1.17 How and when did the New Testament come into being?
The stories about Jesus were first circulated by word of mouth. They were written down between 20 and 70 years after his death. Among the earliest writings are the letters from the Apostle Paul to various early Christian communities. The New Testament is made up of 27 books and letters in total.
In order to determine which writings were inspired by the Holy Spirit, the Church examined a number of aspects including the origin of the authors and extent to which the texts conformed to the entire teaching of Jesus.
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The Wisdom of the Church
What is the right way to read the Bible?
The right way to read Sacred Scripture is to read it prayerfully, in other words, with the help of the Holy Spirit, under whose influence it came into being. It is God’s word and contains God’s essential communication to us.
The Bible is like a long letter written by God to each one of us. For this reason I should accept the Sacred Scriptures with great love and reverence. First of all, it is important really to read God’s letter, in other words, not to pick out details while paying no attention to the whole message. Then I must interpret the whole message with a view to its heart and mystery: Jesus Christ, of whom the whole Bible speaks, even the Old Testament. Therefore I should read the Sacred Scriptures in the faith that gave rise to them, the same living faith of the Church. [Youcat 16]
This is what the Popes say
[Saint Jerome, who translated the Bible in Latin,] shows that the immunity of Scripture from error or deception is necessarily bound up with its Divine inspiration and supreme authority… Thus when, at the instance of Pope Damasus, he had begun correcting the Latin text of the New Testament, and [was attacked for this]… Jerome briefly replied that he was not so utterly stupid nor so grossly uneducated as to imagine that the Lord's words needed any correction or were not divinely inspired. [Pope Benedict XV, Spiritus Paraclitus, n. 13]