In ordering its individual books, the Old Testament does not follow a strict chronological order. Rather, the books are grouped first by genre (e.g. law, poetry, prophecy), and then generally, though not always, in chronological order. This categorization of books was deemed more helpful than a pure chronological ordering.
The New Testament, in its subdivisions, is likewise first ordered by genre (i.e., gospels, then epistles). Moreover, the ordering within genres shows no consistent guideline of chronology. Of course, this might be expected since the New Testament documents were all written by contemporaries and they did not include precise dates in what they wrote in the way that we do today.
Therefore, since date of writing is not fully governing the ordering of Bible writings, why then couldn’t the New Testament precede the Old Testament? This would certainly lead to greater understanding for those who chose to read the Bible themselves in order to better understand God.
I am not suggesting that the interior order of either testament be rearranged. Jews already order the Old Testament (what they call the Tanakh) differently from how Christians order it and this causes no insurmountable confusion.
I am only suggesting that reading the Bible beginning to end, as it is currently arranged, is inconsistent with the understanding that the New Testament gives to the Old Testament. To read the New Testament first would allow the reader to better understand what the Old Testament says to us.
Specifically, the New Testament says that the Old Testament is about Jesus. Reading the Old Testament without guidance on that point would be comparatively unproductive.
The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.
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