If I would want to read the books of the Bible in chronological order from first book first to the last book, which is apparently not the book Revelation, how would you list the books? I am Afrikaans speaking living in South Africa and would appreciate your reply.
Here is how I rearrange the books in order to reflect their chronological order of writing (for commentary see below: linked here). Please note that the numbers below in bold are the traditional English order:
Old Testament (n.b., this is a "higher chronology" than you will find elsewhere = dates are earlier than in many liberal sources; numbers in bold represent the traditional English order):
1440 - 1400 B.C.
1400 - 1000
1000 - 586 B.C. (pre-exile - mid-exile)
Period of David and Solomon (ca. 1000 - 931):
1st Samuel #9
2nd Samuel #10
Song of Solomon #22
Period of Rehoboam to Hezekiah (931 - 686):
Period of Hezekiah to the exile (686 - 586):
2nd Kings #12
1st Chronicles #13
2nd Chronicles #14
516 - 400 B.C. (post-exilic)
New Testament (n.b., this is a "higher chronology" than you will find elsewhere = dates are earlier; numbers in bold represent the traditional New Testament English order; parenthetical bold numbers are the traditional order in the Bible overall):
40 - 45. A.D.
45 - 50 A.D.
1st Thessalonians #13
2nd Thessalonians #14 (#53)
1 Corinthians #7 (#46)
2 Corinthians #8 (#47)
Romans #6 (#45)
Luke #3 (#42)
50 - 55 A.D.
Galatians #9 (#48)
Ephesians #10 (#49)
Philippians #11 (#50)
Colossians #12 (#51)
Philemon #18 (#57)
Acts #5 (#44)
1st Timothy #15 (#54)
2nd Timothy #16 (#55)
Titus #17 (#56)
Hebrews #19 (#58)
55 - 60 A.D.
James #20 (#59)
Jude #26 (#65)
60 - 68 A.D.
1st Peter #21 (#60)
2nd Peter #22 (#61)
Mark #2 (#41)
John #4 (#43)
1st John #23 (#62)
2nd John #24 (#63)
3rd John #25 (#64)
Revelation #27 (#66)
For detailed analysis of the Book of Revelation, please see this link for the Coming Tribulation series (wherein a verse by verse exegesis of the entire book). Original translations of specific verses from throughout the Bible can be found in the Translation Index.
I would be happy to answer - to the best of my ability - any questions you might have about the dates of individual books.
Here is another link where I discuss the chronological order of the books of the Bible:
Chronological order of the books of the Bible
Commentary: The chronological order of the books of the Bible is not something that is possible to definitively establish in the detail we should like to have. We do know with certainty how they start and how they end. In the case of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch or first five "books of Moses" are definitely first, and are followed by Joshua and Judges. The final book of the Old Testament is also very clearly Malachi, but in between, there are numerous issues. For one thing, a number of the historical books and also Psalms were clearly written by a number of different authors over a long period of time. Thus some of the books (like Kings and Chronicles) are compilations which overlap. And in the time of overlap, other books were written at some indeterminate time. Thus Job was no doubt written during the time of Solomon, but it was not composed before Psalms was begun, although it was most likely completed before Psalms was (so that we cannot really say which to "put first" in an attempt at such an order). Thus in the chart provided below you will see a good deal of clustering, and dates provided as rough ranges as well, because in most cases there is not sufficient internal evidence to give a specific date.
As to the New Testament, we find a comparable though not identical situation. Even though we are much close in time to those events and know much more about the authors of the books and their activities than is the case for most of the Old Testament books, still there are many unknowns with which to grapple for someone attempting to do as you request. Despite what you report having heard about Revelation, it is most definitely the final book written, and most probably would be preceded by 1st, 2nd, and 3rd John - although there is no way to tell for certain what their chronological order should be - as with the Pauline epistles, the tendency from early times has been to arrange them roughly by length rather than by date of writing.
The list below gives the books of the Bible in relative Chronological order with the oldest first. The numbers in bold represent their ranking in the traditional Protestant order as they occur in, e.g., the King James Version. Where multiple books share a line or lines on this chart, it is because their particular precedence of dating within the span in question is impossible to determine with precision. Please also understand that with the exception of the books mentioned above, the relative rankings of books within each of the spans presented here represents a "best educated-guess".
As to a reading plan, in my experience it is good to read several Bible books at once (as you have already read). In terms of assembling a (loose) chronological order for your reading, it is certainly also be possible to "do it yourself", and that can be better too than buying some version which purports to do the same. One possible way of combining these two approaches is to read five chapters a day, one from each of the following groups:
One chapter a day each from the following sections:
1) Genesis through Esther
2) Job through Song of Solomon
3) Isaiah through Zechariah
4) Matthew throuh Acts
5) Romans through Revelation
. . . and repeating when you finish, even though the number of chapters is uneven.
This system has the benefit of giving more emphasis and more reinforcement to some of the more doctrinally important areas of scripture, plus, it will have you repeating and therefore becoming more fluent with some of the more important passages much sooner than a year, which is, after all, the real objective rather than reading the Bible just to have read it once. For this reason, I'm not much personally on plans that are deliberately tailored to the western calendar (why not start today, whatever day it is?).
In Jesus, the Word of God Himself,
What translation of the bible do you use? Thanks,
For my Bible research and writings, I use the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek scriptures, and I also make it a point to read my Hebrew OT and Greek NT on a daily basis. I also read the Bible in English, listen to tapes in KJV, use NASB for parallel reading of the OT, and read the NIV alone. For translations used in the studies posted at Ichthys, I more often than not do my own translations from the originals, but sometimes I will use NIV or KJV or NASB or RV or whatever version has captured the essence of the passage in what in my judgment is just the right way. So, long story short, I'll most often render my own, but when I can't improve on one of the versions I'll use that instead. You can find a critique of some of these versions in the following link:
Read your Bible: A Basic Christian Right and Responsibility
In reading Satan's Rebellion, part 5, the following passage is as follows:
The removal of the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit at the beginning of the Tribulation (2Thes.2:6-7), will allow the devil and mankind to go to extremes not previously permitted......
I went to 2 Thes 2:6-7 and it reads thus:
2Ti 2:6 The husbandmen that laboreth must be the first to partake of the fruits. 2Ti 2:7 Consider what I say; for the Lord shall give thee understanding in all things.
I do not understand what this passage has to do with the removal of the influence of the Holy Spirit. I would so appreciate your explanation of this. I would also appreciate your thoughts on what you perceive is the best Bible version to have in one's collection of Bibles.
Thanks so much for sharing your valuable resources and time.
Yours in Christ,
Happy to help. And good for you that you are checking references! That's what they are there for. The passage in question is 2nd Thessalonians 2:6-7; the quotation you pasted in is from 2nd Timothy 2:6, different books. My system of abbreviations may not be familiar to you (sorry about that; more related info at this link: "How to use the Bible translations at Ichthys"). There are a number of ways of abbreviating these books in both the Old and New Testaments and mine is somewhat non-standard.
As to the various versions out there, I have some commentary on the more common ones at the following link: "Read your Bible". Personally, I read my Greek NT and Hebrew OT nearly every day. As to English, I prefer the original NIV (although there are pitfalls there for people who can't check up on strange things by looking at the original languages). I also use NASB and KJV regularly, and occasionally the RSV. I have friends from seminary who love the "Standard Version" (which preceded the RSV), and a number of old seminary professors who liked the New KJV. Generally speaking, all English versions have their advantages and disadvantages. As I say, I enjoy the NIV for ease of reading, but one is always well advised to do some serious checking whenever a passage is found that seems to contradict what one has generally believed or which adds something "really new" that one has never perceived before. It may indeed be that intensive and repeated Bible reading has thus yielded some fruit, but one always wants to make sure that "it really means that here", especially where the NIV is concerned (but not restricted to the NIV). As to most of the other "modern versions" what little I know about them is not favorable. Whenever I am going to quote a passage in one of my studies or e-mail passages, my tendency is to translate the verse myself. I am not restricted to producing prose that strikes the ear pleasantly if that interferes with the real point that the Bible in its original languages is trying to get across. However I am not averse to well turned phraseology that does indeed in the process wonderfully well reflect the true meaning of the text. You will see in these studies a number of places where other versions are cited instead of my own translations. That generally means that, in my opinion, the version has done a good job of it, and one which I would be hard-pressed to improve on in terms of mellifluous English.
In our Lord.
Dear Dr. Luginbill,
First of all thank you for all your hard work on your new study Christology, although I am just getting into the study it is wonderful and I do appreciate what you do for us : )
I have a friend that I have told several times about you website but she is fearful that you read from the Greek Bible that apparently was a translation by Westcott and Hort whom she says were Gnostic in their translation. I told here I would find out from you if in fact you use their translation and put her mind to rest since I do not know the text that you use. Since I am not aware of them could you tell me a little about what you might know.
Blessings in His name,
Thanks so much for you warm words! As to the Greek New Testament, the New Testament is in Greek (in its original language), just as the Old Testament is in Hebrew. Both have been translated into many languages since antiquity. The Old Testament was translated into Greek in ca. the third century B.C., but the New Testament has always been Greek (both Testaments also have very small amounts of Aramaic). The Old Testament Greek version is also known as the Septuagint (abbreviated LXX), named for the mythical story of its origin (where seventy elders were said to have translated the Torah independently at the same time and yet came up with identical translations!). Wescott and Hort were editors of the Greek New Testament text, not translators. Their edition came out in 1881. But there have been many other critical editions of the text of the NT before and since. And while no two are precisely the same, I would estimate that there is less than 1% of the text about which there is any serious question whatsoever (or difference in printed text between various editions). Therefore when it comes down to the issue of textual criticism in the New Testament, we are really concerned with a very small part of the total. Wescott and Hort were scholars (whatever their spiritual failings), and like all scholars it is certainly possible and permissible to question their conclusions. But like all good scholars, they followed a methodology and also explained how and why they did what they did in their critical apparatus. Pick up any good edition of the Greek New Testament today and you will find in the apparatus at the bottom of each page most of the variant readings. Just as in any good classical text of Thucydides or Plato, scholarly editions let the reader/scholar/translator decide whether or not they agree with what the text which the editors have printed. Therefore no translator who really knows the original languages need be at the mercy of the precise text of any critical edition - indeed, they should not be. A good translator should consider all the evidence and establish the true text to his/her satisfaction before attempting to render it into English (or into any other language).
I say above that these critical editions contain "most of the variant readings", because when it comes to the text of the GNT, we have what the French call "an embarrassment of riches". The Greek New Testament is the best document text from antiquity, and we possess literally thousands of manuscripts and tens of thousands of fragments on all possible media. Therefore it would be impractical and really impossible to reproduce every small variant in a critical apparatus. When it comes to most of the questions of "what is the text here really?", as I say, of the 1% which is at issue, in about 90+% of the cases the translator will find all important variants right there on the page in any good critical edition, and can then make use of his/her own canons of interpretation when it comes to deciding what in his/her view the correct text really is.
As a Classicist and as someone who has spent his life concerned with these sorts of issues, I am grateful for the hard work that men like Westcott and Hort did in order to make all this information readily available. I do not agree with anyone else's text. I have my own views about these things, and, as I have stated in many places in these writings, have come to see that the oldest manuscript we possess, Sinaiticus (discovered by Tischendorf in a monastery on Mt. Sinai in the late 19th century), is by far the best (you can view it online at the following link: www.csntm.org). However, even Aleph, as it is also known, is not perfect. How do we know? By knowing Greek very well, by knowing the theology behind the NT very well, and also by knowing very well manuscripts and the way the were produced and the canons of textual criticism that have been developed over the centuries to sort these things out. So while I do read from a critical edition of the GNT rather than straight from an ancient manuscript, I try always to do my homework when I translate a passage, making sure that what I am translating is the true original text, and, indeed, that is often different if ever so slightly from what the critical edition I prefer actually prints. That has been especially true in the Book of Revelation, where the critical editions have been somewhat at fault for not presenting all of the alternatives in Aleph (which tends to be right much more often than it is wrong). But please understand, we are usually talking about one word in hundred or two, and generally speaking the difference in form or lexeme or morpheme is not of any great theological significance. Of course everything matters when it comes to the Word of God, and for that reason I take pains to make sure of being correct.
In my experience, most people who find fault with critical editions of the NT and with Westcott and Hort in particular do so not out of any personal conviction, because they have been influenced by a strain of pseudo-scholarship which seeks to prove that the King James version was translated on the basis of "a superior Greek text", superior, that is, to the one printed by Westcott and Hort (and presumably to all other critical editions since). I take great offense at this false theory, both as a Christian and as a scholar. As a scholar, the idea that less information is better, or that the accidental collection of manuscripts available at the early date of the KJV's translation (the compilation of which is known as the textus receptus or TR), would or even could be superior to all the finds of later centuries of manuscripts and papyri that go back in some cases to as early as the second century, and to the laborious efforts of so many dedicated people who worked on them, seems to me to be patently absurd. As a Christian, I am horrified by the idea that any of my brothers and sisters would prefer a favorite version over the truth. The truth is what we want - or should want - even if (as if often the case when we set ourselves to seeking God with all our hearts) we may occasionally find it uncomfortable.
The KJV is a wonderful translation. I use it all the time and even listen to it on audio tapes while driving to work. But it is no more perfect than any other translation, and it was in fact made based upon manuscripts which were inferior to those that have come to light more recently (i.e., during the 19th century for the most part). Please understand that this concerns a very small part of the text. I venture to say that when it comes to true substance, the places where the KJV and, say, the NIV differ significantly because they are reading a different text are very few and far between. Where there are substantial differences, this is mostly because the people that translated the passages understood them differently, though reading the same text. Thus, the issue of the text is largely a red-herring. The KJV was a very careful and well done effort (done by anonymous committee, I might add), but it is no more perfect than any other translation. Claiming that it is to be preferred because of the fact of the text upon which it is based is absurd (since the textual evidence used by the translators was objectively inferior to what we have today, and I can guarantee you that if the men who produced the KJV were alive today they would be the first to affirm this, Classical scholars that they all were), but more than that it is disingenuous (since the real issue is that proponents of the KJV have against any and all comers is that they dislike everything about alternative versions, the places where translations differ based upon differing text being the least of their concerns in truth).
I have tried to simplify a fairly complex set of issues above, and I can certainly understand if some things are confusing. I would be glad to follow up on any of this. Until then, you might find the following links helpful.
Are New Bible Translations part of a conspiracy?
Who wrote the King James version?
Which is better? The KJV or the New KJV?
Thank you again so much for all your encouragement!
In our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Dear Dr. Luginbill,
A further follow up to my question on Westcott and Hort because my friend says that they had dealings with the occult and with seances and because of this she is fearful that if you used a text by them that it would be of this same ideology. Since I knew nothing of them before her question I went on line and Westcott and Hort/occult yielded over 2500 articles. So I'd like to get your perspective on this and whether there is truth to these allegations.
Also a recent article on the meaning of Christmas I found disturbing. Although I knew that Christmas and Easter had pagan meanings. I knew that Jesus was not born on December 25 and since I did not worship any of the things associated with the season, i.e.. tree, Yule log, etc. and truly gave a thankful heart for our Savior's birth felt my long standing traditions were held with the best intentions. I even went so far as not to say Happy Holidays but replied to one and all Merry Christmas and now read that Christmas comes from the RC Church from "Cristes Maesse". That the word "Mass" in religious usage means a "death sacrifice" and that to say Merry Christmas really is saying "Merry death of Christ". Is that the real meaning of it and if so then as a Christian how do I continue saying this. I always want to honor our Lord! "For thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." Am I making too much of this since for 62 years I did not know the true meaning. Do I in response say "May our Lord bless you" and leave it at that? Help!!
Blessings and peace in His precious name,
On Wescott and Hort, I have no idea about their personal lives, and I don't see that as an issue. I would happily use a well-made rake to gather leaves even it had been manufactured by a demon-possessed lunatic.
The Greek text I consult first and foremost is the Nestle-Aland 3rd edition. However, that is just for convenience' sake. I always check the readings of the manuscripts when doing translations, and my own copy is filled with my own corrections, emendations, and assorted marginalia. Given the nature of Greek texts, textual criticism, and the easy availability of these resources, it would be impossible for any one or two or even large group of conspirators to "pull the wool" over the eyes of the entire scholarly community and Christian world on this issue. As I said before, you can go online and see Sinaiticus, the best ancient manuscript, with your own eyes. Whatever wrong readings W&H may have printed in their edition, it hasn't done me any damage whatsoever. Far more damage has been done to the Church as a whole by those who from prejudice, superstition, laziness and arrogance have refused to do the hard work of learning Greek and checking the actual texts for themselves. No English translation can open up the deep things of scripture beyond a certain point, because the Bible was not written in English. Therefore if there is a W&H conspiracy, I would sooner think that Satan is using general ignorance in the Church to prejudice Christians against the use of the Greek New Testament - which is the actual Word of God.
On Christmas, what you say is true as far as the issue of it being completely non-biblical. However, the word "mass" has an obscure origin. It seems to be a Latin derivative. If so, it is more likely coming from mitto (send) than morior (die). I think the reported "origin" highly unlikely. My own application is to accept that Christmas is a cultural not a religious holiday. Like the believers in Romans 14 who have knowledge, we can appreciate the truth without rubbing other people's noses in it. I have no problem personally wishing others "Merry Christmas!" any more than I would "Happy Fourth of July!". I don't promote Christmas and I don't go out of my way to celebrate it, but I try not to judge people who do. There are some genuine Christian elements employed in some of the festivities at some of the churches who do make much ado of Christmas, and so like Paul "whether from false motivation or from truth, Christ is proclaimed and in this I rejoice" (Phil.1:18).
I find your approach entirely reasonable in every way, and reflective of a good Christian who wants to be pure in all things, honoring the Lord at all times. We need to stand up for the truth when it becomes an issue. But there is a right time and a right circumstance for every matter. I think that you are very correctly "threading the needle" between an excess of corrective zeal on the one hand and a complete anesthetization towards folly on the other. I would only wish you to have peace on this matter. We are not big or powerful enough to change something as monumental as Christmas, but we can know the truth, believe the truth, practice the truth, and, when asked for a defense of what we are doing, explain and proclaim the truth. With God's help in the Spirit, may we ever be able to do so in a way that turns people towards the love of Jesus Christ.
In the One who died for us, our dear Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Hi Dr. Luginbill:
Does a present tense verb in Greek ALWAYS mean that the verb's action is continuous? Can you name any specific examples in scripture when a present tense verb does not indicate continuous action? Thank you in advance for your answer.
Greek tense stems have what is generally called in grammar "aspect". This is a thorny issue for English speakers, though perhaps it shouldn't be. When we speak of the English "past tense", we have in that "box" the indicative, the participle, and the infinitive, and that's it; no subjunctive, optative, or imperative - and, really, we don't think of anything except "I ran, you ran, he ran" etc. So when we find out that Greek has both a present stem and aorist (i.e. past) stem imperative, well, it boggles the mind at first (and at second). Simply put, the aorist stem connotes simple action-mode while the present connotes continuous action-mode. The ironic thing is that English does have this in the present tense while Greek has it everywhere but, more or less. That is to say, we can say either "I speak" or "I am speaking", but Greek can't distinguish between the two. There is no difference in time between the two, only one of "aspect", that is, whether we are calling attention to the simple fact or to the continuing nature of the action. That's exactly what is going on in Greek when there is a distinction being made by a writer between the aorist and the present stem (which can happen, for example, in the imperative or infinitive, etc.). Does this really mean anything? The short answer to that is "not really". In all my years of Greek the times when there has been a discernible semantic difference which greatly affected interpretation between an aorist simple aspect and a present continuing aspect have been few and far between. It can and does happen, but people without wide experience in translating Greek very often make much more out of the issue than is legitimate.
To get to the specifics of your question, one place where a person should be very reluctant to make a big deal out of the present stem's continuous aspect is in the present indicative. The reason for this is that while in English, as mentioned above, we can say "I speak" or "I am speaking" (or even "I do speak"), in Greek one can only say lego, and so to say "AHA! This is present aspect and so indicates the continuing nature of the action here!" is pretty silly, since there is no other way to say it in Greek.
Anyway, hope this is responsive. Feel free to write back on this if I didn't get to the nub of your question.
In our Lord Jesus,
I have a question regarding the following statement with respect to Ancient Biblical Greek grammar.
"In Ancient Greek, verbs have four moods (indicative, imperative, subjunctive and optative), three voices (active, middle and passive), as well as three persons (first, second and third). Verbs are conjugated in four main tenses (present, aorist, perfect, and future), with a full complement of moods for each main tense, although there is no future subjunctive or imperative. In addition, for each main tense there exist, in each voice, an infinitive and participles. Indicative forms of the imperfect, pluperfect and the rare future perfect also exist. The distinction of the "tenses" in moods other than the indicative is predominantly one of aspect rather than time..."
Am I correct in assuming that the above described 'aorist' (aspect) verb tense in ancient Biblical Greek is suggested to be equivalent or even equal to our English 'past' verb tense? To this end, if there was/is NO 'future subjunctive' in ancient Biblical Greek, then the transliterated Biblical Greek Word 'conquer' (Greek 'nikao' - Rev. 6:2) which is a 3rd Person, singular, active, aorist, subjunctive, verb - should accordingly take on a 'Past Tense' (aspect) form/interpretation?
Well this is difficult for my college students. Here we have one of the more troublesome concepts for first (and second) year Greek students to grasp, namely, the issue of "verbal aspect". Let me put it this way, in English we have "aspect" in the present indicative (i.e., the vanilla "matter of fact" mood wherein we state actions simply). For example, we can say "I write" or "I am writing" or even "I do write". These are often referred to as the simple, progressive, and emphatic present tenses respectively. The problem (for English speakers) is that while Greek does not have an ability to distinguish between these aspects in the present indicative time frame, it can make this distinction outside of the indicative mood (for the first two; no emphatic aspect though). So, for example, while we are reluctant to say "be writing this letter!" and would probably only ever consider saying "write this letter!", Greek has no disinclination about the use of either one. Granted there is not much of a difference in terms of pure meaning. And in other moods (like the subjunctive, optative, and [usually] infinitive), this aspectual difference is almost impossible to translate (i.e., making a translational differentiation between a present subjunctive on the one hand and an aorist subjunctive on the other is not only difficult but would almost always result in a serious mis-translation through over-emphasis since in point of fact there is almost no true difference between the two).
Where students get confused in all this (if they are not confused already!) is the distinction between tense-stem and pure time. The aorist is indeed the Greek simple past tense; however, that is only true in the indicative mood (also with the participle and sometimes also the infinitive representing the relative time of prior action). What I mean to say is that in the indicative, a simple statement, the aorist refers to time past; but in the subjunctive, optative and imperative (and often the infinitive) it does not. In these moods, the aorist differs from the present only in terms of aspect (i.e., aorist = simple statement of action: "write!"; present = continuation of action represented: "be writing!"). In the example just given I use the imperative because, as I say, it is pretty much impossible for me even to give an example of what the difference might be in the subjunctive and optative moods (and the infinitive not in reported speech) because there really is so little discernible difference as to make any attempt to represent that non-difference a mis-translation by definition. So to get to the specific example you ask about, the fact of a verb being in the aorist subjunctive would thus tell us nothing about the time of the action. The text as you are reading it in your edition of the GNT has this verb nikesei as an aorist subjunctive in a purpose clause "in order to conquer", and if it were in the present instead of the aorist it would be translated the same way. One could, I suppose, in that case translate, "in order to be conquering", but that would be reading much too much significance into the choice of the present in my view, and note that in either the case the time of the actual completion of the event is still in the future (whether aorist or present subjunctive is used). If you ask why then the author chose the aorist over the present my answer would be that this is a contract verb (from nikao), and that in the majority of instances authors put non-indicative contract verb forms into the aorist as first choice because thereby they can avoid the contraction that would otherwise occur in the present stem (i.e., because it's simpler and thus not only easier to write but easier on the ear - not because of any significant difference in meaning from the other main alternative).
You should know, however, that in my view the standard text printed in most GNT versions here is incorrect. The best manuscript, Aleph (Sinaiticus), reads enikesen (the aorist indicative wherein we do have genuine time reference): "and he went out conquering and did conquer". This then would be looking forward vividly to those future events as having already happened (comparable to the Hebrew "prophetic perfect" where in Hebrew prophecy we often have future events seen as so vividly inevitable since they are prophesied by God that they are described as already having occurred).