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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

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.



  • 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.

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).

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”.

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);

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;

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);

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.


  • 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).

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;

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).

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”?

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.

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;

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);

Stage I: The Oral 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?

Stage I: The Oral 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;

Stage I: The Oral Stage (contd.):

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

Stage II: Period of Earliest 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?

Stage III: Period of Jewish 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;

Stage IV: Period of The 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);

Stage V: Period of Production of New 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).

Four Distinctive Portraits Of Jesus:

  • 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;

Questions For Review:

  • Five on p. 358;
  • Question for discussion and reflection: p. 358.

The Gospel According to Mark:

  • (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).

The Gospel According To Mark (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;

The Gospel According to Mark (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)?

Historical Setting (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.

The Leading Characters In Mark’s Account:

  • see Box 9.3, p. 367 in textbook.

Mark’s Attitude Towards Jesus’ Close Associates:

  • 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?

The Geographical Arrangement of Mark’s Account:

  • 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.

Mark presents two different aspects of Jesus’ story:

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

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


Five Main Divisions of Mark’s Account:

    • 1)Prelude to Jesus’ Public Ministry (1.1-13):
  • - 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).

2) The Galilean Ministry (1.14-8.26):

- 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;


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

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

- Mark’s use of conflict stories;

- Jesus as healer



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


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;


Ch. 8 (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.


The Messianic Secret and Mark’s Theological Purpose:

- 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).


Ch. 8 (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.


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

- Jesus travels to Jerusalem via Transjordan.


4) The Jerusalem Ministry (11.1-15.47):

- 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.



Outline of Old City.


4) The Jerusalem Ministry (11.1-15.47) (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).


4) The Jerusalem Ministry (11.1-15.47) (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.


4) The Jerusalem Ministry (11.1-15.47) (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.


Jesus’ Passion (contd.):

- Gethsemane;

- Mount of Olives;

- Caiaphas, the High Priest;

- Pontius Pilate;

- Barabbas;

- Simon of Cyrene.


Jesus’ Burial:

- 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.


5. The Empty Tomb (16.1-8):

- 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.


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?


Added Conclusions (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).



Questions for Review:

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

Questions for Discussion and Reflection on p. 380.