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THE NEW TESTAMENT
According to the earliest tradition of Papias, Origen and Tertullian, the Gospel according to Matthew portrays the life and genealogy of Jesus .
Mark was closely associated to Peter, who was of course an eye witness to all the things Mark wrote about in his gospel .
The Gospel of Luke written c. 56 C.E. is attributed to Luke in the Muratorian Fragment (c. 170 C.E.) and was also accepted by such second - century writers as Irenaneus and Clement of Alexandria.
For several centuries, there was no authoritative decision about the books that should form the New Testament, the writers do seem to have acted independently of each other with the Gospels of Matthew, Mark in circulation 30 years before the revelations of John. Most of the present contents of the New Testament were recognised by all Christian Churches, but there were certain differences of opinion about the remainder between East and West. The final form of the Canon, as the authoritative list is called, accords with the ruling of two Synods held in North Africa, at Hippo in A.D.393 and Carthage in A.D.397 .
Whether the Book of Revelations was written by the author of the fourth gospel has been contested, and it was a long time before the early Church admitted it to the Canon in accordance with the title verse :-
The Revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave unto him to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John. (An exciting discovery was made [Chester Beatty 3] of a traditional 3rd century Greek papyrus manuscript which strengthens the reason for believing the account we read is correct).
We do not know precisely when Jesus was born, but it was during the reign of Herod, who died c. 4 B.C.E. Palestine was then part of the vast Roman Empire, a fact which many of the Jews bitterly resented. They dreamed of the day when a leader would appear and restore the brief glories they enjoyed long ago when David was king.There were various prophecies in the scriptures which spoke of a Messiah to be sent by God to deliver them. They expected a warrior prince who would organise a revolt and establish the kingdom. But when the Messiah came they did not recognise him. He was of humble birth and declared the news of the messianic kingdom (Isaiah 9: 6-7; Psalms 72: 1-7;) .
During his ministry his message of salvation was not material but spiritual,(Luke 12: 22-34;) and was to be offered to everybody. He explained (John 11: 21-45;) the importance of baptism, and the hope of the resurrection, (John 3:5 -7; 6:.38 - 40;) and the promise of his return. As with the earlier prophets he plainly told them of the need to repent, he bore witness to the truth ("the sacred secret ") the kingdom belongs to the Almighty God which he Jesus the Son of God (Psalms 110: 1-7;) from the line of David would serve as King and Priest (Colossians 1: 24 - 29;). However before this could happen Jesus of the line of Abraham (Matthew 1:1-25;) had been sent as the sacrificial Lamb of God, (Genesis 22:16-18;) to take away the sin of the world.
This was not what the orthodox Jews wanted and they denounced the Messiah as an impostor and a blasphemer. Some of the Jewish converts had supposed that the Jews were to be the main channel of communication. The apostles preached at first to the Jews, and the orthodox priests who regarded them as heretics who must be suppressed. The Nazarenes, as they were at first called, were hunted down, flogged and imprisoned.
The first martyr was Stephen who was stoned for blasphemy - the same charge that had been brought against Jesus Christ.
Saul of Tarsus, a Greek-speaking Jew and a Roman citizen took a leading part in this persecution. But one day, on the road to Damascus, he had a vision which totally changed his life. He was converted to Christianity. He then threw all his amazing energy into the task of spreading the Good News. His long, perilous journeys by land and sea, his sufferings and escapes from prison are described in the Acts of the Apostles. He founded churches in Asia Minor, Greece and Rome, where, like Peter, he finally met a martyr's death.
Jesus Christ revealed by his teachings in the gospels, the promise of the Messianic Kingdom, and the hope of a resurrection, that God's concern is shown for our well being by his high moral principles, and our need to develope his compassion and love of our fellow man, these core values, have been preserved without interruption. From the very beginning however they aroused the hostility both of Jews and the ordinarily more tolerant pagans. Christians would not compromise, yet the more they were persecuted, the more they multiplied.
The first community of the followers of Jesus was formed at Jerusalem soon after the death of their Master Another at Antioch in Syria first assumed (about 33- c.61C.E.) the name of Christians (Acts 11: 26); and the travels of the apostles spread Christianity through the provinces of the Roman Empire. Palestine Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, the Islands of the Mediterranean, Italy, and the northern coast of Africa, as early as the 1st century, contained societies of Christians. At the end of the 3d century almost one-half of the inhabitants of the Roman Empire, and of several neighbouring countries, professed this belief.
While Christianity was spreading, many heretical branches sprung up, and have materially coloured its character. From the Gnostics, who date from the days of the apostles, to the Nestorians of the 5th century the number of sects was large, and some of them exist to the present day.
The most important events in the subsequent history of Christianity are the separation of the Eastern and Western Churches early in the 8th century; and the Western reformation, which may be said to have commenced with the sectaries of the 13th century and ended with the establishment of Protestantism in the 16th, There are a large number of Christians; Roman Catholics, and those that belong to the Greek Church, Protestants, of various sects most numerous are the Lutheran, Calvinistic, and Anglican Church.