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Synoptic Gospels

The first three Gospels, i.e., Matthew, Mark and Luke-so called because of the similarity of their contents, statements, and order. The Acts of the Apostles is also attributed to Luke, usually acknowledged to be the same Luke who composed the Gospel. Like the Gospel it was also written in Greek and addressed to the same recipient. Sometimes Acts is referred to as the second half of the Gospel according to Luke, though it is not usually referred to as one of the Synoptic Gospels.


A dialect of Aramaic that became widely used in Syria and Mesopotamia from the late pre-Christian antiquity until it was largely displaced by Arabic. It continues in use in some Eastern Orthodox Christian churches to this day.



(Babylonian; Palestinian) The authoritative body of Rabbinic Judaism, consisting of the Hebrew Mishnah and Aramaic Gemara or commentary. The Babylonian Talmud, eventually considered to be the most authoritative of the two Talmuds, consists of the Mishnah and commentary by rabbinic teachers mainly of Babylonia; the Palestinian (or Jerusalem) Talmud consists of the Mishnah and commentary mainly by Palestinian rabbinic teachers. Developed during the first to the fifth centuries CE


Referring to the Tannaim (tannaites), or early generations of rabbinic teachers. The actual period of rabbinic Judaism is generally held to span the period from 70 CE to about 220 CE, the traditional time of compilation of the Mishnah.

terminus a quo

The earliest possible date for a manuscript, event, etc.

terminus ad quem

The date after which an event, etc. could not have occurred.


Ancient Greek silver coins.


The four Hebrew letters that represent the divine name of God, usually transliterated YHWH or JHVH in many parts of the Bible. The name was regarded as too holy to be pronounced and out of reverence, Jews ceased to pronounce the word aloud about the third century BCE. It was vocalized in mediaeval manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible with the vowels of the Hebrew word adonai, an epithet signifying "God."


A Greek term originally meaning the ruler of a quarter of a piece of territory, but by the first century BCE meaning a dependent prince of fairly low rank and status.


Hebrew ("the Law" or "the Teaching") particularly designates the first five books of the Bible, otherwise known as the Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses (to whom they are traditionally attributed).

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