36);

  • See, for example, the Gospel according to Mark;

  • The sitz im leben, that is, the “life-setting” or social circumstances from which stories about Jesus originated and were orally transmitted by the Early Church;


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  • Stage I: The Written GospelsOral Stage (contd.):

  • Missionary tours of Paul and associates;

  • Establishing of new Gentile, Greek-speaking churches in Asia Minor and Greece (40-60 C.E.).


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  • Stage II: Period of Written GospelsEarliest Written Documents (50-70 C.E.):

  • Brief compilations of Jesus’ sayings (ca. 50 C.E.);

  • e.g., See Mark 4 and Matthew 13;

  • Q, quelle;

  • Q must be reconstructed from passages in Matthew and Luke;

  • e.g., Matthew 5-7 (“Sermon on the Mount”) and Luke 6 (“Sermon on the Plain”);

  • What was Q originally?

  • How does it present Jesus?


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  • Stage III: Period of Written GospelsJewish Revolt against Rome and the appearance of The First Canonical Gospel (66-70 C.E.):

  • Redaction Criticism (see Textbook, p. 355):

    • The redactor’s/author-editor’s importance in assembling, rearranging, and reinterpreting his sources;

    • How do Matthew and Luke use their sources, e.g., Mark and Q? (See Luke 1.1-4)

    • Mark and the Gospel genre/literary category (66-70 C.E.);

    • the transformation of the oral kerygma into a narrative about Jesus’ public career;


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  • Stage IV: Period of Written GospelsThe Production of New, Enlarged Editions of Mark (80-90 C.E.):

  • Composition of Matthew (80-85 C.E.) and Luke (80-90 C.E.);

  • Matthew and Luke used Mark, Q, and individual sources, namely M and L respectively (see Figure 11.2, p. 351);


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  • Stage V: Period of Production of Written GospelsNew Gospels Promoting an Independent (Non-Synoptic) Tradition (90-100 C.E.):

  • Composition of The Gospel According to John;

  • Second edition of the Gospel of Thomas (a non-canonical account of the Gospel).


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  • Four Distinctive Portraits Of Jesus Written Gospels:

  • Each Gospel account is a distinctive portrait of Jesus;

  • Each is a reflection of the author’s concept of Jesus’ theological meaning;

  • Why four portraits?

  • Due to historical processes?

  • e.g., Gospel according to Mark;

  • e.g., Gospel according to John;


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  • Questions For Review Written Gospels:

  • Five on p. 358;

  • Question for discussion and reflection: p. 358.


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  • The Gospel According to Mark Written Gospels:

  • (N.B.: read The Gospel According to Mark.)

  • Five main divisions:

    • Prelude to the public ministry (1.1-13);

    • The Galilean ministry (1.14-8.26);

    • Journey from Caesarea Philippi to Jerusalem (8.27-10-52);

    • The Jerusalem ministry (11.1-15.47); and

    • The postlude: the empty tomb (16.1-8).


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  • The Gospel According To Mark Written Gospels (contd.):

  • The first author to put the oral traditions about Jesus into a written form that is called “Gospel”;

  • The account cites few of Jesus’ “sayings”;

  • It emphasizes Jesus’ actions;


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  • The Gospel According to Mark Written Gospels (contd.):

  • Historical Setting:

    • Who is the author of this account of the Gospel?

    • Was the Gospel written for a group undergoing severe testing (see, e.g., 8.34-38; 10.38-40)?

    • Is it related in any way to Nero’s persecution of early Christians in Rome?

    • What was the author’s relationship to the apostle Peter (Acts 12.12-25)?

    • To Paul (Philem. 24; Col. 4.10)?


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  • Historical Setting Written Gospels (contd.):

  • Some scholars favour a Roman setting while others a Syrian or Palestinian one;

  • The parousia in the account;

  • Eschatological concerns;

  • The title, “The Gospel According to Mark”;

  • Author of the work is anonymous.


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  • Mark’s Attitude Towards Jesus’ Close Associates Written Gospels:

  • To Jesus’ family and acquaintances (3.21; 3.31-35; 6.2-3; 6.6);

  • To the disciples (3.13-19; 4.35-41; 9.9-10; 10.35-41; 14.30; 14.66-72);

  • Why this negative attitude on the part of Mark?

  • Is Mark’s negative attitude in this regard related to his wish to portray Jesus alone as the one who does God’s work and declares God’s will?


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Madonna and Child: Icon. Written Gospels


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  • The Geographical Arrangement of Mark’s Account Written Gospels:

  • A north-south or geographical arrangement:

    • First half takes place in Galilee:

      • Climax of this section: the Messiah (8.27-29).

    • Second half (after Ch. 8) deals with Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem where he is rejected and crucified:

      • Climax of this section: the Son of God (15.39).

    • See Box 9.4, p. 369 in textbook.


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Mark presents two different aspects of Jesus’ story: Written Gospels

- 1) the presentation of Jesus in Galilee (a person of authority in word and deed);

- 2) a helpless figure on the cross in Judea.


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  • - No background provided;

  • - “Here begins the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (1.1);

  • - Activity of John the Baptist (1.2-8);

  • - Jesus’ baptism (1.9-11);

  • - Jesus’ temptation (1.12-13).



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    2) The Galilean Ministry (1.14-8.26) Written Gospels:

    - Mark’s eschatological urgency;

    - “The time has come, the kingdom of God is upon you; repent and believe the Gospel” (1.15);

    - The eschaton is about to take place;

    - A sense of urgency - the present tense used;

    - The author uses the word “immediately” to connect pericopes;

    - Jesus’ activity proclaims that history has reached its climactic moment;


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    2) The Galilean Ministry (1.14-8.26 Written Gospels) (contd.):

    - Jesus as “Son of Man” (see Box 9.6, p. 375 in textbook);

    - Mark’s use of conflict stories;

    - Jesus as healer



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    . Written Gospels

    Jezreel Valley: To the West of the Sea of Galilee.



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    3) The Journey to Jerusalem: Jesus’ Predestined Suffering (8.27-10.52):

    - Ch. 8 as pivotal to Mark’s account;

    - Here Mark ties together several themes that deal with his vision of Jesus’ ministry; and

    - what Jesus requires of those who follow him;

    - Lack of understanding on the part of Jesus’ followers;

    - The hidden quality of Jesus’ Messiahship;

    - The necessity of suffering on the part of Jesus’ followers;


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    Ch. 8 (8.27-10.52)(contd.):

    - Peter’s recognition of Jesus as the Messiah (8.29);

    - Jesus tells his disciples to keep this a secret;

    - Jesus’ reluctance to have news of his miracles spread abroad - the Messianic Secret;

    - the setting is Caesarea Philippi/Banias.






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    The Messianic Secret and Mark’s Theological Purpose: (8.27-10.52)

    - People could not know Jesus’ identity until after his mission was completed;

    - Jesus had to be unappreciated in order to be rejected and killed (see 10.45);

    - Jesus must suffer an unjust death to confirm and complete his Messiahship;

    - This is the heart of mark’s Christology;

    - Thus, the relationship between Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah and Jesus’ prediction that he must go to Jerusalem to die (8.29-32).


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    Ch. 8 (8.27-10.52)(contd.):

    - A third idea introduced:

    - True disciples must expect to suffer as Jesus did (see 8.27-34 and 10.32-45: what is required of a true disciple);

    - To reign with Jesus means to imitate his suffering.


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    The Journey To Jerusalem: Jesus’ Predestined Suffering (8.27-10.52) (contd.):

    - Jesus travels to Jerusalem via Transjordan.



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    4) The Jerusalem Ministry (11.1-15.47) (8.27-10.52:

    - For mark, Jesus makes only one visit to Jerusalem;

    - Jesus is welcomed into Jerusalem (11.9-10);

    - Jesus accepts a Messianic role;

    - Jesus alienates himself from both the Roman and Jewish administrators;

    - He arouses hostility;

    - His actions in the temple (11.15-19);

    - Confrontations and successes against the Pharisees, Herod’s party, and the Sadducees.


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    Jerusalem: (8.27-10.52

    Outline of Old City.





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    4) The Jerusalem Ministry (11.1-15.47) (8.27-10.52 (contd.):

    - The first commandment of all (12.28-34);

    - Jesus’ foretells the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple (Ch. 13 - The Little Apocalypse);

    - Mark’s concern with predictions of Jesus’ return (13.5-6, 21-23);

    - The tribulations of the disciples will be ended when the Son of Man returns to gather the faithful;

    - In the meantime: “keep alert” (13.33); “be awake” (13.37).


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    4) The Jerusalem Ministry (11.1-15.47) (8.27-10.52 (contd.):

    - The Last Supper (14.12-25):

    - Actually, a passover meal (see ex 11.1-13.16);

    - Jesus gives the passover a new significance (14.22- 25);

    - The origin of the Christian celebration of the Eucharist.



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    4) The Jerusalem Ministry (11.1-15.47) (8.27-10.52 (contd.):

    - Jesus’ Passion:

    - Mark wishes his readers to see the disparity between Jesus’ appearance of vulnerability and the reality of his spiritual triumph;

    - Jesus’ enemies are seemingly ridding the nation of a radical;

    - In fact, they are making possible his saving death;

    - All this is in accordance with God’s design.


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    Jesus’ (8.27-10.52Passion (contd.):

    - Gethsemane;

    - Mount of Olives;

    - Caiaphas, the High Priest;

    - Pontius Pilate;

    - Barabbas;

    - Simon of Cyrene.




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    Jesus’ Burial (8.27-10.52:

    - Mary of Magdala as the link between Jesus’ death and burial and the discovery that the tomb is empty (see 15.40-41, 47 and 16.1);

    - Joseph of Arimathaea.





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    5. The Empty Tomb (16.1-8) (8.27-10.52:

    - The women flee in terror (16.8);

    - They say nothing to anyone for they were afraid (16.8).

    - Thus, Mark’s account of the Good News ends abruptly.



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    By not including resurrection appearances, is Mark expecting a parousia, that is, a second coming or appearance of Christ to judge the world, punish the wicked, and redeem the world?

    - Does Mark wish to emphasize that Jesus is absent?:

    - He is present neither in the grave; nor as yet triumphal son of man.

    - Is Jesus present in memories, and

    - In his enduring power over the lives of his disciples?


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    Added Conclusions expecting a (16.9-19):

    - Were many Christians unhappy with Mark’s inconclusiveness?

    - If so, this could account for the heavy editing of Mark’s account;

    - Some editors appended postresurrection appearances of Jesus;

    - This made Mark’s account more consistent with Matthew and Luke (Mark 16.8b and 16.9-20).

    Amen!


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    Questions for Review expecting a :

    Questions 1, 2, 3, and 5 (do not do the one on parables) on p. 380;

    Questions for Discussion and Reflection on p. 380.


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