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New Testament

Source:
A Dictionary of the Bible What is This? Contains accessibly written entries for topics covering the religious, historical, and social aspects of the Bible.

    New Testament

    The twenty‐seven books comprising the second part of the Christian Bible, not arranged in the chronological order of writing but roughly according to subject matter: first, the narratives about Jesus, followed by the response to him in the life of the primitive Church (the Acts of the Apostles); then the letters of Paul, of which seven are generally thought to be from his own hand; letters by other early Christians; and finally the Revelation to John. This last is sometimes called the Apocalypse, and is a Christian vision of the future hope, couched in the form of an address to seven Churches in Asia Minor. The name ‘New Testament’ is an alternative translation of ‘New Covenant’, which looks back to the prophecy of Jeremiah (31: 31–4) of a new relationship between God and people. As the title for a collection of writings the name can be traced to the end of the 2nd cent., and was standard usage by the 4th cent. But the precise contents of the NT took time to be established: there were doubts about 2 Peter (a very late writing), 2 and 3 John, Jude, and Revelation. The last two books were also regarded by Martin Luther in the 16th cent. CE and his followers as lacking the authority of the rest, and Luther also gave less value to Hebrews and James. The present list of twenty‐seven was set out by Athanasius in Alexandria (367 CE). See canon.

    All the NT writings are in Hellenistic (koine) Greek. The divisions into chapters date only from the 13th cent., and into verses from the Greek NT of Stephanus in 1551, adopted for the English translation of William Whittingham (1557).

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