Rough Guide to the Bible

I initially wrote this for a small group in my church, to give a very brief overview of the Bible. The main goal is for someone who doesn't know the Bible very well to quickly find out how a particular chunk fits into the big picture.

There are some good reasons to read the Bible - and religious duty isn't one of them!

  • To change our thinking, so that it's built on truth - about what God is like, and his good plans
  • To increase our faith - about what God can do and wants to do
  • To help us in our relationship with God - he can speak to us through the Bible
  • To show us how to live - God's ways are the best ways
  • To show us his heart, so we can share in his plans
HistoryApprox. DatesBooks
God creates everything; the Fall; Adam and Eve to Abram Creation - 2100 BCGenesis 1 - 11
God calls a man - Abraham, then Isaac, Jacob, Joseph 2100 - 1525 BC Genesis 12 - 50
God makes a nation - Moses, out of Egypt, reaching the Promised Land; religious and governmental laws 1525 - 1400 BC Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
Taking the Promised Land - Joshua, and Israel's leaders (Judges) 1400 - 1100 BC Joshua, Judges, Ruth
Israel rejects God as king, God creates monarchy - Saul, David, Solomon; temple built in Jerusalem (Judah)1100 - 930 BC 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 Kings 1 - 11, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles 1 - 9
Most psalms written around this period, e.g. by David   Psalms
Most proverbs written around this period, e.g. by Solomon   Proverbs
What's the meaning of life?   Ecclesiastes
A love song   Song of Songs
Nation splits into "Judah" (Southern kingdom) and "Israel" (Northern kingdom), so Israel without temple; God sends prophets; Israel defeated by Assyria and deported 930 - 725 BC 1 Kings 12 - 2 Kings 17, 2 Chronicles 10 - 31
Warning to Edom, who rebelled against Judah 850 BC Obadiah (around 2 Kings 8)
Call to Judah to repent 800 BC? Joel (around 2 Kings 12?)
Call to Ninevah (Assyrian capital) to repent - which it does 780 BC Jonah (around 2 Kings 14)
Call to Israel to stop spiritual adultery 750 BC Hosea (around 2 Kings 14)
Warning to Israel 750 BC Amos (around 2 Kings 14)
Warning to Judah and other nations 740 BC Isaiah 1 - 35 (around 2 Kings 15)
Warning to Judah and Israel 740 BC Micah (around 2 Kings 15)
Judah survives Assyria, but both defeated by Babylonia and Judah deported 725 - 585 BC 2 Kings 18 - 25, 2 Chronicles 32 - 36
Warning to Judah, promise of restoration and Messiah 700 BC Isaiah 36 - 66 (around 2 Kings 21)
Warning to Ninevah 650 BC Nahum (around 2 Kings 21)
Warning to everyone! 630 BC Zephaniah (around 2 Kings 23)
Warning to Judah 626 - 586 BC Jeremiah (around 2 Kings 23 - 25)
How can a holy God act through a wicked nation? 605 BC Habakkuk (around 2 Kings 25)
God is still sovereign over all nations 605 - 530 BC Daniel (around 2 Kings 25)
Warning to nations, promise of restoration 583 - 571 BC Ezekiel (around 2 Kings 25)
Poem of sadness over fall of Jerusalem 580 BC Lamentations (around 2 Kings 25)
Righteousness and blessing ? Job
Babylonia defeated by Persia; the returnings to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the temple 538 - 457 BC Ezra
Call to prioritise God by rebuilding temple 520 BC Haggai (around Ezra 6)
Encouragement to rebuild temple 520 - 516? BC Zechariah (around Ezra 6)
Intrigue in Susa (Persian empire) 470 BC Esther (between Ezra 6 and 7)
Rebuilding Jerusalem's walls 445 - 410 BC Nehemiah
God's restoration isn't finished yet 430 BC Malachi
Jesus! 5 BC - 30 AD Matthew, Mark, Luke, John
Growth of the church 30 - 62 AD Acts
James (Jesus's brother) to Jewish Christians - faith changes life 49 AD James (around Acts 15)
Paul (in Antioch) to southern Turkey - defending salvation by grace 49 AD Galations (around Acts 15)
Paul (in Corinth) to Thessalonica church - encouraging new Christians and explaining Jesus's return 51 AD 1 Thesselonians (around Acts 18)
Paul (in Corinth) to Thessalonica church, further encourgament/explanation 51/52 AD 2 Thessolonians (around Acts 18)
Paul (in Ephesus) to Corinth church - what church should be like 55 AD 1 Corinthians (around Acts 19)
Paul (in Macedonia) to Corinth church and southern Greece - responding to false teachers 55 AD 2 Corinthians (around Acts 20)
Paul (in Corinth) to Rome church - righteousness from God 57 AD Romans (around Acts 20)
Paul (in Rome under house arrest) to Colosse Church - opposing heresy that was trying to add to Jesus 60 AD Colossians (around Acts 28)
Paul (in Rome under house arrest) to Philemon - appealing to him to accept a runaway slave back as a Christian brother 60 AD Philemon (around Acts 28)
Paul (in Rome under house arrest) to Ephesus church and Turkey - God's great plans 60 AD Ephesians (around Acts 28)
Paul (in Rome under house arrest) to Philippi church - thanks for the gift, and encouragements 61 AD Philippians (around Acts 28)
(No more "historical" books. Paul released from Rome, then later imprisoned under Nero and executed, with Peter also executed around the same time) 62 - 68 AD  
Peter (in Babylon = Rome?), a general letter and dealing with persecution 63 AD 1 Peter
Paul (in Philippi) to Timothy (in Ephesus) - guidance on leading Ephesus church 64 AD 1 Timothy
Paul (in Philippi or Corinth) to Titus (in Crete) - guidance on leading Crete churches 64 AD Titus
Judas (Jesus's brother?) - guarding against false teachers 65 AD Jude
Peter (in Rome?) - guarding against false teachers 67 AD 2 Peter
Paul (in Rome in a dungeon) to Timothy (in Ephesus) - to pass the baton on to Timothy 67 AD 2 Timothy
(Increasing persecution of Christians; Jerusalem and its temple destroyed 70 AD) 68 - 95 AD  
Unknown author to Jewish Christians - Jesus is supreme and enough 69 AD Hebrews
John (in Ephesus) to Ephesus church and Turkey - to expose false teachers 90 AD 1 John
John (in Ephesus) to a church in Turkey - to urge discernment in which missionaries should be helped 90 AD 2 John
John (in Ephesus) to Gaius - to thank him for supporting his teachers 90 AD 3 John
John (in Patmos, Roman equivalent of Alcatraz) to churches in Turkey - stand firm even to death, because Jesus will return 95 AD Revelation

"The Book of God: The Bible as a Novel" - imaginitive story telling which brings biblical events to life The Book of God: The Bible as a Novel