New Testament

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The contradictions and illiteracies of the New Testament have filled up many books by eminent scholars, and have never been explained by any Christian authority except in the feeblest terms of "metaphor" and "a Christ of faith." This feebleness derives from the fact that until recently, Christians could simply burn or silence anybody who asked any inconvenient questions.
Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything[1]

The New Testament refers to the canonical Christian texts that were written after the death of Jesus of Nazareth. They consist of four (sometimes conflicting or divergent) accounts of the life of Jesus; the doings of his disciples after the resurrection; and the letters of itinerant preacher Paul to early Christian Churches. Paul manages to demonstrate the rare skill of totally changing his literary style for some 6 of those letters; 6 letters that oddly support Church dogma that did not yet exist, and would not for another 50-100 years. What a clever man. The collection is rounded out by letters written in the names of certain original disciples to a general audience, and the Book of Revelation.

Harold Bloom considers it a great work of literature and considers Jesus one of the greatest literary characters ever invented. Many scholars do not believe those that wrote it had ever met any historical Jesus, or that the character of Jesus is closely based on the historical Jesus or any other real person. Incidentally the New Testament was originally written in Koine Greek while people close to events in first century CE Palestine would more likely have used Aramaic or Hebrew.

Muslims believe that the New Testament was superseded by the Final Testament, the Qur'an.[2]


The simple fact is that the New Testament, as we know it, is a helter-skelter accumulation of more or less discordant documents, some of them probably of respectable origin but others palpably apocryphal, and that most of them, the good along with the bad, show unmistakable signs of having been tampered with.
H. L. Mencken, Treatise on the Gods

The dictionary definition of "canon" is "an authoritative list of accepted books."

Ever since the first Christian texts were completed, bishops and other church officials have voiced their opinions about which texts merited inclusion in the New Testament, the opinion generally being a reflection of one's theological outlook. Gradually Bibles were assembled by tradition, and occasionally by decree, most from similar lists of accepted books.

The Western New Testament Canon was finally ratified by the Catholic Pope in 1443 and made an unconditional article of faith in 1546, although to this day there are Eastern canons that differ significantly.

Books of the New Testament[edit]



Pauline Epistles[edit]

Authentic Epistles written by Paul[edit]

Anonymous Epistles attributed to Paul[edit]

General epistles[edit]

Apocalyptic texts[edit]

Preservation of the New Testament[edit]

Some Christian apologists like to cite the presence of incredibly large numbers of New Testament manuscripts (5,800 in Greek) as evidence that it has been preserved well. In reality, such inflated numbers include texts going all the way up to the Middle Ages[3]—by which time the texts are no more relevant to the credibility of the New Testament than your local motel's Gideon Bible is.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, p. 115.
  2. Understanding Christian-Muslim Relations: Past and Present, page 52, Clinton Bennett — 2008