Why isn't the Bible chronological? How are the books of the Bible arranged?

The Bible is not arranged in chronological order because it is divided by the type of literature it includes. In the Old Testament, the order include the Books of Moses (Genesis to Deuteronomy), the Books of History (Joshua to 2 Chronicles), the Wisdom Books (Job to Song of Songs), and the Prophets (Isaiah to Malachi). In the New Testament, the 27 books include four Gospels (Matthew to John), one book of history (Acts), the Epistles or Letters (Romans to Jude) and one book of prophecy (Revelation).

While the Old Testament period ended approximately 400 years prior the time of the New Testament writings, the books within each Testament occurred at a variety of times. In the Old Testament, for example, the events of Ezra and Nehemiah took place near the end of the Old Testament period, yet the books are listed before Job, the events of which took place long before those in Ezra and Nehemiah.

Another important note, however, is that within each section of writing most books are in basic chronological order. For example, in the Old Testament prophets, Isaiah lived before Jeremiah. In the Books of Moses, Genesis took place first and Deuteronomy took place last.

The fact that the Bible is not presented in chronological order sometimes makes the Bible difficult to study. To help, many publishers now offer a Chronological Bible that arranges the Bible's books in this order. This is one way in which readers can better understand the historical flow of what took place in the history of the Bible.

In addition, below is a basic chronological order of the Bible books from the ministry Grace to You (http://www.gty.org/resources/questions/QA176/When-were-the-Bible-books-written). However, keep in mind that the events within each book may not be in chronological order and that dates of each book's composition are approximate and sometimes disputed.

Old Testament
Genesis—1445-1405 BC
Exodus —1445-1405 BC
Leviticus —1445-1405 BC
Numbers—1445-1405 BC
Deuteronomy—1445-1405 BC
Psalms—1410-450 BC
Joshua—1405-1385 BC
Judges—ca. 1043 BC
Ruth—ca. 1030-1010 BC
Song of Solomon—971-965 BC
Proverbs—ca. 971-686 BC
Ecclesiastes—940-931 BC
1 Samuel—931-722 BC
2 Samuel—931-722 BC
Obadiah—850-840 BC
Joel—835-796 BC
Jonah—ca. 775 BC
Amos—ca. 750 BC
Hosea—750-710 BC
Micah—735-710 BC
Isaiah—700-681 BC
Nahum—ca. 650 BC
Zephaniah—635-625 BC
Habakkuk—615-605 BC
Ezekiel—590-570 BC
Lamentations—586 BC
Jeremiah—586-570 BC
1 Kings—561-538 BC
2 Kings—561-538 BC
Daniel 536-530 BC
Haggai—ca. 520 BC
Zechariah—480-470 BC
Ezra—457-444 BC
1 Chronicles—450-430 BC
2 Chronicles—450-430 BC
Esther—450-331 BC
Malachi—433-424 BC
Nehemiah—424-400 BC

New Testament
James—AD 44-49
Galatians—AD 49-50
Matthew—AD 50-60
Mark—AD 50-60
1 Thessalonians—AD 51
2 Thessalonians—AD 51-52
1 Corinthians—AD 55
2 Corinthians—AD 55-56
Romans— AD 56
Luke—AD 60-61
Ephesians—AD 60-62
Philippians—AD 60-62
Philemon—AD 60-62
Colossians—AD 60-62
Acts—AD 62
1 Timothy—AD 62-64
Titus—AD 62-64
1 Peter—AD 64-65
2 Timothy—AD 66-67
2 Peter—AD 67-68
Hebrews—AD 67-69
Jude—AD 68-70
John—AD 80-90
1 John—AD 90-95
2 John—AD 90-95
3 John—AD 90-95
Revelation—AD 94-96

Related Truth:

The canon of Scripture - What is it?

Were there different authors of the books of the Bible? Who were the authors?

How is the Bible inspired? What does it mean for the Bible to be inspired?

When were the books of the Bible divided into chapters and verses? Who did the dividing?

Why should we study the Bible?

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