Chronological Order of the Bible's Story

Q: What is the chronological order of the Bible? Why is it not written in that order?

A: In response to this question, submitted by email for our Q Sunday event on February 6, 2011, we can look to something Jesus said, that gives us a way to remember the chronological order of the Old Testament. Luke 11:51a--Jesus said, "from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the porch and the altar and the sanctuary." In English, it's easy to remember "A to Z", of course that's not the frame of reference Jesus had, but it's a way to remember the chronological order to the Bible. From Genesis to the end of 2 Chronicles--that's roughly the chronological framework of the Old Testament.

That's the first part of the Old Testament. The rest of the Old Testament comes from that time frame, but is often commentary (as in the case of the prophets) or books that were written during the time of the kings (such as Proverbs) or represents a collective work (like the Psalms, representing 1000 years of prayer).

The New Testament kind of appears in chronological order. The gospels are followed by the book of Acts and the New Testament ends with what may be the book composed last in our canon, Revelation. The letters do not appear in a chronological order. They are placed in descending order of length, starting with the epistles of Paul and then the General Epistles, also arranged in descending order of length.

I hope this answers the question. These 66 books in our canon (our authoritative list of Bible books) appeared first on a list in the order we now have it in 367 AD in an Easter letter from Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria. Actually, it was only 65 books, because he left out Esther, but these books appeared in the order they are in your Bible today.

For a look at a plan for reading the Bible chonologically, click here!

There you have it! An answer to an excellent question!

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