Gospel

Gospel[Notes 1] originally meant the Christian message itself, but in the 2nd century it came to be used for the books in which the message was set out.[1] The four canonical gospelsMatthew, Mark, Luke and John — were written between AD 70 and 100,[2][3] building on older sources and traditions,[4] and each gospel has its own distinctive understanding of Jesus and his divine role.[5] All four are anonymous (the modern names were added in the 2nd century), and it is almost certain that none were written by an eyewitness.[6] They are the main source of information on the life of Jesus as searched for in the quest for the historical Jesus. Modern scholars are cautious of relying on them unquestioningly, but critical study attempts to distinguish the original ideas of Jesus from those of the later authors.[7][8] Many non-canonical gospels were also written, all later than the four, and all, like them, advocating the particular theological views of their authors.[3]

Canonical gospels

Relationship between synoptic gospels-en
The Synoptics sources: the Gospel of Mark (the triple tradition), Q (the double tradition), and material unique to Matthew (the M source), Luke (the L source), and Mark[9]

Composition

The Gospel of Mark probably dates from c. AD 66–70,[10] Matthew and Luke around AD 85–90,[11] and John AD 90–110.[12] Despite the traditional ascriptions all four are anonymous, and none were written by eyewitnesses.[13] Like the rest of the New Testament, they were written in Greek.[14]

In the immediate aftermath of Jesus' death his followers expected him to return at any moment, certainly within their own lifetimes, and in consequence there was little motivation to write anything down for future generations, but as eyewitnesses began to die, and as the missionary needs of the church grew, there was an increasing demand and need for written versions of the founder's life and teachings.[15] The stages of this process can be summarised as follows:[4]

  • Oral traditions — stories and sayings passed on largely as separate self-contained units, not in any order;
  • Written collections of miracle stories, parables, sayings, etc., with oral tradition continuing alongside these;
  • Written proto-gospels preceding and serving as sources for the gospels — the dedicatory preface of Luke, for example, testifies to the existence of previous accounts of the life of Jesus.[16]
  • Gospels formed by combining proto-gospels, written collections and still-current oral tradition.

Mark, the first gospel to be written, uses a variety of sources, including conflict stories (Mark 2:1–3:6), apocalyptic discourse (4:1–35), and collections of sayings, although not the sayings gospel known as the Gospel of Thomas and probably not the Q source used by Matthew and Luke.[17] The authors of Matthew and Luke, acting independently, used Mark for their narrative of Jesus's career, supplementing it with the collection of sayings called the Q document and additional material unique to each called the M source (Matthew) and the L source (Luke).[18][Notes 2] Mark, Matthew and Luke are called the synoptic gospels because of the close similarities between them in terms of content, arrangement, and language.[19] The authors and editors of John may have known the synoptics, but did not use them in the way that Matthew and Luke used Mark.[20] There is a near-consensus that this gospel had its origins as a "signs" source (or gospel) that circulated within the Johannine community (the community that produced John and the three epistles associated with the name), later expanded with a Passion narrative and a series of discourses.[21][Notes 3]

All four also use the Jewish scriptures, by quoting or referencing passages, or by interpreting texts, or by alluding to or echoing biblical themes.[22] Such use can be extensive: Mark's description of the Parousia (second coming) is made up almost entirely of quotations from scripture.[23] Matthew is full of quotations and allusions,[24] and although John uses scripture in a far less explicit manner, its influence is still pervasive.[25] Their source was the Greek version of the scriptures, called the Septuagint – they do not seem familiar with the original Hebrew.[26]

Contents

Sargis Pitsak
The first page of the Gospel of Mark in Armenian, by Sargis Pitsak, 14th century.

The four gospels share a story in which the earthly career of Jesus culminates in his death and resurrection, an event of crucial redemptive significance, but are inconsistent in detail.[27][28] John and the three synoptics in particular present completely different pictures of Jesus' career.[29] John has no baptism, no temptation, no transfiguration, and lacks the Lord's Supper and stories of Jesus' ancestry, birth, and childhood.[29] Jesus's career in the synoptics takes up a single year while in John it takes three, with the cleansing of the Temple at the beginning of his ministry while in the synoptics it happens at the end, and in the synoptics the Last Supper takes place as a Passover meal, while in John it happens on the day before Passover.[30]

Each gospel has its own distinctive understanding of Jesus and his divine role.[5] Mark never calls Jesus "God" or claims that Jesus existed prior to his earthly life, never mentions a virgin birth (the author apparently believes that Jesus had a normal human parentage and birth), and makes no attempt to trace Jesus' ancestry back to King David or Adam.[31] Crucially, Mark originally had no post-resurrection appearances of Jesus,[32] although Mark 16:7, in which the young man discovered in the tomb instructs the women to tell "the disciples and Peter" that Jesus will see them again in Galilee, hints that the author may have known of the tradition.[33] Matthew reinterprets Mark, stressing Jesus' teachings as much as his acts and making subtle changes to the narrative in order to stress his divine nature – Mark's "young man" who appears at Jesus' tomb, for example, becomes a radiant angel in Matthew.[34][35] Similarly, the miracle stories in Mark confirm Jesus' status as an emissary of God (which was Mark's understanding of the Messiah), but in Matthew they demonstrate his divinity.[36] Luke, while following Mark's plot more faithfully than does Matthew, has expanded on the source, corrected Mark's grammar and syntax, and eliminated some passages entirely, notably most of chapters 6 and 7, which he apparently felt reflected poorly on the disciples and painted Jesus too much like a magician.[37] John, the most overtly theological, is the first to make Christological judgements outside the context of the narrative of Jesus's life.[5]

The synoptic gospels represent Jesus as an exorcist and healer who preached in parables about the coming Kingdom of God. He preached first in Galilee and later in Jerusalem, where he cleansed the temple. He states that he offers no sign as proof (Mark) or only the sign of Jonah (Matthew and Luke).[38] In Mark, apparently written with a Roman audience in mind, Jesus is a heroic man of action, given to powerful emotions, including agony.[39] In Matthew, apparently written for a Jewish audience, Jesus is repeatedly called out as the fulfillment of Hebrew prophecy.[39] In Luke, apparently written for gentiles, Jesus is especially concerned with the poor.[39] Luke emphasizes the importance of prayer and the action of the Holy Spirit in Jesus's life and in the Christian community.[40] Jesus appears as a stoic supernatural being, unmoved even by his own crucifixion.[41] Like Matthew, Luke insists that salvation offered by Christ is for all, and not only for the Jews.[40][42] The Gospel of John is the only gospel to call Jesus God, and in contrast to Mark, where Jesus hides his identity as messiah, in John he openly proclaims it.[43] It represents Jesus as an incarnation of the eternal Word (Logos), who spoke no parables, talked extensively about himself, and did not explicitly refer to a Second Coming.[39] Jesus preaches in Jerusalem, launching his ministry with the cleansing of the temple. He performs several miracles as signs, most of them not found in the synoptics. The Gospel of John ends:(21:25) "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen."

Genre and historical reliability

The consensus among modern scholars is that the gospels are a subset of the ancient genre of bios, or biography.[44] Ancient biographies were concerned with providing examples for readers to emulate while preserving and promoting the subject's reputation and memory, and also included propaganda and kerygma (preaching) in their works.[45] Mark, for example, is not biography in the modern sense but an apocalyptic history depicting Jesus caught up in events at the end of time.[46] The Gospels present the Christian message of the second half of the first century AD,[47] but scholars are confident that the gospels also do provide a good idea of the public career of Jesus, and that critical study can distinguish the ideas of Jesus from those of later authors and editors.[8]

As Luke's attempt to link the birth of Jesus to the census of Quirinius demonstrates, there is no guarantee that the gospels are historically accurate.[48] Matthew and Luke have frequently edited Mark to suit their own ends, and the contradictions and discrepancies between John and the synoptics make it impossible to accept both as reliable.[2] In addition the gospels we read today have been edited and corrupted over time, leading Origen to complain in the 3rd century that "the differences among manuscripts have become great, ... [because copyists] either neglect to check over what they have transcribed, or, in the process of checking, they make additions or deletions as they please."[49] For these reasons modern scholars are cautious of relying on the gospels uncritically, but nevertheless they do provide a good idea of the public career of Jesus, and critical study can attempt to distinguish the original ideas of Jesus from those of the later authors.[7][8]

Canonisation

The creation of a Christian canon was probably a response to the career of the heretic Marcion (c. 85–160), who established a canon of his own with just one gospel, the gospel of Luke, which he edited to fit his own theology.[50] The Muratorian canon, the earliest surviving list of books considered (by its own author at least) to form Christian scripture, included Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Irenaeus of Lyons went further, stating that there must be four gospels and only four because there were four corners of the Earth and thus the Church should have four pillars.[1][51]

Non-canonical gospels

El Evangelio de Tomás-Gospel of Thomas- Codex II Manuscritos de Nag Hammadi-The Nag Hammadi manuscripts
The Gospel of Thomas

Epiphanius, Jerome and other early church fathers preserve in their writings citations from Jewish-Christian gospels. Most modern critical scholars consider that the extant citations suggest at least two and probably three distinct works, at least one of which (possibly two) closely parallels the Gospel of Matthew.[52]

The Gospel of Thomas is mostly wisdom without narrating Jesus's life. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church says that the original may date from c. 150.[53] It may represent a tradition independent from the canonical gospels, but that developed over a long time and was influenced by Matthew and Luke.[53] While it can be understood in Gnostic terms, it lacks the characteristic features of Gnostic doctrine.[53] It includes two unique parables, the parable of the empty jar and the parable of the assassin.[54] It had been lost but was discovered, in a Coptic version dating from c. 350, at Nag Hammadi in 1945–46, and three papyri, dated to c. 200, which contain fragments of a Greek text similar to but not identical with that in the Coptic language, have also been found.[53]

The Gospel of Peter was likely written in the first half of the 2nd century.[55][56] It seems to be largely legendary, hostile toward Jews, and including docetic elements.[55] It is a narrative gospel and is notable for asserting that Herod, not Pontius Pilate, ordered the crucifixion of Jesus. It had been lost but was rediscovered in the 19th century.[55]

The Gospel of Judas is another controversial and ancient text that purports to tell the story of the gospel from the perspective of Judas, the disciple who is usually said to have betrayed Jesus. It paints an unusual picture of the relationship between Jesus and Judas, in that it appears to interpret Judas's act not as betrayal, but rather as an act of obedience to the instructions of Jesus. The text was recovered from a cave in Egypt by a thief and thereafter sold on the black market until it was finally discovered by a collector who, with the help of academics from Yale and Princeton, was able to verify its authenticity. The document itself does not claim to have been authored by Judas (it is, rather, a gospel about Judas), and is known to date to at least 180 AD.[57]

The Gospel of Mary was originally written in Greek during the 2nd century. It is often interpreted as a Gnostic text. It consists mainly of dialog between Mary Magdalene and the other disciples. It is typically not considered a gospel by scholars since it does not focus on the life of Jesus.[58]

The Gospel of Barnabas was a gospel which is claimed to be written by Barnabas, one of the apostles. The Gospel was presumably written between the 14th and the 16th century. It contradicts the ministry of Jesus in canonical New Testament, but has clear parallels with the Islamic faith, by mentioning Muhammad as Messenger of God. It also strongly denies Pauline doctrine, and Jesus testified himself as a prophet, not the son of God.[59]

Marcion of Sinope, c. 150, had a much shorter version of the gospel of Luke, differing substantially from what has now become the standard text of the gospel and far less oriented towards the Jewish scriptures. Marcion is said to have rejected all other gospels, including those of Matthew, Mark and especially John, which he allegedly rejected as having been forged by Irenaeus. Marcion's critics alleged that he had edited out the portions he did not like from the then canonical version, though Marcion is said to have argued that his text was the more genuinely original one.

A genre of "Infancy gospels" (Greek: protoevangelion) arose in the 2nd century, and includes the Gospel of James, which introduces the concept of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, and the Infancy Gospel of Thomas (not to be confused with the absolutely different sayings Gospel of Thomas), both of which related many miraculous incidents from the life of Mary and the childhood of Jesus that are not included in the canonical gospels.

Another genre is that of the gospel harmony, in which the four canonical gospels are combined into a single narrative, either to present a consistent text or to produce a more accessible account of Jesus' life. The oldest known harmony, the Diatessaron, was compiled by Tatian around 175, and may have been intended to replace the separate gospels as an authoritative text. It was accepted for liturgical purposes for as much as two centuries in Syria, but eventually developed a reputation as being heretical and was suppressed. Subsequent harmonies were written with the more limited aim of being study guides or explanatory texts. They still use all the words and only the words of the four gospels, but the possibility of editorial error, and the loss of the individual viewpoints of the separate gospels, keeps the harmony from being canonical.[60]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ /ˈɡɒspəl/, the Old English translation of Greek εὐαγγέλιον, evangelion, meaning "good news".
  2. ^ The priority of Mark is accepted by most scholars, but there are important dissenting opinions: see the article Synoptic problem.
  3. ^ The debate over the composition of John is too complex to be treated adequately in a single paragraph; for a more nuanced view see Aune's entry on the Gospel of John in the "Westminster Dictionary of New Testament and Early Christian Literature", pages 243-245.

References

Citations

  1. ^ a b Cross & Livingstone 2005, p. 697.
  2. ^ a b Tuckett 2000, p. 523.
  3. ^ a b Petersen 2010, p. 51.
  4. ^ a b Burkett 2002, pp. 124–25.
  5. ^ a b c Culpepper 1999, p. 66.
  6. ^ Reddish 2011, p. 13,42.
  7. ^ a b Reddish 2011, pp. 21–22.
  8. ^ a b c Sanders 1995, pp. 4–5.
  9. ^ Honoré 1986, pp. 95–147.
  10. ^ Perkins 1998, p. 241.
  11. ^ Reddish 2011, pp. 108,144.
  12. ^ Lincoln 2005, p. 18.
  13. ^ Reddish 2011, p. 42.
  14. ^ Porter 2006, p. 185.
  15. ^ Reddish 2011, p. 17.
  16. ^ Martens 2004, p. 100.
  17. ^ Boring 2006, pp. 13–14.
  18. ^ Levine 2009, p. 6.
  19. ^ Goodacre 2001, p. 1.
  20. ^ Perkins 2012, p. unpaginated.
  21. ^ Burge 2014, p. 309.
  22. ^ Allen 2013, p. 43-44.
  23. ^ Edwards 2002, p. 403.
  24. ^ Beaton 2005, p. 122.
  25. ^ Lieu 2005, p. 175.
  26. ^ Allen 2013, p. 45.
  27. ^ Hurtado 2005, p. 587.
  28. ^ Ehrman 2005, p. 215.
  29. ^ a b Burkett 2002, p. 217.
  30. ^ Anderson 2011, p. 52.
  31. ^ Burkett 2002, p. 158.
  32. ^ Parker 1997, p. 125.
  33. ^ Telford 1999, p. 149.
  34. ^ Beaton 2005, p. 117,123.
  35. ^ Morris 1986, p. 114.
  36. ^ Aune 1987, p. 59.
  37. ^ Johnson 2010, p. 48.
  38. ^ Funk, Robert W., Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar. The five gospels. HarperSanFrancisco. 1993.
  39. ^ a b c d Harris, Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985
  40. ^ a b Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005, article Luke, Gospel of St
  41. ^ Ehrman 2005, p. 143.
  42. ^ St. Matthew, "The Thompson Chain-Reference Study Bible New King James Version", (B.B. Kirkbride Bible Co. Inc., 1997) p. 1258 verse 12:21, p. 1274, verse 21:43.
  43. ^ Burkett 2002, p. 214.
  44. ^ Lincoln 2004, p. 133.
  45. ^ Dunn 2005, p. 174.
  46. ^ Donahue 2005, p. 15.
  47. ^ Keith & Le Donne 2012.
  48. ^ Reddish 2011, pp. 22.
  49. ^ Ehrman 2005, p. 7,52.
  50. ^ Ehrman 2005, p. 34.
  51. ^ Ehrman 2005, p. 35.
  52. ^ Philipp Vielhauer in Schneemelcher's New Testament Apocrypha Vol.1 (1971) English revised edition R. Wilson, of Neutestamentliche Apokryphen 1964 Hennecke & Schneemelcher
  53. ^ a b c d "Thomas, Gospel of". Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  54. ^ Funk, Robert W., Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar. The five gospels. HarperSanFrancisco. 1993. "The Gospel of Thomas", pp. 471–532.
  55. ^ a b c "Peter, Gospel of St.". Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  56. ^ Ehrman, Bart (2003). The Lost Christianities. New York: Oxford University Press. p. xi. ISBN 978-0-19-514183-2.
  57. ^ Achtemeier, Paul J., Th.D., Harper's Bible Dictionary, (San Francisco: Harper and Row, Publishers, Inc.; 1985).
  58. ^ Andrew E. Bernhard, Other Early Christian Gospels: A Critical Edition of the Surviving Greek Manuscripts, Library of New Testament Studies 315 (London-New York: T & T Clark, 2006), p. 2. ISBN 0-567-04204-9.
  59. ^ Wiegers, G. (1995). "Muhammad as the Messiah: A comparison of the polemical works of Juan Alonso with the Gospel of Barnabas". Biblitheca Orientalis
  60. ^ The church has made a point of supporting four separate gospels, "equally authoritative and worth preserving as distinct witnesses." Gabel at 210. See also Metzger at 117; Gamble at 30-35.

Bibliography

External links

Quotations related to Gospel at Wikiquote

Al Green

Albert Leornes Greene (born April 13, 1946), often known as The Reverend Al Green, is an American singer, songwriter and record producer, best known for recording a series of soul hit singles in the early 1970s, including "Take Me to the River", "Tired of Being Alone", "I'm Still in Love with You", "Love and Happiness", and his signature song, "Let's Stay Together". Inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995, Green was referred to on the museum's site as being "one of the most gifted purveyors of soul music". He has also been referred to as "The Last of the Great Soul Singers". Green was included in the Rolling Stone list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, ranking at No. 65, as well as its list of the 100 Greatest Singers, at No. 14.

Beatitudes

The Beatitudes are eight blessings recounted by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew. Each is a proverb-like proclamation, without narrative. Four of the blessings also appear in the Sermon on the Plain in the Gospel of Luke, followed by four woes which mirror the blessings.In the Vulgate, each of these blessings begins with the word beati, which translates to "happy", "rich", or "blessed" (plural adjective). The corresponding word in the original Greek is μακάριοι (makarioi), with the same meanings. Thus "Blessed are the poor in spirit" appears in Latin as beati pauperes spiritu. The Latin noun beātitūdō was coined by Cicero to describe a state of blessedness, and was later incorporated within the chapter headings written for Matthew 5 in various printed versions of the Vulgate. Subsequently, the word was anglicized to beatytudes in the Great Bible of 1540, and has, over time, taken on a preferred spelling of beatitudes.

Evangelism

In Christianity, evangelism is the commitment to or act of publicly preaching (ministry) of the Gospel with the intention of spreading the message and teachings of Jesus Christ.

Christians who specialize in evangelism are often known as evangelists, whether they are in their home communities or living as missionaries in the field, although some Christian traditions refer to such people as missionaries in either case. Some Christian traditions consider evangelists to be in a leadership position; they may be found preaching to large meetings or in governance roles.

Christian groups who encourage evangelism are sometimes known as evangelistic or evangelist. The scriptures do not use the word evangelism, but evangelist is used in (the translations of) Acts 21:8, Ephesians 4:11, and 2 Timothy 4:5.

Four Evangelists

In Christian tradition, the Four Evangelists are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the authors attributed with the creation of the four Gospel accounts in the New Testament that bear the following titles: Gospel according to Matthew; Gospel according to Mark; Gospel according to Luke and Gospel according to John.

Gospel music

Gospel music is a genre of Christian music. The creation, performance, significance, and even the definition of gospel music varies according to culture and social context. Gospel music is composed and performed for many purposes, including aesthetic pleasure, religious or ceremonial purposes, and as an entertainment product for the marketplace. Gospel music usually has dominant vocals (often with strong use of harmony) with Christian lyrics. Gospel music can be traced to the early 17th century, with roots in the black oral tradition. Hymns and sacred songs were often repeated in a call and response fashion. Most of the churches relied on hand clapping and foot stomping as rhythmic accompaniment. Most of the singing was done a cappella. The first published use of the term "gospel song" probably appeared in 1874. The original gospel songs were written and composed by authors such as George F. Root, Philip Bliss, Charles H. Gabriel, William Howard Doane, and Fanny Crosby. Gospel music publishing houses emerged. The advent of radio in the 1920s greatly increased the audience for gospel music. Following World War II, gospel music moved into major auditoriums, and gospel music concerts became quite elaborate.Gospel blues is a blues-based form of gospel music (a combination of blues guitar and evangelistic lyrics). Southern gospel used all male, tenor-lead-baritone-bass quartet make-up. Progressive Southern gospel is an American music genre that has grown out of Southern gospel over the past couple of decades. Christian country music, sometimes referred to as country gospel music, is a subgenre of gospel music with a country flair. It peaked in popularity in the mid-1990s.

Bluegrass gospel music is rooted in American mountain music. Celtic gospel music infuses gospel music with a Celtic flair, and is quite popular in countries such as Ireland. British black gospel refers to Gospel music of the African diaspora, which has been produced in the UK. Some proponents of "standard" hymns generally dislike gospel music of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today, with historical distance, there is a greater acceptance of such gospel songs into official denominational hymnals.

Gospel of John

The Gospel of John (Greek: Εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Ἰωάννην, translit. Euangélion katà Iōánnēn) is the fourth of the canonical gospels. The work is anonymous, although it identifies an unnamed "disciple whom Jesus loved" as the source of its traditions. It is closely related in style and content to the three Johannine epistles, and most scholars treat the four books, along with the Book of Revelation, as a single corpus of Johannine literature, albeit not from the same author.The discourses contained in this gospel seem to be concerned with issues of the church–synagogue debate at the time of composition. It is notable that in John, the community appears to define itself primarily in contrast to Judaism, rather than as part of a wider Christian community. Though Christianity started as a movement within Judaism, it gradually separated from Judaism because of mutual opposition between the two religions.

Gospel of Luke

The Gospel According to Luke (Greek: Εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Λουκᾶν, translit. Euangélion katà Loukân), also called the Gospel of Luke, or simply Luke, is the third of the four canonical Gospels. It tells of the origins, birth, ministry, atonement, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ.Luke is the longest of the four gospels and the longest book in the New Testament; together with Acts of the Apostles it makes up a two-volume work from the same author, called Luke–Acts. The cornerstone of Luke–Acts' theology is "salvation history", the author's understanding that God's purpose is seen in the way he has acted, and will continue to act, in history. It divides the history of first-century Christianity into three stages, with the gospel making up the first two of these – the arrival among men of Jesus the Messiah, from his birth to the beginning of his earthly mission in the meeting with John the Baptist followed by his earthly ministry, Passion, death, and resurrection (concluding the gospel story per se). The gospel's sources are the Gospel of Mark (for the narrative of Christ's earthly life), the sayings collection called the Q source (for his teachings), and a collection of material called the L (for Luke) source, which is found only in this gospel.Luke–Acts does not name its author. According to Church tradition this was Luke the Evangelist, the companion of Paul, but while this view is still occasionally put forward the scholarly consensus emphasises the many contradictions between Acts and the authentic Pauline letters. The most probable date for its composition is around AD 80–110, and there is evidence that it was still being revised well into the 2nd century.

Gospel of Mark

The Gospel According to Mark (Greek: Εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Μᾶρκον, translit. Euangélion katà Mârkon) is one of the four canonical gospels and one of the three synoptic gospels. It tells of the ministry of Jesus from his baptism by John the Baptist to his death and burial and the discovery of the empty tomb – there is no genealogy of Jesus or birth narrative, nor, in the original ending at chapter 16, any post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. It portrays Jesus as a heroic man of action, an exorcist, a healer, and a miracle worker. Jesus is also the Son of God, but he keeps his identity secret (the Messianic Secret), concealing it in parables so that even most of the disciples fail to understand. All this is in keeping with prophecy, which foretold the fate of the messiah as suffering servant. The gospel ends, in its original version, with the discovery of the empty tomb, a promise to meet again in Galilee, and an unheeded instruction to spread the good news of the resurrection.Mark probably dates from AD 66–70. Most scholars reject the tradition which ascribes it to John Mark, the companion of the apostle Peter, and regard it (and the other gospels) as anonymous, the work of an unknown author working with various sources including collections of miracle stories, controversy stories, parables, and a passion narrative.Mark was traditionally placed second, and sometimes fourth, in the Christian canon, as a less artistic abridgement of what was regarded as the most important gospel, Matthew. The Church has consequently derived its view of Jesus primarily from Matthew, secondarily from John, and only distantly from Mark. It was only in the 19th century that Mark came to be seen as the earliest of the four gospels, and as a source used by both Matthew and Luke. The hypothesis of Marcan priority (that Mark was written first) continues to be held by the majority of scholars today, and there is a new recognition of the author as an artist and theologian using a range of literary devices to convey his conception of Jesus as the authoritative yet suffering Son of God.

Gospel of Matthew

The Gospel According to Matthew (Greek: Εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Μαθθαῖον, translit. Euangélion katà Maththaîon; also called the Gospel of Matthew or simply, Matthew) is the first book of the New Testament and one of the three synoptic gospels. It tells how the promised Messiah, Jesus, rejected by Israel, finally sends the disciples to preach the gospel to the whole world. Most scholars believe it was composed between AD 80 and 90, with a range of possibility between AD 70 to 110 (a pre-70 date remains a minority view). The anonymous author was probably a male Jew, standing on the margin between traditional and non-traditional Jewish values, and familiar with technical legal aspects of scripture being debated in his time. Writing in a polished Semitic "synagogue Greek", he drew on three main sources: the Gospel of Mark, the hypothetical collection of sayings known as the Q source, and material unique to his own community, called the M source or "Special Matthew".The divine nature of Jesus was a major issue for the Matthaean community, the crucial element separating the early Christians from their Jewish neighbors; while Mark begins with Jesus' baptism and temptations, Matthew goes back to Jesus' origins, showing him as the Son of God from his birth, the fulfillment of Old Testament messianic prophecies. The title Son of David identifies Jesus as the healing and miracle-working Messiah of Israel (it is used exclusively in relation to miracles), sent to Israel alone. As Son of Man he will return to judge the world, an expectation which his disciples recognise but of which his enemies are unaware. As Son of God he is God revealing himself through his son, and Jesus proving his sonship through his obedience and example.The gospel reflects the struggles and conflicts between the evangelist's community and the other Jews, particularly with its sharp criticism of the scribes and Pharisees. Prior to the Crucifixion the Jews are called Israelites, the honorific title of God's chosen people; after it, they are called "Ioudaioi", Jews, a sign that through their rejection of the Christ the "Kingdom of Heaven" has been taken away from them and given instead to the church.

Gospel of Thomas

The Gospel of Thomas is a non-canonical sayings gospel. It was discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in December 1945 among a group of books known as the Nag Hammadi library. Scholars speculate that the works were buried in response to a letter from Bishop Athanasius declaring a strict canon of Christian scripture.The Coptic-language text, the second of seven contained in what modern-day scholars have designated as Codex II, is composed of 114 sayings attributed to Jesus. Almost half of these sayings resemble those found in the Canonical Gospels, while it is speculated that the other sayings were added from Gnostic tradition. Its place of origin may have been Syria, where Thomasine traditions were strong.The introduction states: "These are the hidden words that the living Jesus spoke and Didymos Judas Thomas wrote them down." Didymus (Greek) and Thomas (Aramaic) both mean "twin". Some critical scholars suspect that this reference to the Apostle Thomas is false, and that therefore the true author is unknown.It is possible that the document originated within a school of early Christians, possibly proto-Gnostics. Some verses are similar to verses in the Quran. Some critics further state that even the description of Thomas as a "gnostic" gospel is based upon little other than the fact that it was found along with gnostic texts at Nag Hammadi. The name of Thomas was also attached to the Book of Thomas the Contender, which was also in Nag Hammadi Codex II, and the Acts of Thomas. While the Gospel of Thomas does not directly point to Jesus' divinity, it also does not directly contradict it, and therefore neither supports nor contradicts gnostic beliefs. When asked his identity in the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus usually deflects, ambiguously asking the disciples why they do not see what is right in front of them, similar to some passages in the canonical gospels like John 12:16 and Luke 18:34.

The Gospel of Thomas is very different in tone and structure from other New Testament apocrypha and the four Canonical Gospels. Unlike the canonical Gospels, it is not a narrative account of the life of Jesus; instead, it consists of logia (sayings) attributed to Jesus, sometimes stand-alone, sometimes embedded in short dialogues or parables. The text contains a possible allusion to the death of Jesus in logion 65 (Parable of the Wicked Tenants, paralleled in the Synoptic Gospels), but does not mention his crucifixion, his resurrection, or the final judgment; nor does it mention a messianic understanding of Jesus. Since its discovery, many scholars have seen it as evidence in support of the existence of the so-called Q source, which might have been very similar in its form as a collection of sayings of Jesus without any accounts of his deeds or his life and death, a so-called "sayings gospel".Bishop Eusebius included it among a group of books that he believed to be not only spurious, but "the fictions of heretics". However, it is not clear whether he was referring to this Gospel of Thomas or one of the other texts attributed to Thomas.

Jesus

Jesus (c. 4 BC – c. AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity and is widely described as the most influential person in history. Most Christians believe he is the incarnation of God the Son and the awaited Messiah (Christ) prophesied in the Old Testament.Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed historically, although the quest for the historical Jesus has produced little agreement on the historical reliability of the Gospels and on how closely the Jesus portrayed in the Bible reflects the historical Jesus. Jesus was a Galilean Jew who was baptized by John the Baptist and subsequently began his own ministry, preaching his message orally and often being referred to as "rabbi". Jesus debated with fellow Jews on how to best follow God, engaged in healings, taught in parables and gathered followers. He was arrested and tried by the Jewish authorities, turned over to the Roman government, and was subsequently crucified on the order of Pontius Pilate, the Roman prefect. After his death, his followers believed he rose from the dead, and the community they formed eventually became the early Church.The birth of Jesus is celebrated annually on December 25th (or various dates in January by some eastern churches) as a holiday known as Christmas. His crucifixion is honored on Good Friday, and his resurrection is celebrated on Easter. The widely used calendar era "AD", from the Latin anno Domini ("in the year of the Lord"), and the equivalent alternative "CE", are based on the approximate birth date of Jesus.Christian doctrines include the beliefs that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born of a virgin named Mary, performed miracles, founded the Church, died by crucifixion as a sacrifice to achieve atonement for sin, rose from the dead, and ascended into Heaven, from where he will return. Most Christians believe Jesus enables people to be reconciled to God. The Nicene Creed asserts that Jesus will judge the living and the dead either before or after their bodily resurrection, an event tied to the Second Coming of Jesus in Christian eschatology. The great majority of Christians worship Jesus as the incarnation of God the Son, the second of three persons of the Trinity. A minority of Christian denominations reject Trinitarianism, wholly or partly, as non-scriptural.

Jesus also figures in non-Christian religions and new religious movements. In Islam, Jesus (commonly transliterated as Isa) is considered one of God's important prophets and the Messiah. Muslims believe Jesus was a bringer of scripture and was born of a virgin, but was not the Son of God. The Quran states that Jesus himself never claimed divinity. Most Muslims do not believe that he was crucified, but believe that he was physically raised into Heaven by God. In contrast, Judaism rejects the belief that Jesus was the awaited Messiah, arguing that he did not fulfill Messianic prophecies, and was neither divine nor resurrected.

Judas Iscariot

Judas Iscariot (; Biblical Hebrew: יהודה‎, translit. Yehûdâh, lit. 'God is praised'; Greek: Ὶούδας Ὶσκαριώτης) (died c.  30 – c.  33 AD) was a disciple and one of the original Twelve Disciples of Jesus Christ. According to all four canonical gospels, Judas betrayed Jesus to the Sanhedrin in the Garden of Gethsemane by kissing him and addressing him as "Rabbi" to reveal his identity to the crowd who had come to arrest him. His name is often used synonymously with betrayal or treason. Judas's epithet Iscariot most likely means he came from the village of Kerioth, but this explanation is not universally accepted and many other possibilities have been suggested.

The Gospel of Mark, the earliest gospel, gives no motive for Judas's betrayal, but does present Jesus predicting it at the Last Supper, an event also described in all the later gospels. The Gospel of Matthew 26:15 states that Judas committed the betrayal in exchange for thirty pieces of silver. The Gospel of Luke 22:3 and the Gospel of John 13:27 suggest that he was possessed by Satan. According to Matthew 27:1–10, after learning that Jesus was to be crucified, Judas attempted to return the money he had been paid for his betrayal to the chief priests and committed suicide by hanging. The priests used the money to buy a field to bury strangers in, which was called the "Field of Blood" because it had been bought with blood money. The Book of Acts 1:18 quotes Peter as saying that Judas used the money to buy the field himself and, he "[fell] headlong... burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out." His place among the Twelve Apostles was later filled by Matthias.

Despite his notorious role in the gospel narratives, Judas remains a controversial figure in Christian history. For instance, Judas's betrayal is seen as setting in motion the events that led to Jesus's crucifixion and resurrection, which, according to traditional Christian theology, brought salvation to humanity. The Gnostic Gospel of Judas – rejected by the mainstream Church as heretical – praises Judas for his role in triggering humanity's salvation and exalts Judas as the best of the apostles. Since the Middle Ages, Judas has sometimes been portrayed as a personification of the Jewish people and his betrayal has been used to justify Christian antisemitism.

Lord's Prayer

The Lord's Prayer (also called the Our Father or Pater Noster) is a venerated Christian prayer which, according to the New Testament, Jesus taught as the way to pray:

Pray then in this way ... (Matthew 6:9 NRSV)

When you pray, say ... (Luke 11:2 NRSV)Two versions of this prayer are recorded in the gospels: a longer form within the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew, and a shorter form in the Gospel of Luke when "one of his disciples said to him, 'Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.'" Lutheran theologian Harold Buls suggested that both were original, the Matthaen version spoken by Jesus early in his ministry in Galilee, and the Lucan version one year later, "very likely in Judea".The first three of the seven petitions in Matthew address God; the other four are related to human needs and concerns. The Matthew account alone includes the "Your will be done" and the "Rescue us from the evil one" (or "Deliver us from evil") petitions. Both original Greek texts contain the adjective epiousios, which does not appear in any other classical or Koine Greek literature; while controversial, "daily" has been the most common English-language translation of this word. Some Christians, particularly Protestants, conclude the prayer with a doxology, a later addendum appearing in some manuscripts of Matthew.

Initial words on the topic from the Catechism of the Catholic Church teach that it "is truly the summary of the whole gospel". The prayer is used by most Christian churches in their worship; with few exceptions, the liturgical form is the Matthean. Although theological differences and various modes of worship divide Christians, according to Fuller Seminary professor Clayton Schmit, "there is a sense of solidarity in knowing that Christians around the globe are praying together ... and these words always unite us."In biblical criticism, the prayer's absence in the Gospel of Mark together with its occurrence in Matthew and Luke has caused scholars who accept the two-source hypothesis (against other document hypotheses) to conclude that it is probably a logion original to Q.

Mary Magdalene

Saint Mary Magdalene, sometimes called simply the Magdalene, was a Jewish woman who, according to the four canonical gospels, traveled with Jesus as one of his followers and was a witness to his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. She is mentioned by name twelve times in the canonical gospels, more than most of the apostles. Mary's epithet Magdalene most likely means that she came from the town of Magdala, a fishing town on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee.

The Gospel of Luke 8:2–3 lists Mary as one of the women who traveled with Jesus and helped support his ministry "out of their resources", indicating that she was probably relatively wealthy. The same passage also states that seven demons had been driven out of her, a statement which is repeated in the longer ending of Mark. In all four canonical gospels, she is a witness to the crucifixion of Jesus and, in the Synoptic Gospels, she is also present at his burial. All four gospels identify her, either alone or as a member of a larger group of women, as the first witness to the empty tomb, and the first to testify to Jesus's resurrection. For these reasons, she is known in many Christian traditions as the "apostle to the apostles". Mary is a central figure in later apocryphal Gnostic Christian writings, including the Dialogue of the Savior, the Pistis Sophia, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Mary. These texts, which scholars do not regard as containing accurate historical information, portray her as Jesus's closest disciple and the only one who truly understood his teachings. In the Gnostic gospels, Mary Magdalene's closeness to Jesus results in tension with the other disciples, particularly Simon Peter.

During the Middle Ages, Mary Magdalene was conflated in western tradition with Mary of Bethany and the unnamed "sinful woman" who anoints Jesus's feet in Luke 7:36–50, resulting in a widespread but inaccurate belief that she was a repentant prostitute or promiscuous woman. Elaborate medieval legends from western Europe tell exaggerated tales of Mary Magdalene's wealth and beauty, as well as her alleged journey to southern France. The identification of Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany and the unnamed "sinful woman" was a major controversy in the years leading up to the Reformation and some Protestant leaders rejected it. During the Counter-Reformation, the Catholic Church used Mary Magdalene as a symbol of penance.

In 1969, the identification of Mary Magdalene with Mary of Bethany and the "sinful woman" was removed from the General Roman Calendar, but the view of her as a former prostitute has persisted in popular culture. Mary Magdalene is considered to be a saint by the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran churches—with a feast day of July 22. Other Protestant churches honor her as a heroine of the faith. The Eastern Orthodox churches also commemorate her on the Sunday of the Myrrhbearers, the Orthodox equivalent of one of the Western Three Marys traditions. Speculations that Mary Magdalene was Jesus's wife or that she had a sexual relationship with him are regarded by most historians as highly dubious.

New Testament

The New Testament (Ancient Greek: Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, transl. Hē Kainḕ Diathḗkē; Latin: Novum Testamentum) is the second part of the Christian biblical canon, the first part being the Old Testament, based on the Hebrew Bible. The New Testament discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Christianity. Christians regard both the Old and New Testaments together as sacred scripture. The New Testament (in whole or in part) has frequently accompanied the spread of Christianity around the world. It reflects and serves as a source for Christian theology and morality. Extended readings and phrases directly from the New Testament are incorporated (along with readings from the Old Testament) into the various Christian liturgies. The New Testament has influenced religious, philosophical, and political movements in Christendom and left an indelible mark on literature, art, and music.

The New Testament is a collection of Christian works written in the common (Koine) Greek language of the 1st century AD, at different times by various writers, and the modern consensus is that it provides important evidence regarding Judaism in the 1st century. In almost all Christian traditions today, the New Testament consists of 27 books: the four gospels, Acts, twenty-one epistles, and Revelation.

The united Catholic Church defined the 27-book canon. The earliest known complete list of the 27 books is by the 4th-century eastern Catholic bishop Athanasius. The first time that church councils approved this list was with the councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397) in North Africa and Pope Innocent I ratified the same canon in 405, but it is probable that a Council in Rome in 382 under pope Damasus gave the same list first. These councils also provided the canon of the Old Testament, which included the apocryphal books.The original texts were written in the first century of the Christian Era, in Greek, which was the common language of the Eastern Mediterranean from the conquests of Alexander the Great (335–323 BC) until the Muslim conquests in the 7th century AD. All the works that eventually became incorporated into the New Testament are believed to have been written no later than around 120 AD. John A. T. Robinson, Dan Wallace, and William F. Albright dated all the books of the New Testament before 70 AD. Others give a final date of 80 AD, or of 96 AD.Collections of related texts such as letters of the Apostle Paul (a major collection of which must have been made already by the early 2nd century) and the Canonical Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (asserted by Irenaeus of Lyon in the late-2nd century as the Four Gospels) gradually were joined to other collections and single works in different combinations to form various Christian canons of Scripture. Over time, some disputed books, such as the Book of Revelation and the Minor Catholic (General) Epistles were introduced into canons in which they were originally absent. Other works earlier held to be Scripture, such as 1 Clement, the Shepherd of Hermas, and the Diatessaron, were excluded from the New Testament. The Old Testament canon is not completely uniform among all major Christian groups including Roman Catholics, Protestants, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Slavic Orthodox Churches, and the Armenian Orthodox Church. However, the twenty-seven-book canon of the New Testament, at least since Late Antiquity, has been almost universally recognized within Christianity (see Development of the New Testament canon).

Prosperity theology

Prosperity theology (sometimes referred to as the prosperity gospel, the health and wealth gospel, the gospel of success, or seed faith) is a religious belief among some Christians, who hold that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations to religious causes will increase one's material wealth. Prosperity theology views the Bible as a contract between God and humans: if humans have faith in God, he will deliver security and prosperity.The doctrine emphasizes the importance of personal empowerment, proposing that it is God's will for his people to be blessed. It is based on interpretations of the Bible that are mainstream in Judaism (with respect to the Hebrew Bible), though less so in Christianity. The atonement (reconciliation with God) is interpreted to include the alleviation of sickness and poverty, which are viewed as curses to be broken by faith. This is believed to be achieved through donations of money, visualization, and positive confession.

It was during the Healing Revivals of the 1950s that prosperity theology first came to prominence in the United States, although commentators have linked the origins of its theology to the New Thought movement which began in the 19th century. The prosperity teaching later figured prominently in the Word of Faith movement and 1980s televangelism. In the 1990s and 2000s, it was adopted by influential leaders in the Pentecostal Movement and Charismatic Movement in the United States and has spread throughout the world. Prominent leaders in the development of prosperity theology include E. W. Kenyon, Oral Roberts, A. A. Allen, Robert Tilton, T. L. Osborn, Joel Osteen, Creflo Dollar, Jesse Duplantis, Kenneth Copeland, Reverend Ike, and Kenneth Hagin.

Prosperity theology has been criticized by leaders from various Christian denominations, including within the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements, who maintain that it is irresponsible, promotes idolatry, and is contrary to scripture. Secular as well as some Christian observers have also criticized prosperity theology as exploitative of the poor.

Soul music

Soul music (often referred to simply as soul) is a popular music genre that originated in the African American community in the United States in the 1950s and early 1960s. It combines elements of African-American gospel music, rhythm and blues and jazz. Soul music became popular for dancing and listening in the United States, where record labels such as Motown, Atlantic and Stax were influential during the Civil Rights Movement. Soul also became popular around the world, directly influencing rock music and the music of Africa.According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, soul is "music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of funky, secular testifying". Catchy rhythms, stressed by handclaps and extemporaneous body moves, are an important feature of soul music. Other characteristics are a call and response between the lead vocalist and the chorus and an especially tense vocal sound. The style also occasionally uses improvisational additions, twirls and auxiliary sounds. Soul music reflected the African-American identity and it stressed the importance of an African-American culture. The new-found African-American consciousness led to new styles of music, which boasted pride in being black.Soul music dominated the U.S. R&B chart in the 1960s, and many recordings crossed over into the pop charts in the U.S., Britain and elsewhere. By 1968, the soul music genre had begun to splinter. Some soul artists developed funk music, while other singers and groups developed slicker, more sophisticated, and in some cases more politically conscious varieties. By the early 1970s, soul music had been influenced by psychedelic rock and other genres, leading to psychedelic soul. The United States saw the development of neo soul around 1994. There are also several other subgenres and offshoots of soul music.

The key subgenres of soul include the Detroit (Motown) style, a rhythmic music influenced by gospel; deep soul and southern soul, driving, energetic soul styles combining R&B with southern gospel music sounds; Memphis soul, a shimmering, sultry style; New Orleans soul, which came out of the rhythm and blues style; Chicago soul, a lighter gospel-influenced sound; Philadelphia soul, a lush orchestral sound with doo-wop-inspired vocals; psychedelic soul, a blend of psychedelic rock and soul music; as well as categories such as blue-eyed soul, which is soul music performed by white artists; British soul; and Northern soul, rare soul music played by DJs at nightclubs in Northern England.

Synoptic Gospels

The gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke are referred to as the Synoptic Gospels because they include many of the same stories, often in a similar sequence and in similar or sometimes identical wording. They stand in contrast to John, whose content is comparatively distinct. The term synoptic (Latin: synopticus; Greek: συνοπτικός, translit. synoptikós) comes via Latin from the Greek σύνοψις, synopsis, i.e. "(a) seeing all together, synopsis"; the sense of the word in English, the one specifically applied to these three gospels, of "giving an account of the events from the same point of view or under the same general aspect" is a modern one.This strong parallelism among the three gospels in content, arrangement, and specific language is widely attributed to literary interdependence. The question of the precise nature of their literary relationship—the synoptic problem—has been a topic of lively debate for centuries and has been described as "the most fascinating literary enigma of all time". The longstanding majority view favors Marcan priority, in which both Matthew and Luke have made direct use of the Gospel of Mark as a source, and further holds that Matthew and Luke also drew from an additional hypothetical document, called Q.

Yolanda Adams

Yolanda Yvette Adams (born August 27, 1961) is an American gospel singer, record producer, actress, and former radio host of her own nationally syndicated morning gospel show. As of September 2009, she had sold 4.5 million albums since 1991 in the United States, and nearly 8 million albums worldwide according to SoundScan. Adams is known as the "Queen of Contemporary Gospel Music" and the "First Lady of Modern Gospel". Variety dubbed Adams as the "Reigning Queen of Urban Gospel".On December 11, 2009, Billboard named her the No. 1 Gospel Artist of the last decade In the same chart, her album Mountain High...Valley Low was acknowledged as the best gospel album.

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