Outline for the study of the New Testament Bible

Outline for the study

of the New Testament Bible


 1. Introduction

 What is the Bible?

The Word of God

Human Authors

Different points of view

The meaning of the word Bible

The town of Byblos

Papyrus and paper

Written Languages

Sentimental Bible interpretations

The moral use of the Bible


 2. The Old Testament

 The Hebrew Bible

The Septuagint

The Christian Old Testament

Dominant Bible translations

The Old and the New Testament

Is the Bible Jewish or Christian?

The parting of the ways

Judaism as the root of Christianity

Why are there two testaments?

The inspired Scriptures

The early Christian use of the Hebrew Bible

The Law

The Former Prophets

The three major later prophets

The twelve Minor Prophets

The prophets in general

The wider meaning of prophet

The Writings

The Five Scrolls

The other later writings

The deuterocanonical Septuagint additions

The Greek Orthodox editions of the Bible


The four-source theory


 3. The New Testament

 The non-writing Jesus

Criteria for the sacred Christian books

New Testament Greek books

The gospels

The four canonical gospels

Two unique books

The Pauline letters to the seven specific churches

The other Pauline letters

Universal letters


 4.The Development of the Christian Bible

 Primitive Christian Communities

Pseudo epigrams or anonymous writings

The Apocryphal books

The apocryphal gospels

The early orthodox apostolic writings

Gradual development of the Bible

History versus story

The value of myths

Christian Reflection on the Bible

Christians reading the Old Testament

Marcion canon (140 CE)

The canonization of the New Testament in the fourth century


 5. The language problem

 The New Testament language

Problems of time and space

The traditional canonical Greek bible

The common language at the time of Jesus

What language did Jesus speak?

Written Greek New Testament

Muratorian fragment

Irenaeus of Lyons

The traditional order of the gospels


 6. Reading the Bible

How to read the Bible

The use of the Bible

The various forms of biblical interpretation

The literal meaning

The spiritual sense of Bible reading

Moral sense of the Bible

The end times

The Good Book

Medieval approach to the Bible

Protestant Reformation

The Roman Catholic Reaction

Different printed Bibles

Modern Bibles

Intellectual attacks on the Bible

Niagara Bible Conferences



The Fundamentalists

Limitations of the Bible


 7. Critical Study of the Bible

 Scriptural Study

The two-source theory

The Q source

The development of the gospel biblical texts

Are the gospels biographies?

Jesus Seminar failure

Jesus of History

The Christ of Faith

The Gospel passion narratives

The Early Growth of Christianity

The Christocentric Calendar

Different Gospel Beginnings

The Bible narrative story

Foundation stories

What is truth?

Textual criticism

Form Criticism

Source criticism

Canon criticism

Redaction criticism

Historical Criticism

Literary forms of the Bible

Biblical archaeology


8. The question of God 

The problem of God

Transcendence of God

Worship of God

Attitudes toward God








Belief in God

The despair of nothingness

The practical consequences of religious belief


9. Christians

The Christian God

The Gift of Faith

Christian Community

A Community of Believers

Authentic Christian Faith

Experiential Faith

The Christian Code of Love



Christian Worship Practice

Christian Whole Life

Christian Sacraments

The Divinity – Humanity Debate

Exclusive Model of Salvation

Inclusive Model of Salvation

Plural Model of Salvation

Bible Model

The Redemption Context

Individual Conscience

Christian Shared Experiences


Conscience Formation

Protestant Latitude


Justification by Faith

Arius (256-336)

Theological Process

Martin Luther (1483-1546)



Development of Protestant Fundamentalism

American Fundamentalists

Catholic Fundamentalism

Renewed Catholic Church


 10. My Project


The tools for my New Testament project

The Bible Project itself

The Prophets

When people talk about the Hebrew Bible, they usually refer to the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.  The Law is, of course, the Torah or the Pentateuch.  The Prophets are the various Israelite prophets, the former and the later prophets.  While some prophets did not write things, others did.  Still others had people write things about them.  Thus, there is a mixed bag about Hebrew prophets.

What is a prophet?  Generally speaking, a prophet was someone who believed that a higher power had contacted them.  Thus, they became the intermediary between Yahweh, their God, and their fellow human beings.  Almost like angels, these humans delivered a divine message.  Quite often, the message itself that the prophet conveyed was called a prophecy.  Most cultures have so-called prophets, who promote a kind of change in behavior.

A lot of people think that these prophets can predict the future.  Some prophets were often known as seers, people who could tell the future.  The Hebrew prophets were moral teachers.  Some prophets may have had a role with the institutional Temple priests.  Many religious groups have had what are called prophetic priests.  They were usually associated with a specific holy shrine or holy place.  In modern day culture, the term prophet has showed up in both literature and music.

The Hebrew word navi, meaning spokesperson, has been traditionally translated as prophet.  Thus, the second subdivision of the Hebrew Bible, Tanakh, has been called the Nevi’im.  These navi was considered to be the mouth of Yahweh or God, since they were open to receive and transmit his divine wisdom.

Besides writing and speaking messages from God, these Israelite Nevi’im often acted out prophetic parables in their life.  They were not always praised.  Some were even considered bad or false prophets.  Thus, they were sometimes the target of persecution and opposition.

The term prophet had a wide meaning among the Israelites since it also included people like Abraham, Moses, and Miriam.  That is why some books that are sometimes called historical books are often called the early prophets.  They often spoke about Samuel, Nahum, Elijah, and Elisha.  Jewish traditions hold that there were 48 male prophets, and seven female prophets, Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah, and Esther.  Others have recognized Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah as female prophets also.

The thoughts and oracles of the earlier prophets can be found in the works of Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings.  Then there were the three dominant writing prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, whose works were composed by them or their followers.  Finally, there were the twelve minor written prophets lead by Hosea, Joel, Amos. Obadiah. Jonah. Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, and Zephaniah.  The last three prophets mentioned in the Hebrew Bible were Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, all of whom lived in the 5th or 6th century BCE.  They are the last of the so-called minor prophets.  Thus, there is a wide range of written prophetic books in the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament.

The Hebrew prophetic dominant message was a return to Yahweh and his laws.  They were to protect the poor, the orphans, and the widows.  Justice and righteousness dominate in their messages.  Yahweh would judge them.  Although the Israelites were sinners, they would have a bright future if they turned from their evil ways to Yahweh.

Thank you – 46

January 31, 2018

Thank you – 46

After less than a week, I have finished last book of the Old Testament, the minor prophet Malachi.  Every time I finish a book of the Bible, I send a thank you blog.  I usually post five blogs a day covering about a chapter or less of the biblical books.  So far, I have posted 7,440 blogs about the individual paragraphs of the first five books of the Torah, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, as well as the so-called historical books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel, 1 Kings and 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles, Ezra and Nehemiah, Tobit, Judith, Esther, 1 Maccabees, and 2 Maccabees.  I have also finished the so-called wisdom literature books, the books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, the Book of Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus or Sirach, and Daniel.  I have finished the Major Prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, plus Lamentations and Baruch.  Now I just finished the twelfth of the Twelve Minor Prophets, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.  This makes 46 books of the Bible that are now complete with a commentary for each paragraph.  It has taken me over four years to get this done.

Over 550 people have emailed me that they are following this project in some form or another.  149 people receive an email subscription every day.  During the last four days, 862 people have visited this site, about 215 a day.  The highest day was 463 people on January 23, 2018.  During this past month of January, 2018, so far over 4,719 people have visited this site.  There have been over 31,947 hits on this blog since its inception.  I just want to thank all of you.  Word Press sent me a yearly compilation that showed that about 6,800 people from 84 countries visited this web site in 2015.

I realize that 1,733 of you have left comments, but I have not responded to them.  Some of you might want to moderate my comments, which is fine with me.  If you want to contact me directly, my email is efinne1540@gmail.com.  During this past 4 days, 7 people have commented on this work.  Here is a list of those who sent comments these past 4 days.  Thank you to everyone.


Helen Ajeng Uyok
Coach Ashield

Peace – love – joy

Eugene Finnegan

My Understanding of Malachi

The Book of Malachi is the twelfth of the Twelve Minor prophets.  In the Hebrew Bible.  This Book of Malachi is the last book of prophecy.  In the Christian Greek Old Testament, the prophetic books are placed last, making the Book of Malachi the last protocanonical book before the New Testament.

Malachi’s name means messenger of Yahweh, but his name does not occur elsewhere in the Bible.  Thus, nothing is known of the biography of the author of the Book of Malachi, although it has been suggested that he may have been a Levitical priest.  There are very few historical details in this book.  A clue to its dating may be the fact that he used the Persian word of governor.  The Temple has already been rebuilt, so that it was later than 515 BCE.  The author of Ecclesiasticus in the 2nd century BCE knew of this book.  This author probably lived and labored during the times of Ezra and Nehemiah.  The abuses that Malachi mentioned in his writings corresponded with the abuses that Nehemiah found on his 2nd visit to Jerusalem in 432 BCE.  So that around 420 BCE for the date of this work would not be out of the question.

This Book of Malachi was written to correct the lax religious and social behavior of the Israelites, particularly the priests, in post-exilic Jerusalem.  Apparently, they were weary after the great expectations of the return to Israel after the exile.  The people’s commitment to their God began to wane, so that in this context, Malachi delivered his prophecy.

The Book of Malachi is divided into three chapters in the Hebrew Bible and the Greek Septuagint, with four chapters in the Latin Vulgate.  Actually, the fourth chapter in the Vulgate is really the rest of chapter three.  This book has six distinct oracles.

The first oracle was about how Yahweh loved Israel, especially in comparison to Edom.  Malachi appealed to the rivalry between Jacob and Esau.  Yahweh had preferred Jacob, so that God favored the descendants of Jacob as his chosen people, while the people of Edom suffered.  However, the people of Israel questioned God’s love for them.  Malachi accused them of failing to respect God as he deserved to be revered.

Next, Yahweh was against the Levitical priests, who had disrespected Yahweh with their polluted food.  Yahweh would not accept the substandard sacrifices that these Levite priests were offering.  They were profaning the name of Yahweh.  He gave a command to these priests.  They would be cursed, if they did not follow his covenant with Levi, the Levitical Code.  These priests should be condemned for offering their unacceptable sacrifices.  Malachi then gave a description of a good Levite priest.  However, they were now despised, because of their bad behavior.

Malachi and Yahweh were against mixed marriages and divorces.  They all had one father.  However, Judah had been unfaithful.  Thus, Yahweh would no longer accept their sacrifices.  He hated divorces.  Malachi saw divorce both as a social problem and a religious problem.  Malachi urged each one to remain steadfast to the wife of their youth.  Malachi was attacking the practice of divorcing Jewish wives in favor of foreign ones, as well as the practice of divorcing foreign wives in favor of Jewish wives, because Yahweh hated all divorces.

In many places throughout the Hebrew Scriptures, particularly the Book of Hosea, Israel was Yahweh’s wife or bride.  Malachi seemed to use the same metaphor.  They were not to break faith with Yahweh, the God of Israel, by adopting new gods or idols.

Malachi also criticized his audience for questioning Yahweh’s justice.  He reminded them that Yahweh was just, exhorting them to be faithful, as they should await that justice.  Malachi quickly went on to point out that the people have not been faithful.  In fact, the people are not giving God all that he deserved.  Just as the priests had been offering unacceptable sacrifices, so the people have been neglecting to offer their full tithes to Yahweh.

The great day of Yahweh was coming.  He was weary of evil doers and mere words.  He was going to send a messenger to prepare the way for the difficult day of Yahweh.  He was going to purify the priests for the offerings and issue a judgment against the wicked.  Yahweh had never changed, but they had to return to Yahweh.  They had been robbing Yahweh by not giving their full tithes.  Yahweh was going to keep them safe from locust attacks, so that Israel would be a delightful land.  They had used harsh words against Yahweh, as they maintained that their worship of God was useless.

Finally, there would be the triumph of the just righteous ones.  Yahweh took notice and write their names in a book.  The righteous would be rewarded on the final fiery day.  Malachi exhorted his audience to remember the teaching of Moses, his statutes and ordinances.  Malachi assured them that the differences between those who served God faithfully and those who did not would become clear.  This book concluded by Yahweh promising to send another Elijah to prepare the way among his people for the final day of Yahweh that would be a happy one for the righteous.

Primarily because of its messianic promise, the Book of Malachi was frequently referred to in the Christian New Testament.  Many Christians believed that the messianic prophecies in the Book of Malachi had been fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth.  Thus, there were references to Malachi in the three gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  Paul also mentioned this work in Romans and 1 Corinthians.  There also was an allusion to Malachi in letters to the Hebrews, and James.


The happy family (Mal 4:6-4:6)

“Yahweh will turn

The hearts of parents

To their children.

He would turn

The hearts of children

To their parents.


I will not come

To strike

The land

With a curse.”

Yahweh will make sure that there would be one big happy family.  He was going to turn the hearts of parents towards their children, and vice versa, the children towards their parents.  Thus, Yahweh would not strike the land with a curse.  So, the Old Testament prophets end on an upbeat note of the happy family, and not a curse.

The coming of Elijah (Mal 4:5-4:5)


I will send you

The prophet Elijah

Before the great day

Of Yahweh comes,

Before the terrible day

Of Yahweh comes.”

Yahweh, via Malachi, said that he was going to send the prophet Elijah before this great and terrible day of Yahweh would come.  For the New Testament followers of Jesus Christ, the question of Elijah was often asked about John the Baptist.

Remember the teachings of Moses (Mal 4:4-4:4)


The teachings

Of my servant Moses!


The statutes,

The ordinances,

That I commanded him,

At Horeb

For all Israel!”

The Israelites were to remember the teachings of Yahweh’s servant, the law of Moses.  They were to remember all his statutes and ordinances, because Yahweh had commanded him to do so at Mount Horeb or Mount Sinai.  These commandments were for all the people of Israel.

The righteous shall prevail (Mal 4:2-4:3)

“‘But you who revere

My name,

The sun of righteousness,

Shall rise,

With healing in its wings.

You shall go out leaping

Like calves

From the stall.

You shall tread down

The wicked.

They will be ashes

Under the soles

Of your feet,

On the day

When I act.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.”

Yahweh of hosts said that the righteous, on the other hand, who revered the name of Yahweh, would be like a rising sun with healing wings.  They would be like leaping calves coming out of their stalls.  They would walk all over the wicked, so that the wicked ones would become like ashes under their feet.  All of these things were going to take place on the day when Yahweh was going to act.

The fiery day to come (Mal 4:1-4:1)


The day is coming,


Like an oven.

All the arrogant

Will be stubble.

All evildoers

Will be stubble.

The day that comes

Shall burn them up.’

Says Yahweh of hosts.


It will leave them

Neither root

Nor branch.”

The day of Yahweh would be a fiery hot day.  The wicked ones would burn up as if they were in an oven.  All the arrogant and evildoers would be like stubble for the fire that would burn all of them up.  Yahweh of hosts was going to leave these wicked people without roots or branches.  Thus, the idea that God will come with fire has its biblical origins here.

Yahweh’s people (Mal 3:17-3:18)

“Says Yahweh of hosts.

‘They shall be mine.

They shall be

My special possession

On the day

When I act.

I will spare them,

As parents

Spare their children

Who serve them.

Then once more,

You shall see

The difference

Between the righteous

And the wicked,

Between one who serves God

And one who does not serve him.’”

Yahweh of hosts, via Malachi, said that the righteous would be his possession on the day when he acted.  He would spare them, just as parents spare their children.  Then on that day, they would once again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who served God and those who did not.