Glossary of Terms: New Testament

apocalyptic: revelation of hidden mysteries

archon: one of the demonic powers that rule this world

atonement: In Pauline theology, the reconciliation of God and man through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ

canon: the approved list of books included in the Bible; not definitive until the end of the 4th c. CE

chreiae: short aphoristic sayings such as "a prophet is not honored in his own country". Chreiae were very common in both Greco-Roman and Jewish writings

Christ: Greek word for "Messiah"

diaspora: "dispersion". Jews who live outside of Israel

docetism: "to seem, to appear". the belief that Christ only seemed to have a human body and to suffer and die on the cross

double tradition: the material that is in Matthew and Luke but not in Mark

ecclesia: "Assembly". Greek term that has become the Christian word for "church".

epistle: a letter, such as Paul's to the Galatians

eschatology: Etymology: Greek eschatos last, farthest. Study of and belief in the final events in the history of the world or of mankind. Often allied with apocalyptic revelations of The End with dualistic notions of a cosmic battle between good and evil.

evangelists: From the Greek evangelion, to send news. The four writers of the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

faith: Etymology: Middle English feith, from Old French feid, foi, from Latin fides; akin to Latin fidere to trust --
1 a : allegiance to duty or a person : LOYALTY b (1) : fidelity to one's promises (2) : sincerity of intentions
2 a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust
3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs (Source: Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

form criticism: the technique of separating Biblical narratives into small units (called pericopes) and analyzing the form of those units and their uses in the communities in which they originated. Form criticism was originally used in the nineteenth century to study the book of Genesis, and then later applied by New Testament scholars.

gentiles: non-Jews

gospel: "good news"). 1 one of the first four New Testament books telling of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ; also : a similar apocryphal book
2 the message concerning Christ, the kingdom of God, and salvation
3 generally, something accepted as infallible truth or as a guiding principle such as "the gospel of conservation"

grace: "gift". In Pauline theology, both a) unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification, and b) a virtue coming from God c: a state of sanctification enjoyed through divine grace

Hebrew Bible: the Biblical books used by Jews, commonly called the Old Testament by Christians

Hellenistic: "Greek- like". Referring to the spread of Greek culture and language in the lands conquered by Alexander the Great in 333 BCE. The Hellenistic period (in the sense of culture) extends from Alexander until the accession of the first Christian Roman Emperor, Constantine, in the 4th c. CE.

"high" Christology: A fully developed belief in Jesus as the pre-existent Son of God who came to earth and died for human sin(s), then returned to the heavens after the resurrection. Most evident in the writings of John and Paul.

kerygma: the central proclamation or message of Christianity (as opposed to an extended gospel narrative). One of the earliest kerygmatic sayings was the Aramaic prayer, Marana tha (Our Lord, come).

kyrios: Greek word for "Lord".

"low" Christology: A view of Jesus that stresses his humanity and life and is not particularly focused on theories of the cross and resurrection. Now hard to recover, it is most evident in the sayings of Q.

Messiah: Hebrew, "annointed one". In early Hebrew usage, any king. By the first century C.E., the Davidic successor who will eventually re-establish the kingdom of Israel. In apocalyptic thought, the messiah will usher in the messianic age, a period of peace and justice on earth. According to some apocalyptic groups, dead martyrs will be resurrected at that time.

"messianic secret": the concept that Jesus did not want his true nature to be proclaimed during his lifetime. This concept is most pronounced in the gospel of Mark.

myth: a story that explains something important about the meaning and purpose of the human condition

parousia: the Christian term for Christ's return at the end of time. Early Christians expected it within their lifetime, and its delay caused a need for reinterpretation of the tradition.

pericope: small units of tradition embedded within the larger gospel framework

Q: "Quelle" (source). A proposed sayings source for the material that is in Matthew and Luke (the double tradition) but not in Mark

redaction criticism: "Redactor" means "editor". The literary technique of examining the framework of each gospel writer.

Son of God: Term for Jesus. In Jewish parlance, "son of God" was a term for either an especially obedient human being or for an angelic figure (for example, the sons of God mentioned in the Genesis creation story).

Son of Man: Jesus' term for himself. Originally, a human being. In apocalyptic thought, an angelic figure who appears at the end of time as in the book of Daniel.

source criticism: the technique of attempting to ascertain the sources used by the gospel writers. For example, one source critical theory is the two-document hypothesis which argues that Matthew and Luke used both Mark and Q.

syncretism: blending of traditions. In the Hellenistic period people freely borrowed different religious concepts and traditions. An example is the emperor Constantine's depiction of Jesus as Sol Invictus (the sun god)

synoptic gospels: "seen in one view". The three gospels which share many of the same stories and forms (Matthew, Mark, and Luke)

Torah: Hebrew "Teachings"; Greek "Law". The first five books said to be dictated to Moses, given by God on Mt. Sinai (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). The commandments in these books, as interpreted in oral Torah, are binding on all Jews.

triple tradition: Portions of the gospels that are identical or nearly so in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.