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The New Testament is one of the major books for Christians. Every passage of the book has been seen as certain guidance with historical accounts. Several centuries ago people could not even question the truthfulness of the stories written in the New Testament. At present, scholars note that there are lots of divergences in the Gospels and lots of stories provided have no historical background.
Thus, Ehrman approaches the book “from a historical perspective” trying to look into the teachings, the authors and issues considered (A Brief Introduction 1). Admittedly, there are numerous unclear aspects when considering the book from the historical perspective. However, when considering a religious text it is much more important to focus on its message, purpose and significance, rather than on specific facts provided.
For instance, Jesus’ death is one of the central points of the New Testament. From historical perspective, there are far too many questions. Thus, Ehrman claims that there were lots of accounts of Jesus’ death and only some of them became a part of the New Testament with no explicit reason (Lost Christianities 3).
More so, lots of texts which are now parts of the New Testaments were written after the death of the book’s acclaimed authors. It is also necessary to note that the death of such a remarkable personality was described in religious texts only and no historical documents can be found to prove the fact.
However, the major peculiarity of all religious beliefs and texts is that they are more concerned with faith not facts. Thus, people’s attitude towards the event is principal. The concept of martyrdom made people believe that they could be saved and the religion was worth believing (Ehrman A Brief Introduction 174).
Jesus’ death made people think it was something very important and meaningful. The believers tried to become better personalities to be worth the sacrifice. They learnt that sacrifice was (or had to be) an indispensible part of their lives. The entire Christianity is based on the concept of martyrdom and sacrifice. The death of the Messiah is the best way to support the basic principle of the religion.
Apart from, the basic story of Jesus’ life and death, the New Testament contains a variety of teachings. Thus, the authors of gospels addressed different people to guide them and make them even more devout believers.
As far as the historical precision is concerned, there are certain controversies. For instance, this part includes different views on the role of women. In one of the chapters, it is said that women should be silent in churches, whereas in other chapters, it is mentioned that women should pray aloud (Ehrman Lost Christianities 38).
Of course, such inconsistency is crucial for historians or theologian (or feminists), but it is insignificant for devout believers. More so, at the time of early Christians this was not a matter of discussion. The authors had a much more important task, i.e. to make people understand everything right.
For instance, lots of Corinthians believed that Jesus’ sacrifice had made them free from the sin. Many people thought they were “already leading lives in the Spirit; they were already experiencing the full benefits of salvation” (Ehrman Peter, Paul & Mary Magdalene 135). Therefore, the author had to explain to the Corinthians that they had to win their right to be saved one day. Thus, the main purpose of the letters was to make people understand major concepts and practices of Christianity.
Paul does not address Corinthians only. He also tries to help the Philippians find their way within the new and rightful religious pattern. This part is also full of inconsistency from historical perspective. For instance, Paul mentions some letters written to the Philippians where someone tries to drive them from the new religion (Ehrman Lost Christianities 214). However, there is no historical evidence that those letters ever existed.
Nonetheless, from spiritual perspective, there is no need in evidence. People got inspired by the author and they strived for salvation. They started believing the apostles who were the only people to bring the word of Jesus to them. People were ready to be guided in everything. They tended to change their habits and their mindsets as Paul as well as other authors of the New Testament were inspiring and convincing.
On balance, it is necessary to note that it is possible to consider the New Testament from different perspectives. Historians can try to learn more about the origins of the books. They can also try to find facts that prove that everything was for real. However, Christians still tend to believe in God and the holy texts without any evidence.
Christianity is based on the concept of faith. Therefore, devout believers do not need proofs. Sometimes people just want to believe without any explanations or proofs. Most likely, they will be even disappointed if (or when) such evidence is found as this will make their faith a bit less complete.
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Ehrman, Bart D. Lost Christianities: The Battle for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005. Print.
—. Peter, Paul & Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2008. Print.
—. A Brief Introduction to the New Testament. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2010. Print.