The most important and usually ignored feature of the New Testament epistles is that they are occasional letters, not systematic essays. Another label by which to name this is the Latin phrase ad hoc "for the occasion". The writers of the epistles did not sit down to write an essay; they wrote in response to questions they had been asked or circumstances that needed to be addressed.
In 1 Corinthians Paul speaks to problems that existed in a disorderly church. There are so many references to Paul's own life that this epistle falls into the category of personal letter. Paul defends his reputation against false accusations, thereby placing the letter into a genre known in Latin as an apologia pro vita sua "defense of his life". In keeping with a recent approach to literature called "self fashioning," Paul carefully constructs a picture of his missionary life.
A thoroughly polemical argumentative letter written in response to a doctrinal crisis that had engulfed Christians living in a specific region modern-day Turkey. The heresy was a form of Jewish ritualism, but the issue is perennial: whether Christ's atonement is completely sufficient for salvation or whether human works are also necessary "works righteousness".
Two common designations for this epistle are helpful—"the angry letter" denoting the polemical tone and "the freedom letter" denoting the theological argument of being free from the need to earn salvation by religious rituals. A circular letter intended for the church universal. A case study in epistolary form: salutation , thanksgiving , body — , paraenesis or list of exhortations — , and close Also characteristic of many New Testament epistles is the division into a doctrinal or theological half and a practical or moral half.
Written in a polished and exalted style. A prison epistle written in Rome. Balancing numerous personal references dealing with Paul's relations to the recipients are famous passages with a universal "feel," such as the Christ hymn that celebrates Christ's taking the form of a servant and the "whatever is true" list Philippians is also a missionary update letter. It is a rare New Testament epistle that does not make reference to doctrinal heresy, but in some epistles, including Colossians, the polemical task of countering heresy is a major part of the letter.
New Testament: Matthew
Paul only briefly denounces the heresy which claimed that something more than Christ is needed  , preferring to conduct his debate by declaring that Christ is all that is needed. This epistle is strongly Christocentric, climaxing in the famous Christ hymn that exalts the supremacy of Christ An "open letter" intended for a group, but it is so suffused with statements of affection that it reads like a personal letter to an individual. There is a large autobiographical element, and like the letters that we ourselves write and receive, it ranges over a wide variety of topics, including Christ's second coming.
A good way to assimilate the letter is to regard it as giving "program notes" on living the Christian life. Partly a sequel to 1 Thessalonians, arising out of misunderstandings about when Christ would return and the need not to live idly in anticipation of that return.
The Gospel of John
A melodic line in the letter is the need to exert oneself in the Christian faith and "not grow weary in doing good" As with other New Testament epistles, we should accept the informal, meandering structure and not attempt to force it into an essay format. The first of a group known as the pastoral epistles written to individual pastors. Paul's last will and testament, written while he was on death row in Rome. While following the usual format of New Testament epistles, it is also dominated by the genre known as the farewell discourse.
Merging with that are elements of spiritual autobiography and a defense of the author's life. A pastoral epistle written to a pastor on the island of Crete, this letter filled with commands is understood to be a general guidebook for living the Christian life in a world where evil seeks to destroy the good. The style is very compressed, reading almost like an outline.
There are also directives for church organization.
A single-chapter book known best for the story that lies behind it, namely, a runaway slave who had become a Christian and whom Paul is sending back to his owner also a Christian with the letter. The most literary aspect of the book is the delicate persuasion or rhetoric that Paul uses to induce Philemon to receive his slave with kindness. A letter essay written in an exalted style.
This Christocentric book asserts the supremacy of Christ to Old Testament foreshadowings. Christ is successively shown to be superior to prophets and angels , Moses 3 , and the Old Testament priesthood ; then the new covenant in Christ is shown to be superior to the old covenant chapter 8 and following. A subtext is the need to hold fast to the Christian faith and not revert to Judaism in a time of persecution.
Jesus, Church, Gospels, Acts, Letters, Revelation
Another theme by which we remember the book is faith, climaxed in the famous roll call of faith in chapter 11 which adheres to the genre known as the encomium. In this collection of literary introductions to every book of the Bible, renowned literary scholar Leland Ryken helps readers navigate the genres and literary features found throughout Scripture.
Belongs to the genre of wisdom literature; accordingly, the basic unit is the proverb. The structure is stream of consciousness, not that of a systematic essay. The goal is to impart skill for living, and a good tagline for the book is "faith that works. Another very loosely organized epistle. The general progression is 1 the riches that believers possess in Christ, 2 duties for living the Christian life, and 3 how to endure suffering for the sake of Christ.
An informally arranged reminder of selected foundational truths of the Christian faith. The emphasis on remembering stems from the fact that this letter has affinities with the genre of the farewell discourse. The last chapter is one of the great eschatological discourses of the Bible. A letter built around the subject of tests by which people can know if they are Christians.
An informal letter that yields a long list of separate topics instead of a tidy outline but that is true of most New Testament letters, contrary to common viewpoint. An abbreviated letter, perhaps because John expected to visit the church soon v.
This epistle is a shorthand version of the customary epistolary conventions. The book falls readily into three parts: a reminder , a warning , and an instruction Like the books that precede and follow it, one of five one-chapter books in the Bible. A personal letter addressed to a specific person named Gaius, following the format of salutation, body, and personal greetings. It also fits the genre of the letter of instruction, with one of the topics being hospitality to traveling Christian teachers.
Pope Innocent I ratified the same canon in , but it is probable that a Council in Rome in under Pope Damasus I gave the same list first. These councils also provided the canon of the Old Testament, which included the apocryphal books. There is no scholarly consensus on the date of composition of the latest New Testament texts.
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Conservative scholars John A. Robinson , Dan Wallace , and William F. Albright dated all the books of the New Testament before 70 AD.
For example, Richard Pervo dates Luke-Acts to c. AD ,  and David Trobisch places Acts in the mid- to late second century, contemporaneous with the publication of the first New Testament canon. And Tertullian continues later in the book, writing:  [note 2]. By the 4th century , the existence—even if not the exact contents—of both an Old and New Testament had been established.
Lactantius , a 3rd—4th century Christian author wrote in his early-4th-century Latin Institutiones Divinae Divine Institutes : . But all scripture is divided into two Testaments. That which preceded the advent and passion of Christ—that is, the law and the prophets —is called the Old; but those things which were written after His resurrection are named the New Testament. The Jews make use of the Old, we of the New: but yet they are not discordant, for the New is the fulfilling of the Old, and in both there is the same testator, even Christ, who, having suffered death for us, made us heirs of His everlasting kingdom, the people of the Jews being deprived and disinherited.
As the prophet Jeremiah testifies when he speaks such things: "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new testament to the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not according to the testament which I made to their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; for they continued not in my testament, and I disregarded them, saith the Lord. For that which He said above, that He would make a new testament to the house of Judah, shows that the old testament which was given by Moses was not perfect; but that which was to be given by Christ would be complete.
Each of the four gospels in the New Testament narrates the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. The gospel was considered the "good news" of the coming Kingdom of Messiah , and the redemption through the life and death of Jesus, the central Christian message.