ORGANIZATION OF THE BIBLE
The Bible is actually 66 small books assembled together into one large volume. To see what it would look like if each book was in its own binding and in a bookshelf, look for the link on our Bible Index web page.
When people refer to passages in the Bible, the first number is always the chapter number, and the second number is always the verse (usually a sentence) number. For example, Joshua 23:6 means the book of Joshua, chapter 23, and the 6th verse (or sentence). Occasionally there will be an “a” or “b” attached to a verse number, and that simply means it is the first half or last half of the verse.
DIVISIONS OF THE BIBLE
Look in the Table of Contents of your personal Bible. As you read the divisions below,
you might want to draw brackets around the books of each division,
and write their category in the margin of your Bible’s Table of Contents.
BOOKS OF LAW & HISTORY
Covers about 4000 ~ 1400 BC
5 Books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
They begin with the creation of the world and progress to the creation of the Jewish nation. They also itemize the Law of Moses which consists of some 600 commandments, not just the Ten Commandments people hear so much about.
BOOKS OF HISTORY
Covers about 1400 ~ 450 BC
12 Books: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1st & 2nd Samuel, 1st & 2nd Kings, 1st & 2nd Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther
They cover establishment of the Jewish nation, its downfall, and its eventual but weak return to power In the Promised Land.
BOOKS OF POETRY
Covers about 300 ~ 1000 BC
5 Books: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (sometimes called Song of Solomon)
Job took place during the time of Genesis, while the other four were written during the time of II Samuel and I Kings.
Covers about 700 ~ 530 BC
5 Books: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel.
Most of these prophets lived during the downfall of the Jewish nation as told in II Kings and II Chronicles. Some lived when the Jews returned to their Promised Land from exile in Babylon/Persia (Iran & Iraq), and restored it nearly a century later.
Covers about 750 ~ 430 BC
12 Books: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.
These prophets were not less important than the major prophets; they just wrote much shorter books. They, too, lived during the accounts of I & II Kings and I & II Chronicles.
THE NEW TESTAMENT IS MADE UP OF FOUR GROUPS OF BOOKS
LIFE OF CHRIST
Covers about 4 BC ~ 29 AD*
4 Books: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John.
Each author ~ two were apostles ~ gives his own memories of Jesus’ birth, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension to heaven from his point of view.
BOOK OF HISTORY
Covers about 29~65 AD
One Book: Acts of the Apostles
Beginning with the ascension of Jesus to heaven, it progresses through the establishment of the church over a period of 30 years, and how people became Christians under the direction of the Apostles.
BOOKS ON CHRISTIAN LIFE BY APOSTLE PAUL
Covers about AD 50 – about AD 68
13 Books: Romans, I & II Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon,
It’s easy to become a Christian. The hard part is living the Christian life afterwards. That’s what these books are all about.
BOOKS ON CHRISTIAN LIFE BY APOSTLES JAMES, PETER, JOHN & JUDE
Covers about AD 68 - 90
8 Books - Hebrews, James, I & II Peter, I , II & III John, Jude.
Again, it’s easy to become a Christian. The hard part is living the Christian life afterwards. And so the other apostles wrote encouragement too.
BOOK OF PROPHECY
Covers about 95 AD
1 Book: Revelation
This book was written to Christians being threatened with torture and execution for believing in Jesus. Its theme is “God Keeps His Promises and Will Take Care of Them.” Some applies to the past, some to the present, some to the future. This symbolic book can be interpreted through the numerous Old Testament events to which it refers.
*Even though the Christian calendar was to begin when Jesus was born, due to an error in the Gregorian Calendar, events book place about 4 years before the new calendar was to begin.