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Why did the books of the Bible get organized the way they did?

Some readers are surprised to learn that the books of the Bible are not placed in chronological order. The short answer for why is that those who compiled them did not believe a chronological reading was necessary to understanding. Instead, they used other criteria, namely genre, which is a type of work that loosely adheres to a particular style for a particular function.


The Jewish people look to Moses as the greatest prophet—the early Church would probably have agreed. It is fitting then that the Old Testament begins with the five books of Moses, also known as the books of the Law. These are followed by historical books, then poetry, then major and minor prophets to make 39 books in all. 

The 27 New Testament books are ordered similarly in groupings by genre. The four gospels come first, followed by the historical book of Acts. Next, are Paul’s letters to the churches, grouped according to length, followed by personal letters, and ending with prophecy

Is the life of Christ recorded in any historical records besides the Bible?

Seven known secular historical documents refer to the existence of Jesus and His ministry.  

  1. The  Annals by First Century Roman historian Tacitus mentions Christ and his crucifixion by Pontius Pilate in book 14, chapter 44.

  2. The Babylonian Talmud, a historical collection of the post-biblical history of the Jewish people, mentions Jesus as leading the Jewish people astray. 

  3. An undoctored Arabic passage was written by the first-century historian Josephus in Agapius, “The book of the Title” refers to Jesus' ministry, crucifixion under Pontius Pilate, appearance to many after his crucifixion, and his international following. 

  4. Pliny the Younger in a letter to Emperor Trajan in 112 A.D. asked for advice on dealing with Christians who sing hymns to Christ as if to a god. 

  5. A historical letter from Syria written between 73 A.D. and the Third Century by Mara bar-Serapion, refers to the murder of “the wise king of the Jews,”  believed to be a reference to Jesus. 

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