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Religion Library: Christianity

Sacred Texts

Written by: Beth Davies-Stofka

The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke have a number of similarities, including similar stories told in a similar order. They are called the synoptic Gospels (synoptic is a Greek word roughly translated as "seen together"). The Gospel According to John is noticeably different from the synoptic Gospels. It is traditionally attributed to the apostle John, son of Zebedee. Its date of composition is uncertain, but probably falls around 90-100. It places a strong theological emphasis on Jesus as the Son of God and on the possibility of eternal life through faith in him.

Books attributed to Luke
(c. 80-85 CE)
*The Gospel According to Luke
*Acts of the Apostles

The second volume of the Gospel According to Luke, the Acts of the Apostles, was written at the same time as Luke, around 80-85. Its main characters are the apostles Peter (chapters 1-12) and Paul (chapters 12-28). This book is the only known continuous record of the expansion of the communities of believers during the thirty years following Jesus' death. The author hopes to establish a common theological outlook between Peter and Paul in regard to faith and its relationship to the Jewish law.

New Testament Epistles
(many scholars doubt whether Paul wrote the bracketed letters)
Letters of
Paul
Romans
1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians
Galatians
[Ephesians]
Philippians
[Colossians]
1 Thessalonians
[2 Thessalonians]
[1 Timothy]
[2 Timothy]
[Titus]
Philemon
Other
Letters
Hebrews
James
1 Peter
2 Peter
1 John
2 John
3 John
Jude
ApocalypseRevelation

The New Testament contains twenty-one epistles, or letters. Christian leaders like Paul used letters to maintain contact with congregations. Most of the epistles are attributed to early community leaders. Thirteen are attributed to Paul, although Ephesians, Colossians, and 2 Thessalonians differ from Paul's other letters in either style or theological perspective. Many doubt that 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, the so-called Pastoral Letters, are genuinely works of Paul. Paul's letters are clearly correspondences with specific communities, while the pastoral letters show concern with sending advice on pastoral or practical matters.

St. Paul

 

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