Source criticism

Critical study of the biblical sources is an attempt to trace the oral traditions before they were written down, since practically every oral story was older than its written text.  Thus, literary criticism in biblical studies has been designated as source criticism.  Examples of this include the Pentateuch four source theory and the two-source theory for the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

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The gospels

The English term gospel comes from the Old English ‘godspel.’  There was a 1971 musical play with the name “Godspell.”  Like the Greek word εὐαγγέλιον, gospel means good news or good tidings.  This term originally meant the Christian message itself.  However, in the second century, it came to be used for the books in which this message was set out.  Thus, the gospels became known as the written accounts of the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth.  These books are the basis of our knowledge about Jesus Christ.  They present a somewhat coherent picture of the life of Christ with different emphasis from each author.  We also have the phrase, “That’s the gospel truth.”

The new victorious king (Zech 9:9-9:10)

“Rejoice greatly!

O daughter Zion!

Shout aloud!

O daughter Jerusalem!

Look!

Your king comes to you!

He is triumphant!

He is victorious!

He is humble!

He is riding on a donkey.

He is riding on a colt,

The foal of a donkey.

I will cut off the chariot

From Ephraim.

I will cut off the war horse

From Jerusalem.

The battle bows

Shall be cut off.

He shall command peace

To the nations.

His dominion shall be

From sea to sea,

From the River

To the ends of the earth.”

This is a text that both the gospels of John, chapter 12, and Matthew, chapter 21, used to show how Jesus was the expected Israelite king.  He was to be the prince of peace.  Yahweh wanted Zion or Jerusalem to shout and rejoice, because a new king was coming who would be triumphant, victorious, and humble at the same time.  Thus, he would ride on a donkey colt.  The mention of cutting off Ephraim was an indication of the old northern kingdom of Israel, while the mention of Jerusalem is a reference to the kingdom of Judah.  They would be reunited in a new kingdom.  This new king would command that peace be among all the nations of the whole world.  How was he to do this?  This new kingdom would be from sea to shining sea, the famous River, the Euphrates River, to the ends of the earth west of Israel.