Contained within the Bible is a foundational repository of ancient wisdom and insights that can no doubt be appreciated and applied to many aspects of modern living. However, those who are seeking spiritual wisdom or looking to gain greater insight into Biblical narratives may be finding it increasingly difficult to comprehend the Bible’s often disorganized, non-linear structure which involves a number of books gathered from distinct sources, perspectives and time periods that are neither necessarily arranged systematically, nor in a chronological order.
The reason for the Bible being composed in such a peculiar and seemingly incoherent manner is complex and still remains a matter of debate. The Bible is composed of 66 books in the majority Protestant Bible, with the Jewish and Catholic Bibles including an additional 7. Traditionally, the books of the Bible have been divided into two major categories – the Old Testament, dating from from at least the 5th century BCE, and the New Testament, centered around the ministry of Jesus Christ and his disciples.
Moreover, most scholars will agree that the books of the Bible have not been composed in linear, chronological order, with some portions and narratives scattered throughout distinct genres of literature. This is in part due to the fact that the Bible is comprised of Books that have been written and arranged by distinct writers, over a period of thousands of years, on different continents, with varying cultural and linguistic backgrounds, using different writing styles and genres, under different religious and political circumstances.
Ultimately, although it is quite understandable why one might wish that the Bible was composed in a more systematically chronological manner for the ease of comprehending its many narratives, it is important to recognise that this is not something to be worried about. There is more than enough information between its covers to stimulate comprehensive understanding of the Bible and to understand its numerous stories and teachings.
Indeed, understanding why the Bible is not in chronological order requires more than just a mere understanding of its varied literary genre, form, and structure. It also requires developing a knowledge of the specific historical and cultural contexts of the individual Books, and it does not come easily but only with a great amount of research.
The Cultural Context of the Bible
A contributing factor to why the Bible is not in chronological order is best understood when considering the cultural context in which it was composed. Specifically, the Bible itself was written during a time when there was little or no written history; most of the knowledge was kept orally and passed from generation to