Christian Scripture and Theology 10/22/2013
The New Testament: Genre
Presented in canonical order (genre order)
Gospels: “kind of” biographies of Jesus. Modern biography: psychological portrait of a
character of a person. Getting inside their head, understanding them as an individual.
Assumption that it is not made up in modern biography. Ancient writers were
not interested in truth, but entertainment mainly.
Acts: The book of acts, the Acts of the Apostles
Letters: actual letters written from one person to another
Apocalypse: Revelation—attributed to John
Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. All anonymous
Acts: anonymous—no author signature or inscription
Peter (2 letters)
John (3 letters)
Jude Apocalypse/book of revelations: “John of Patmos”
When people assume that these texts are present it in chronological order. Assume that
the gospels are the earliest writings of Christianity
The earliest writings are the letters of Paul
Letters of Paul (50-55 CE)
Undisputed Letters: certain that Paul himself wrote these letters. They are in a
hypothetical order: none of them include a date.
1 Corinthians: idea
2 Corinthians: this idea is going very well
Romans: is on his way
Possibly Pseudepigraphal (false author) letters. Claim to be by Paul
2 Timothy Titus
The two categories
Disputed Letters (the first three)
Deutero-Pauline Letters (the next three)—written in Paul’s voice.
Interesting that the earliest writings we have of Christians is in the form of letters.
Paul’s letters are all about putting out fires: crises
Paul is preaching a Judaism without kashrut or circumcision.. which for many is the
heart of Judaism.
Which Greeks and Romans liked… god-fearers
The Gentiles didn’t have to make the full commitment
Paul dies at around 65 CE—just drops off the face of the earth.
Before the Temple was destroyed, or before any gospel is written
The letters and gospels do not overlap
He has no idea what a gospel is, seems to know very little about Jesus (salvation only
because of resurrection)
Christians want to know about community—go to Paul
For stories about Jesus and what kind of person he was—gospels
Gospel—euangelion—good news Synoptic Gospels
Gospel of Mark: 66-72 CE
Gospell of Matthew: 80-90 CE
Gospel of Luke: 80-90 CE
Gospel of John: 90-100 CE
There is nothing in the gospels saying who it was written by or when it was written, or
Church communities attribute names to the gospels
Name of the book: Acts of the Apostles
The Gospel of Luke and Acts likely have the same author
First “history of the church”
Transition of the gospel from Jerusalem (where it opens) to Rome (where it closes)
The earliest Christians start in Jerusalem and cumulate in Rome
Name of the book: Revelation
Apocalypse: to uncover/reveal/show. How does eschatology fit in here again?
Something is revealed to a seer
Seeing and recording what he’s seeing. One of two things, which Christian book of
revelation has both:
Tour of Heaven
Comic battle between forces of good (Jesus) and forces of evil (Satan)
Apocalyptic war: it’s destroyed seven times
Ends with the Christians emerging victorious: deeply misanthropic world—hating
humanity so the kingdom of god can come and reign forever. Disliked among many
The point of apocalypse: this will all end soon, just hold on. Consolation.
Apocalypse and Rapture, and the tragedy
Something that will happen just before the end of time: a bunch of faithful Christians will
be brought up to the kingdom of heaven.
The remnant faithful
Canon: authoritative group of writings
A way of measuring, what is proper? Official?
Constantine: key in developing the Christian canon. Process by which Christians
decided which books would form their bible was a political process. Such is the case
with the book of Revelation
The Shepherd of Hermas: other apocalypse that was popular
Christians were everywhere for the first four centuries and were writing about Jesus and
Have to figure out who their antichrist is Key Christian Thinkers
Many of whom are important to specific communities. You can’t really reduce all of
Christianity to just three thinkers..
Augustine (c. 354-430)
Manichean/Manichaeism: always bring something of their past with them (Augustine
was a convert). His Manichaeism influenced Christianity in his stress of human guilt and
sinfulness as a fundamental problem universal to every human being.
Dualism: sees everything in polar opposites (good-evil, black-white, us-them).
Well-read in Plato, Aristotle, Seneca. 7 Christian virtues
Wisdom, temperance, courage, and justice (from Plato)
Faith, hope, and love (from the New Testament)
Christianity’s Dark Ages: not doing much deep thinking, but a lot of ruling:
Reason vs. Revelation
Christian thinkers only have the writings of Plato and Aristotle because they are in