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Why Isn't the Bible in Chronological Order?

  • Madeline Kalu Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
  • Published Jan 21, 2020
Why Isn't the Bible in Chronological Order?
Brought to you by Christianity.com

Whether you read your Bible for daily inspiration, or you study the Bible in scholarly depth, navigating through the different books of the Old and New Testament can be confusing, as they are not in chronological order. This is because the books of the Bible are organized by literature and not by chronology.

Why Is the Bible So Important to Christians?

The Bible is the Word of God and the ultimate declaration of His love, mercy, and ultimately, the gift of Salvation to mankind. 

In 2 Timothy 3:16, it states that the Bible is “God-breathed,” in order to teach, train, rebuke, and correct us in our faith walk. 

The Bible contains truths and commandments that, at times, prove challenging for us to obey (Hebrews 4:12); however, they are written in order that we, as Christians, may live an abundant life, free from the bondage of sin, and filled with spiritual victory (John 10:10).

So, Why Isn’t the Bible in Chronological Order?

The books of the Bible are not listed in chronological order, as they are divided by different forms of literature.

There are 66 books in the Bible that cover a time span of 1500 years; the Old Testament consists of 39 books and the New Testament consists of 27. 

The following is a division of the books of the Old and New Testament as we know it:


How Were the Books of the Bible Established?

The books of the Bible were originally written on scrolls. In synagogues, keepers looked after the scrolls and stored them in the order of their choosing, or as they were instructed. Hence, no specific order of the books of the Bible was established in ancient times.

The invention of the printing press in 1440 made it possible to print Bibles and thereby make them more accessible. However, the increased circulation resulted in varying book divisions of the Bible being printed and read. 

Over time, the modern-day Bible with the book divisions that we are familiar with has emerged as the most common version of the Bible to be printed and is used as a standard reference for most Bibles today. 

What Is the Chronological Order of the Bible?

The following is the chronological order of the Books of the Bible:

  


Does the Bible Contain Any Chronological Aspects?

Within the different books of the Bible, the order remains chronological. For example, in the Pentateuch, which is the first five books of the Bible that were penned by Moses, the events in Genesis occurred before those of Deuteronomy.

Additionally, in the Old Testament, the prophet Isaiah lived before the prophet Jeremiah.

Should I Read the Bible in Chronological Order?

Reading the Bible sequentially can provide the reader with a new perspective of the Word of God and enable a clearer understanding of historical accounts, genealogies, and timelines in particular.

That being said, what matters most is that we, as Christians, familiarize ourselves with the entire Word of God, regardless of the order in which we read the books.

There are many Bible reading plans available, such as those offered by Christianity.com, that can help you approach the Bible in a way that helps you make the most of your Bible reading.

Sources

learnreligions.com, “What is the Bible?”, Mary Fairchild.

biblica.com, “Why is the Bible not in chronological order?”

gotquestions.com, "Why isn’t the Bible in chronological order?”

compellingtruth.org, “Why isn’t the Bible chronological? How are the books of the Bible arranged?”

creativebiblestudy.com, “Simple Bible Overview”

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Madeline Kalu is an Australian Christian writer and the co-founder of Jacob’s Ladder Blog and The Proverbs 31 Home. She is also the co-author of the “My Year of Miracles 2024” journal, which encourages a daily reflection on the miracles that God performs in our lives throughout 2024. Madeline lives in Germany with her husband Solomon and the family’s two cats who were rescued from the Ukrainian war zone.

This article originally appeared on Christianity.com. For more faith-building resources, visit Christianity.com. Christianity.com