The bible, in chronological order. (More or less.)

Some of TXAB’s readers intend to read the bible in a month—or in four weeks, anyway—and have expressed curiosity about reading the bible in chronological order. It’s not enough that the creation of the cosmos comes first in Genesis, and the beginning of New Earth last in Revelation: They want everything sorted out by date.

Okay, fine.

But I will point out this order is debatable. ’Cause of course it is. Since when aren’t Christians gonna debate about who came first, Job or Abraham? (It’s Abraham. Job’s an Edomite; Edom/Esau is Abraham’s grandson.) Or which letter did Paul write first 1 Thessalonians or Galatians? (My money’s on Galatians.) Other chronological-order lists are gonna have a slightly different order, although Genesis is usually first and Revelation last.

Here, for your convenience, is the bible in chronological order. Not always the order it was written, but the order of the events which took place in the books. Print it out and check ’em off as you read ’em.

Old Testament.

  1. πŸ”² Genesis 1-36.
  2. πŸ”² The genealogy from 1 Chronicles 1.
  3. πŸ”² Genesis 37-50.
  4. πŸ”² Exodus.
  5. πŸ”² Leviticus.
  6. πŸ”² Numbers.
  7. πŸ”² Psalm 90, ’cause Moses wrote it, and maybe Psalm 91.
  8. πŸ”² Deuteronomy.
  9. πŸ”² Joshua.
  10. πŸ”² More genealogy: 1 Chronicles 2.
  11. πŸ”² Judges.
  12. πŸ”² Ruth.
  13. πŸ”² Various older psalms: Psalms 43, 44, 45, 49, 73, 77, 78, 81, 84, 85, 87, 88, 92, 93.
  14. πŸ”² 1 Samuel 1-20, plus David’s earlier psalms: Psalms 11, 59.
  15. πŸ”² 1 Samuel 21-24, Psalms 7, 27, 31, 34, 52, 56, 120, 140, 141, 142.
  16. πŸ”² 1 Samuel 25-27, Psalms 17, 35, 54, 63.
  17. πŸ”² 1 Samuel 28-31, 1 Chronicles 3-10, Psalms 18, 121, 123, 124, 125, 128, 129, 130.
  18. πŸ”² 2 Samuel 1-4, Psalms 102, 103, 104.
  19. πŸ”² 1 Chronicles 11-12, Psalms 106, 107, 133.
  20. πŸ”² 2 Samuel 5-6, 1 Chronicles 13-16, Psalms 1, 2, 15, 22, 23, 24, 47, 68, 89, 96, 100, 101, 105, 132.
  21. πŸ”² 2 Samuel 7, 1 Chronicles 17, Psalms 25, 29, 33, 36, 39.
  22. πŸ”² 2 Samuel 8-9, 1 Chronicles 18, Psalms 50, 53, 60, 75.
  23. πŸ”² 2 Samuel 10, 1 Chronicles 19, Psalms 20, 65, 66, 67, 69, 70.
  24. πŸ”² 2 Samuel 11-12, 1 Chronicles 20, Psalms 32, 51, 86, 122.
  25. πŸ”² 2 Samuel 13-15, Psalms 3, 4, 12, 13, 28, 55.
  26. πŸ”² 2 Samuel 16-18, Psalms 26, 40, 58, 61, 62, 64.
  27. πŸ”² 2 Samuel 19-21, Psalms 5, 38, 41, 42.
  28. πŸ”² 2 Samuel 22-23, Psalms 57, 95, 97, 98, 99.
  29. πŸ”² 2 Samuel 24, 1 Chronicles 21-22, Psalms 30, 108, 109, 110.
  30. πŸ”² 1 Chronicles 23-25, Psalms 131, 138, 139, 143, 144, 145.
  31. πŸ”² 1 Chronicles 26-29, Psalms 111-118, 127.
  32. πŸ”² 1 Kings 1-2, Psalms 37, 71, 72, 94, 119.
  33. πŸ”² 1 Kings 3-4, 2 Chronicles 1.
  34. πŸ”² Song of Songs.
  35. πŸ”² Proverbs 1-24.
  36. πŸ”² 1 Kings 5-6, 2 Chronicles 2-3.
  37. πŸ”² 1 Kings 7, 2 Chronicles 4.
  38. πŸ”² 1 Kings 8, 2 Chronicles 5-7, Psalms 134, 146-150.
  39. πŸ”² 1 Kings 9, 2 Chronicles 8.
  40. πŸ”² Proverbs 25-27.
  41. πŸ”² Ecclesiastes, likely.
  42. πŸ”² 1 Kings 10-11, 2 Chronicles 9.
  43. πŸ”² Proverbs 30-31.
  44. πŸ”² 1 Kings 12-14, 2 Chronicles 10-12.
  45. πŸ”² 1 Kings 15-16, 2 Chronicles 13-17.
  46. πŸ”² 1 Kings 17-22, 2 Chronicles 18-23.
  47. πŸ”² Obadiah, likely.
  48. πŸ”² 2 Kings 1-11, Psalms 82, 83.
  49. πŸ”² 2 Kings 12-13, 2 Chronicles 24.
  50. πŸ”² 2 Kings 14, 2 Chronicles 25.
  51. πŸ”² Jonah.
  52. πŸ”² 2 Kings 15, 2 Chronicles 26, Isaiah 1-8.
  53. πŸ”² Amos.
  54. πŸ”² 2 Chronicles 27, Isaiah 9-12.
  55. πŸ”² Micah.
  56. πŸ”² 2 Kings 16-17, 2 Chronicles 28, Isaiah 13-27.
  57. πŸ”² 2 Kings 18, 2 Chronicles 29-31, Isaiah 28-39, Psalm 76.
  58. πŸ”² Hosea.
  59. πŸ”² Isaiah 40-48.
  60. πŸ”² 2 Kings 19, Psalms 46, 80, 135, Isaiah 49-66.
  61. πŸ”² 2 Kings 20-21, 2 Chronicles 32-33.
  62. πŸ”² Nahum, likely.
  63. πŸ”² 2 Kings 22-23, 2 Chronicles 34-35.
  64. πŸ”² Zephaniah.
  65. πŸ”² Jeremiah 1-40.
  66. πŸ”² 2 Kings 24-25, 2 Chronicles 36, Psalms 74, 79.
  67. πŸ”² Habakkuk.
  68. πŸ”² Jeremiah 41-52.
  69. πŸ”² Lamentations.
  70. πŸ”² Daniel.
  71. πŸ”² Job. (We don’t know precisely when it occurred, but it was written in Late Biblical Hebrew, and Ezekiel knew of him and Daniel, Ek 14.14 so let’s put it around then.)
  72. πŸ”² Ezekiel.
  73. πŸ”² Joel.
  74. πŸ”² Ezra 1-6, Psalm 137.
  75. πŸ”² Haggai.
  76. πŸ”² Zechariah.
  77. πŸ”² Esther.
  78. πŸ”² Ezra 7-10.
  79. πŸ”² Nehemiah, Psalm 126.
  80. πŸ”² Malachi.

The apocrypha.

I had a Catholic reader ask me about where to insert all the Old Testament books which Jews and Protestants don’t include in our bibles, which they call the deuterocanon, and we call apocrypha.

If you’re reading those books too, I don’t mean to leave you out. But you’ll have to swap these lines in the above list.

  1. πŸ”² Ecclesiastes, Tobit.
  2. πŸ”² Habakkuk, Judith.
  3. πŸ”² Lamentations, Baruch.
  4. πŸ”² 1 Maccabees.
  5. πŸ”² 2 Maccabees.
  6. πŸ”² Sirach/Ecclesiasticus.
  7. πŸ”² Wisdom.

New Testament.

Many Christians figure the New Testament is already in chronological order: First Jesus in the gospels, then Acts, then the apostles’ letters. Right?

Well, sorta. But the apostles’ letters in the New Testament were sorted by author: First Paul, then the writer of Hebrews, then James, Peter, John, and Jude. Within these groups, they’re sorted by length: Romans is the longest of Paul’s letters, Philemon the shortest. (And this is assuming you don’t have a German bible, because Martin Luther rearranged the book order just a little.)

As for which events come first in the gospels… well, that’s something we may never figure out. They’re not biographies; the authors wrote ’em to tell us what Jesus taught, and share the story of his death and resurrection. Yes, two of them also include stories of Jesus’s miraculous birth. Still not biographies. The gospel of John makes a few attempts at being chronological; the rest really don’t bother.

So which parable did Jesus tell first? Dunno. When’d he give the Sermon on the Mount, at the beginning of his ministry or near the end?—or, more likely, multiple times throughout? Which miracle did he do first? True, John states it was turning water into wine, but that word of knowledge about Philip under the fig tree is just as much a miracle too, y’know.

In any event, to get the Jesus stories sorted out, you’ll need a gospel synopsis. I’m loosely following my own in my Jesus articles. Others have put synopses together. None of them are a definitive sorting of which story came first; there is no such thing. In this list I just sort the gospels in probable order of composition, and leave it to you to sort out the details.

  1. πŸ”² Mark.
  2. πŸ”² Matthew.
  3. πŸ”² Luke.
  4. πŸ”² John.
  5. πŸ”² Acts 1-14.
  6. πŸ”² James.
  7. πŸ”² Acts 15-16.
  8. πŸ”² Galatians.
  9. πŸ”² Acts 17-18.
  10. πŸ”² 1 Thessalonians.
  11. πŸ”² 2 Thessalonians.
  12. πŸ”² Acts 19.
  13. πŸ”² 1 Corinthians.
  14. πŸ”² 2 Corinthians.
  15. πŸ”² Romans.
  16. πŸ”² Acts 20-28.
  17. πŸ”² Colossians.
  18. πŸ”² Philemon.
  19. πŸ”² Ephesians.
  20. πŸ”² Philippians.
  21. πŸ”² 1 Timothy.
  22. πŸ”² Titus.
  23. πŸ”² 1 Peter.
  24. πŸ”² Hebrews.
  25. πŸ”² 2 Timothy.
  26. πŸ”² 2 Peter.
  27. πŸ”² Jude.
  28. πŸ”² 1-3 John.
  29. πŸ”² Revelation.