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Some Important Terms in New Testament Study

Gospel of Thomas
The Gospel of Thomas contains only 114 sayings of Jesus, and the Coptic version of Thomas was discovered in the Nag Hammadi library, Egypt, in 1945. Dating of this text is the middle of the fourth century. This gospel was heavily influenced by Gnosticism.

Gnosticism derives from the Greek noun gnosis, which means “knowledge.” It is a branch of philosophy flourished in the second and third centuries CE in the Near East. Its basic belief is a dualism between the body and the spirit and between this imperfect world and the permanent perfect spiritual world.

Hellenization is the spread of Greek culture and language throughout the Mediterranean world after the conquest of Alexander the Great in the fourth century BCE.

Septuagint (LXX)
This is the Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures. The Latin septuaginta means 70, the legendary number of the translators of this translation.    

Polytheism is a belief that many gods exist, and people are free to worship them. This view is the characteristics of the ancient religions. 

Mystery religions
Mystery religions (or cults) of the Greco-Roman world are diverse and many: for example, cults of Demeter, Isis, and Mithras. Their characteristics involve individual mystery experiences through initiation of rites or other activities.

Kingdom of God (basileia tou theou)
“The kingdom of God” is the translation of basileia tou theou. But it can be also translated as “God’s rule or reign,” which does not denote a place or time but God’s activity. It is an important topic of Jesus’s teaching in the Gospels.

Stoicism is a branch of philosophy founded by Zeno (third century BCE) and flourished throughout the Greco-Roman world. Stoics emphasize rational thinking, self-control, and inner peace.

It is a belief that this evil world will go to an end when God intervenes in history. Many early Christians believed that Jesus would come back during their lifetime.    

Hasmonaen Rule
Maccabeans started revolt in 167 BCE against the Seleucid Kingdom and restored the autonomy of Judea, rededicating the Temple. As a result, the Hasmonean Dynasty was established, ruling the land before the Roman conquest in 63 BCE. First and Second Maccabees record some of this independence movement.

Philo is a well-known Jewish philosopher in Alexandria, Egypt, in the first century, who interpreted the Jewish Scriptures through Greek philosophy and defended Judaism.

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