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Studying A New New Testament

anewnewtestamentSt. John’s Bible Study Group will meet Thursday, April 24, 2014 (6:00pm to 7:30pm, at St. John’s) to continue our study of A New New Testament (Hal Taussig, ed., A New New Testament: A Bible for the 21st Century Combining Traditional and Newly Discovered Texts (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: New York, 2013). The New Testament as we know it is a collection  of documents reflecting the thoughts and theologies of one of many Jesus-following communities that were established in the centuries following Christ’s death. In fact, there was tremendous diversity among those who considered themselves Jesus’ disciples as to who he was and the import of his message and teachings.

Much of the writing of these disciples has been lost, however. Manuscripts were actively suppressed or destroyed by early Church Fathers bent on eliminating any expressions of Christianity that did not agree with their own.  Relatively recent discoveries have recovered some of this material that was protected by different communities. Until then, our only knowledge of them came from material quoted in the work of these polemicists who were more concerned with drawing lines between what would be considered “orthodox” Christianity and what would be considered heretical perversions of the faith.  

For A New New Testament Union Theological Seminary professor Hal Taussig brought together 19 experts from a variety of religious traditions (including Geoffrey Black, President and General Minister of the United Church of Christ) to determine which of the non-canonical Christian texts would be useful for the spiritual lives of twenty-first-century people. The result is A New New Testament, which includes the twenty-seven books of the canonical New Testament along side ten books previously unavailable.

Biblical scholars now know about more than 75 gospels, letters, wisdom literature, and apocalypses that were not included in our New Testament. Some of this material might be the earliest work of early Christians that we have; some of it was likely written around the same time as many canonical New Testament works. All of it gives us a a more expanded perspective on the early Jesus movement than that presented in the New Testament (although there are more diverse perspectives reflected in the New Testament than many (if not most) Christians would recognize).

This week, we will be studying The Ode of Solomon, which will give us an exciting look at what first-century Christians were reading and studying. And much of it will be meaningful to us today Please join us. Contact Linda Mitteness to let her know that you will be attending so we can order enough pizza. Copies of this text are available on the piano in Diehl Hall.

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