The Origin of the Bible: New Testament

The New Testament does not replace the Old Testament, but it completes it

We can find, in the Conciliar Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, document of the Second Vatican Council, which deals with the Sacred Liturgy, the participation of the reading of the Sacred Texts in the liturgical celebration: “The importance of Sacred Scripture in the celebration of the Liturgy is enormous ,  because it is to it that you will get the readings that are explained in the homily and the psalms to sing. With your spirit and your inspiration, liturgical prayers, prayers and hymns were born; from it, actions and signs take their capacity for meaning ”. And this is the way in which the faithful can cultivate their human and Christian virtues through dedicated reading and intimate meditation on the Holy Bible. In this article, we continue the study of the origin of the Bible, dealing with the New Testament.

Photo: Wesley Almeida /

The Gospel is the account of the Good News brought by Jesus Christ and also of what the apostles preached throughout the world. It is important to remember that the New Testament does not replace the Old Testament, but completes it. What is read in the Gospel is the fulfillment of God’s promises to his people, in the words of Jesus Christ: “It is necessary that all that is written about me be fulfilled in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets and in the Psalms” (Lc 24, 44). According to apostolic tradition, when included in the Holy Scriptures, whether in the Old or New Testament, books inspired by God are received by authority by the Church for reflecting the faith and the Christian life. And it is from this divine inspiration that the truth of the sacred books is recognized.

The message of salvationof Jesus Christ began to be recorded in writing by the various letters from São Paulo, between the years 50 and 60 AD, which taught about the Christian life. And other apostles also wrote letters to the communities they had founded, such as Peter, James, John and Judas. These apostles carried with them written collections of the words of Jesus, some of which seem to be fully present in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, because their accounts often coincide literally in the transmission of Jesus’ teachings. In these collections, we also find accounts of the most important events in the life of Jesus, especially His death and resurrection, which make up the foundations of the Christian faith. Miracle accounts were written for catechetical and doctrinal purposes,

Read more:
.: Theological formation: what is the origin of Sacred Scripture?
.: How to read the Bible
.: Why read the Bible?

These writings appeared in the second half of the first century and were addressed to communities. Some took advantage of the revelation of Jesus Christ to its authors, others showed themselves testimonies left by those who had been witnesses of Jesus’ life or by those who had listened to what the apostles told. In the first decades of the second century, these writings were propagated by the churches and were brought together. The first collection to be formed as we know it was the meeting of all the letters from São Paulo to the Corinthians. In the middle of this same century, an elder in Rome proposed as a norm for the Church to read ten of St. Paul’s letters and the Gospel of Luke. At the same time, St. Justin left records that Christians they met on Sundays to read about the prophets and the “Memoirs of the Apostles”, which, by their own records and others from the same time, it could be understood that Saint Justin referred to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, who they were already known in most churches.

The four Gospels

It was in the year 180, that St. Irenaeus of Lyon, who knew the churches of the East and the West, established, for the first time, that the Gospels are four and only four, which reaffirmed Origen of Alexandria in the year 200. From that time and throughout the third and fourth centuries, the four Gospels, the book of the Acts of the Apostles, the letters of St. Paul and the book of Revelation spread throughout the churches . These books then joined those received from the Jews, when Saint Irenaeus and Tertullian used the terms Old Testament and New Testament to differentiate them.

The first time that the list of biblical books as we know them appears today was in the 39th Easter Letter of Athanasius, in the year 367. This list was followed by Saint Augustine, being proposed in the Council of Hippo in the year 393 and in the 3rd Council of Carthage in 397. Pope Innocent I confirmed this list in a letter to Santo Exupério, bishop of Tolosa, in the year 405. It was then at the Council of Trent, held from 1545 to 1563, that defined exactly the books that make up the New Testament . In this way, through a long process guided by the Holy Spirit, the apostolic tradition and the identity of the Church were established. The term “testament” comes from the Greek word diatheke, which means “covenant”. Let us not forget that Jesus Christ is the son of God, it is the Wordliving and true love of God to men in the celebration of the New Covenant.


Leave a Comment