Religious History… What Does Gospel Mean?



Gospel means godspell or good tidings and is based on the Anglo Saxon word, spell, which means a saying, a tale or a speech, with elements of magical power and the ability to charm, or influence. The first four Biblical books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) tell the tale of the life of Jesus and his doctrines, and is known as the Gospel. That’s what’s referred to when we hear of someone, “preaching the Gospel.”

Jesus’s earliest followers had hoped that for both Jew and Gentile, his death would create the Kingdom of God on earth. But because his death did not bring about any such major change, his followers set themselves to the task of reinterpreting his message. Some scholars believe that Jesus’s intention was to spread Judaism and others believe he did not intend to be literally thought of as the Son of God. But after his death, his brother James and a follower named Peter insisted Jesus was a king, angering both the Jews and the Romans.

In the Roman Empire, Jewish Christians, Romans and Greeks, read the religious writings based upon the teachings of Jesus, known today as the Gospel. The Jewish Diaspora brought about the weakening of Orthodox Judaism, and left an opportunity for the new religion, Christianity to fill the void.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Secret GenealogyA How-to for Tracing Ancient Jewish Ancestry, Secret Genealogy IIUncovering the Jewish Roots of Our Christian Ancestors and Secret Genealogy III From Jewish Anglo-Saxon Tribes to New France Acadians. Available here:

Secret Genealogy:

Secret Genealogy II:

Secret Genealogy III:

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