What is the most important part of the Bible for the Christian?

For 2000 years, as Christians have spread around the world they have spread the Good News. The first great missionary, St. Paul, writes to the church in Corinth in the mid-50's AD that the good news boils down to three things, 1 Cor. 15:3 For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received—that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, 4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures...

One of the earliest New Testament writings preserved to this day, written before the letter to Corinth, is Paul's letter to the church in Thessalonica. He commends this church for you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God 10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus our deliverer from the coming wrath. 1 Thess. 1.

This creedal formula shows up several times in the New Testament, outside of the gospels, and not just in Paul's writings. Peter's sermons in the Acts of the Apostles also focus on this as the fulcrum of his messages.

As the good news spreads, 2nd and 3rd generation re-tellers find themselves wishing they had an eyewitness, especially an apostle, to answer some questions. But the apostles are starting to get killed. Also, some re-tellers are disagreeing with each other, filling in the gaps with their imagination. According to tradition, before Peter is executed, he tells his story of life with Jesus to Mark who writes it with a Roman audience in mind. Matthew uses Mark's work as well as his own experience and tailors it to a Jewish audience. Luke also uses Mark's work and tailors it to an upper class audience. His Greek is of the well educated. Finally, John, the beloved apostle, writes his own gospel, arranged thematically, unlike the other three, using simple Greek and simple metaphors to provoke deep philosophical reflection. In John's gospel Jesus is the Word of God, a spring of water, a vine, bread, a lamb, a shepherd, a gate, a path, life and light.

All four gospels include his death and resurrection.

When missionary translators arrive in a new culture that wants to avoid the problems of the re-tellers of the good news they usually start with John's gospel. Those images of Jesus are usually cross-cultural and provide a rich theological feast for a new church. Although sometimes Mark may be first because of its intense brevity.

As a church ages and grows it will seek the context in which Jesus arose, the Old Testament, as well as how the good news has affected communities like theirs, as seen in the rest of the New Testament. Some of the ancient churches believe the inter-Testamental literature is essential reading for Jesus' context and includes them in their Bibles. Some ancient churches also believe there are New Testament era writings that are essential for context as well. The Didache and the Shepherd of Hermas are two examples. Even some books included in the New Testament today were sometimes not recognized as such, including the Revelation of John. Some books are outright rejected because they contradict the good news and perpetuate bad re-telling.

The early church historian Eusebius (c. 324) writes, "Let there be placed among the spurious works the Acts of Paul, the so-called Shepherd and the Apocalypse of Peter, and besides these the Epistle of Barnabas, and what are called the Teachings of the Apostles [Didache], and also the Apocalypse of John [Revelation], if this be thought proper; for as I wrote before, some reject it, and others place it in the canon."

Paul thought it important to his churches to know the good news happened "according to the scriptures." Thus the Old Testament provides context for the good news. It is not unlike an artist's application of shading makes a 2 dimensional drawing seem 3 dimensional. Without shading I can draw a circle. With shading I can draw a sphere. Without the OT, the Jesus story is still good news. With the OT, it is the climax of a grand story. In the same way, without the rest of the NT, the story is a climax without a denouement, "the final part of a play, movie, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved". John's revelation is one attempt at this. Yet the church has not agreed what it does, even after they agreed to allow it into the canon. As summarized by Wikipedia
The obscure and extravagant imagery has led to a wide variety of interpretations: historicist interpretations see in Revelation a broad view of history; preterist interpretations treat Revelation as mostly referring to the events of the apostolic era (1st century), or, at the latest, the fall of the Roman Empire; futurists believe that Revelation describes future events; and idealist or symbolic interpretations consider that Revelation does not refer to actual people or events, but is an allegory of the spiritual path and the ongoing struggle between good and evil. 
John's imagery, just like his gospel provide a rich banquet of theological reflection. Like all of the NT, it's best understood in relief with the OT which is John's source for so much of his imagery.

The circle of canon necessarily encloses the simple message of the good news of Jesus. As the annual celebration of his death and resurrection in the church calendar draws near we are reminded that the church has always remembered this story to make sure we know, both the teachers and the taught, how simple this good news is, yet how pivotal it is as well.

Jesus changes everything.


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