Schaff, Philip. History of the Christian Church (The Complete Eight Volumes in One). Amazon Kindle Edition, 2014.
Volume 1, Ch. 12, “The New Testament” Loc. 8053-12025.
Note, this chapter is very long, including a summary of each portion of the New Testament. For the purposes of making blog posts I will divide it into smaller segments.
§74 “Literature” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8054). Schaff cross-references sections 14 and 20, then provides an extensive bibliography.
§75 “Rise of the Apostolic Literature” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8077).
Schaff asserts Jesus as the living Word of God, the one we truly need, as opposed to a merely literary deity (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8083). For this reason the gospel first spread based on preaching, not writing (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8089). The written documents emerged, mostly between the years 50 and 70, as Christianity spread (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8095). Schaff distinguishes between the Gospels, Acts, the 13 letters of Paul, 1 Peter and 1 John on the one hand, all recognized and accepted by the mid second century, and the antilegomena, recognized later (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8106). He observes that canonicity is more recognized than decided.
§76 “Character of the New Testament” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8117).
The New Testament is reliable and timeless, as a substitute for the authoritative oral teaching of the apostles. “It has a Greek body, a Hebrew soul, and a Christian spirit which rules both” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8129). Schaff observes the literary diversity and the usefulness of each genre.
§77 “Literature on the Gospels” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8152). Again, Schaff gives an extensive bibliography with light annotations.
§78 “The Four Gospels” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8238).
The gospels are not intended as comprehensive biographies but more as memoirs. The differences between the accounts are largely incidental. The same Jesus is seen in each account (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8267). Schaff appends notes about the legitimacy of the canonical gospels over against the gnostic gospels.
§79 “The Synoptists” (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8411).
The fourth Gospel is clearly different from the first three. The three, the Synoptics, stand together with many similarities yet a great number of differences in small details (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8417). Schaff reviews the overall structural and thematic similarity. He then reviews analyses made of words in common. The similarities and differences are often explained in different ways. Schaff considers it likely that the writings may be independent of one another (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8513), drawing on apostolic teaching and some now unknown written documents. He sees no compelling reason to debate the traditional order. In some appended notes, Schaff discusses various debates about inspiration, order, and dependence on different sources (Schaff 2014, Loc. 8619).