New Testament Books

Most Christians agree on all the twenty seven books that make up the New Testament.  Obviously various Christian groups emphasize one or another of these books as more important.  All the books of the New Testament were written in Greek, the literary language of the Roman Empire at that time.  There are four gospels, The Gospel of Matthew, The Gospel of Mark, The Gospel of Luke, and The Gospel of John.  The Acts of the Apostles describe the activities of the early Christians.  The Book of Revelation is apocalyptic in nature, as it describes the end times.  There are fourteen Pauline epistles, letters generally attributed to the apostle Paul.  Epistle is the Greek name for a letter.  Nine of these Pauline epistles were addressed to the seven Christian Church communities that he had visited or intended to visit, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, and 2 Thessalonians.  Five other Pauline associated epistles are also part of the New Testament canon, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Hebrews.  There are seven other New Testament letters that are not addressed to a specific church, but are universalistic in nature, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude.  How familiar are you with the New Testament?

The two-source theory

Dating an ancient document is never an exact science.  However, today general scholarship about the New Testament books holds that the short Gospel of Mark was the oldest Gospel.  The first letter of Paul to the Thessalonians was the oldest document, from around the year 50 CE.  Mark, with a hypothetical other source (Q=Quelle) that is now lost, became the source for the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.  The Gospel of John was generally considered to be the last of the gospels, around 90 -100 CE.

Marcion canon (140 CE)

One of the earliest attempts at solidifying a Christian canon or list of books was made by Marcion of Sinope (85-160 CE).  He rejected the Hebrew Scriptures, so that other Christian leaders denounced him.  Thus, he was excommunicated from the proto-orthodox Christian Church community.  However, he was the first to publish his own list of New Testament books around the year 140 CE, that included 10 letters of Paul and the Gospel of Luke.