The bestselling book of all time…Part 2

From Biblica- The Bible Atlas

(You can read Part 1 on the Old Testament here.

The Christian Scriptures emerge.

Like the Jewish books of the Bible, Christian tradition developed first by word

Jesus Christ

of mouth and then was written down. Even though Jesus’ disciples had the means to put things in writing from the start, they delayed doing so, because they expected Jesus to momentarily return in his full manifestation as Messiah. And so, after Jesus’ time on earth, his followers spread the good news of his coming by telling stories about him.

The Gospel of Luke gives us a hint of how such storytelling may have taken place. On the Sunday after Jesus’ crucifixion, two disillusioned disciples are walking from Jerusalem to the nearby town of Emmaus. When they meet a stranger they tell him all about Jesus, but add that Jesus has been put to death and cannot be the Messiah as they hoped.Though they had heard that Jesus had risen from the dead, they did not believe it. The stranger scolds them for their disbelief and explains how the Messiah’s death was predicted in the Scriptures. Then at supper, the stranger reveals who he is: it is Jesus himself. Overjoyed the two disciples hurry back to Jerusalem to share their experience with the others (Luke 24:13-35). This pattern of passing on stories was repeated over and over, incorporating even more of Jesus’ words and deeds. All Jesus’ followers repeated them, but greater credence was given to those who had known Jesus personally.

As time went on, it became obvious that Jesus’ return was not imminent and that the people who had known him personally were dying off. In order to preserve what was known about Jesus, some Christians began to write down accounts of his ministry, death, and resurrection. Consequently, during the second half of the first century the four Gospels were written, as was the Acts of the Apostles, an extension of Luke’s Gospel, about the early spread of the Church. But even before the Gospels were written, the Apostle Paul traveled throughout Greece and Asia Minor (now Turkey), founding communities of believers. During his travels, Paul kept in touch with these communities, or churches by writing letters. These are the earliest Christian writings to survive. Letters from other Christians followed, and toward the  end of the century Revelation, a book of visions about the end of time, appeared. Other Christian works were written as well, including allegories, books of prophecy, and stories about the child Jesus, his mother, and Mary Magdalene. However, none of these was to be accepted as Scripture.

In fact, Christians were slow to characterize any of their writings as Scripture. The Hebrew Scripture was their only Bible, though worshippers did read from Christian writings. In describing services at Rome in the mid-second century, the theologian Justin Martyr reports that ‘the memoirs of the Apostles’ were read to the assembly.

Still, no authorized collection of sacred writings was adopted. Finally in 367 A.D. , Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, named 27 books (which do not include the Apocrypha) that he believed to be inspired by God and rooted in the teachings of the Apostles. Later Church councils confirmed the books as Sacred Scripture, and they came to be known as the New Testament, complementing the Hebrew Scriptures, or the Old Testament.

In establishing the canon Athanasius wrote: „In these [books] alone is proclaimed the doctrine of godliness. Let no one add to or take anything from them.”


7 comentarii (+add yours?)

  1. Gabi Bogdan
    dec. 18, 2010 @ 10:36:15

    Excelent, i do not know much about the early fathers. Learn something every day i guess

    • rodi
      dec. 18, 2010 @ 15:37:49

      There is so much enriching and exciting stuff to know about. I feel blessed to share my little research and nuggets of info that I come across. It is also a huge blessing to be able to look at multiple sources for information. Not all of us can go to a seminary, but it doesn’t mean we do not desire to learn of the things of God.I am thrilled, in talking to others, to see such a desire increase, not decrease. God will open up to us as we seek Him.

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