treasury of prayers; in them, too, the mystery of our salvation is 2568 present in a hidden way.’95 123 Christians venerate the Old Testament as true Word of God. The Church has always vigorously opposed the idea of rejecting the Old Testament under the pretext that the New has rendered it void (Marcionism).

The New Testament

124 ‘The Word of God, which is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, is set forth and displays its power in a most wonderful way in the writings of the New Testament’~6 which hand on the ultimate truth of God’s Revelation. Their central object is Jesus Christ, God’s incarnate Son: his acts, teachings, Passion and glorification, and his Church’s beginnings under the Spirit’s guidance.97 125 The Gospels are the heart of all the Scriptures ‘because they are our principal source for the life and teaching of the Incarnate ~ Word, our Saviour’.~8
126 We can distinguish three stages in the formation of the Gospels:


The life and teaching of Jesus. The Church holds firmly that the four

Gospels, ‘whose historicity she unhesitatingly affirms, faithfully hand on what Jesus, the Son of God, while he lived among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation, until the day when he was taken up.’99


The oral tradition. ‘For, after the ascension of the Lord, the apostles handed 76

on to their hearers what he had said and done, but with that fuller understanding which they, instructed by the glorious events of Christ and enlightened by the Spirit of truth, now enjoyed.”°°


The written Gospels. ‘The sacred authors, in writing the four Gospels, 76

selected certain of the many elements which had been handed on, either orally or already in written form; others they synthesized or explained with an eye to the situation of the churches, the while sustaining the form of preaching, but always in such a fashion that they have told us the honest truth about Jesus.”°’ 127 The fourfold Gospel holds a unique place in the Church, as is evident both in the veneration which the liturgy accords it and in 1154 the surpassing attraction it has exercised on the saints at all times: There is no doctrine which could be better, more precious and more splendid than the text of the Gospel. Behold and retain what our Lord U and Master, Christ, has taught by his words and accomplished by his deeds.’°2