Read our introduction to the New Testament for Catholics. The books of the New Testament spring from the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth and the establishment of the new covenant. Download the Scripture Seekers’ series on the New Testament at the bottom of this page.
The books of the Old Testament are about a people, the books of the New Testament are about a person. All of them spring from the life and teaching of Jesus of Nazareth. The movement which Jesus inspired came to be known as Christianity and the writings which make up the New Testament were written by people committed to that movement.
The relationship between the Old Testament and the New Testament reflects both the continuity and discontinuity between the Christian and Israelite faiths. Christians believe God had one plan for salvation that was revealed first to the Israelites and then to all peoples through Jesus Christ. The New Testament and Old Testament, then, tell one ongoing story of salvation. At the same time, the authors of the New Testament were proposing something radically new: Jesus’ fulfilment of the Israelites’ hope in God’s promises.
For the New Testament writers, the Old Testament was Holy Scripture. To tell the story of Jesus, those authors relied largely on the vocabulary and methods of reading scripture that already existed in the Jewish world. From the timeline below, you can see the time when they were described in writing over the first one hundred years of Christian faith.
Notice that the books of the New Testament are not in chronological order. The Gospels reached their final form between 30 and 60 years after the death of Christ – therefore, a long time after the letters of Paul. The stories that developed into the Gospels came from a stock of oral tradition and faith memory; they were stories that had been passed down through the generations.
Would you like to learn more about the New Testament? As a Catholic understanding and being familiar with the writing of the New Testament can give us much inspiration for our everyday lives.
We’ve created five free downloadable guides to help you explore the New Testament.
Download the Scripture Seekers’ series on the New Testament.