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The New Testament

The New Testament (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus and events relating to first-century Christianity. The New Testament's background,

the first division of the Christian Bible, is called the Old Testament,

which is based primarily on the Hebrew Bible; together,

Christians regard them as sacred scripture.

New Testament

The New Testament is a collection of Christian texts initially written in the Koine Greek language at different times by various authors. While the Old Testament canon varies somewhat between different Christian denominations, the 27-book canon of the New Testament has been almost universally recognized within Christianity since at least Late Antiquity. Thus, in virtually all Christian traditions today, the New Testament consists of 27 books:

 

  • Four canonical gospels by the "Four Evangelists" (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)

  • The Acts of the Apostles

  • 13 Pauline epistles

  • The Epistle to the Hebrews

  • Seven general epistles

  • The Book of Revelation

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The earliest known complete list of the 27 books is found in a letter written by Athanasius, a 4th-century bishop of Alexandria, dated to 367 AD. This momentous event, the formal canonization of the 27-book New Testament, took place during the councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397) in North Africa. Pope Innocent I ratified the same canon in 405, but it is probable that a Council in Rome in 382 under Pope Damasus I gave the same list first. These councils also provided the canon of the Old Testament, which included the deuterocanonical books. This historical process solidified the foundation of the Christian faith as we know it today.

 

There is a fascinating scholarly debate on the date of composition of the latest New Testament texts. John A. T. Robinson, Dan Wallace, and William F. Albright dated all the books of the New Testament before 70 AD. Many other scholars, such as Bart D. Ehrman and Stephen L. Harris, date some New Testament texts much later than this; Richard Pervo dated Luke and Acts to c. 115 AD and David Trobisch places Acts in the mid-to-late second century, contemporaneous with the publication of the first New Testament canon. This ongoing discussion adds a layer of intrigue to the study of the New Testament.

The New Oxford Annotated Bible claims, "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's life and teaching." The ESV Study Bible claims the following (as one argument for gospel authenticity): Because Luke, as a second-generation Christian, claims to have retrieved eyewitness testimony (Luke 1:1–4), in addition to having traveled with Paul the Apostle (Acts 16:10–17; arguing for an authorship date of c. AD 62), which is corroborated by Paul's Letter to the Colossians (Col. 4:14), Letter to Philemon (Philem. 23–24), and Second Letter to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:11), the gospel account of Luke "was received as having apostolic endorsement and authority from Paul and as a trustworthy record of the gospel that Paul preached" (e.g. Rom. 2:16, according to Eusebius in Ecclesiastical History 3.4.8).

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