The Gospels are the first four books of the New Testament. They tell the story of the life and death of Jesus. They are written in the style of ancient biographies. Ancient biographies featured stories of the words and deeds of the person in order to show their character, but they were not expected to be completely historically accurate. None of the gospel writers say who they are; the names of the Gospels were added to the manuscripts in the second century A.D.
The Book of Acts
The Book of Acts, also known as the Acts of the Apostles, gives a history of the beginnings of Christianity. Acts primarily focuses on the missionary work of the Apostles Peter and Paul (the word apostle means messenger). Acts is written in the form of an ancient history and is similar to ancient novels in the way it describes the adventures of its characters. Like ancient biographies, ancient histories were not expected to be completely historically accurate.
Letters Attributed to Paul
Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon were written by the Apostle Paul, the earliest Christian writer whose writings have survived. Paul wrote seven of the twenty-seven books of the New Testament; more than any other author. These letters (except Philemon which is written to an individual) are addressed to Christian communities in the cities of Greece & Asia Minor (modern day Greece and Turkey). These letters are referred to by scholars as the Undisputed Letters of Paul. These letters answer questions and give advice about how to deal with various problems that arose in the churches he founded.
Bible scholars disagree as to whether 2 Thessalonians, Colossians, & Ephesians were written by Paul, or if thew were written in the name of Paul by some of his later followers. These letters are known as the Disputed Letters of Paul. They deal with opposition to false teaching and admonitions to new Christians to give up the ways of their former life.
Most Scholars agree that 1 & 2 Timothy, and Titus were not written by Paul, but were written by later followers of Paul. These letters are referred to as the Pastoral Letters (pastoral like the responsibilities pastors orministers have today), because they deal with issues of leadership positions (such as bishops & deacons) and the supervision of churches by these leaders. These letters urge church leaders to correct false teaching and teach the moral codes detailed in the letters.
Hebrews is an early Christian Sermon. It is called Hebrews because if focuses on the role of Jesus as the final and ultimate Hebrew/Israelite/Jewish High Priest whose death on the cross was a sacrifice makes sacrifices in the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem unnecessary.
James, 1 & 2 Peter, and Jude are known as the Catholic Letters (the word catholic means universal, so the name Roman Catholic Church means the Universal Church based in Rome). These books of the New Testament are called catholic because they are addressed to Christians in general, not particular communities.
James is written in the name of James the brother of Jesus who was one of the leaders of the early Jerusalem church (along with the Apostles Peter and John who were disciples of Jesus).
1 & 2 Peter were written in the name of Peter the Apostle and Disciple of Jesus (the word disciple means student or follower). Jude was written in the name of Jude, another brother of Jesus who was an important missionary.
James, 1 & 2 Peter, and Jude are mainly concerned with correcting false teaching and moral instruction.
1, 2, & 3 John were written within the same community that the Gospel of John came from. They are known as the Johamnine Letters. 1 John is an essay, not a letter, and its author is unknown. 2 & 3 John are letters written by someone who calls himself “the elder.” These books of the New Testament deal with opposing the theology of Christians who had different interpretations of the Gospel of John than the main community which produced the gospel and letters of John.
The book of Revelation is written in a type of early Jewish and early Christian literature scholars call Apocalypse. The word Apocalypse means revelation. Apocalyptic literature describes revelations, usually in the form of visions, given by God to an individual prophet. These revelations are about the future triumph of God over the forces of evil. Apocalypses were written to comfort and encourage Jews and Christians who are being persecuted.
The book of Revelation was written by a Christian Prophet named John (a different person than John the Disciple/Apostle).
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