Pauline Letters and the Gospels by Mark Goodacre


Well, Paul must have been writing his letters before the Gospels were around.  And in fact, Paul’s letters you can see are pretty early.  The earliest book in the New Testament is probably the first epistle to the Thessalonians is probably written as early as the late 40s, early 50s.  This is within 20 years or so of Jesus’ crucifixion, so it’s early material.  1 Corinthians: also pretty early.  And one of the things that helps us here is it means we’ve got first-generation documents about the earliest Christian Church, and that’s really helpful to the historian.

Show Full Transcript

To have someone that’s actually around, participating in the events this early, that’s really key.  The difficulty though with Paul’s letters is that Paul himself wasn’t someone that was with Jesus during his ministry.  So it’s already second-hand information when it comes to the historical Jesus, to the earthly Jesus.  But it’s first-hand information about the development of the earliest Christian Church, and that is very, very valuable for the historian.


Mark Goodacre

Mark Goodacre
Professor, Duke University

Mark Goodacre is professor of New Testament and Christian origins in the Department of Religion at Duke University. His research interests include the synoptic Gospels, the historical Jesus and the Gospel of Thomas. Goodacre is editor of the Library of New Testament Studies book series and the author of four books including The Case Against Q (Trinity Press, 2002) and Thomas and the Gospels (Eerdmans, 2012).

A detailed letter, written in formal prose. Most of the New Testament books beyond the gospels are epistles (letters written to early Christians).

Often not the person Jesus but scholarly reconstructions of his life based on textual and archaeological evidence as well as theological beliefs.

Service or a religious vocation to help others.

A collection of first-century Jewish and early Christian writings that, along with the Old Testament, makes up the Christian Bible.

 NEH Logo
Bible Odyssey has been made possible in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the human endeavor
Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this website, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.