RELIGIOUS 110NOTE: Read this presentation together with pp. 303-21 in Fisher’s Living Religions. I.THE COMPONENTS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT1. Four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are called “synoptic gospels” because of their close parallels to one another. John is more symbolic and theological. 2. 21 letters (13 of which were either written by, or attributed to, the apostle Paul: 1 Thessalonians, Galatians, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Philippians, Philemon, Romans [definitely written by Paul]; 2 Thessalonians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus [probably written by someone else in Paul’s name]). The other letters are: 1-3 John, 1 & 2 Peter, James, Jude and Hebrews (which is attributed to Paul by some conservative scholars)3. One historical book: Acts of the Apostles. It focuses on the missionary careers of Peter and Paul, and was written by the author of Luke’s Gospel. Peter (above) asked to be crucified by the Romans upside down out of respect for his master Jesus 4.
One apocalyptic book (revealing insights about the end of the world): Bk. of Revelation. Its primary purposes were to spur certain Christian communities in Asia Minor (Turkey) to greater devotion and to provide inspiration for Christians facing persecution by the Romans through the use of symbolic language which promised “a new heaven & a new earth” after a period of tribulation. II.
SOME WIDELY ACCEPTED HISTORICAL FACTS ABOUT JESUS OF NAZARETH1.
His Jewishness (circumcision, attendance at Jewish festivals, quoting from the Hebrew Bible, rabbinical teaching style, etc.)2.
Charismatic healer from peasant stock, and exorciser of demons (13 of Jesus 17 miracles in Mark’s Gospel are exorcisms/driving out evil spirits!).3.
Prophetic critic of some aspects of Jewish religion (e.g., he takes a liberal view of keeping kosher and observing the Sabbath; and he criticizes the legalism and hypocrisy of some religious leaders).4.
Teller of parables (vivid everyday stories with a deeper meaning, e.g., Parable of Good Samaritan [Luke 10: 29-37]). Help comes from an outsider/Samaritan, not those who should have helped5. Preacher of a new era in Jewish history (the “kingdom [rule] of God”) (Mark 1: 14-15).6. Controversial because of his association with social outcastes (e.g., tax collectors and prostitutes).7. Crucified by the Romans under Pontius Pilate’s leadership on suspicion that he might lead a revolt against Roman rule. Although some Jewish religious authorities opposed Jesus and put suspicions in Pilate’s mind, he executed Jesus for his own political reasons.