1. Education

What Are the Main Divisions of the Bible?

By

David and Jonathan - Illuminated Manuscript

David and Jonathan - Illuminated Manuscript

Public Domain. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
Question: What Are the Main Divisions of the Bible?
Answer: The Christian Bible is divided into the Old Testament and the New Testament. In general terms, the Old Testament of Christians corresponds with the Bible of Jews. This Bible of the Jews, which is also known as the Hebrew Bible, is divided into three main sections, the Torah, the Prophets, and the Writings. The Prophets is subdivided. The first section of Prophets, like the Torah, is called historical because it tells the story of the Jewish people. The remaining sections of the Prophets and the Writings are on a variety of topics.

When the Septuagint, a Greek version of the (Jewish) Bible, was written in the Hellenistic period -- three centuries before the Christian era, there were apocryphal books in it that are no longer included in the Jewish or Protestant Bible, but are included in the Roman Catholic canon.

Although the Bible to the Jews and the Old Testament to Christians are close to the same, but in a slightly different order, the Biblical books accepted by the different Christian churches vary, even beyond the Septuagint. Within the Christian religion, Protestants accept different books from those accepted by Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches and the canons of eastern and western churches also vary.

"Tanakh" also refers to the Jewish Bible. It is not a Hebrew word, but an acronym, T-N-K, with vowels added to aid pronunciation, based on the Hebrew names of the three main divisions of the Bible -- Torah, Prophets (Nevi'im) and Writings (Ketuvim). Although it is not immediately obvious, the Tanakh is divided into 24 parts, which is accomplished by combining the Minor Prophets as one and combining Ezra with Nehemiah. Also parts I and II of, for instance, Kings, are not counted separately.

According to the Jewish Virtual Library, the name "Torah" means "teaching" or "instruction." The Torah (or the Five Books of Moses, also known by the Greek name of Pentateuch) consists of the first five books of the Bible. They tell the story of the people of Israel from creation to Moses' death. In the Qur'an, Torah refers to Hebrew Scripture.

The Prophets (Nevi'im) is divided into the Former Prophets telling the story of the Israelites from the crossing of the Jordan River to the 586 B.C. destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and Babylonian exile, and the Latter or Minor Prophets, which doesn't tell an historical story but contains oracles and social teachings from probably the middle of the 8th century B.C. to the end of the 5th. Division into I and II (as in I Samuel and II Samuel) is made on the basis of standard scroll length.

The Writings (Ketuvim) consist of homilies, poems, prayers, proverbs, and psalms of the people of Israel.

Here is the list of the sections of the Tanakh:
  • Torah
    1. Bereshit - Genesis
    2. Shemot - Exodus
    3. Vayikra - Leviticus
    4. Bamidbar - Numbers
    5. Devarim - Deuteronomy
  • Neviim -

    The Former Prophets

    1. Joshua
    2. Judges
    3. I Samuel
    4. II Samuel
    5. I Kings
    6. II Kings
    7. Isaiah
    8. Jeremiah
    9. Ezekiel

    The Minor Prophets

    1. Hosea
    2. Joel
    3. Amos
    4. Obadiah
    5. Jonah
    6. Micah
    7. Nahum
    8. Habakkuk
    9. Zephaniah
    10. Haggai
    11. Zechariah
    12. Malachi
  • Ketuvim - The Writings
    1. Psalms
    2. Proverbs
    3. Job
    4. Megillot
      1. Song of Songs
      2. Ruth
      3. Lamentations
      4. Ecclesiastes
      5. Esther
    5. Daniel
    6. Ezra
    7. Nehemiah
    8. I Chronicles
    9. II Chronicles

The Christian Bible New Testament

Gospels
  1. Matthew
  2. Mark
  3. Luke
  4. John
Apostolic History
  1. Acts of the Apostles
Letters of Paul
  1. Romans
  2. I Corinthians
  3. II Corinthians
  4. Galatians
  5. Ephesiams
  6. Philippians
  7. Colossians
  8. I Thessalonians
  9. II Thessalonians
  10. I Timothy
  11. II Timothy
  12. Titus
  13. Philemon

Epistles
The letters and orders vary with the church, but include Hebrews, James, I Peter, II Peter, I John, II John, III John, and Jude.

Apocalypse

  1. Revelation

References:

  1. The Holy Scriptures
  2. The Bible Unearthed
  3. The Free Dictionary

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.