Biblical literature in liturgy Biblical literature in the liturgy of Judaism The liturgy of Judaism is that of the synagogue, which arose during and after the Babylonian Exile of 586538 BCE and gradually replaced the Temple cult as the spiritual centre of Jewish life. The Hebrew biblical canon and the liturgy of the synagogue, to a great extent, grew up together. Because the synagogue arose in a land separated from the Jerusalem Temple with its sacrificial emphasis and its priestly class, worship in the synagogue differed from what went before it in several respects. A local congregation worshipped together on a certain day of the week in a place set apart for that purpose, rather than primarily on special festival days and periods. The people worshipped without priest or cultic sacrifice, yet consciously as a community within a larger covenant fellowship and in response to a divine word that was written down in a holy scripture. Bible reading and interpretation, the singing of psalms, and prayers, both corporate and individual, were the staple content of the liturgy. The ancient synagogue liturgy has come down to the present in two books: the Siddur, or daily prayer book, and the Mahzor, or festival prayer book. The biblically prescribed rhythm of days, weeks, months, and years gave order to the lives of the people. The Bible became familiar to old and young by being read aloud in the synagogue, and no part of worship was esteemed more highly than the reading of scripture. The Torah, the first five books of the Bible, is handwritten on a scroll. Viewed as the holiest object in the synagogue, it is kept in a sacred cabinet called the ark. Special prayers and ceremonies accompany its being taken out and replaced in the ark, and during the course of the year it is read in its entirety at the sabbath services. Torah portions are also read on the religious holidays. A reading from the Prophets, called the Haftarah, follows each Torah reading. One of the five Megillot (Scrolls) is read on certain holidays: the Song of Solomon at Pesah (Passover), the Book of Ruth at Shavuot (Weeks), Lamentations of Jeremiah at Tisha be-Av (Av 9), Ecclesiastes at Sukkot (Tabernacles), and the Book of Esther at Purim (Lots). The Book of Jonah is read on the afternoon of Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). Psalms are said or sung in every service. From the chanting of biblical texts, especially the Psalms, the music of the synagogue's cantor has developed into an incomparable art form (see also Judaism). Biblical literature in the liturgy of Christianity Eastern Orthodoxy The first Christians were Jews, and they worshipped along with other Jews in the synagogue. The earliest Gentile converts also attended the synagogue. When Christians met outside the synagogue, they still used its liturgy, read its Bible, and preserved the main characteristics of synagogue worship. Every historic liturgy is divided into (1) a Christian revision of the sabbath service in the synagogue and (2) a celebration of Jesus' Last Supper with his disciples as a fulfillment of the Passover and a new covenant with a newly redeemed people of God. Thus, the church was never without traditional forms of worship. For more than 100 years Christians had no authorized New Testament, the Old Testament being read, as had been done previously, in the worship service. By the middle of the 2nd century, however, Christian writings also were in the Sunday service. The Old Testament, the version used most generally in its Greek translation (the Septuagint), was the Bible from which the Gospel was preached. Its reading preceded that of the Christian writings, and the reading was far more extensive than it is in modern Christian churches. As the liturgies grew longer and more elaborate, the biblical readings were reduced, and the New Testament gradually displaced the Old Testament. No Old Testament lesson remained in the Greek or Russian liturgy or in the Roman mass, though it has been reintroduced in the 20th century in most liturgies. All liturgies have at least two readings from the New Testament: one from a letter or other (non-Gospel) New Testament writing, and one from a Gospel, in that order. The Eastern liturgies all honour the Gospel with a procession called the Little Entrance. This action is accompanied by hymns and prayers that interpret the Gospel as the coming of Christ to redeem the world. The Eastern liturgies, especially after the great theological controversies of the first four centuries, have favoured composed texts of prayers, hymns, and choral anthems that summarize the thought of many biblical passages, thus becoming short sermons or confessions of faith. The Nicene Creed (4th century) itself is one such text, in contrast with the Shema (Hear, O Israela type of creed) in Judaism, which consists of verbatim passages from Deuteronomy and Numbers. The Divine Liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox churches contains many such composed texts, such as prayers that proclaim Orthodox theology (e.g., the Only begotten Son and Word of God following the second antiphon). Isaiah, chapter 6, verse 3 (Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory), used in the Jewish Kedusha (Glorification of God), generates two separate texts in the Eastern liturgy: the Trisagion (a solemn threefold acclamation to God) at the Little Entrance and the Greek original of the Holy, holy, holy in the eucharistic liturgy. Psalms are sung extensively at the daily hours of prayer in the East as in the West. At the beginning of the Sunday service, entire psalms or more than one psalm are sometimes sung. More often, however, a psalm verse or two are combined with other material into a composite text of a hymn or anthem. A mosaic of selected psalm verses may be used either as a text for music or a spoken prayer. Most characteristic of all, especially in the Greek Church's tradition, however, is the freely composed and imaginative hymn text, based on a biblical incident or person, or an extended paraphrase of a passage of scripture. In addition to such biblically based psalms and other hymns, there are the famous Cherubic Hymn of the Greek and Russian liturgies and the original texts of hymns that have become well known in the Western churchese.g., O gladsome light of the Father immortal, and Let all mortal flesh keep silent. Intertestamental literature Qumran literature (Dead Sea Scrolls) Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls New literary documents from the intertestamental period were found in the caves of Qumran in the vicinity of the Dead Sea in the 1940s, but only a portion of them has yet been published. All the Dead Sea Scrolls were written before the destruction of the Second Temple; with the exception of small Greek fragments, they are all in Hebrew and Aramaic. The scrolls formed the library of an ancient Jewish sect, which probably came into existence at the end of the 2nd century BCE and was founded by a religious genius, called in the scrolls the Teacher of Righteousness. Scholars have tried to identify the sect with all possible groups of ancient Judaism, including the Zealots and early Christians, but it is now most often identified with the Essenes; all that the sectarian scrolls contain fits previous information about the Essenes, and the Dead Sea Scrolls help scholars to interpret the descriptions about the Essenes in ancient sources. Findings and conclusions Apocryphal and pseudepigraphal writings The importance of the discovery is very great; the scrolls of books of the Old Testament caused a new evaluation of the history of the text of the Hebrew Bible; fragments of the Apocrypha (Sirach and Tobit) and of already known and unknown Pseudepigrapha enlarge knowledge about Jewish literature of the intertestamental period, and the properly sectarian scrolls are important witnesses about an ancient sect that influenced, in some points, the origins of Christianity. Among the previously unknown Pseudepigrapha were large parts of an Aramaic scroll, the Genesis Apocryphon, which retells stories from Genesis in the manner of a number of apocryphal books. The chapters that are preserved are concerned with Lamech, his grandfather Enoch, Noah, and Abraham, and the narrators in the scroll are the respective biblical heroes. There is a close affinity between this scroll and the Book of Jubilees and Book of Enoch, fragments of these books having been also found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Another pseudepigraphon that resembles the Dead Sea sect in spirit is the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs; fragments of two of its sources, namely, the Aramaic Testament of Levi and a Hebrew Testament of Naphtali, are extant in the Qumran library. All these books were composed in an apocalyptic movement in Judaism, in the midst of which the Dead Sea sect originated. It is sometimes difficult to ascertain if a work was written within the sect itself or if it represents the broader movement. The largest scroll, the Temple Scroll, is as yet unpublished. It describesby the mouth of God himself and in Hebrewnot the Temple of the last days but the Temple as it should have been built. There are strong ties between the Temple Scroll and the Book of Jubilees and the prescriptions in it fit the conceptions of the sect; the work was composed by the sectarians themselves. Intertestamental literature The Pseudepigraphal writings Works indicating a Greek influence The Letter of Aristeas An important document of Jewish Hellenistic literature is The Letter of Aristeas, a pseudepigraphon ascribed to Aristeas, an official of Ptolemy II Philadelphus, a Greek monarch of Egypt in the 3rd century BCE. The letter is addressed to his brother and gives an account of the translation of the Pentateuch (first five books of the Old Testament) into Greek, by order of Ptolemy. According to the legend, reflected in the letter, the translation was made by 72 elders, brought from Jerusalem, in 72 days. The letter, in reality written by an Alexandrian Jew about 100 BCE, attempts to show the superiority of Judaism both as religion and as philosophy. It also contains interesting descriptions of Palestine, of Jerusalem with its Temple, and of the royal gifts to the Temple. IV Maccabees Another Jewish Hellenistic work combining history and philosophy is The Fourth Book of Maccabees. The theme of the book, reflecting the views of the Greek Stoics, is whether the Inspired Reason is supreme ruler over the passions. This thesis is demonstrated by the martyrdom of the elderly scribe Eleazar and the unnamed seven brothers and their mother, taken from II Macc. 6:187:41. The idea of the expiatory force of martyrdom is stressed more in IV Maccabees than in its source. The author probably lived in the 1st century BCE and may have been from Antioch (in Syria), where the tombs of the Maccabean martyrs were venerated by the Jews. Intertestamental literature Nature and significance Definitions A vast amount of Jewish literature written in the intertestamental period (mainly 2nd and 1st centuries BCE) and from the 1st and 2nd centuries CE was preserved, for the most part, through various Christian churches. A part of this literature is today commonly called the Apocrypha (Hidden; hence, secret books; singular apocryphon). At one time in the early church this was one of the terms for books not regarded by the church as canonical (scripturally acceptable), but in modern usage the Apocrypha is the term for those Jewish books that are called in the Roman Catholic Church deuterocanonical worksi.e., those that are canonical for Catholics but are not a part of the Jewish Bible. (These works are also regarded as canonical in the Eastern Orthodox churches.) When the Protestant churches returned to the Jewish canon (Hebrew Old Testament) during the Reformation period (16th century), the Catholic deuterocanonical works became for the Protestants apocryphali.e., non-canonical. In 19th-century biblical scholarship a new term was coined for those ancient Jewish works that were not accepted as canonical by either the Catholic or Protestant churches; such books are now commonly called Pseudepigrapha (Falsely Inscribed; singular pseudepigraphon), i.e., books wrongly ascribed to a biblical author. The term Pseudepigrapha, however, is not an especially well suited one, not only because the pseudepigraphic character is not restricted to the Pseudepigrapha aloneand, indeed, not even all Pseudepigrapha are ascribed to any author, since there are among them anonymous treatisesbut also because the group of writings so designated by this name necessarily varies in the different modern collections. Theoretically, the name Pseudepigrapha can designate all ancient Jewish writings that are not canonical in the Catholic Church. The writings of the philosopher Philo of Alexandria (1st century BCE1st century CE) and the historian Josephus (1st century CE) and fragments of other postbiblical Hellenistic Jewish historians and poets, however, usually are excluded. Rabbinic literature (2nd century BCE2nd century CE) also is generally excluded; such literature existed for centuries only in oral form. The edition of the Pseudepigrapha edited by the British biblical scholar R.H. Charles in 1913, however, contains a translation of Pirqe Avot (Sayings of the Fathers), an ethical tractate from the Mishna (a collection of oral laws), and even the non-Jewish Story of Ahikar (a folklore hero), though other genuine Jewish writings from antiquity are omitted. Some of the Jewish Pseudepigrapha were discovered only in the last two centuries, and the Dead Sea Scrolls (the first of them discovered in the 1940s), most of which belong to this category, are not yet all published. Thus, in the broader meaning of the terms, the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha are a bloc of Jewish literature written in antiquity from the later Persian period (c. 4th century BCE) and not canonized by the Jews. Texts and versions A small portion of this literature is preserved in the original languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Most of the Hebrew or Aramaic works, however, exist today only in various translations: Greek, Latin, Syriac, Ethiopian, Coptic, Old Slavonic, Armenian, and Romanian. All the works of the Apocrypha are preserved in Greek, because they have for the Greek Church a canonical value. Those books not considered canonical by the early church have often fallen into oblivion, and their Greek text was often lost; many of the ancient Jewish Pseudepigrapha are today preserved only in fragments or quotations in various languages, and sometimes only their titles are known from old lists of books that were rejected by the church. Of this literature only the Apocrypha (contained in Latin and Greek Bibles) were read in the liturgical services of the church. The Pseudepigrapha, in their various versions, were in most cases nearly forgotten; and manuscripts of most of them were rediscovered only in modern times, a process that continues. The discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran in the Judaean desert not only furnished new texts and fragments of unknown and already known Pseudepigrapha but also contributed solutions to problems concerning the origin of other Jewish religious writings (including some Old Testament books), the connection between them, and even their composition and redaction from older sources. The new original texts also strengthened interest in the Jewish literature of the intertestamental period because of its importance for the study of both ancient Judaism and early Christianity. As a result of such discoveries, better critical editions of the Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, as well as new studies of their content, have been published. The Apocrypha, whose texts originated mostly before the rise of Christianity, were regarded as canonical in the early church but contain no Christian interpolations. Many of the Pseudepigrapha, however, were interpolated by Christian writers. The nature and the extent of these Christian interpolations are often difficult to define since a Christian interpolator not only changes the text according to Christian views or introduces specific Christian terminology but also may introduce in a Jewish text ideas, motifs, or terminology that are common to both Judaism and Christianity. For these reasons it is sometimes difficult to decide if a passage in a pseudepigraphon, or even sometimes the whole work, is Jewish or Christian. New Testament canon, texts, and versions The New Testament canon Conditions aiding the formation of the canon The New Testament consists of 27 books, which are the residue, or precipitate, out of many 1st2nd-century-AD writings that Christian groups considered sacred. In these various writings the early church transmitted its traditions: its experience, understanding, and interpretation of Jesus as the Christ and the self-understanding of the church. In a seemingly circuitous interplay between the historical and theological processes, the church selected these 27 writings as normative for its life and teachingsi.e., as its canon (from the Greek kanon, literally, a reed or cane used as a measuring rod and, figuratively, a rule or standard). Other accounts, letters, and revelationse.g., the Didache (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles), Gospel of Peter, First Letter of Clement, Letter of Barnabas, Apocalypse (Revelation) of Peter, Shepherd of Hermasexist, but through a complex process the canon was fixed for both the Eastern and Western churches in the 4th century. The canon contained four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), Acts, 21 letters, and one book of a strictly revelatory character, Revelation. These were not necessarily the oldest writings, not all equally revelatory, and not all directed to the church at large. The Old Testament in its Greek translation, the Septuagint (LXX), was the Bible of the earliest Christians. The New Covenant, or Testament, was viewed as the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises of salvation that were continued for the new Israel, the church, through the Holy Spirit, which had come through Christ, upon the whole people of God. Thus, the Spirit, which in the Old Testament had been viewed as resting only on special charismatic figures, in the New Testament became democratizedi.e., was given to the whole people of the New Covenant. In postbiblical Judaism of the first Christian centuries, it was believed that the Spirit had ceased after the writing of the Book of Malachi (the last book of the Old Testament canon) and that no longer could anyone say Thus saith the Lord, as had the prophets, nor could any further holy writ be produced. The descent of the Spirit on the community of the Messiah (i.e., the Christ) was thus perceived by Christians as a sign of the beginning of the age to come, and the church understood itself as having access to that inspiration through the Spirit. Having this understanding of itself, the church created the New Testament canon not only as a continuation and fulfillment of the Old Testament but also as qualitatively different, because a new age had been ushered in. These 27 books, therefore, were not merely appended to the traditional Jewish threefold division of the Old Testamentthe Law (Torah), the Prophets (Nevi'im), and the Writings (Ketuvim)but rather became the New Testament, the second part of the Christian Bible, of which the Old Testament is the first. Because of a belief that something almost magical occurswith an element of secrecywhen a transmitted oral tradition is put into writing, there was, in both the Old and New Testaments, an expression of reluctance about committing sacred material to writing. When such sacred writings are studied to find the revealed word of God, a settled delimiting of the writingsi.e., a canonmust be selected. In the last decade of the 1st century, the Synod of Jamnia (Jabneh), in Palestine, fixed the canon of the Bible for Judaism, which, following a long period of flux and fluidity and controversy about certain of its books, Christians came to call the Old Testament. A possible factor in the timing of this Jewish canon was a situation of crisis: the fall of Jerusalem and reaction to the fact that the Septuagint was used by Christians and to their advantage, as in the translation of the Hebrew word 'alma (young woman) in chapter 7, verse 14, of IsaiahBehold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuelinto the Greek term parthenos (virgin). As far as the New Testament is concerned, there could be no Bible without a church that created it; yet conversely, having been nurtured by the content of the writings themselves, the church selected the canon. The concept of inspiration was not decisive in the matter of demarcation because the church understood itself as having access to inspiration through the guidance of the Spirit. Indeed, until c. AD 150, Christians could produce writings either anonymously or pseudonymouslyi.e., using the name of some acknowledged important biblical or apostolic figure. The practice was not believed to be either a trick or fraud. Apart from letters in which the person of the writer was clearly attestedas in those of Paul, which have distinctive historical, theological, and stylistic traits peculiar to Paulthe other writings placed their emphases on the message or revelation conveyed, and the author was considered to be only an instrument or witness to the Holy Spirit or the Lord. When the message was committed to writing, the instrument was considered irrelevant, because the true author was believed to be the Spirit. By the mid-2nd century, however, with the delay of the final coming (the Parousia) of the Messiah as the victorious eschatological (end-time) judge and with a resulting increased awareness of history, increasingly a distinction was made between the apostolic time and the present. There also was a gradual cessation of authentically pseudonymous writings in which the author could identify with Christ and the Apostles and thereby gain ecclesiastical recognition. The process of canonization The process of canonization was relatively long and remarkably flexible and detached; various books in use were recognized as inspired, but the Church Fathers noted, without embarrassment or criticism, how some held certain books to be canonical and others did not. Emerging Christianity assumed that through the Spirit the selection of canonical books was certain enough for the needs of the church. Inspiration, it is to be stressed, was neither a divisive nor a decisive criterion. Only when the canon had become self-evident was it argued that inspiration and canonicity coincided, and this coincidence became the presupposition of Protestant orthodoxy (e.g., the authority of the Bible through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit). New Testament Apocrypha Nature and significance The title New Testament Apocrypha may suggest that the books thus classified have or had a status comparable to that of the Old Testament Apocrypha and have been recognized as canonical. In a few instances such has been the case, but generally these books were accepted only by individual Christian writers or by minority heretical groups. The word apocryphal (secret) is applied to Gnostic traditions and writings both by Gnostics and by their critics; from the 2nd century, for example, comes the Apocryphon (secret book) of John. In the 4th century the word referred to books not publicly read in churches. It meant apocryphal in the modern sense (i.e., fictitious) only by implication, as when the church historian Eusebius speaks of some of the so-called secret books as forgeries composed by heretics. Like the New Testament books themselves, the New Testament apocryphal books consist of gospels, acts, letters, and apocalypses. The apocryphal writings, however, are almost exclusively pseudepigraphicali.e., written in the name of the apostles or disciples or concerning individual apostles. In general, they were created after and in imitation of the New Testament books but before the time when a relatively restricted canon, or list, of approved books was being formulated. They arose chiefly during the 2nd century, when the lines between orthodoxy and heresy were not absolutely fixed and when popular piety seems to have been rather freely expressed. What these works tell about Jesus and his disciples resembles the imaginative Midrashic (didactic commentarial) retelling of Old Testament stories among Jewish teachers. As the New Testament canon was gradually given definite shape, these apocryphal books came to be excluded, first from public reading in churches, then from private reading as well. With the development of creeds and of systematic theologies based on the nascent canon, the apocryphal books were neglected and suppressed. Most of them have survived only in fragments, although a few have been found in Greek and Coptic papyri from Egypt. They are valuable to the historian primarily because of the light they cast on popular semi-orthodox beliefs and on Gnostic revisions of Christianity; occasionally, they may contain fairly early traditions about Jesus and his disciples. In the 3rd century, Neoplatonists (followers of the philosopher Plotinus, who advocated a system of levels of reality) joined Christians in attacking such books as spurious, modern, and forged. The difficulties the New Testament apocryphal books caused at the end of the 2nd century are well illustrated in a letter by Serapion, bishop of Antioch. He stated that he accepts Peter and the other apostles as Christ but rejects what is falsely written in their name. When some Christians showed him the Gospel of Peter, he allowed them to read it, but after further investigation he discovered that its teaching about Christ was false, and he had to withdraw his permission. In the early 4th century Eusebius himself found it difficult to create categories for the various books then in circulation or used by earlier authors. He seems to have concluded that the books could be called acknowledged, disputed, spurious, and absolutely rejected. Thus, the Acts of Paul, the Apocalypse of Peter, and the Gospel According to the Hebrews were rather well attested, and he called them spurious but disputed. He definitely rejected books used by heretics but not by church writers: the gospels ascribed to Peter, Thomas, and Matthias, and the Acts of Andrew, John, and other apostles. About a century earlier, the North African theologian Tertullian had written about how a presbyter who wrote the Acts of Paul had been deposed. Without reference to the standards of canonicity and orthodoxy gradually being worked out by the churches of the 2nd through 4th centuries, it is evident that many of these books reflect the kinds of rather incoherent Christian thought that church leaders were trying to prune and shape from the 1st century onward. Often such works represented what was later viewed as inadequate orthodoxy because the views presented had become obsolete. All the apocrypha taken together show the variety of expression from which the canon was a critical selection. The New Testament Apocryphal writings This section will classify these documents in relation to their literary forms: gospels, acts, letters, and apocalypses. New Testament history The Jewish and Hellenistic matrix Background The historical background of the New Testament and its times must be viewed in conjunction with the Jewish matrix from which it evolved and the Hellenistic (Greek cultural) world into which it expanded during a period of Jewish religious propaganda. It is difficult, however, to separate the phenomena of the Jewish and Hellenistic backgrounds, because the Judaism out of which the church arose was a part of a very Hellenized world. The conquests of Alexander the Great culminated in 331 BC, and the subtle but strong influence of Greek culture, language, and customs that was spread by his conquests united his empire. Jews in both Palestine and the Diaspora (Dispersion) were, however, affected by Hellenism, as in ideas of cosmic dualism and rich religious imagery derived in part from Eastern influence as a result of the Greek conquests. Greek words were transliterated into Hebrew and Aramaic even in connection with religious ideas and institutions as, for example, synagogue (religious assembly), Sanhedrin (religious court), and paraclete (advocate, intercessor). It could be argued that the very preoccupation with ancient texts and tradition and the interpretation thereof is a Hellenistic phenomenon. Thus, what may appear as the most indigenous element in the activity of the Jewish scribes, sages, and rabbis (teachers)i.e., textual scholarshiphas its parallels in Hellenistic culture and is part of the general culture of the times. The thought worlds merged, confronted each other, and communicated with each other. The Hasmonean kingdom After Alexander's death the empire was split, and first the Ptolemies, an Egyptian dynasty, and then the Seleucids, a Syrian dynasty, held Palestine. Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a 2nd-century-BC Seleucid king, desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem; a successful Jewish revolt under the Maccabees, a priestly family, resulted in its purification (164 BC) and in freedom from Syrian domination in 142 BC. This began the Hasmonean (Maccabean) dynasty, which appropriated the powers both of king and of high priest. This reign, which created dissatisfaction on the part of other groups who considered their own claims falsely usurped, lasted until internecine strife brought it to an end. John Hyrcanus II, a 1st-century-BC Hasmonean king, appealed to Rome for help, and Pompey, a Roman general, intervened, bringing Palestine under Roman rule in 63 BC. John Hyrcanus, given the title of ethnarch, was later executed for treason (30 BC), thus ending the Hasmonean line, but Jewish independence had come to an end by Roman occupation. New Testament literature Introduction to the Gospels Meaning of the term gospel From the late AD 40s and until his martyrdom in the 60s, Paul wrote letters to the churches that he founded or guided. These are the earliest Christian writings that the church has, and in them he refers to the gospel (euangelion). In Romans, chapter 1, verse 1, he says: Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God . . . and goes on to describe this gospel in what was already by that time traditional language, such as: promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended . . . our Lord (Rom. 1:14). This gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith . . . for in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith . . . (1:17). In I Corinthians Paul had reminded his congregation in stylized terms of the gospel he had brought to them. It consisted of the announcement that Jesus had died and risen according to the Scriptures. Thus, the gospel was an authoritative proclamation (as announced by a herald, keryx), or the kerygma (that which is proclaimed, kerygma). The earthly life of Jesus is hardly noted or missed, because something more gloriousthe ascended Lord who sent the Spirit upon the churchis what matters. In the speeches of Peter in Acts, the transition from kerygma to creed or vice versa is almost interchangeable. In Acts 2 Jesus is viewed as resurrected and exalted at the right hand of God and made both Lord and Christ. In Acts 3 Peter's speech proclaims Jesus as the Christ having been received in heaven to be sent at the end of time as judge for the vindication and salvation of those who believe in him. Here the proclaimed message, the gospel, is more basic than an overview of Jesus' earthly life, which in Acts is referred to only briefly as his acting with power, going about doing good, and healing and exorcising (10:38ff.). Such an extended kergyma can be seen as a transition from the original meaning of gospel as the message to gospel meaning an account of the life of Jesus. The term gospel has connotations of the traditions of Jesus' earthly ministry and Passion that were remembered and then written in the accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. They are written from the post-Resurrection perspective and they contain an extensive and common Passion narrative as they deal with the earthly ministry of Jesus from hindsight. And so the use of the term gospel for Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John has taken the place of the original creedalkerygmatic use in early Christianity. It is also to be noted that, in the Evangelists' accounts, their theological presuppositions and the situations of their addressees molded the formation of the four canonical Gospels written after the Pauline Letters. The primary affirmationsof Jesus as the Christ, his message of the Kingdom, and his Resurrectionpreceded the Evangelists' accounts. Some of these affirmations were extrapolated backward (much as the Exodus event central in the Old Testament was extrapolated backward and was the theological presupposition for the patriarchal narratives in Genesis). These stories were shaped by the purpose for their telling: religious propaganda or preaching to inspire belief. The kerygmatic, or creedal, beginning was expanded with material about the life and teaching of Jesus, which a reverence for and a preoccupation with the holy figure of Jesus demanded out of loving curiosity about his earthly ministry and life. The English word gospel is derived from the Anglo-Saxon godspell (good story). The classical Greek word euangelion means a reward for bringing of good news or the good news itself. In the emperor cult particularly, in which the Roman emperor was venerated as the spirit and protector of the empire, the term took on a religious meaning: the announcement of the appearance or accession to the throne of the ruler. In contemporary Greek it denoted a weighty, authoritative, royal, and official message. In the New Testament, no stress can be placed on the etymological (root) meaning of eu (good); in Luke, chapter 3, verse 18 (as in other places), the word means simply authoritative news concerning impending judgment. Form criticism In the Pauline writings, as noted above, gospel, kerygma, and creed come close together from oral to written formulas that were transmitted about the Christ event: Jesus' death and Resurrection. In the apostolic Fathers (early 2nd century), the transition was made from oral to written tradition; the translation of the presumed Aramaic traditions had taken place before the Gospel material had been committed to writing. By the time of Justin Martyr (c. 155), these writings were called Gospels and referred to in the plural; they contain the words, deeds, and Passion narrativesi.e., the present four Gospels compiled and edited by the Evangelists according to their various needs and theological emphases. Justin also referred to these as memoirs of the Apostles. Such a Gospel began with a missionary announcement concerning a cosmic divine figure, a man with divine characteristics who would bring salvation and hope to the world. The earthly historical Jesus, however, was the criterion of the proclamationbeing both the content of the church's proclamation and the object of its faith. The identification of basic patterns in the history of oral and written traditionsthe stage of tradition prior to any literary form and particularly as the traditions passed from an oral to a written formand the determination of their creative milieu, or their situations and functions in various places and under various circumstances, are tasks of form criticism. Through such study, small independent units may be isolated in a postulated more primitive form than they were before being incorporated into more extended accounts. The term Sitz-im-Leben refers to the Sitz im Leben der Kirchei.e., the situation in the life of the church in which the material was shaped and adjusted to the needs at hand. Only through such studies is it possible to progress tentatively to an assessment of a Sitz im Leben Jesu. Both Jews and Gentiles could use biographies, often for propaganda purposes. Philo and Josephus recounted the wonderful lives and deeds of Old Testament heroes such as Moses; and there are miraculous tales of the prophets Elijah and Elisha told in order that faith might be inspired or justified. A miracle worker (theios aner, divine man) and stories about him comprised an aretalogy (from arete, virtue; also manifestation of divine power, miracle). Aretalogies were frequently used to represent the essential creed and belief of a religious or philosophical movement. The Life of Apollonius of Tyana, a Neo-Pythagorean philosopher and wonder-worker (transmitted by the Greek writer Philostratus), was widely read. He was depicted as having performed miracles and as being possessed of divine cosmic power not as an exception but as an example to men who have the possibility of sharing such power (cf. Matt. 9:8). There were tales of Heracles, the Greek hero, and a whole literature of Alexander the Great as wonder-workers, divine men. Though the pericopes (small units) of which the Gospels are constituted include many forms, or genres, they are mainly divided into narratives (including legends, miracle stories, exorcisms, healings, and tales) and sayings (prophetic and apocalyptic sayings, proverbs and wisdom sayings, parables, church discipline and rules for the community, Christological sayings, such as the socalled I am sayings [e.g., I am the bread of life] in John, revelations, and legal sayings). Some stories may simply be the background for a pithy saying; these latter are sometimes called paradigmatic sayings, and the pronouncement stories are their vehicles of transmission. The forms have many different names, but form criticism started with Homeric form analysis (taking oral tradition into account), which was applied to Old Testament studies by Hermann Gunkel, a German biblical scholar, and applied to the New Testament, on the basis of the German classical philologist Eduard Norden's stylistic studies, by such biblical scholars as Rudolf Bultmann and Martin Dibelius. Form criticism asks and answers questions about what shaped the preliterary tradition and the earliest written traditions into blocks as they are found in the Gospels. This may be a historical context (as a missionary situation), a need for admonition (as church-discipline sections), or for the transmission of teaching in a faithful way (as in a school, be it Matthean, Pauline, or Johannine). One large block of the material, however, is to all intents and purposes the same (although differing in details) in all four canonical Gospels: the Passion narrative. In the Synoptic Gospels there is also a basic nucleus in the sayings about Jesus that are mysterious, prophetic, and apocalyptic and that point to the significance of Jesus as the Christ who has come in history in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Such form-critical studies were centred on the smaller units of tradition (pericopes) that make up the Gospels, and their intention was partly to assess relative age and authenticity of such traditions. In more recent times the tools of form criticism have been applied to a more synthetic method that could be used to determine the relation between a genre of literature and the Christological and theological perspectives that made such genres natural. A presentation of Jesus material in the form of more or less disconnected sayings (as in the so-called Q Source, composed of independent sayings, behind Matthew and Luke, and in the Gospel of Thomas; see below The two- and four-source hypotheses) tends to fit a Christology in which Jesus is viewed as a teacher of Wisdom, an envoy of Wisdom, or as Wisdom herself. The collections of wonder stories (aretalogies) grew out of a Christology of Jesus as the divine man. Another type of Jesus material with independent existence seems to have been revelations, or apocalypses, in which Jesus Christ speaks to his followers. This is seen, for example, in Mark 13, I Thessalonians, chapter 4, the canonical book of Revelation to John, and the noncanonical Didache 16. These genres of material now represented in the canonical Gospels are amply represented also in the noncanonical writings from the first Christian centuries. The discovery of a Gnostic library of Coptic writings at Naj' Hammadi, in Egypt, in the 1940s gave scholars a new opportunity to compare the canonical Gospels with the Jesus material of these various types, some of them having been called and used as gospels (such as the Gospel of Thomas). In the light

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