Friday, July 06, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: gospels
In Christianity, gospel means "good news". Received opinion holds that the word gospel derives from the Old English word for "good news", a translation of the Greek word ευαγγέλιον, euangelion (from this word comes the term "evangelist" see evangelism). However, the word corresponding to "good" in Old English had a long vowel, and would normally develop into a MnE *goospel, leading some scholars to hold that the Old English term was not a translation of the Greek "good news," but rather a fresh coinage, "message concerning God."
Gospel has generally been used in three ways:

  1. To denote the proclamation of God's saving activity in Jesus of Nazareth or to denote the message proclaimed by Jesus. This is the original New Testament usage (see Romans 1.1 or Mark 1.1).

  2. More popularly to refer to the four canonical Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) and sometimes other non-canonical works (eg. Gospel of Thomas), that offer a narrative of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

  3. Some modern scholars have used the term to denote a hypothetical genre of Early Christian literature (cf. Peter Stuhlmacher, ed., Das Evangelium und die Evangelien, Tübingen 1983, also in English: The Gospel and the Gospels).

The expression "gospel" was used by Paul before the literary Gospels of the New Testament canon had been produced, when he reminded the men of the church at Corinth "of the gospel I preached to you" (1 Corinthians 15.1) through which, Paul averred, they were being saved, and he characterized it in the simplest terms, emphasizing Christ's appearances after the Resurrection (1 Corinthians 15.3–8):

"...that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he
was buried; and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures;
And that he was seen of Cephas; then of the Twelve: After that, he was seen of
above five hundred brethren at once: of whom the greater part remain unto this
present, but some have fallen asleep. After that he was seen of James, then of
all the apostles. Last of all, he was seen of me also, as one born out of due

The Gospel of Matthew (literally, "according to Matthew"; Greek, Κατά Μαθθαίον or Κατά Ματθαίον, Kata Maththaion or Kata Matthaion) is one of the four Gospel accounts of the New Testament. It narrates an account of the life and ministry of Jesus, from his genealogy to his post-resurrection commissioning of his Apostles to "go and make disciples of all nations." Bibles traditionally print Matthew as the first gospel, followed in order by Mark, Luke and John. The Christian community traditionally ascribes authorship to Matthew the Evangelist, one of Jesus's twelve disciples, while secular scholarship generally agrees it was written by an anonymous non-eyewitness to Jesus's ministry.

OverviewFor convenience, the book can be divided into its four structurally distinct sections: Two introductory sections; the main section, which can be further broken into five sections, each with a narrative component followed by a long discourse of Jesus; and finally, the Passion and Resurrection section.

Containing the genealogy, the birth, and the infancy of Jesus (Matthew 1; Matthew 2). The discourses and actions of John the Baptist preparatory to Christ's public ministry (Matthew 3; Matthew 4:11).

  1. Containing the genealogy, the birth, and the infancy of Jesus (Matthew 1; Matthew 2).
    The discourses and actions of John the Baptist preparatory to Christ's public ministry (Matthew 3; Matthew 4:11).

  2. The discourses and actions of Christ in Galilee (4:12–26:1).

    1. The Sermon on the Mount, concerning morality (Ch. 5–7)

    2. The Missionary Discourse, concerning the mission Jesus gave his Twelve Apostles. (10–11:1
    3. )
    4. The Parable Discourse, stories that teach about the Kingdom of Heaven (13).

    5. The "Church Order" Discourse, concerning relationships among Christians (18–19:1).

    6. The Eschatological Discourse, which includes the Olivet Discourse and Judgement of the Nations, concerning his Second Coming and the end of the age (24–25).

  3. The sufferings, death and Resurrection of Jesus, the Great Commission (28:16–20).


Thursday, July 05, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: Gospel of Mark
Head of St. Mark, Fra AngelicoThe Gospel of Mark (literally, according to Mark; Greek, Κατά Μαρκον, Kata Markon), (anonymous but ascribed to Mark the Evangelist) is a Gospel of the New Testament. It narrates the life of Jesus from John the Baptist to the Ascension (or to the empty tomb in the shorter recension), but it concentrates particularly on the last week of his life (chapters 11-16, the trip to Jerusalem). It portrays Jesus as an exorcist, a healer and miracle worker, the Christ, the Son of Man, and a few times as the Son of God.

Two important themes of Mark are the Messianic secret and the obtuseness of the disciples. In Mark, Jesus is not generally recognized as the Son of God, except by demons (whom he commands to silence) and at his death. Jesus uses parables to obscure his message and fulfill prophecy (4:10-12). At times, the disciples have trouble understanding the parables, but Jesus explains what they mean, in secret (4:13-20, 4:33-34). They also fail to understand the implication of the miracles that he performs before them.

Mark usually appears second in the New Testament after the Gospel of Matthew and traditionally Matthew was thought to be the first gospel to be composed with Mark the second. However most contemporary scholars date Mark to the late 60s or the early 70s, and, contrary to the traditional view, regard it as the earliest of the canonical gospels, and a source for material in the other synoptic gospels, Matthew and Luke.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Theological Dictionary word of the day: Gospel of Luke
10th century Byzantine illustration of Luke the Evangelist.The Gospel of Luke is a synoptic Gospel, and the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels of the New Testament, which purport to tell the story of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. The author was also the author of Acts of the Apostles. Like all gospels, the gospel originally circulated anonymously. Since at least the 2nd century, authorship has been ascribed to Luke, named in Colossians 4:14, a doctor and follower of Paul.

The introductory dedication to Theophilus, 1:1-4 states that since many others have compiled an "orderly narrative of the events" from the original eyewitnesses, that the author has decided to do likewise, after thorough research of everything from the beginning, so that Theophilus may realize the reliability of the teachings in which he has been instructed. The main characteristic of this Gospel, as Farrar (Cambridge Bible, Luke, Introduction) remarks, is expressed in the motto, "Who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil" (Acts 10:38; cf. with Luke 4:18). Luke wrote for the "Hellenistic world".


Tuesday, July 03, 2007

The Rylands Papyrus is the earliest manuscript fragment found of John's Gospel; dated to about 125. Theological Dictionary word of the day: Gospel of John
The Gospel of John, (literally, According to John; Greek, Κατά Ιωαννην, Kata Iōannēn) is the fourth gospel in the canon of the New Testament, traditionally ascribed to John the Evangelist. Like the three synoptic gospels, it contains an account of some of the actions and sayings of Jesus, but differs from them in ethos and theological emphases. The purpose is expressed in the conclusion, 20:30-31: "...these [Miracles of Jesus] are written that you may (come to) believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

According to Trinitarianism, (see also Trinitarianism— Scripture and tradition), of the four gospels, John presents the highest christology, implicitly declaring Jesus to be God.
Compared to the synoptics, John focuses on Jesus' cosmic mission to redeem humanity. Only in John does Jesus talk at length about himself, and John includes a substantial amount of material that Jesus shared with the disciples only. Certain elements of the synoptics (such as parables, exorcisms, and the Second Coming) are not found in John.
Since the "higher criticism" of the 19th century, historians have largely rejected the gospel of John as a reliable source of information about the historical Jesus. "[M]ost commentators regard the work as anonymous."


Monday, July 02, 2007

The Biblical canon is an exclusive list of books written during the formative period of the Jewish or Christian faiths; the leaders of these communities believed these books to be inspired by God or to express the authoritative history of the relationship between God and his people (although there may have been secondary considerations as well).

There are differences between Christians and Jews, as well as between different Christian traditions, over which books meet the standards for canonization. The different criteria for, and the process of, canonization for each community dictates what members of that community consider to be their Bible.

At this time, all of the below canons are considered to be closed; that is, most adherents of the various groups do not think that additional books can be added to their Bible. By contrast, an open canon would be a list of books which is considered to be open to additional books, should they meet the other criteria. Each of the canons described below was considered open for a time before being closed. Generally, the closure of the canon reflects a belief from the faith community that the formative period of the religion has ended, and that texts from that period can be collected into an authoritative body of work. Certain non-mainstream churches (such as the Latter-day Saints) which accept a Bible as part of their formally adopted sacred literature may also include other works in the totality of their canon. See Sacred text for examples.
The relationship between the closing of the canon and beliefs about the nature of revelation may be subject to different interpretations. Some believe that the closing of the canon signals the end of a period of divine revelation; others believe that revelation continues even after the canon is closed, either through individuals or through the leadership of a divinely sanctioned religious institution. Among those who believe that revelation continues after the canon is closed, there is further debate about what kinds of revelation is possible, and whether the revelation can add to established theology.