The Abagond New Testament (ANT) is made up of all known Christian writings that were written by the year AD 100 – during the time of Christ’s first followers. Writings are arranged in the order in which they were written.
The New Testament has two drawbacks:
- Books are not put in the order in which they were written. Books form a conversation. They talk about a set of ideas that changes and grows over time. That conversation is hard to understand if put in the wrong order.
- Books were chosen by the Catholic Church in the 300s. There were at least 22 gospels, for example, not just four. It is bad enough that the Church burned books – we do not need to add yet another Catholic filter onto our view of early Christianity.
Dating: When scholars disagree or are unsure about the date when something was written, the latest date is used. For example, the Gospel of Thomas was written sometime between 50 and 140. So Thomas is dated as 140 – too late for ANT. ANT errs on the side of caution.
For dates I will go by earlychristianwritings.com, which has all the known early Christian writings along with some scholarly discussion of them.
Here are the books of ANT in order (date ranges included):
30-60 Passion Narrative*
50-60 1 Thessalonians
50-60 1 Corinthians
50-60 2 Corinthians
40-80 Lost Sayings Gospel Q*
65-80 Gospel of Mark
50-90 Signs Gospel*
50-95 Book of Hebrews
90-95 Apocalypse of John (Revelation)
70-100 Epistle of James
80-100 2 Thessalonians
80-100 Gospel of Matthew
* Those marked with a star are scholarly reconstructions of writings that the gospels used: a book of Jesus’s sayings (Q), a book of his miracles (Signs) and a book about his crucifixion (Passion Narrative).
If you want a good history of that time and place written by someone who was there, read Josephus. He was Jewish, not Christian.
ANT, as it turns out, is in effect the older half of the New Testament. It has no material that does not appear in the New Testament while throwing out much that does: the books of Titus, Timothy, Peter, Jude, Luke (including Acts) and all but one of John’s. It is pretty much the Jesus of Paul, Mark and Matthew, in that order.
The main thing ANT is missing are the gospels of Luke and John. To add them I would have to go up to AD 130. That would mean adding all these books (the New Testament ones are in bold):
80-110 1 Peter
105-115 Ignatius of Antioch
70-120 Egerton Gospel
80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
90-120 Gospel of John
90-120 1 John
90-120 2 John
90-120 3 John
90-120 Epistle of Jude
80-130 Gospel of Luke
80-130 Acts of the Apostles
120-130 Quadratus of Athens
120-130 Apology of Aristides
By this time all the Apostles were dead – and the Catholic Church is clearly picking and choosing what counts as Scripture.
That is not to say the Church is wrong in its judgement – just that you are now moving beyond the idea that “the earliest writings are the most trustworthy” to trusting a church.