New Testament Chapter 3 More than History Objective #1 – To clarify the difference between historical fact and religious truth in the Bible. (p. 32 & 33) Notes – There are many historical facts in the Bible, but not everything mentioned in the Bible is historical (Jonah). Jonah is an inspired parable, a story used to teach a lesson. One lesson is that God wants people to face their responsibilities and never be afraid of doing God’s work. Another lesson is that Jesus used it to teach about his own death and resurrection in the Bible (King David and St. Paul) - The Bible is an inspired book about religious truth. - The primary concern for the biblical writers was divine revelation. - Divine Revelation is God making himself known to us. The fullness of God’s revelation comes to us in Jesus, the Word made flesh. Objective #2 – To discover that biblical writers depended primaryly on oral tradition for the passing on of information in the faith community. (p.34 & 35) Notes – It is in the events of history that God deals with his people. It was in history that; Abraham was called by God, the only son of God was born into the world, and Jesus chose his apostles and founded the church. - Modern people approach the truth of history differently from ancient people. Modern people can read, and books are readily available. - Ancient people memorized things and passed them on by word of mouth. That is why ancient writers frequently set facts and events into the form of a story that was easy to remember. An important characteristic of ancient writers was their dependence on oral tradition rather than on written records. -The formation of the gospels in the New Testament took place in three stages – 1. The life and teachings of Jesus. Jesus actually lived and moved among us in history. The gospel accounts are based on the ministry of Jesus, what he did and taught from about the years A.D. 28 to 30. 2. The oral tradition. The followers of Jesus spread the good news about him. The apostolic preaching, in which the early church interpreted the meaning of what Jesus said and did, lasted to about A.D. 65. By this date many of the apostles had died. 3. The written gospels. Finally the gospel writers selected what was important from oral tradition and put it into written form. They did this under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Objective # 3 - To explore the basic literary forms of prose and poetry; to discover the literary form of the gospel. (p.36 & 37) Notes - A literary form is the type of writing that an author uses to get a message across. The two most basic literary forms are prose and poetry. Prose is the literary form closest to our spoken language. We use prose when we want to make direct statements about something or to present facts. Poetry is a more imaginative type of writing that uses symbols, sounds, and rhythms that express things about our life in a more emotional way. - Awareness of literary forms is important in understanding literature. There is a big difference in the way one reads prose and poetry. This awareness is important when we read the Bible, for the Bible is literature, too. It contains the literary forms of prose and poetry. Knowing this will help us to unlock the meaning of this ancient text. In doing so, it will release the power of this divine and human word for modern people. - The first and most recognizable literary form in the New Testament is the gospel. A gospel is an announcement of good news. The word gospel means “good tidings”. In the New Testament there are four gospels: the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Each one announces the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. The gospels give the story of Jesus and the most important events of his life. Although there is much biographical detail in the gospels, their primary purposes is not to present a biography of Jesus. Rather they hand on the high point of God’s revelation to us in Jesus Christ. That is why they prompt us to change our lives. Objective # 4 - To explore other literary forms of the New Testament (p. 38 & 39) Notes – The word epistle means “letter”. In the New Testament there are twenty – one epistles of varying length and by different authors. The most famous epistle writer was Saint Paul. - Parable comes from a word that means “to compare”. A parable is a fictitious short story that uses ordinary experiences of life to teach a deeper spiritual lesson. - The members of the early Church, like those of today’s church, sang hymns and songs when they gathered for the liturgy and other celebrations. This music expressed some of their deepest beliefs. Some of the words from these hymns were incorporated into the New Testament text. - A genealogy is a listing of ancestors. - A midrash is a distinctly Jewish literary form. Midrash is a style of writing that the New Testament authors used to apply Old Testament accounts to people in the New Testament. - Apocalyptic Writing is highly symbolic and often uses images describing future times and the end of the world. In attempting to describe the last moments of world history, it speaks of catastrophes and a struggle in which God finally destroys the forces of evil. - Biblical writers used so many literary forms because they were dealing with the truth of divine mysteries. One form is not sufficient enough to express this kind of truth.