Introduction A.Importance of the NT 1.Status 2.Content
B.OT & NT: Continuity & Discontinuity “The days are coming when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors the day when I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt … I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts. I will be their God and they shall be my people” (Jer. 31:31-33).
Moving from an Exiled Israel of the OT the Reconstitution of Israel (the new Israel to include Gentile believers) the Redemption of the Cosmos in the New
(Dis)continuity with the OT Differences from the OT: 1. Cultural situation: a. Language shifts b. Hellenism 2. Political forces a. From the West b. Tensions in Palestine
3. Socio-economic affairs a. Economic realities b. Travel & multi-cultural environments c. Cosmopolitan landscape d. Focus lies outside Israel 4. Religious tradition
C.Text & Books of the NT i. Language of the NT world ii. Characteristics of NT Greek 1. Koiné style 2. Semitic influence
D.The Canon of the NT i. Preliminary remarks (see B. Metzger, The Canon of the NT) 1. Canon defined 2. How did the canon come about? (Why was there a need?) 3. Why only these books?
ii. Authoritative works in the 1 st century 1. The OT 2. The teachings of Jesus 3. The writings of the apostles
iii. The Rise of the New Testament 1. Major developments contributing to formalizing NT a. Marcion controversy (circa. 150AD) b. a spate of various kinds of Christian writings (see Schneemelcher, NT Apocrypha) c. church’s response
2. Qualifications for canonicity a. apostolicity b. regular reading in church liturgy (lections) c. consistency of theology 3. Muratorian Canon (c. AD 200); Origen (c. AD 250); Eusebius (c. AD 300)
4. Development of the inclusion of NT letters: a. around 150-70, formally certainly authoritative: 4 Gospels, Acts, Paul’s letters, 1 Peter, 1 John (21 books) [Revelation?] b. certainly not authoritative: Acts of Paul, Shepherd of Hermas, Apocalypse of Peter, Epistle of Barnabas, Didache, Gospel According to the Hebrews
c. disputed: James, Jude, 2 Peter, 2 and 3 John, Revelation (authorship issue) 5. Recognition of present 27 books (last half 4 th c.) E.Current Issues
Aims of the Course 1. historical & cultural background 2. basic content of the NT 3. coherence of individual books and what issues they address in what settings.
Emphases: 1. NT documents as unitary Wholes: a. literary context b. historical context 2. NT as Word of God both to live it & to teach others
1 Tim. 4:16: “Pay close attention to yourself and to your teaching; continue in these things, for in doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
C.Characteristics 1. Ceremonial, ritual purity & rites 2. polytheistic 3. popularity of astrology, magic & occult practice 4. sense of helplessness before all-pervading Fate 5. gods as benefactors/patrons of communities 6. gods subjected to human passions
E. Mystery religions Mystery religions appeal to: 1. the emotions 2. the intellect 3. the conscience
Varieties of mystery religions: 1. Dionysus 2. Cybele (Great-mother of the gods) & Attis (her consort 3. Isis, Osiris & Serapis 4. Mithraism
Common features of mystery religions: i.elaborate secret initiation, revelation of ‘mysteries’ ii.regular fellowship & the sharing of sacrificial meals iii.spiritual ecstasy (in some cases) iv.reputation for immorality v.notions of a dying & rising god?
One curse tablet reads: “Spirits of the netherworld, I consecrate and hand over to you, if you have any power, Ticene of Carisius. Whatever she does, may it all turn out wrong. Spirits of the netherworld, I consecrate to you her limbs, her complexion, her figure … and if I see her wasting away, I swear that I will be delighted to offer a sacrifice to you every year” (CIL 10.8249)
3. General beliefs 4. NT moral teachings 5. Main types: a.Stoics (1) Origin (founded by Zeno, ca. 300 BC) (2) Concerns (3) Metaphysical issues (4) Comparison with Christianity (5) Contrasts with Christianity b.Epicureans (founded by Epicurus, ca. 300 BC)
(1) Beliefs (2) Goals (3) Popular version: “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die” (cf. Acts 17; 1 Cor. 15:32) (4) Comparison with Christianity c.Platonists (Plato: 4 th c. BC) (1) Values (2) Outgrowth (3) NT Response
Summary of Graeco-Roman religious life a. closely bound up with politics & culture b. little to do with personal reformation c. to cope with Fate d. some attracted to Jewish law, ethics & way of life
Summary of Graeco-Roman social life A. Modern cities today not too different from Graeco- Roman civilization 1. Socio-economic differences 2. General feeling of moral decay & loss of standards 3. Value of human life B. Paul’s judgments in Rom 1:18-32 were echoed in the writings of many others C. An age of pessimism & depression