Reading and Understanding the New Testament of the Bible.
April 28, 2009 10:43pm CST
Is it enough to just read the Bible? Unless you understand when the Bible was written and who wrote it is impossible to really understand what the New Testament is all about. A good example of this is the Gospel of Mark, the first of the Gospels to have been written. As with all the Gospels we don't really know who wrote it. We do know that it was written about 70 CE. This is the period of time immediately following the failed Jewish revolt against Rome. By examining the contents of the gospel we can infer something about the writer and what he was attempting to accomplish. The Gospel of Mark like all the Gospels is not a biography of Jesus or an attempt to accurately reflect the history of the time. It is a gospel. A gospel is meant to spread the good news. The person who wrote Mark was writing to a Jewish audience after the failed revolt against Rome, who were experiencing the rather heavy-handed punishment of Rome. The temple had been destroyed, thousands of Jews were being crucified and the whole Jewish population was suffering severe repression. The person who wrote Mark wrote his gospel to comfort and encourage the Christian sect of the Jewish population. The Gospel of Mark is the darkest and most mysterious of the Gospels. In it there is Sermon on the Mount, no Beatitudes and no resurrection. There is no message of love but there it is a message of hope. Whoever wrote Mark their message was that the prophesied Messiah had come in the person of Jesus and he suffered just as the audience of the Gospel was suffering. The original Gospel of Mark ends with the empty tomb. This gospel was later revised to include the resurrection but in the original version there was no resurrection. The Gospel of Mark was a Jewish Gospel addressed to the Jewish population describing the life and death of a Jewish rabbi. To understand the Gospel of Mark you must read it in this light.
1 person likes this
• United States
29 Apr 09
I always enjoy your remarks Chiang. It is also good to read the Gospels that did not make it into the christian testament. It tells even more about the Jewish Rabbi. It is also good to read about the Council of Nicea and learn how the christian testament was compiled and why. Thanks for the comments on the Gospel of Mark. Shalom~Adoniah
• United States
29 Apr 09
Thanks, Chiang, for the historical lessons. Yes, I think that understanding the historical significance of the time the Gospels, and the whole Bible, helps understand the Bible. I've been working on understanding the first 3 books of Genesis in the context of the beginnings of civilizations, from family tribes to the first settlements. Interesting work.
29 Apr 09
I agree with @subtlesubmissive. It helps a lot and we can better understand if we know the historical and cultural background of the book. It also makes the different books of the Bible a lot interesting if we know those. However, there are lots of things in the Bible that can be understood even if we have no knowledge when and how it was written. Specially when it comes to matter of faith/belief, the Bible can give us guidance no matter if we are ignorant about Israel's culture and history. What we need is an open mind and heart that eagerly seek the truth from God.