Old Testament - Organization


The Old Testaments consists of 39 books which vary from history, to poetry, to prophetic utterance. Written over the span of over 1,000 years, they tell the unfolding story of God's relationship with mankind. The Old Testament times can be broken in to two major historical ages. The first is a span of unknown length from creation to the time of Abraham. In this period, God related directly to the whole human race. In the second span, the focus is on a single race and in many instances family. For instance through Abraham, God initiates a plan to bring redemption to all mankind through Abraham's lineage. God makes a series of covenants, or oaths through which He works, and reveals more and more of His character, purpose, and plans.

Another approach to the Old Testament, is to look at the history of the nation of Israel. This can be best understood by looking at ten periods of time:

Time Period
B.C.
Description OT Books People
~ - 2000 Creation, God reveals Himself to all mankind, showing love and judgement. Genesis 1-11 Adam, Eve
2000 - 1500 God chooses Abraham and gives a covenant. Genisis 12-50, Job Abraham, Issac, Jacob, Joseph
1500 - 1400 Exodus of God's people from Egyptian slavery. Passover. The Law is given. Exodus, Lev., Numbers, Deut. Moses, Aaron
1400 - 1390 The Promised Land! Joshua Joshua
1390 - 950 The people are good and bad under various judges. Judges, Ruth Gideon, Samson, Ruth, Samuel
950 - 931 Israel becomes a monarchy. Power, Prosperity under David and Solomon. The Jerusalem temple is important. Samuel, Chron., Kings, Proverbs, Psalms, Song of Solomon, Eccl. Samuel, Saul, David, Solomon
931 - 722 The nation divides into Israel (north) and Judah (south). The north is conquered by Assyria. Kings, Chronicles, Jonah, Amos, Obadiah, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah, Joel Jehoshaphat, Joash
722 - 586 Judah exiled by Babylonian conqueror Nebuchadnezzar. Temple destroyed. 2 Kings, 2 Chronicles, Habakkuk, Nahum, Jeremiah, Zephaniah Hezekiah, Josiah
605 - 536 The people are captive for 70 years in Babylon. Ezekiel, Daniel, Lamentations Jeremiah, Daniel, Ezekiel
537 - 400 A remant returns to rebuild the temple and Jerusalem. Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zech., Esther, Malachi Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther
The time between 400 A.D. and the New Testament, is frequently called the 'Intertestamental' time. During this time the Maccabean family came to political power. The history of this time period is covered in the books of I and II Maccabees, and I Esdras. The books are called the 'Apocrypha', along with some additional books, and are available in the Roman Catholic Church version of the Bible, but not in the Protestant version.