I am interested to share with you a brief knowledge about the Bible. With this purpose, two weeks back I wrote about how the Old Testament of the Bible came about and why there is a difference in the number of Books between the Catholic Bible and the Protestant Bible.
Now I would like to share how the New Testament came about. Old Testament is the first part, this is the second part of the Bible giving us the knowledge about the teachings and the person of Jesus as well as the events in the first century Christianity. The New Testament consists of 27 Books, as approved by the Church from the Fourth Century.
The Formation of the New Testament was in three stages:
Stage 1: Actual life of Jesus, the miracles he performed and the parables he told his actual Passion, crucifixion, and Resurrection. Nothing was written about him at this stage. This stage lasted till 33 years after the birth of Jesus.
Stage 2: Oral Tradition. The Apostles and the people were convinced that Jesus was the Messiah. The Apostles began to preach about Jesus and baptized those who believed in Him. This oral tradition lasted for 25 – 30 years after the ascension of Jesus. Nothing was written yet.
Stage 3: Written Tradition. The idea of putting the teachings of Jesus in writing came, because of the Persecution of the Christians and the Apostles, the first-hand witnesses of Jesus were put to death, one after another. The second main reason was the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple by the Roman Empire; with that, they thought that the Good News of Jesus might disappear unless it was written down.
The earliest writings of the Good News were the Letters of Paul. Having founded many Churches as a Missionary, Paul kept contact with them by writing letters. These are the 13 letters we have in the New Testament. Mark wrote the Gospel around 70; then wrote Mathew and Luke between 75 – 100 and John wrote his Gospel around the beginning of the second century.
Besides the Four Gospels and the 13 letters of Paul, we have 1 Letter of James; 2 letters of Peter; 3 Letters of John; and 1 Letter of Jude. Besides these, we have The Acts of the Apostles, the early history of the Church written by Luke, the Letter to the Hebrews, whose writer is unknown and the Book of Revelation written by John. Thus, the New Testament consists of 27 Books.
May the Word of God be the light to our path of life,
Fr. Arul Joseph V.