Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Order of Books in the Bible

Yesterday as I was doing the day’s reading, I was noting how the same story was being told in several places scattered throughout various books – Chronicles, Kings, and the prophetical books.  I’d seen this before in reading the Gospels in the New Testament, but hadn’t recognized it (aside from Chronicles and Kings) in previous readings through the Old Testament.  As an aside, I’m a structured person.  The times I’ve read the Bible through before had me start at page 1 and work my way through to Revelation.  Reading it in the chronological manner we’ve been following since June is a challenge for me in the sense that it’s not pages 1 – the end.  But, it has shown me to a greater degree the time-line and pathway leading to Jesus.  In any event, it raised the question of why the Bible is organized as it is – why not in a chronological order or something like that.  So I brought the question to Google and found these answers.
First, I learned that the Hebrew Bible isn’t organized as our Old Testament is.  Instead of 39 books, there are only 24.  However, the same information is included, just arranged differently.  Their structure is as follows:

The Law of Moses:  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Numbers
The Prophets
                The Former Prophets:  Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings
                The Latter Prophets:  Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, “The Twelve” (minor prophets)
The Writings
                Poetical Books:  Psalms, Proverbs, Job
                The Five Scrolls:  Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther
                The Historical Books:  Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Chronicles

Our Christian Bibles divide the Old Testament into the following structure and order:

The Pentateuch:  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Numbers
Historical Books:  Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles,
2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther
Poetical Books:  Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon
Prophetical Books:  Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos,
             Obadiah,Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

Our New Testament Is also grouped by subject manner.  The early church adopted the current order of the Gospels (although Matthew and Luke were sometimes interchanged).  It also arranged the order of the epistles with the Pauline ones first divided by those to churches and then those to individuals, according to length.  The other epistles follow, again in order of longest to shortest.  Finally the writings by various men concluding with Revelation. 

Historical Books:  Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts
Pauline Epistles:  Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians,
Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy,
Titus, Philemon
Other Writings:  Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation

I recognize that our chronological reading has us “skipping around” to read the events in chronological order.  It is also possible (not really surprising!) to order the books of the Bible in order by which they were written.  There are variations based on the scholars who have determined these timelines, but here’s one:

1440-1400BC:  Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
1400-1000BC:  Joshua, Judges
1000-586BC (pre-exile thru mid-exile):  Psalms, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, Job, Proverbs,
Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon
931-686BC (Rehoboam to Hezekiah):  Isaiah, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah,
686-586BC (Hezekiah to the exile):  Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, 1 Kings, 2 Kings,
                1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel
516-400BC (post-exile):  Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
40-45AD:  Matthew
45-50AD:  1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Romans, Luke
50-55AD:  Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, Acts, 1 Timothy,
2 Timothy, Titus, Hebrews
55-60AD:  1 Peter, 2 Peter, Mark, James, Jude
60-68AD:  John, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Revelation

In any event, hope this holds some interest for you!

No comments:

Post a Comment