The Christian Scriptures (c. 70-120? CE)
These passages come from those writings which Christians call "The New
Testament," to distinguish them from the Hebrew Bible, which they call "The Old
Testament." Here we use the more neutral term "Christian Scriptures" to
designate the four gospels which recount the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, the letters of
Paul and others, and the apocalyptic book of Revelations. Centuries of controversy has
surrounded almost every line of these texts, and we can hope to do little more that point to
some of the significant points of debate. Traditionally Christians believed that every word of
these texts was infallible and written by men who knew Jesus personally. Today many scholars
have abandoned that position, arguing that the texts display an intricate history of the
development of ideas in the First Century Christian community, and that most likely none of
them were written by the disciples to whom they were earlier attributed. It is on the large body
of scholarship supporting this belief that many of the following annotations are based; but it
would be wrong to suppose that this scholarship is irreligious. Many of the finest modern
Bible scholars are Catholics, for instance. The translation used in the following selections is the
New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.
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This is an excerpt from Reading
About the World, Volume 1, edited by Paul Brians, Mary Gallwey, Douglas Hughes, Azfar Hussain, Richard Law, Michael Myers
Michael Neville, Roger Schlesinger, Alice Spitzer, and Susan Swan and published by
Harcourt Brace Custom Publishing.
The reader was created for use in the World Civilization course at Washington State
University, but material on this page
may be used for educational purposes by permission of the editor-in-chief:
Department of English
Washington State University
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