The New Testament (NT) is the second division of the Christian biblical canon. It discusses the teachings and person of Jesus, as well as events in first-century Christianity. The New Testament’s background, the first division of the Christian Bible, is called the Old Testament, which is based primarily upon the Hebrew Bible; together they are regarded as sacred scripture by Christians.
The New Testament is a collection of Christian texts originally written in the Koine Greek language, at different times by various authors. While the Old Testament canon varies somewhat between different Christian denominations, the 27-book canon of the New Testament has been almost universally recognized within Christianity since at least Late Antiquity. Thus, in almost all Christian traditions today, the New Testament consists of 27 books:
- 4 canonical gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)
- The Acts of the Apostles
- 14 Pauline epistles
- 7 general epistles, and
- The Book of Revelation.
The earliest known complete list of the 27 books is found in a letter written by Athanasius, a 4th-century bishop of Alexandria, dated to 367 AD. The 27-book New Testament was first formally canonized during the councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397) in North Africa. Pope Innocent I ratified the same canon in 405, but it is probable that a Council in Rome in 382 under Pope Damasus I gave the same list first. These councils also provided the canon of the Old Testament, which included the apocryphal books.
There is no scholarly consensus on the date of composition of the latest New Testament texts. Conservative scholars John A. T. Robinson, Dan Wallace, and William F. Albright dated all the books of the New Testament before 70 AD. Many other scholars, such as Bart D. Ehrman and Stephen L. Harris, date some New Testament texts much later than this; Richard Pervo dated Luke–Acts to c. AD 115, and David Trobisch places Acts in the mid-to-late second century, contemporaneous with the publication of the first New Testament canon. The New Oxford Annotated Bible states, “Scholars generally agree that the Gospels were written forty to sixty years after the death of Jesus. They are not eyewitness or contemporary accounts of Jesus’s life and teaching.”