Is the Bible written in a chronological order?

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Many Bible readers think that everything in the Scripture is arranged in a chronological order. Clearly, this assumption can lead to misunderstandings.

The Bible is not a book of chronology

But why is that so? The order of the Old Testament books is built on the order of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. This translation splits the books into three parts according to their literary style. First, we have the narrative books (Genesis through Esther). Then, we have the poetic and wisdom books (Job through Song of Solomon). And finally, we have the prophetic books (Isaiah through Malachi). In a similar way, the New Testament books are split into three parts according to their literary style. First, we have the narrative books (Matthew through Acts). Then, we have the Epistles (or letters to early Christians), and finally the prophetic book of Revelation.

The books of the Bible were not written in sequence

In the OT, for example, we see that even though 2 Chronicles comes before the book of Job, the narratives written in Job happened before the ones in 2 Chronicles. And the book of Job took place within the book of Genesis specially after Genesis 6. Also, Psalms and Proverbs were placed after Nehemiah and Esther but much of Psalms and Proverbs were recorded before Nehemiah and Esther.

In the NT, we might think that since 1 Thessalonians comes after the book of Acts, that Luke wrote Acts before Paul wrote his book to Thessalonica. But the facts show that, 1 Thessalonians was written before the book of Acts was finished.

The authors of the Bible did not always write their accounts in a chronological sequence

In the Old Testament, for example, Genesis 2:5-25 does not follow where Genesis one left off. Rather, it gives more detailed data about some of the incidents recorded in the first chapter of the Bible. Thus, Genesis 1 is arranged chronologically, whereas Genesis 2 is arranged topically.

And in the New Testament, the differences in the sequence of the temptations of Jesus that was recorded by Matthew (4:1-11) and Luke (4:1-13) are understood properly only when we know that at least one of them didn’t record the information in sequence.

Therefore, it is recommended that believers should use the “Chronological Bible” to have a  proper understanding of  Bible sequence. For this translation paces the books of the Bible and its events in the actual sequence and thus gives the reader an understanding of its real time frame.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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