The new testament
1. Titus Chapter 1 versus 1 Corinthians Chapter 7
Titus is a Greek who is responsible for the church in Crete. Paul mentions him in many epistles like the Epistle to Titus. Titus might have been a gentile because Paul objected to circumcising him. Scholars such as Richard G. Fellows claim that Titus was another name for Timothy. St. Paul writes to Titus that one of the qualifications of being an elder is that the man must be the husband of only one woman and must have faithful children through her. He appears to be encouraging monogamy. Paul writes more on the subject of marriage in 1 Corinthians Chapter 7. While the letter to Titus was brief, the letter of Paul of Tarsus to the Corinthian Christians is detailed on the issue of marriage. St. Paul again encourages monogamy but does not specifically dwell on the subject. He says that the married and unmarried must both walk on the religious path; husband and wife must remain loyal to each other; that celibacy is a better virtue than being married; and that believers must not divorce their unbelieving spouses but try to win over them instead. St. Paul appears to have developed a broader sense of orthodoxy in marriage whereby more conditions on marriage and divorce have been established in 1 Corinthians Chapter 7.
St. Paul’s epistles are disputed for their authenticity. Some scholars claim that St. Paul might not have written all the epistles, particularly Romans, Galatians, First Thessalonians, First and Second Corinthians, Philippians, and Philemon. The Pastoral Epistles (First and Second Timothy and Titus) are the most controversial. Based on dating the letter to Titus in Crete scholars say that St. Paul’s travel to that region can be constructed at all. The letter to Titus contains advice on choosing elders, bishops, widows and deacons. But these church positions were literally non-existent during the life-time of St. Paul.
Philemon is a Colossian church leader. The Epistle to Philemon is a letter from St. Paul to Philemon. Philemon is a wealthy slave owner. This letter is written on behalf of a runaway slave Onesimus who has encountered St. Paul and become a Christian. St. Paul sends the slave back to his master with this letter of reconciliation. Based on this letter, it appears that slavery was rampant during the period of the New Testament and that powerful and rich people usually owned slaves. It also suggests that slaves used to run away from their masters if the masters deemed them useless and tried to punish or prosecute them. This is evident from the way St. Paul suggests that Onesimus might be ‘useful’ again to Philemon. The slave might have harmed Philemon in some way and run away to avoid rebuke and punishment. St. Paul says that Onesimus has learned of his sin and repented and therefore, must be forgiven by Philemon. Slavery has not changed much today except that it does not occur by that name. It might be present in form of domestic workers being abused or people being forced into bonded labour.
Scientific method is necessary in order to study the accuracy of these letters as well as their authenticity. An accurate method will help reconstruct the life and times of people who lived in the past. It will help provide historical credibility to many of the situations touched upon by the New Testament.
3. Apocalyptic literature and the Revelations
Revelations are almost synonymous to apocalyptic literature because in the first century AD, apocalypse did not indicate any one event but meant a series of revelations about crisis in the past or the future. These revelations usually appear in the form of visions or dreams and are interpreted by an angel. Even though they deal with crisis situations, they are intended to give people hope when they are faced with tribulations. The Revelations are considered by the scholars to be a text that addresses many societies in the ancient Middle East. Using a scientific method of studying biblical literature, the Book of Revelations’ central message appears to be resistance to the Roman Empire. Though its literature is apocalyptic, it is located in history just as any other text is. It is a text based during a time of great persecution and oppression. But it is simply not a description of a catastrophic future. It is a revelation regarding the apocalypse related to Jesus Christ on the Judgement Day. The general structure of the book is that of resurrection, judgement and the dawn of a new age. Its language is metaphoric, symbolic and cryptic. Its literature is carefully framed.
John the Apostle is credited with authoring the Book of Revelations. The reason this authenticity of this claim is doubted is because of the style of John the Apostle in other works. While his other works and free from grammatical errors and consistent, the Book of Revelations is not.