Why Aren’t the Bible’s Books in Chronological Order?
by David Roach
You may have noticed that the Bible isn’t always in chronological order. Psalms and Proverbs come after Nehemiah and Esther. But much of Psalms and Proverbs is set before Nehemiah and Esther. Skipping to the New Testament, 1 Thessalonians was one of the first books written, but it appears after John, one of the last books written. The examples could go on.
What is a Bible reader to make of this potentially confusing arrangement of books? First, don’t panic. In large part, the Bible is organized chronologically. Reading the Old Testament straight through from Genesis to Nehemiah will provide you with a generally chronological account of human history from creation through the Jewish return from exile.
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Second, departures from a chronological presentation often are obvious even to novice Bible readers. Second Kings, for example, ends with a description of the deportation to Babylon, and the narrative portion of the next book, 1 Chronicles, begins with King Saul. Most will easily recognize this as a jump back in time. And though Mark, Luke, and John each restart the narrative at the beginning of Jesus’ life and ministry, this is hardly confusing.
But if the order of the Bible’s books still seems puzzling, keep in mind why our Bible is arranged the way it is. The order of our Old Testament books is based on the order of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures…
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