Reading the Old Testament

We learned last week in my hermeneutics class that the Hebrew Bible, what we call our Old Testament, is arranged in a different order than our standard English translations. I’ve decided to read it in this order for my trip through the Bible this semester. I thought others might be interested to see this order as well.

Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

The Prophets
Joshua, Judges, Samuel/Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, The Twelve (“minor” prophets)

Hagiographa (“Holy Writings”)
Ruth, Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Lamentations, Daniel, Esther, Ezra/Nehemiah, Chronicles

Two notes from this order that I thought were particularly interesting:

  • One had to do with the book of Ruth. In this order it comes just before the book of Psalms. Why? Because it serves as an introduction to the Psalms, ending with a genealogy of David, who wrote most of the Psalms.
  • The second is the placement of the book of Chronicles. It always seemed somewhat oppressive to have to read Chronicles immediately after Samuel/Kings. It repeats much of the same information and it seems like the history of Israel drags on and on. But it is different than Samuel/Kings. It begins not with the story of Israel in Canaan after the Exodus, but back at Adam in the garden. It’s almost like a summary recap of everything that has gone on in the whole of the Old Testament. And it restates the whole as a single story, which looks ahead to the fulfillment that we find in the New Testament.

So I’ll give this order a try this semester and see how it works out. I think that putting Chronicles at the end will be extremely helpful, not just in keeping me reading but also in really understanding and remembering the content of the Old Testament.


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