9. The New Testament Letters
Philip R. Davies† [+]
University of Sheffield, (Emeritus)
The New Testament letters illuminate how the story of Jesus Christ became embedded in the life of Christian communities, while expectation of the return of the Christ diminished and attention was directed to living in the here and now in ways that the gospel demanded. The ethical norms encouraged here are not conspicuously out of line with Jewish ones, or even most non-Jewish ones. Solidarity is, of course, important—a requirement of threatened minorities. The attention paid in the Synoptic Gospels to Jesus’s own lifestyle perhaps betrays an increasing interest in Christian virtue: care for the poor and sick, spreading the good news, fighting evil forces in the world, resisting the temptation of Satan, suffering what must be suffered.