News flash: the Bible is huge: about 611,000 words long, all divvied up across 66 smaller documents called the “books” of the Bible.
That’s because the Bible is a collection of writings from different authors writing at different times. In some ways, that makes it easier to approach the Bible: we can read it in “chunks” rather than needing to read the whole Bible at once.
But it also makes it a bit confusing. The Bible itself is a book. In fact, the word “bible” comes from the Latin and Greek words for “book” (biblia and biblos, respectively). But it’s a book of books. That means if you want to know the Bible better, you’ll need to get acquainted with the 66 documents it comprises.
That can take a while, so . . .
Here’s a snapshot of every book of the Bible
I’ve written a one-sentence overview of every book of the Bible. They’re listed in the order they show up in the Protestant Bible. If you want more, I’ve linked to quick, 3-minute guides to every book of the Bible, too.
This is a lot to take in, so if you want to start with baby steps, check out this list of the shortest books of the Bible.
Genesis answers two big questions: “How did God’s relationship with the world begin?” and “Where did the nation of Israel come from?”
Author: Traditionally Moses, but the stories are much older.
Fun fact: Most of the famous Bible stories you’ve heard about are probably found in the book of Genesis. This is where the stories of Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Ark, the Tower of Babel, Abraham and Isaac, Jacob’s ladder, and Joseph’s coat of many colors are recorded.
Joshua (Israel’s new leader) leads Israel to conquer the Promised land, then parcels out territories to the twelve tribes of Israel.
Author: Nobody knows
Fun fact: You’ve probably heard of a few fantastic stories from this book (the Battle of Jericho and the day the sun stood still), but most of the action happens in the first half of this book. The last half is pretty much all about divvying up the real estate.
Israel enters a cycle of turning from God, falling captive to oppressive nations, calling out to God, and being rescued by leaders God sends their way (called “judges”).
Author: Nobody knows
22. Song of Solomon (Song of Songs)
A love song (or collection of love songs) celebrating love, desire, and marriage.
Author: Traditionally Solomon (but it could have been written about Solomon, or in the style of Solomon)
God sends the prophet Isaiah to warn Israel of future judgment—but also to tell them about a coming king and servant who will “bear the sins of many.”
Author: Isaiah (and maybe some of his followers)
Paul hears that the Galatian churches have been lead to think that salvation comes from the law of Moses, and writes a (rather heated) letter telling them where the false teachers have it wrong.