Description of the holy bible – Part 12
The New Testament writers understood this, and showed how many of the Old Testament promises were finally fulfilled in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
This is a particular type of prophetic literature found notably in Daniel (chapters 6-12) and Revelation, but also in Isaiah 24-27, Ezekiel 38-39, Zechariah 9-14 (the first part of the book is apocalyptic in thought) and Mark 13, which is known as ‘the little Apocalypse’.
The word comes from Greek, and means unveiling or revealing’ and the book Revelation is often called ‘The Apocalypse’ since it is the unveiling or revealing of the future.
Apocalyptic writing is full of strange symbols and creatures, as well as angels. The interpretation of apocalyptic writing gives rise to a variety of points of view.
We know that many ·ancient nations had ‘wisdom writings’. Job, Ecclesiastes and Proverbs are the main biblical Wisdom books, but many of the Psalms belong to this type of writing (for example, 1, 34, 37, 73 etc.).
Wisdom writing was interested in the problems of existence: why are we here? Why are things the way they are? Why do people suffer? In its simplest and earliest form, wisdom was communicated in riddles (Judges 14: 14; I Samuel 24:13 for example) and the proverbs found in the biblical book of that name.
The book of Proverbs is full of statements and observations, often amusing, about life.
Sometimes, they are presented as if a father or teacher were talking to his son or student, teaching him how to behave in various situations.
Although there are four Gospels, the word actually applies to what they contain, for the announcement that a new age has begun with Jesus is the gospel, which means ‘good news’.
The Gospels are, nevertheless, a new and particular kind of biblical literature.
It is important to understand that the Gospels are not biographies; they do not simply recount the life of Jesus.
Rather, each Gospel presents the story of Jesus from a particular viewpoint, and each has a distinctive way of telling the story.
Matthew has grouped Jesus’ teaching together; Mark is a vivid, fast moving story; Luke has beautiful pen sketches of many of the people who featured in the story of Jesus; John is a deeply religious, almost otherworldly study.
Scholars have discussed the writing of the Gospels a great deal.
A very early record tells us that Mark wrote down Peter’s memories of Jesus. Luke was probably written by the man who helped Paul in some of his missionary work.
The writers of the New Testament letters follow the ‘rules’ for letter writing of the first century A.D. This began with an opening sentence giving the name of the writer and the recipient.
Then followed a general greeting and enquiry into the health of the recipient. The main section of the letter was concluded with a personal greeting.
However, the New Testament letters are much longer than the average 150-200 words of the letters of that period.
Even Philemon, the shortest, is 470 words. Paul’s letters are usually characterized by a main section, which deals first/with teaching and then with the way Christians should put into practice what they have learned.
Although most of the New Testament letters tell us the name of the author, some do not. There are some interesting letters in the Old Testament.
The best example is in Jeremiah 29, but others are found in I Kings 21; 2 Chronicles 30; Ezra 4 and 5 and Nehemiah 6.