Summaries of Christianity

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Outline of the Old Testament


    The Protestant Old Testament (OT) consists of thirty-nine books, from Genesis to Malachi.  (Catholic and Orthodox Bibles contain more books, to find out why go to .)  The OT contains a long story, but also poetry, song lyrics, wise sayings, and prophecies.  Basically you can divide the OT into three parts:  history (1-17 below), wisdom literature, and prophets. This summary will explain the outline of the OT.

    The history part of the OT is found in the first seventeen books of the Old Testament:

1.  Genesis:  From Creation through Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel), and Joseph going to Egypt and bringing his whole family there.

2.  Exodus:  Jews as slaves in Egypt through Moses being chosen by God, bringing Jews out of Egypt, the 10 Commandments and some of the Laws.

3.  Leviticus:  Additional Laws and the Jews travel across desert.

4.  Numbers:  Additional Laws and the Jews arrive at the border of the Promised Land (Israel).

5.  Deuteronomy:  A long speech given by Moses while across the Jordan River from the Promised Land.  Basically tells of their travels and retells some Laws.  Moses dies in the end.

6.  Joshua:  Joshua takes over as leader and guides the Jews into the Promised Land, destroys most of the inhabitants, and takes most of the Land.

7.  Judges:  After Joshua dies, different leaders rise up to lead the Jews known as Judges.  There people, for the most part, were not related and so did not create dynasties.

8.  Ruth:  This little book looks ahead to the reign of David, the greatest king in Judaism.  It tells the story of Davidís great-grandmother. 

9.  I Samuel:  Picks up after Judges:  Samuel, a prophet, and Saul, the first king of the Jews.

10.  II Samuel:  Tells the story of the next king, David.

11.  I Kings:  Tells the story of the next king and Davidís son, Solomon.  The kingdom splits after Solomon dies into the northern kingdom (N), Israel, and the southern kingdom (S), Judah.

12.  II Kings:  Continues the story of the two kingdoms.  Tells of the defeat of Israel (N) by the Assyrians and the defeat of Judah (S) by the Babylonians.

13.  I Chronicles:  A shift happens.  This book goes back to Adam and traces the history from Adam to David, which was covered in Genesis-II Samuel.

14.  II Chronicles:  Continues the story in I and II Kings, from Solomon to the defeat of Judah (S).  It adds a part about the Babylonians being defeated by the Persians and the Persian king allowing the Jews to return to Judah.

15.  Ezra:  Ezra leads Jews who were taken captive back to the Promised Land.

16.  Nehemiah:  Nehemiah returns with more Jews and the wall around Jerusalem is rebuilt.

17.  Esther:  A short tale of a woman who rescued many Jews from being killed while in exile.

    The next five books are called Wisdom Literature and include Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs/Solomon.  According to tradition, David wrote many Psalms and Solomon wrote Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs.  The timing of Job is unknown.

    The OT ends with fifteen books of prophets who lived after Solomon until Malachi, the last prophet.  Two additional books are also included. 

    The three Major Prophets (called that because they are longer) are Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.  An additional book of Lamentations comes between Jeremiah and Ezekiel and tells of the destruction of Jerusalem.

    Next come the additional book of Daniel, which many believe looks ahead to the future and is referred to as "apocalyptic."

    And the OT ends with twelve Minor Prophet books (called that because they are shorter):  Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.


©2010-2014 Mark Nickens


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