Background | Background
Quiz | Starting Assumptions
| Resources | Extras
Although we will only be reading selections from the "gospels" (Greek evangelium, good news), it is helpful for you to be aware with the various books that constitute the New Testament. When Jerome was creating his Latin Vulgata in the fourth century, the Biblical text had not been fully stabilized - at least not in the form that we now know it. In addition to the books that today form part of the New Testament, there were also many other books which were considered - at least in some circles - to have a special, sacred status. In the list below you will see a brief description of the books that are included today as part of the New Testament, as well as some of the books that were circulating in Jerome's time, but which are not longer included in the Biblical text today.
The Gospels. Evangeliorum libri IV. Secundum Matthaeum. Secundum Marcum. Secundum Lucam. Secundum Joannem.
The Acts of the Apostles. Actuum apostolorum liber I.
The Letters of Paul. Epistolae Pauli apostoli numero XIV. Ad Romanos. Ad Corinthios (II). Ad Ephesios. Ad Thessalonicenses (II). Ad Galatas. Ad Philippenses. Ad Colossenses. Ad Timotheum (II). Ad Titum. Ad Philemonem. Ad Hebraeos.
Other Letters. Epistolae numero septem. Petri apostoli (II). Jacobi apostoli. Joannis apostoli (III). Judae Zelotis apostoli.
Revelation. Apocalypsis Joannis liber I
You can find much more information about these extra-canonical texts at the very helpful website maintained by the Wesley Center Online. There are many other extra-canonical texts than the ones I have listed here! You might find it interesting to look at the enormous list of non-canonical books which Pope Hormisdas decreed in the year 520 to be in aeternum damnata!
Infancy gospels. There were a number of widely popular infancy gospels which described the events of Jesus' childhood, not covered by the four canonical gospels.
Other gospels. Among the many other gospel texts, you can find the Acta Pilati (or the Gospel of Nicodemus, as it was called in the Middle Ages). This gospel text contains three parts: an account of the trial of Jesus before Pilate; the Resurrection of Jesus; and also an account of the descent of Jesus into Hell, provided by eyewitness, Leucius and Charinus, recently raised from the dead.
Other acts. There are many other collections of "acts" of the apostles. In some cases these texts provide more elaborate accounts of incidents mentioned only briefly in the canonical Acts, and in other cases they are about entirely new events, such as the Acts of Thomas in which the apostle Thomas finds himself sold into slavery in India, where he begins missionary work.
Other apocalypses. There are many other apocalyptic texts, in addition to the canonical Apocalypse of John, including texts attributed to James, Paul, and Peter, as well as to figures from the Hebrew Bible such as Adam and Moses.