Matthew (by El Greco) Source: twenty-one epistles, or letters, are examples of communications between individuals and groups within the Christian communities of the first century. The last book, Revelation, is also an epistle, though it is distinctly symbolic and apocalyptic in content.

Each Gospel was written anonymously, but is traditionally attributed to an apostle or a follower. The Gospel According to Matthew, probably written during the last decades of the 1st century, is traditionally attributed to the apostle and eyewitness Matthew. It was written for a Church coping with persecution and internal dissent. Matthew stresses that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, the fulfillment of God's promise, and that his followers are the true Israel.

the beginning of the book of Mark Source: Gospel According to Mark, written around 65-70, is alternately attributed to the Mark named in 1 Peter 5:13 or the John Mark mentioned in Acts 12:12. It was probably written for a community that was suffering persecution and seeking the immediate return of Jesus. Mark describes the people of Jesus' time, including his followers and the religious authorities, as unable to comprehend Jesus' true nature. The Gospel assures its audience that the revelation of Jesus' true nature was accomplished through his suffering, death, and resurrection.

tenth-century Byzantine depiction of LukeThe Gospel According to Luke, written around 80-85, is traditionally attributed to "the beloved physician" named in Colossians 4:14. It was written for a predominantly Gentile community in a Greek-speaking setting. Luke argues that the return of Jesus and the end of the world is not imminent, saying that the time cannot be known. Instead, Luke's Gospel emphasizes the nature of the Kingdom of God and the way it is made real in the lives of the communities of believers.

New Testament Gospels
Synoptic GospelsMatthew, Mark, Luke
Non-synoptic GospelsJohn

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 PaulRomans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, [Ephesians], Philippians, [Colossians], 1 Thessalonians, [2 Thessalonians], [1 Timothy], [2 Timothy], [Titus], Philemon
Other LettersHebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude
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