What Is the New Testament? - Books, History & Timeline

Instructor: David White
The Christian faith is largely built on two founding texts: the Old Testament and the New Testament. Through this lesson, you will be introduced to the New Testament and briefly explore the four sections of the text that have so profoundly influenced the religion.

Differentiating Between Old and New

When it comes to a subject like religion, it can often be very difficult to figure out the origins of a particular movement or to understand how the various teachings are broken up in the religious texts. In Christianity, for example, there are two major texts on which the religion has been built, and they are quite different from each other in many ways. In this case, these two texts are referred to as testaments, and they are the key to understanding the religion as a whole.

Outside of their contents, the fundamental differences between these two books are their origin. The Old Testament, which is the first of the two major texts, pre-dates Christianity and is based on the Hebrew Bible, which generally contains the stories and parables related to a monotheistic God and the struggle between good and evil. The New Testament, on the other hand, is primarily related to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and is much more concerned with the teaching of morality.

Of the two founding texts of Christianity, the New Testament is the second and is largely related to the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
new testament

As you can probably imagine, these two books are quite long and are of tremendous significance to followers of the Christian faith. Given that, it would be impossible to provide a thorough exploration of either one in the amount of space provided in this lesson. As a result, the following is a very brief introduction to the four major collections of books that comprise the New Testament, with some insight into their meaning and points of origin in history.

The Books of the New Testament

In general, the New Testament was written over a 100-year period and contains 27 separate books. It should be noted, however, that the number of books contained within the New Testament depends on the particular branch of the religion, as some have omitted certain books from the collection.

For the sake of simplicity, the books of the New Testament can be broken down into the following four parts: the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Epistles, and the Book of Revelation.

The Gospels

In the New Testament, the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are the story of Jesus Christ as told from the perspective of three out of the 12 apostles and one close follower of Christ (Luke). Each of the Gospels tell a similar story of Jesus's birth, his rising influence, and ultimately of his death and resurrection, each including different stories regarding his teachings and acts throughout his life.

The Acts of the Apostles

The second collection in the New Testament, the Acts of the Apostles, are related to the actions and teachings of the 12 apostles after Jesus's death and resurrection. These books are largely responsible for promoting the teachings of Jesus Christ as the foundation of the religious movement, as many of them further develop the belief that Jesus was the son of God and is a sign of divine existence and intervention.

The Apostles were the original followers of Christ and are credit with writing much of the New Testament.
apostles

The Epistles

Believed to be the divinely inspired writings of the Apostles or followers of Jesus Christ, the Epistles are the collection of writings and lectures given by followers. Broadly speaking, this book contains some of the earliest evidence of the formation of the formal religion and has been profoundly influential on the development of Christianity as a whole.

Book of Revelation

The final book contained within the New Testament, the Book of Revelation is primarily concerned with the future of humanity from the perspective of Christ's followers. This book is widely believed to be comprised of mostly metaphors and allegories related to the end of the world, the second coming of Christ, and in some cases, the consequences of not adhering to the Christian teachings.

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