New Testament/ 
Καινή Διαθήκη 
Εκδόσεις: Αποστολική Διακονία της Εκκλησίας της Ελλάδος
Έκδοση Γ., 1992
ISBN 960-315-051-7

'Why would you read the New Testament?', Ellie asks me in bewilderement. It is indeed a strange topic to pick up. It should sound rather tiring and uninteresting, given that most of us contemporary Greek Orthodox christians would tend to associate it with school and family-going to ancient speaking church sermons, rather compulsory, with no place for communication, understanding and enjoyment.

It seems though that this is the reason why I would endeavour to get into this reading: the question of how little we know about the actual basis of socially and culturally deeply-held beliefs.

What does it mean being a Christian to the average person? It means, among other things, accepting the bible as the ultimate source of holy revelation and guide to christianism. 

However, what does the bible contain? How did these contents come to be? Who decided about that? When and how was it written? Who wrote it? Is there a straightforward answer to each of these questions? Or perhaps not? And in a more deep level, should these questions be asked in the first place? or should we accept the questions the established tradition gives? Mind that in other times people would end up dead because they dared to do so; and in other religions that is the case still today. 

In other words, what does the christian believer believes in? What is the basis of his belief? And how stable and solid that basis of belief is?  

Going back to my reading of the new testament: it contains four gospels, i.e. the writing records of four apostles' experiences while living with Jesus. It also contains numerous letters sent to the first christian communities. 

Having read the gospels, I notice that most of their content is either describing the miracles of Jesus and his talks to his followers or his interaction with the jewish religious establishment. In all this, there are two basic and related points made: one is faith, and the other is the acceptance of Jesus as the expected Messiah by the Jewish people.

On the former issue, Jesus calls on people to put their wholehearted faith in him and his father; that strong faith is the prerequisitive for persons' salvation on judgement day, and for Jesus' miraculous power to work now. 

On the other issue,  Jesus is in constant conversation with jewish religious tradition. He is a Jew himself, he lives in that specific jewish world and interacts with it in most of his work. He directs his attention in that jewish world and works to establish himself in that tradition, as the expected messiah. In his talks he refers to this tradition and the profecies, and speaks with the authority of who he claims to be; the son of God. His work is a call to people to accept exactly that authority of his and his father. Of course the established religious order is very hostile to him, and he is very critical of it too. 

That tone of authority in his expression is the most striking; it stands out. 

to be continued

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