Obviously this list is a little idiosyncratic, since it is a different order than usually rendered, but the books of the Bible are as follows, divided into a category of two, and four, as well as the various other subsets.1 The New Testament is framed in terms of literary constellations, centered around one of the Gospels, rather than the normal order.2
Books of the Bible:
Former Prophets (Early Histories)
8. Samuel (1st & 2nd)
9. Kings (1st & 2nd)
13. The Twelve (Minor Prophets)
Histories (Latter Histories)
24. Song of Songs
(4) New Covenant
Paul’s Prison Letters
Paul’s Pastoral Letters
10. 1 Timothy
11. 2 Timothy
Paul’s Extended Letters
13. 1 Thessalonians
14. 2 Thessalonians
17. 1 Corinthians
18. 2 Corinthians
20. 1 Peter
21. 2 Peter
24. Letters of John (1st, 2nd, and 3rd)
25. Revelation of John
The names used to refer to various categories books can sometimes confuse beginning students.
Concerning the First Testament, it does not really matter if one counts 22, 24 or 25 books (when referring to all the same books) – what order one puts them; or reads them in your reading plans. However, that the contents of the books are all there is most important.4
And, the same goes for the New Testament. Yet, traditionally, all four gospels have been placed together with Acts (sometimes with John before Luke and the like), forming a sort of Pentateuch. But, the letters have been arranged differently from time to time, the catholic epistles sometimes coming before Paul’s letters. (Such as in the major manuscript Codex Sinaiticus) The system of literary divisions simply sorts the books a bit differently. It should serve as a complementary way of looking at the New Testament, and not replacing.Books of the Bible
Following in the footsteps of my professors, who recommend the use of a variety of translations 5, consider for serious study at least consulting regularly the New International Version, New Revised Standard Version, and the New Jerusalem Bible are the three translations primarily used by the Evangelical, Mainline-Denominational, and Roman Catholic Churches respectively.
If you desire to understand a broad range of Christian opinions concerning a verse or pericope of verses, these are the versions to consult.6
I realize, however, there are slightly different canons floating around.
Jewish Canon (the first books are regarded as canon and counted as 22 or 24) books7
Roman Catholic Canon (73 books, 7 called the ‘apocrypha’ which Protestant’s do not accept.)
Orthodox Canon (not necessarily, but up to 78 books?)
Protestant Canon (66 books; same as above)
Ethiopic Canon (81 books).
- First there is the First Covenant and the New Covenant (New Testament, First Testament), also called Old Testament and New Testament. Then, the four sub-divisions are called the Torah, Nevi’im, Ketuvim, and Berit Hadashah in Hebrew, with various categories (some unmentioned) in-between.
- Literary Constellations Link
- The reason I typically say ‘First’ Testament rather than Old Testament is because that is how the Letter of Hebrews itself phrases the difference between the two covenants.
Rather than the ‘Old Testament and New Testament,’ the text of Hebrews (9:18, 12:24) in the New Testament calls these ‘the First Covenant and the New Covenant.’ Knowing the term, ‘testament,’ is merely a Latinized form of ‘covenant,’ I thereby refer to the two divisions of Holy Scriptures as the ‘First Testament’ and the ‘New Testament.’
- Different arrangement of the books actually may help some with historical theology, but my view of inspiration of the Scriptures does not extend to the order they were arranged other than what seems fairly intuitive (Genesis before Exodus).
- for it, of course, was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.
- Knowing that some have preferences for other versions (I myself am most familiar with the New American Standard Bible, having used it for most of my formative years), there are obviously plenty of other English translations, but the above three will probably frame the boundaries of each discussion quite well.
- Though the same divisions I have used (Law, Writings, Prophets), they use a different order, with Chronicles at the end.