The term "book" is also misleading, as it is a catch-all term for many different kinds of writing that vary enormously in length and purpose. "Books" of the Bible may be historical accounts, laws, folk legends, lectures, poetry, mystical writings, or letters. As such, a Bible verse quoted in isolation needs to be interpreted differently depending on which part of the Bible it comes from.
The New Testament starts with the four Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke (collectively referred to as synoptic gospels) and John, which tell the story of Jesus' time on earth, his crucifixion and return to life, miracles he allegedly performed, and his philosophy and teachings. It then contains many letters to the nascent churches, mostly written by Saul of Tarsus after his conversion and taking the name of Paul. These are collectively known as the "epistles". The New Testament wraps up with the book of Revelation, a story thought by some to be about the end of the world, or at least the Roman Empire.
The New Testament is written almost exclusively in "koine", the form of Attic Greek that was the lingua franca of most of the Mediterranean basin under the early Roman Empire.
The New Testament is an anthology, a collection of Christian works written in the common Greek language of the first century, at different times by various writers, who were early Jewish disciples of Jesus of Nazareth. In almost all Christian traditions today, the New Testament consists of 27 books. The original texts were written in the first and perhaps the second centuries of the Christian Era, generally believed to be in Koine Greek, which was the common language of the Eastern Mediterranean from the Conquests of Alexander the Great (335–323 BC) until the evolution of Byzantine Greek (c. 600). All of the works which would eventually be incorporated into the New Testament would seem to have been written no later than around AD 150.
The New Testament consists of
- four narratives of the life, teaching, death and resurrection of Jesus, called "gospels" (or "good news" accounts);
- a narrative of the Apostles' ministries in the early church, called the "Acts of the Apostles", and probably written by the same writer as the Gospel of Luke, which it continues;
- twenty-one letters, often called "epistles" in the biblical context, written by various authors, and consisting of Christian doctrine, counsel, instruction, and conflict resolution; and
- an Apocalypse, the Book of Revelation, which is a book of prophecy, containing some instructions to the seven local congregations of Asia Minor, but mostly containing prophetical symbology, about the end times.