The New Testament: The World’s First Great Awakening

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The turn of the first century brought about the single most important cultural revolution and great awakening since the creation of man: the New Testament. The New Testament served as the manual for this societal awakening.[1] This is important to understand when relating to the legitimacy of the text as written in response or in conjunction with the problems and quodlibets that ran amuck in the early days of the Christian faith.

The many writings inherent in the different books of the new testament correlates with a plethora of the issues plaguing the inhabitants of church members. “Each text was written to serve some specific pastoral needs and answer a range of important questions arising out of the life of the church.[2]” It is important to note that most reference to scripture in the New Testament is referencing to the scripture of the Old Testament, considering the likeliness of access and dissemination. However, the penmanship of New Testament writings is a derivative of the apostolic leadership guiding new converts from Judeo or secular faiths, known as gentiles.

The New Testament is the completion of the Old Testament, not in opposition or the dissolving of it. Jesus stated this sentiment in Matthew: “Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (5:17 NIV) It did bring upon a new covenant with humanity that was struggling with issues of who Jesus Christ was, and what was the basis of his gospel. Other issues dealt with building up faith-based communities that tackled issues like strife, confrontation, sin, forgiveness, salvation, the father, son, and Holy Spirit, etc.

The makeup of the New Testament is comprised of letters, revelation, narrative biography, and testimony. Most of the authors were central figures of the apostolic age or key figures who either witnessed the teachings and miracles of Jesus Christ or witnessed those close to him.  The “Canonization was a long, natural and consensual process by which the churches in every place throughout the Greco-Roman world came to recognize the indispensable value of these texts for their continuing life, nurture, and direction.[3]” This happened around the fourth century after much deliberation and evaluation of written scripture and text written and well accepted in the communities.

There is much controversy surrounding the origins and specifics of canonization. Many scholars point to Carthage as the ratification and assemblage of the Bible, including all twenty-seven books of the New Testament. This came at a great time in ancient history known as the Pax Romana[4], a peaceful time in Greco-Roman history where the dissemination of religious material combined with an open mobility system of roads and safety that connected the corners of the known world, and a universal common language well understood by all walks of civilizations, allowed the flourishment and spread of the gospel not possible in world history before this time period.


DeSilva, David A. An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry Formation. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2004.



[1] David A. DeSilva, An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry Formation (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2004), 29.

[2] Ibid, 29. 

[3] Ibid


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