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The Biblical Scriptures. By: Matthew Ferguson University of Arizona Department of Classics. “Bible” Stats. Rough Estimate of Translations: New Testament: 1,223 Entire “Bible”: 471 http:// / About / Statistics.aspx. Most Popular Book of All Time?

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the biblical scriptures

The Biblical Scriptures

By: Matthew Ferguson

University of Arizona

Department of Classics

bible stats
“Bible” Stats

Rough Estimate of Translations:

  • New Testament: 1,223
  • Entire “Bible”: 471

Most Popular Book of All Time?

“The Bible and Quotations from Chairman Mao still vie for the top spot, with more than 6 billion published copies each.”

  • Ownership of the “Bible”:
  • American Households: 92%
  • Average number of copies per “Bible” owning household: 3 copies
christianity by denomination
Christianity by Denomination

most common biblical cannons
Most Common Biblical Cannons

Oldest book in the biblical scriptures: unknown (NOT Job)

Youngest book in the biblical scriptures: 2 Peter (c. 90 - 110 CE)

contemporary methods of biblical study
Contemporary Methods of Biblical Study
  • “In keeping with a trend characteristic of most of the humanities and social sciences, there has been a strong movement toward interdisciplinary conversation … roughly grouped under the categories of literary, social-scientific, and cultural hermeneutical approaches” (OAB 2227).
  • “Whereas historical study was interested in the world referred to by the text, literary study directed its attention to the world constructed in the text” (OAB 2227).
  • “Social-scientific criticism … applies insights and methods from the fields of sociology, anthropology, and ethnography to describe the aspects of ancient social life manifested in the biblical texts” (OAB 2229).
  • “In recent years the claim of classic biblical scholarship to be a quasi-scientific enterprise has been questioned by those who insist that the enterprise of historical criticism of the Bible is unconsciously shaped and informed by cultural assumptions specific to the time and place in which that method was developed” (OAB 2231).
the jewish scriptures old testament
The Jewish Scriptures (“Old Testament”)


  • Ancient Hebrew
  • Aramaic
  • Koine Greek

<-Western Wall

(Last remains of the Jewish Second Temple)

First Temple Period: c. 1000 – 586 BCE

Second Temple Period: 530 BCE – 70 CE

the pentateuch
The Pentateuch
  • The word “Pentateuch,” from the Greek for “five (pente) books (teuchos)” has entered English by way of Latin as the designation for the first group of books in the Bible … both Jewish and Christian traditions view these five books in the this order as a single unit, introducing the Bible” (OAB 3).
the pentateuch1
The Pentateuch
  • Genesis:

Main Themes: 4% creation, 18% proto-Jewish narrative, 78% Abraham and his descendants.

Authorship: Multiple Authors (traditionally Moses)

“Ancient manuscripts of Genesis lack any claim of authorship. In the ancient Near East, most literary compositions were anonymous. Only during the Greco-Roman period do we start to see statements in early Jewish texts that Moses wrote Genesis and the rest of the Pentateuch” (OAB 7).

Date: c. 1000 BCE – 500 BCE:

“In sum, we do not know many of the details of the earliest composition of Genesis, and the oral stores that stand behind the book are now lost. Nevertheless, we do know that the book was written over centuries by multiple authors” (OAB 8).

  • “Snakes were a symbol in the ancient world of wisdom, fertility, and immortality. Only later was the snake in this story seen by interpreters as the devil” (OAB 15).
  • Cain and Abel “is the first mention of sin [hatat]in the Bible” (OAB 17).
the pentateuch2
The Pentateuch
  • Exodus:

Main Themes: The Israelite oppression in Egypt, Escape from Pharaoh, Ten Commandments, Tabernacle.

Authorship: Multiple Authors (traditionally Moses)

Date: 1000 BCE – 500 BCE

“The historicity of that story has been questioned, partly because the sources comprising Exodus date from many centuries after the events they purport to describe. The events themselves, which involve the escape of a component of the Pharaoh’s workforce, the disruption of Egyptian agriculture, and the loss of many Egyptian lives, are not mentioned in Egyptian sources … Similarly, the larger-than-life leader Moses is not mentioned in contemporaneous nonbiblical sources; and no trace of a large group of people moving across the Sinai Peninsula has been found by archaeological surveys or excavation” (OAB 81).

the pentateuch3
The Pentateuch
  • Leviticus:

Main Themes: Religious ritual and law, instructions to the Priests.

Authorship: Multiple Authors (traditionally Moses)

Date: 700 BCE – 500 BCE

“Two main compositional strata in Leviticus are known as P (“Priestly”), which comprise most of chs 1-16; and H (“Holiness”) …chs 17-26 so named because of the repeated exhortations to the Israelites to be holy” (OAB 141).

  • Numbers:

Main Themes: Moses takes a census, lots of numbers, ring composition.

Authorship: Multiple Authors (traditionally Moses)

Date: 600 BCE – 500 BCE

the pentateuch4
The Pentateuch
  • Deuteronomy

Main Themes: “second law” meant to reinforce tradition in a period later than most of the Pentateuch.

Authorship: Multiple Authors (traditionally Moses)

Date: 625 BCE – 500 BCE

“The authors of Deuteronomy … did not directly attach their names to their compositions or write in their own voices; instead, they attributed their composition to a prestigious figure from the past. By employing Moses as their spokesperson, they established a link with tradition at precisely the time when tradition, for the sake of survival, had to be transformed” (OAB 248).

the historical books
The “Historical” Books
  • “The Christian bishop Athanasius, in the fourth century CE, first used the term ‘histories’ for this section of the Bible … It is a misleading title, since these books cover a wide range of genres and often are not historical in modern senses of the word” (OAB 313).
the historical books1
The “Historical” Books
  • Joshua:

Main Themes: Joshua, Moses’ successor leads an invasion of Canaan, lots of gore and bloodshed, the sack of Jericho.

Authorship: Multiple Authors (traditionally Joshua)

Date: 625 BCE – 500 BCE

“A main theme of the book is the swift and complete conquest of the land, while most of the archeological evidence suggests its gradual settlement” (OAB 319).

“More recently scholars have viewed Deuteronomy as the introduction to a larger historical work … The final date of composition of the book of Joshua is unknown; it may be dependent upon the dating of the various editions of the Deuteronomistic History of which it is now a part. One major edition of the larger work is generally dated to the late seventh century BCE” (OAB 318).

the historical books2
The “Historical” Books
  • Judges:

Main Themes: Israel after Joshua, Rule of the “judges,” a diverse range of Jewish leaders, more wars.

Authorship: Multiple Authors (traditionally the prophet Samuel)

Date: 600 – 500 BCE

“All critical scholars agree … that the book was written long after the events depicted, and reflects later Judean goals and perspectives” (OAB 355).

  • Ruth:

Main Themes: The journey into Bethlehem and marriage of Ruth, the great-grandmother of King David.

Authorship: Singly unknown author (traditionally the prophet Samuel)

Date: 500 BCE – 200 BCE

the historical books3
The “Historical” Books
  • 1 Samuel:

Main Themes: The leadership of Samuel who is a prophet, judge, and priest, the rise of Saul as Israel's first king, and the emergence of David, Goliath.

Author: Multiple Authors (traditionally the front material is written by the prophet Samuel and the events after his death are written by Nathan and Gad)

Date: 600 – 500 BCE (Deuteronomistic history)

  • 2 Samuel:

Main Themes: Death of Saul, kingship of David, Bathsheba, assorted battle narratives and poems.

Author: Multiple Authors (traditionally Nathan and Gad)

Date: 600 – 500 BCE (Deuteronomistichistory)

the historical books4
The “Historical” Books
  • 1 Kings:

Main Themes: Solomon (David’s son) is King, the Temple of Solomon, the kings after Solomon, the division of the Northern and Southern Jewish kingdoms.

Author: Multiple Authors (traditionally the prophet Jeremiah)

Date: 600 – 500 BCE (Deuteronomistichistory)

  • 2 Kings:

Main Themes: More Jewish kings, fall of Northern kingdom to the Assyrians and the Southern Kingdom to Babylon.

Author: Multiple Authors (traditionally the prophet Jeremiah)

Date: 600 – 500 BCE (Deuteronomistic history)

the historical books5
The “Historical” Books
  • 1 Chronicles:

Main Themes: Huge catalogue of names, starting with Adam and going down through the Jewish monarchy, retelling of events during the Jewish monarchal period.

Author: Dispute over single or multiple authors (traditionally Ezra, whoever wrote the work was deeply familiar with the Jewish Temple and its assorted traditions)

Date: 500 – 150 BCE (mentions the Persian king Cyrus placing it later)

“If one begins to read Chronicles as one would any other book from beginning to end, one encounters some formidable challenges” (OAB 576).

  • 2 Chronicles:

Main Themes: Further retelling of events during the Jewish monarchal period.

Author: Dispute over single or multiple authors (traditionally Ezra, whoever wrote the work was deeply familiar with the Jewish Temple and its assorted traditions)

Date: 500 – 150 BCE (mentions the Persian king Cyrus placing it later)

the historical books6
The “Historical” Books
  • Ezra:

Main Themes: Cyrus allows the Jews to return from Persia to Israel, reconstruction of the Jewish temple.

Authorship: Multiple Authors (traditionally Ezra)

Date: 400 BCE – 150 BCE

  • Nehemiah:

Main Themes: Nehemiah is the Jewish governor under Persian rule, the rebuilding of Jerusalem's walls.

Authorship: Multiple Authors (traditionally Ezra)

Date: 400 BCE – 150 BCE

the historical books7
The “Historical” Books
  • Esther:

Main Themes: Esther a Jewish heroine becomes the queen of a Persian king (Xerxes??) and the Jewish against court intrigues.

Authorship: Probably one anonymous author but with multiple revisions (no traditional author)

Date: 400 BCE – 250 BCE

“Esther is the only book of the Hebrew Bible unattested among the Dead Sea Scrolls (3rd century BCE to 1st century CE), nor does the New Testament ever allude to it … the book of Esther provoked debates among rabbis and church fathers over its scriptural status for reasons that were not always spelled out” (OAB 707).

the poetical and wisdom books
The Poetical and Wisdom Books
  • “’Wisdom literature’ describes works that share, as their focus, reflection on the universal concerns, especially the understanding of human experience and the maintenance of ordered relationships that lead to success on the human plane and to divine approval” (OAB 721).
the poetical and wisdom books1
The Poetical and Wisdom Books
  • Job:

Main Themes: God tests Job’s faith due to a bet with Satan, destroys Job’s family and life, massive discussion on wisdom, and gives Job a new family and twice as many livestock (all is well).

Authorship: Completely anonymous (few clues about its author or context)

Date: 700 – 300 BCE

  • Psalms:

Main Themes: Songs of praise, songs of longing, songs of struggle.

Authorship: Many unknown authors (traditionally an anthology that included work from figures like David)

Date: 1000 BCE – 400 BCE

the poetical and wisdom books2
The Poetical and Wisdom Books
  • Proverbs:

Main Themes: A collection of sayings meant to teach wisdom.

Author: Many Anonymous Authors (traditionally Solomon, who is known for wisdom, addressed to his son)

Date: 1000 BCE – 500 BCE

  • Ecclesiastes:

Main Themes: Wisdom literature. Everything is meaningless, a season for this, a time for that.

Author: Many Anonymous Authors (pen name Qohelet meaning “gatherer”)

Date: 450 BCE – 250 BCE

the poetical and wisdom books3
The Poetical and Wisdom Books
  • Song of Solomon

Main Themes: Bible’s only love poem, celebrates love from a male and female point of view, the Bible’s sexiest book.

Author: Completely unknown (attributed to Solomon because of his references in the poem)

Date: 1000 BCE – 150 BCE (We have no clue)

“Jewish interpreters typically read the Song as an account of the relationship between God and Israel, while Christians saw it as about the love between Christ and the Church … Modern scholars recognize its subject as human love, though some have argued that it originated as a a liturgical text whose speakers are a god and goddess” (OAB 950).

the prophetic books
The Prophetic Books
  • “With the exception of Jonah, which is a story about a prophet, these books all contain extended sayings and speeches that purport to come from the prophet whose name the book bears” (OAB 961).
  • Date Range: 750 BCE – 150 BCE (Daniel)
  • The “Twelve” minor prophets (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi) are one book in the Hebrew Bible.
the prophetic books1
The Prophetic Books
  • Isaiah: Most quoted OT book in the NT. Focuses on the prominent Jewish themes of threat, exile, and restoration.
  • Jeremiah: Resistance to other religions, particularly the worship of Baal.
  • Lamentations: Reflections on the suffering of Jerusalem, wars, famines, and death. The book ‘laments.’
  • Ezekiel: Exilic prophet, focusing on the theme of Jewish restoration.
  • Daniel: Emphasizes Jewish faithfulness, future political/apocalyptic prophecies.
  • Hosea: Prophet of the Northern kingdom, critiques the political, social, and religious practices in the final days before its destruction.
  • Joel: Agricultural crises, droughts, and locusts, military language.
the prophetic books2
The Prophetic Books
  • Amos: Judgments upon Israel, anticipates God’s reconnection with the people.
  • Obadiah: Shortest book in the Hebrew Bible, announces God’s punishment on Edom, a nation that did not aid Jerusalem from being sacked.
  • Jonah: God sends Jonah to save Nineveh, but he refuses, swallowed by whale.
  • Micah: Oracles of judgment and hope fueled by fall of Samaria.
  • Nahum: Anticipates the fall of of Nineveh, Nahum means “comfort,” but it is an oracle that pronounces judgment against other nations.
  • Habakkuk: Anti-Babylon, pronounces God’s judgment on Babylon.
  • Zephaniah: Prophecy of when God will act to decisively restore Israel as a nation, Day of Wrath.
  • Haggai: Focused on the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple.
the prophetic books3
The Prophetic Books
  • Zechariah: Broad message of moral discourse and visionary rhetoric.
  • Malachi: Dates to after the rededication of the Jewish Temple;addresses multiple social issues.
the deuterocanonical books the apocrypha
The Deuterocanonical Books(“The Apocrypha”)
  • “The canon of the Hebrew Bible did not develop at a single moment in time but rather in stages” (OAB 2185).
  • “The final stages of cannon were a reaction to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 CE” (OAB 2188).
  • “During the the medieval period the Western Church generally regarded these books as scripture, without differentiation” (OAB 1361).
  • “Several New Testament writers … do allude to one or more apocryphal books. For example, what seem to be literary echoes from the Wisdom of Solomon are present in Paul’s letter to the Romans (compare Rom 1.20-29 with Wis 13.5,8).

C = Catholic Canon

G = Greek Orthodox Canon

the deuterocanonical books
The Deuterocanonical Books
  • Tobit (C, G)

Main Themes: Tobit, his wife Anna, and his son Tobias struggle to survive as exiles in Assyria. The angel Raphael intervenes to help the family.

Author: Unknown (original author was Aramaic, but only Greek is extant)Date: 300 BCE – 150 BCE

  • Judith(C, G)

Main Themes: The female heroine, Judith, battles and struggles against the Assyrians. Similar to other novellas like Jonah and Job, Ring Composition.

Author: Unknown Date: 150 BCE – 100 BCE

  • Wisdom of Solomon (C, G)

Main Themes: A discourse and praise of wisdom, similar to a Stoic “diatribe”.

Author: The text claims to be king Solomon, but the author is almost certainly a Hellenistic Jew (the text is written in Greek)

Date: 50 BCE – 50 CE

the deuterocanonical books1
The Deuterocanonical Books
  • Sirach (C, G)

Main Themes: A collection of the author’s teachings, divided by poems about finding wisdom.Author: Jesus son of Eleazar, son of Sirach (originally written in Hebrew, his grandson reproduced the text in Greek c. 117 BCE)

Date: 200 BCE – 150 BCE

  • Baruch (C, G)

Main Themes: Repentance for sin, the redemption of exile, poems of wisdom and consolation.Author: Attributed to Baruch, the scribe of the prophet Jeremiah, but almost certainly pseudographical

Date: 200 BCE – 50 BCE

  • Letter of Jeremiah (C, G)

Main Themes: Lots of warnings to refrain from idolatry.Author: Attributed the prophet Jeremiah, but this is almost certainly pseudographical

Date: 350 BCE – 100 BCE

the deuterocanonical books2
The Deuterocanonical Books
  • 1 Maccabees (C, G)

Main Themes: The aftermath of Alexander the great, the oppression of Antiochus Epiphanes, Hanukkah story.

Author: Unknown (probably a Jew who was very educated in both Hebrew and Greek)

Date: 100 BCE – 63 BCE

“Historians value 1 Maccabees for its information on the second-century BCE Jewish-Hellenistic world” (OAB 1556)

  • 2 Maccabees (C, G)

Main Themes: The history of Judea from the time of Antiochus Epiphanes to the revolt of Judas Maccabees, incorporating a message of resisting Hellenization.

Author: Jason of Cyrene (the surviving version is an abridgement of a larger work originally composed in Greek)

Date: 150 BCE – 100 BCE

  • 1 Esdras (G)

Main Themes: Though written much later, the book discusses the destruction of Jerusalem, the exile, and return (good old days). Josephus makes substantial use of 1 Esdras.

Author: Unknown (unclear whether the work was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek)

Date: 200 BCE – 100 BCE

the deuterocanonical books3
The Deuterocanonical Books
  • Prayer of Manasseh (G)

Main Themes: Manasseh, the 7th century idolatrous king of Judah, prays to God for forgiveness.

Author: Unknown (May have been written in Hebrew or Greek)

Date: 50 BCE – 50 CE

  • 3 Maccabees (G)

Main Themes: A fictional narrative of Ptolemy's oppression against the Jews and God’s intervention to help them.

Author: Unknown (probably an Egyptian Jew)

Date: 100 BCE – 30 BCE

  • 2 Esdras(G)

Main Themes: Compilation of “Ezra” books set in the aftermath of the destruction of the Jewish Temple.

Author: Multiple anonymous authors (some writing in Hebrew, some in Greek)

Date: 70 – 300 CE

the christian scriptures new testament
The Christian Scriptures (“New Testament”)


  • Koine Greek

<- Most of the Christian scriptures were either written in or addressed to Greek communities.

First Century Christian Writing: c. 45 – 100 CE

authorship in the new testament
Authorship in the New Testament
  • Orthonymous: “rightly named” i.e. the author the text claims is correct
  • Homonymous: “same named” i.e. the author happens to have the same name as another prominent person
  • Anonymous: “not named” i.e. the text is silent about the author
  • Pseudonymous: “falsely named” i.e. the author the text claims is wrong
forged writings
Forged Writings
  • Dionysius “the Renegade” of the of the third century BCE “wrote and put in circulation a tragic play he called the Parthenopaeus, claiming that it was the work of the famous Greek dramatist Sophocles” (Ehrman, 16).
  • Salvian, a Christian of the fifth century BCE, “outraged by the worldliness of the church … wrote a letter called Timothy to the Church … Salvian’s bishop came to suspect that Salvian had written it. He confronted Salvian with the matter, and Salvianadmitted he had done it” (Ehrman, 32).
  • “At present we know over a hundred writings from the first four centuries that were claimed by one Christian author or another to have been forged by fellow Christians” (Ehrman, 19).
the gospels
The Gospels
  • “Scholars disagree over the extent to which the Gospels follow conventions of ancient biography … Greco-Roman biographies were addressed to a social and literary elite, which may explain why the Gospels, addressed to a much broader audience, do not match them very closely” (OAB 1743).
  • Philo’s Life of Moses adopts a Hellenistic-style laudatory biography for a Jewish subject. Echoes of the Life of Moses … appear in Matthew’s version of the birth and infancy of Jesus” (OAB 1743).
the synoptic gospels seen together
The Synoptic Gospels“Seen Together”
  • “A historical genre does not necessarily guarantee historical accuracy or reliability, and neither the evangelists nor their first readers engaged in historical analysis. Their aim was to confirm Christian faith” (OAB 1744).
  • “Scholars generally agree that the Gospels were written forty to sixty years after the death of Jesus. They thus do not present eyewitness or contemporary accounts of Jesus’ life and teachings” (OAB 1744) .

“Q Source”





the gospels and acts
The Gospels and Acts
  • Matthew

Main Themes: An expansion on Mark’s account of Jesus’ life, ministry, and crucifixion. Matthew includes more allusions to Hebrew scripture than any other Gospel.

Authorship: Anonymous (Church tradition following Irenaeus attributed the book to the apostle Matthew (also Levi?)

Date: 80 – 90 CE

  • Mark

Main Themes: The earliest Gospel, it provides a rough patchwork of first century traditions about Jesus’ ministry and teachings.

Authorship: Anonymous (traditionally Mark, the companion of Peter)

Date: 70 – 75 CE

  • Luke

Main Themes: A broader expansion of Mark’s account of Jesus, including more material about other prominent figures (e.g. John the Baptist) and more quotes attributed to Jesus from the Q source.

Authorship: Anonymous (traditionally Luke, the companion of Paul)

Date: 80 – 90 CE

the gospels and acts1
The Gospels and Acts
  • John

Main Themes: Offers very different look at Jesus than the synoptic gospels, identifies 7 great miracles of Jesus, employs platonic language and heavy literary symbolism (e.g. the lamb of God).

Author: The text claims to be “the Disciple whom Jesus loved” (Arguments have been advanced throughout history associating this person with many figures. The earliest church tradition claims John the Apostle).

Date: 90 – 100 CE

“Most significant are the differences in content. John has a very high Christology: Jesus is repeatedly identified and identifies himself as divine” (OAB 1879).

  • Acts of the Apostles

Main Themes: Follows the rise of the early Christian church, beginning in Jerusalem and ending in Rome.

Author: The same as the author of the Gospel of Luke (traditionally Luke, the companion of Paul)

Date: 85 – 95 CE

“Acts of the Apostles is a misnomer,” since Peter is the only apostle discussed extensively and Paul is not identified as an apostle in the work (OAB 1919).

paul s epistles
Paul’s Epistles
  • “Letters, or epistles, are the earliest documents in the New Testament and its most common literary form” (OAB 1973).
  • Paul’s wrote his epistles at different stages ranging from c. 45 CE – 65 CE.
epistles of paul uncontested
Epistles of Paul (uncontested)
  • Romans: All have sinned and fallen short of God (one of the later letters).
  • 1 Corinthians: Instructions for how Christians should live in pagan communities.
  • 2 Corinthians: More discussion on church practice.
  • Galatians: Emphasis on salvation through faith rather than works.
  • Philippians: Paul thanks the community at Philippi and orients their mutual challenges in a broader theological framework.
  • 1 Thessalonians: A letter of exhortation encouraging the church to persevere, emphasis on the end times.
  • Philemon: Both a private and public letter dealing with Paul’s business correspondence with a church that meets at the house of Philemon.
epistles attributed to paul contested
Epistles attributed to Paul (contested)
  • “Several other Pauline epistles also differ in the language and theological emphasis from the the major Pauline letters” (OAB 1973).
epistles attributed to paul contested1
Epistles attributed to Paul (contested)
  • Colossians

Main Themes: Warnings about false teachers who preach Jewish practices.

Author: pseudographicallyattributed to Paul (probably one of Paul’s disciples)

Date: 65 CE

  • Ephesians

Main Themes: Deals with theological teaching and ethical exhortation.

Author: pseudographically attributed to Paul (modeled after the author of Colossians)

Date: 65 – 70 CE

  • 2 Thessalonians

Main Themes: Corrects misinterpretation of 1 Thessalonians, especially eschatological behavior.

Author: pseudographically attributed to Paul (modeled off of 1 Thessalonians)

Date: 65 – 70 CE

epistles attributed to paul contested2
Epistles attributed to Paul (contested)
  • 1 Timothy

Main Themes: Private letter addressed to Timothy, preaching against Christians who are deviating from the truth.

Author: pseudographically attributed to Paul (later author who probably did not know Paul)

Date: 80 – 110 CE

  • 2 Timothy

Main Themes: Those who follow gospel should not be ashamed of it.

Author: pseudographically attributed to Paul (shares similar rhetorical strategy with 1 Timothy)

Date: 80 – 110 CE

  • Titus

Main Themes: Commissioning letter with instruction to Titus, but actually intended to provide broader instruction for the church.

Author: pseudographically attributed to Paul (similar diction to 1 and 2 Timothy)

Date: 80 – 110 CE

epistles attributed to paul contested3
Epistles attributed to Paul (contested)
  • Hebrews

Main Themes: Letter of exhortation, encouraging both Jews and Gentiles to persevere.

Author: Anonymous (traditionally attributed to Paul)

Date: 60 – 90 CE

other epistles all contested
Other Epistles (all contested)
  • James:

Main Themes: Urges wisdom and constancy (of word/ faith) in the midst of “testing,” its canonical status was challenged during the Protestant Reformation.

Authorship: Either homonymous or pseudographical(traditionally Jesus’ brother, though many people named James were prominent in the early church)

Date: 57– 95 CE

  • 1 Peter

Main Themes: Deals with the “critical conditions” of those Christians called to suffer “for the name.”

Authorship: Pseudographical(claims to be Simon Peter, written from “Babylon,” but some think Silvanus, his secretary, wrote it)

Date: 90– 100 CE

  • 2 Peter

Main Themes: Advice and warnings (apocalyptic), draws heavily from Jewish exegetical traditions, literary parallel to Jude, probably the youngest book of the Bible.

Authorship: Pseudographical(claims to be Simon Peter, written from Rome)

Date: 90– 110CE

other epistles all contested1
Other Epistles (all contested)
  • 1 John:

Main Themes: Draws from into to the Gospel of John, exhortation focused on “holiness and love” within the community, antichrists.

Authorship: Anonymous (traditionally John the apostle. But which John? The writer of the 4th Gospel? The plural pronouns may suggest it as a group composition)

Date: c. 100 CE

  • 2 John:

Main Themes: Traditional letter with greeting and future plans, references “antichrists”.

Authorship: Homonymous (traditionally John the apostle. But which John? The writer of the 4th Gospel? The Presbyter?)

Date: c. 100 CE

other epistles all contested2
Other Epistles (all contested)
  • 3 John:

Main Themes: Traditional letter, seeks support from a fellow Christian near Ephesus, its canonical status was challenged during the Protestant Reformation.

Authorship: Homonymous (again, which John?)

Date: c. 100 CE

  • Jude:

Main Themes: Encourages believers to “keep the faith” and warns of the coming judgment on the wicked. Draws from a variety of biblical and nonbiblical prophecies and stories; ends with an elaborate prayer. Includes a quotation of the Book of Enoch. Its canonical status was challenged during the Protestant Reformation.

Authorship: Possibly homonymous, but probably pseudographical(named for Jude, who was later identified as the brother of James, who was the brother of Jesus)

Date: c. 50- 90 CE

apocalyptic writings
Apocalyptic Writings
  • Revelation:

Main Themes: Begins with a salutation and message to each of the seven churches; following, a vision of God enthroned and Jesus seen as a lamb; a series of eschatological sevenfold visions; the eventual defeat of Satan; the last judgment and the vision of a New Jerusalem.

Authorship: Homonymous (traditionally the John of the 4th Gospel, though recent scholarship finds this a near impossibility.)

Date: possibly c. 64- 70 CE

more likelyc. 81-96 CE

“According to those who interpret the book historically, Revelation refers to events that took place during the first century CE” (OAB 2154).

question for the audience
Question for the Audience
  • Multiple religious sects, including Rabbinic Judaism, Catholicism, the Eastern Orthodoxies, Protestantism, Mormonism, and Baha’ism (with varying ranges of acceptance, exclusion, and categorization) regard the biblical scriptures to be sacred texts. How does a secular interpretation of the biblical scriptures, from the standpoint of literary criticism, comment on the various religious understandings of the texts? Is it possible to understand the biblical scriptures from both a religious and literary critical perspective, or can the two not be harmonized? How has the scholarship discussed in the Oxford Annotated Bible today affected your understanding of biblical scripture?