Introduction to the New Testament

Essay by Vitoskin December 2006

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1. Discuss the way Bart Ehrman presents the role of Paul in the spread of Christianity.

According to Ehrman, Paul played a very important role in the spread of Christianity. Apostle Paul was the one, who shitted the focus of the religion from proclamation of Jesus to the proclamation about Jesus. This remarkable person could be called "the second founder of Christianity". Without Paul, the New Testament would be fundamentally different, if it had come to existence at all. "Thirteen of its twenty-seven books claim to be written by Paul. One other book, the Epistle to the Hebrews, was accepted into the canon only after Christians came to believe that Paul had written it. The Acts of Apostles, sketches a history of early Christianity with Paul as the principal character. Thus, well over half of the books of the New Testament, fifteen out of twenty-seven, are directly or indirectly related to Paul" (Ehrman, 285).

With all said, it is safe to state that without Paul, we would not have the New Testament like we have today. Secondly, without Paul the distinctive teachings of Christianity may never have developed. Paul preached about the coming of God's kingdom. He also taught "the need for faith in Christ and saw the love of one's neighbor as the summing up of the Law." (Ehrman, 365) According to Paul, "faith involves believing in the (past) death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus importance lies in the death and resurrection for the sins" (Ehrman, 366). Paul's radical teaching proclaimed that "the salvation brought by Christ was available to everyone, Jew or Gentile, on an equal basis" (Ehrman, 286). And the finally, without Paul's mission, there were no churches established in key urban areas of northern Mediterranean. It took several centuries for the churches to grow and spread...