The Bible is made up of 73 books (66 if you’re reading a Protestant Bible) all written by different authors, during different time points in history, and for different reasons. The best way to really understand the content of the Bible is to keep in mind the context of the book you’re currently reading. It does nobody any good if you treat the Book of Psalms (largely poetic hymns to the God of Abraham) with the same air that you would Deuteronomy (which should be read as sermons delivered by Moses to the Israelites). So, to help you, I’m providing this lovely outline which divides the books of the Bible into nice digestible chunks
Books marked with an ** are part of the deuterocanonical books (those found in Catholic Bibles but not in Protestant Bibles).
The Old Testament
The Pentateuch: The first five books of the bible, called the Torah by the Jewish people. Included in these books are the stories of creation and of the nation of Israel. It also includes the law given to the Israelites by God.
Historical Books: These books tell the story of the Israelites from their entry into the Promised Land until the Exile.
- 1 Samuel
- 2 Samuel
- 1 Kings
- 2 Kings
- 1 Chronicles
- 2 Chronicles
- Esther** (deuterocanonical additions)
- 1 Maccabees**
- 2 Maccabees**
Wisdom Literature: These books are Jewish reflections of faith and God’s relationship with humanity.
- Song of Songs
- Wisdom of Solomon**
Prophets: The writings of the people whom God inspired to counsel and confront people and kings.
- Daniel** (deuterocanonical additions)
Books of the New Testament of Jesus Christ
The Gospel Account:
Four portraits and collections of stories and sayings of Jesus of Nazareth
Acts of the Apostles: consisting of one book, Acts is the story of the early Christian Church after the Ascension of Jesus. This is not a complete history of apostolic Christianity.
Letters (Epistles): Letters written by early Christians that show the problems and concerns facing the early Church.
Pauline Epistles (attributed to St. Paul):
- 1 Corinthians
- 2 Corinthians
- 1 Thessalonians
- 2 Thessalonians
- 2 Timothy
- Hebrews (author is anonymous)
- 1 Peter
- 2 Peter
- 1 John
- 2 John
- 3 John
Revelation (Apocalypse): A single book, addressed to people experiencing persecution and questioning the truth of their faith. Revelation offers hope that God’s deliverance will come as promised. Extensive use of symbols and images that early readers would have readily understood.