Abba — An Aramaic term literally meaning “the father”; it appears in the New Testament at Mark 14:36 (Jesus' address to God), Romans 8:15, and Galatians 4:6.
AD — Anno Domini, Latin for “year of our Lord”; a system of dating established ca. 526 by the monk Dionysius Exiguus (Dennis the Short), based on his estimate of when Jesus was born. See CE.
agape — A Greek term meaning “love”; used in the New Testament with the connotation of self-giving or divine love (in distinction to philos [brotherly love, friendship] and eros [sexual love]); the designation for the “love feast.”
Amora (pl. Amoraim) — Aramaic for “speaker”; the Amoraim were Rabbinic teachers ca. 200–400 CE (the generation after the Tannaim) who compiled the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds.
antitheses — The literary form “You have heard… but I say”; most famously recorded in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:21–48).
apocalyptic — From the Greek for “revelation” or “uncovering”; a type of literature, often ascribed to an ancient worthy, that speaks of heavenly secrets, is highly symbolic, and frequently has an eschatological focus (e.g., the Book of Revelation).
Apocrypha (New Testament) — Early Christian works (e.g., Acts of Paul and Thecla, Infancy Gospel of Thomas) consisting of Gospels, Acts, Letters, Apocalypses, and other genres usually ascribed to New Testament figures.
Apocrypha (Old Testament) — From the Greek for “hidden”; a term designating the books (e.g., 1 Maccabees, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon) written by Jews during Hellenistic and Roman times (ca. 200 BCE–100 CE), included in the LXX, and which became canonical for Catholic and Orthodox Christianity. See also Deuterocanonical Texts.
apostle — From the Greek for “sent out”; used by the church to designate Jesus' twelve select disciples (so Luke), as well as others (e.g., Paul, Junia) who proclaimed the Christian message.
Apostles' Creed — A formal statement consisting of twelve articles of Christian belief traditionally ascribed to the Twelve Apostles although a product of the second- and third-century church; the title first appears in the writings of Ambrose (ca. 390).
apotheosis — From the Greek for “from” (apo) and “god” (theos); the elevation of a human being into a deity.
Aqedah (sometimes Akedah) — Hebrew for “binding” (of Isaac); the account in Genesis 22 of the divine command to Abraham that he sacrifice his son Isaac.