Survey of the Old Testament - Lesson 6

Order of the Books in the English Bible vs. Hebrew Bible

The order of books in the English Bible and the Hebrew Bible is different because the criteria for determining the order is different. The order of the books in the Hebrew Bible reflect an emphasis on covenant, and also teaching important concepts then giving a practical example to illustrate how to put it into practice.

Miles Van Pelt
Survey of the Old Testament
Lesson 6
Watching Now
Order of the Books in the English Bible vs. Hebrew Bible

I. Organizing Structure of the English Bible

A. Genre

B. Chronology and authorship

C. Origin of this structure

1. Josephus

2. Translating the English Bible

II. Hebrew Bible Order

A. Example of the book of Ruth

B. Order of the Writings

III. General Editor of the Old Testament

IV. Order of the New Testament

  • Dr. Miles Van Pelt is offering an opportunity to study the Old Testament and understand its overall message in more detail. The Old Testament consists of 2/3 of the Bible, and serves as a foundation for many teachings found in the New Testament. Its main purpose is to point towards Jesus who makes possible a new covenant with God's people. The structure of both Testaments follows a covenantal pattern that compels humans to make choices regarding their relationship with God, while demonstrating His patience and perseverance in doing so.
  • Knowing the purpose, structure and theological center of the Old Testament, will help you understand more accurately the character of God, and his purpose in the world and in your life. The Old Testament teaches you about Christ and describes his ministry. Colossians 3:15-16 reads, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your heart, let the word of Christ dwell in you richly."

  • What you decide is the theological center of the Bible will determine how you understand the Bible and apply it to your life. You can see unity in biblical authorship by the number of times the phrase, “thus says Yahweh” is used in the Old Testament.  The person and work of Jesus is the theological center of the Old Testament. The living force of the canonical word must be the incarnate word. The proper nouns used in the Bible indicate the important characters and themes.

  • Jesus claims that the Old Testament finds its ultimate meaning in him. After his resurrection, Jesus meets two disciples on the road to Emmaus and gives them a lesson in biblical interpretation. The Father and the Scriptures testify about who Jesus is. In Romans 1:3, Paul refers to the Gospel being revealed through his prophets, in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son. Every book in the Bible teaches about Christ so every sermon should teach about Christ. Hebrews 11 refers to the great cloud of witnesses.

  • The Kingdom of God is the over-arching theme of the whole Bible. God governs his kingdom by his covenants. The covenant of grace is in effect throughout the Bible and has different administrations.

  • The form that our Bibles come to us in is meaningful for interpretation. The Hebrew Bible has a different order of the books than the English Bible.  

  • The order of books in the English Bible and the Hebrew Bible is different because the criteria for determining the order is different. The order of the books in the Hebrew Bible reflect an emphasis on covenant, and also teaching important concepts then giving a practical example to illustrate how to put it into practice.

  • The three divisions in the Old Testament are the Law, the Prophets and the Writings. Genesis and Revelation are the introduction and conclusion to the Bible and have parallel themes. Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are the four covenant books that record the birth and death of the covenant mediator and contain his life and teachings. The former prophets record the history of Israel. The latter prophets call people to repent and return to God.

  • Your presuppositions about whether or not the authors who wrote the books of the Bible were inspired by God will influence your position the authorship of the Pentateuch. The traditional view is that Moses wrote the first five books of the Old Testament at about 1200 to 1400 B.C. The documentary hypothesis claims that there were four or more separate authors that wrote beginning in about 900 B.C.

  • Genesis is the covenant prologue and is both protological and eschatological. It is the most covenantal book in the Bible. One way to outline the book is into twelve parts, each beginning with the phrase, “these are the generations.” Creation is described using a theological order.

  • Chapter 2 is a detailed description of the sixth day of creation, culminating in the creation of woman. Chapter 3 describes the Fall and the consequences. Hebrew homonyms link the passages and intensify the descriptions.

  • Noah functions as a prophetic covenant mediator. God promises a remnant in his covenant with Noah and also renews the covenant of common grace. God continues his redemptive covenant with Abraham and his descendants. The book of Genesis ends with the narrative of Joseph.

  • This is the beginning of the formal documents of the covenant of God with the people of Israel. It begins with the birth of Moses and ends with the people of Israel coming out of Egypt.

  • Leviticus is primarily instructions to promote the holiness of God’s people. It provides a system that allows for a holy God to live among an unholy people. In the sacrificial system, there are 5 kinds of offerings. Jesus is the fulfillment of the observance of the Day of Atonement.

  • The book of Numbers is a record of the events of the forty years of wandering in the wilderness. The purpose is to contrast the faithfulness of God with the faithlessness of the Israelites. The time in the wilderness was a period of testing for the people of Israel.

  • This is a renewal of the Mosaic covenant in preparation for entering the Promised Land. It’s an encouragement to keep the Law and a reminder of blessings for obedience and cursings for disobedience. Deuteronomy points us to Jesus who ultimately fulfills the Law.

  • Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings describe the nature and purpose of the Sinai Covenant and the historical events of the occupation of the land. God know that the people of Israel would fail to obey the Mosaic Covenant, so he had planned from the beginning to establish the New Covenant when the time was right.

  • Joshua was the successor to Moses. The book of Joshua focuses on the Promised Land. The people of Israel enter the land, conquer the land, divide the land between the tribes and then renew their covenant with God. Holy war and covenant obedience are important themes.

  • Judges has two introductions, two conclusions, six major judges, six minor judges and one anti-judge. It can be described as the, “uncreation” of Israel. Their purpose was to judge the nations and to deliver the people of Israel from their oppressors.

  • The book of Samuel provides the answer to the crisis of kingship. Samuel, as the last judge and first prophet, anoints Saul as king. The people of Israel reject Yahweh as king. Saul is anointed by Samuel and serves as king but is later rejected because of disobedience. David is anointed king because God acts according to his own will. Solomon begins well and ends badly.

  • The book of Kings is the story of the monarchy in the nation of Israel. It begins with the united monarchy under Solomon, then after his death, is divided into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. We can learn about God’s character and the importance of living in a covenant relationship with God.  

  • The Latter Prophets are covenant lawyers. They are executing the lawsuit of God against Israel for unfaithfulness to the covenant. Prophets use both oracular prophecies and sign acts to communicate their message.

  • Isaiah is sometimes described as the, “fifth gospel” because it is quoted so much in the New Testament. The themes in Isaiah are both timely for his generation and also point to their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus and the end of time.

  • Jeremiah’s call was to tell the people of Judah why they were going into exile and also to give them hope for future restoration. The book contains oracles, accounts of visions and symbolic actions, prophetic laments and historical narratives.

  • One key to understanding Ezekiel is the glory of God in the temple. The book begins with God appearing to Ezekiel, then God leaves the temple and, in the end, God returns. Ezekiel’s oracles and signs illustrate each of these.

  • In the Hebrew Bible, these 12 minor prophets are treated as one book. Each one is a covenant lawyer that is prosecuting God’s lawsuit against the unfaithful nation of Israel and also preaching a message of hope for restoration. The Day of the Lord is the day of the king’s victory over his enemy, either to crush an enemy or to save a people.

  • These books are about how you think and live in light of the covenant. The genres include narrative, poetry and prophecy. The Hebrew Bible order emphasizes teaching then example.

  • Covenant life is a life of worship. The book divisions in the manuscripts were purposefully arranged so the book as a whole has a meaningful narrative. It emphasized the kingship of Yahweh, the Davidic line and the temple. You can use specific patterns of construction for understanding lament, thanksgiving and hymns of praise psalms. You can also use the same patterns to help you respond to God and worship him.

  • Job deals with the issue of human tragedy and suffering. Job never knows what happened in heaven that resulted in his suffering. His three friends made correct theological arguments but they were misapplied. Job speaks about suffering and hope. God challenges Job at the end of the book, and also restores his possessions and children.

  • Solomon created a collection of practical wisdom sayings. Some were for instructing children, some for instructing kings, but they all are applicable to help everyone live in the light of the covenant of grace in the context of common grace.

  • Ruth follows Proverbs in the Hebrew Bible. Even though she is from Moab, she lives in Israel with her widowed Israelite mother-in-law to take care of her. She marries Boaz and is included in the genealogy of David and Jesus.

  • Marriage should be both rock solid in terms of covenant commitment and white hot in terms of sexual intimacy. If it is both, you can better resist temptation, endure hardship and promote wholeness.   

  • The message of Ecclesiastes is that true knowledge, wisdom and meaning in life begins with the fear of the Lord. The author of Ecclesiastes, likely Solomon, tests this conclusion and is unsuccessful in finding ultimate meaning in activities, “under the sun,” like wealth, relationships, power, projects, etc.

  • Lamentations is a collection of funeral dirges lamenting the fall and exile of Jerusalem. The elegant structure of the book is a contrast to the chaos and destruction of the events that are taking place. Each poem gives you a different perspective on God’s character and his covenant faithfulness.

  • Esther is a story of living a life of faith in exile. It Bringing “shalom” into a hostile environment sometimes even requires risking your life. The festival of Purim commemorates God saving his people and is still celebrated today.

  • Daniel and Esther are examples of living a life of faith while in exile. Daniel was different than the writing prophets because he is not primarily a covenant lawyer prosecuting God’s lawsuit against the people of Israel. The first six chapters are biographical stories highlighting God’s power to save and his sovereignty over the nations. The second six chapters are visions of the future.

  • The book of Ezra-Nehemiah records the last events, chronologically, in the Old Testament. Ezra returned from exile with authorization to teach the Law of the Jews and institute the sacrificial system. Nehemiah returned to rebuild Jerusalem. They fail in their human attempt to rebuild heaven on earth, which encourages you to look forward to the city built by God.

  • The return from exile is not the greater one prophesied by the prophets. We still look forward to the return from exile with them in the resurrection. Chronicles traces the seed that was promised and gives an account of the return from exile.

Take this opportunity to study with Dr. Miles Van Pelt as he shows you patterns and themes that will help you understand the Old Testament and the whole Bible. He will give you an overall view of the Old Testament then discuss specifics about each of the books. 

For instance, you might ask, "What kind of book is the Old Testament?" The OT is a single story told three times over: once in Genesis, once in Exodus through Nehemiah, and once again in Chronicles (just like day 6 in Genesis 1–2). The OT loves to repeat itself, repeat itself, repeat itself. This is how it teaches us. The Old Testament is about 2/3 of the Bible and is the basis for everything you read in the New Testament. The better you understand the Old Testament, the clearer you will understand the message of the Bible. 

What is the Message of the Old Testament? The Old Testament points to the New Covenant. The teachings, prophecies and examples of covenant life point to Jesus who makes the New Covenant possible and inaugurates it. There are also examples in the Old Testament of how human efforts to create heaven on earth fall short, so that we will anticipate and yearn for our ultimate deliverance from exile.

What is the Structure of the Old Testament? The structure of the Old Testament, and the Bible as a whole, is covenantal. God offers to live in the covenant of grace with him and compels them to make that choice. The administrations of the covenant with Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus demonstrate God's patience and perseverance to include as many as are willing.


Recommended Books

Survey of the Old Testament - Bible Study

Survey of the Old Testament - Bible Study

Take this opportunity to study with Dr. Miles Van Pelt as he shows you patterns and themes that will help you understand the Old Testament and the whole Bible. He will give...

Survey of the Old Testament - Bible Study

Dr. Miles Van Pelt

Survey of the Old Testament


Order of the Books in the English Bible vs. Hebrew Bible

I. Organizing Structure of the English Bible (00:12):

In this lecture, we're going to get into the actual structure of the Hebrew Bible and how that works out. But before we do that, I want to consider what is the official organizing structure of the English Bible, and what is the official organizing structure of the Hebrew Bible, as well as answer the question: how did we get the English Bible in this particular order if we're arguing that the Hebrew Bible is the original and older order? We want to know that. Let's begin with the English Bible order.

A. Genre (00:41):

When it comes to the English Bible, the macro structuring device for the Old Testament genre, you begin with the law books, the books of Moses, the history books, the poetical books and the prophetical books. There are two rubrics underneath genre. So genre are the four big sections.

B. Chronology and Authorship (What are the interior arrangements based on? It's usually something like chronology and authorship. So for example, Lamentations in our English Bible is placed after Jeremiah because tradition says that Jeremiah wrote it. Or Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs are grouped together because they're all Solomonic either in derivation or authorship. So genre is the macro structuring device. Chronology and authorship is the micro structuring device.

C. Origin of this structure (01:39):

Now, where does that structure come from? Before we look at the Hebrew one, where does that structure come from? The most concrete answer is that that's the order that Jerome put the Vulgate in. 400 AD, 400 years after the time of Christ, Jerome is translating the Bible into the Latin Vulgate. Vulgate just means vulgar or common, the common Latin tongue, and he uses this form. This form right here, the English Bible form, makes very good sense to our Western tendencies to organize things. We want genre, chronology and authorship. It's very Western. We're taught to put all of our round balls or round blocks in one box, all of our square blocks in another one, and all of our triangle ones in another. All the red ones here, the blue ones there, and the yellow ones. We're taught to organize and think that way. That's the modern way of thinking. It's not necessarily an ancient and Semitic way of thinking. There are other ways to think.

1. Josephus (02:40):

So if we go back as far as Josephus, first century AD. He wrote about the fall of Jerusalem, 70 AD. He's got one of the earliest discussions about the Hebrew Bible and what it looked like. Now, by that time for Josephus, the Bible had been translated into Greek. Beginning in about 250 BC, Hebrew was no longer the major spoken language of a lot of the Jewish exile, it was Greek. Alexandria started translating it in 250 and then all the way down to 100. But as soon as they translated it, they were revising it. Even before the time of Jesus in the Greek, they had the ESV, the NIV, and the NASB. The translation debates are as old as Bible translation. So even before the time of Christ and it's a very interesting history.

So Josephus, he's a Jewish historian trained in Hellenistic literature, and he's trying to make sense of his Bible to his Greek or Hellenistic audience. He's using these categories and he's saying, "Hey, you guys have your law books. We have our law books and here they are." He says, "You guys have your histories. We also have histories and here they are in chronological order." He says, "You have your poets. We have ours. We've got good poets, too." He's trying to connect with his Hellenistic audience. He's trying to say, "We share things in common and you can benefit from our books. You've got your prophets. We've got prophets, too. And here they are." Now he's not providing for an official canon list, but he's contextualizing his Bible for his Hellenistic audience. So that's the earliest kind of frame of reference we have to that.

Then we see Josephus, it could be as early as the Septuagint that some of the stuff was getting thought of in that way, and they're thinking about it. We don't really know when it happened, like if the Greek Old Testament ever existed in that time before the time of Christ, or even before the time of Jerome. Again, remember they would have been in scrolls at that point, so it's not in a book. The arrangement and how you think about it is a little trickier. But the Vulgate was in a book, and the Vulgate became kind of the Christian Bible, Catholic Bible for 1100 years, from 400 to 1500. Think of the royalties on that, Bill, right? Think of that. 1100 years of Bible sales.

2. Translating the Bible to English (04:58):

When they began translating the Bible into the more modern languages like German and English, it was a battle. People were being executed for translating. William Tyndale was executed for translating the Bible into English so that people could read it. The church wanted control and they felt like if you gave the Bible to the people in their original language, they would no longer have that control. It was a political battle. People lost their life for it. So you can imagine, at this point, the significance of order is not on their mind. They're just trying to get it out. Because of that, people knew the Vulgate, people knew the basic order, and so when they translated it into English or German or whatever, they just adopted that order, and that's what we've had.

II. Hebrew Bible Order (05:38):

It's not the oldest order and it's not the one Jesus bares witness to in His life. So there are these options. I'm going to prefer the Hebrew Bible order, the Hebrew Old Testament order for the fact of how it’s laid out and what it does for us. So what you have to do is you have to put them out there and work with them to see how the Legos go together. In some sense, we've lost some of the original instruction manual for the Legos. If you have a picture of it in your mind, you can reconstruct it, so that's what we're going to try and do. The macro canonical structuring theme for the Hebrew Bible is not genre, but covenant. In all of life, everything is covenantal. So we have these divisions here: law, prophets and writings.

Now, before I start making a mess on the board, I've got an answer key to this on the slides that you can have, and I've also in a collaborative event, the RTS Old Testament faculty a few years ago wrote a book called, A Biblical Theological Introduction to the Old Testament, the Gospel Promised. I wrote the introduction to it and the chapter on the Song of Songs in it. So most of what you're going to see here on the board is summarized in that first chapter on the introduction. I've got it in a PDF file. I'll send it to Bill. He can post it on Biblical Training or he can include it with this. So you don't have to desperately write all the details. You can just be wowed by what you get to see.

So we've got the law, the prophets and the writings, and I'm going to designate those as these three categories: covenant, covenant history, and then covenant life. The rubric is covenant. I've got covenant, covenant history, covenant life. So this is the covenant proper. We've got a covenant mediator. This is what it looked like, the history of the people living in that covenant, and the history of Israel. This is how you think and live in light of the covenant. They're the practical books of the covenant. So it's covenant living. Covenant, covenant history, covenant living.

A. Example of the book of Ruth (08:03):

The subsection for this one is something like either themes or theology. I will give you now an example of that.  You know the organizing principle for each order, and you also know where each one kind of comes from. We have an archeological study Bible. We have a chronological study Bible. We have men's devotional Bibles and women's devotional Bibles. Now we need a covenant study Bible, with this order in it. I'm working hard to get there. Bill will have to get it done with Zondervan and I'll work on Crossway.

Let me give you an example of the significance of this. Remember when I talked about the Legos and the propeller? Where you put it determines how you use it or what it does. One of my favorite examples of this is the book of Ruth. She worked a long time to find her final resting place in the canon. There are three places that Ruth has lived in the Bible. The first one you'll all know, it's the one that I missed when I was trying to read Hebrew for the first time. It comes right after the book of Judges because the opening of the book of Ruth says these things happened in the days of the judges. So it's a chronological relationship based on what's the very first thing in the book. So it makes sense because it's genre. It's a historical narrative and we're going to put it in chronological order. Makes perfect sense.

In the Babylonian Talmud, Bava Batra 14b, it talks about the order of the books. It gives the Hebrew Bible order except for two books. Ruth is in a different spot and Isaiah is in a different spot. In the Babylonian Talmud it's Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah. In the Hebrew Bible and the one I have now is Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel. That's chronological, but it's also due to the fact that Isaiah one to five or one to six is the introduction to the entire Prophetic Corpus. So that's why Ezekiel's call is in chapter one. Jeremiah's call is in chapter one. But Isaiah's call is in chapter six, because one through five is an opening lawsuit that sets the stage for the whole Prophetic Corpus.

So one is back by Judges. Two, and that's our English Bible order, is the first book in the writings. In the Babylonian Talmud, they put Ruth before Psalms to introduce the writings. They do that, they say, because of the genealogies at the end. The genealogies lead to David, and who's the primary author and instigator of the psalter? David. He wrote 73 of them, at least that we have listed for him. It's almost half of them. The whole macro structure of the psalter deals with kingship and the theology of kingship. When Jesus talks about his Bible, it's the law, the prophets, and the Psalms. It indicates that at that point Psalms was the beginning of the writings, not the second book.

Then there's a third spot, and we're going to say it's after Proverbs. If you look here in my writing section, section one, it's interesting that this is about life in the land, because it starts out they are in the land. They go into exile, but then they come back into the land. It's a hint of what might happen later. You can see there's Psalms, Job, Proverbs, Ruth, Song of Songs, and Ecclesiastes. Look, it's the only narrative. It feels very out of place there. All this is poetry, poetry, poetry, poetry, Ruth. You’ve got to figure out what's going on there.

B. Order of the writings (11:38):

One of the key features that's controlling the arrangement of the writings is the principle of exposition and illustration. The writings are about life in the covenant. They're instructions to learn to become wise. You give an instruction, and then you give an illustration. Good teachers know this. You can see good preachers do this. They'll explain something, then they'll apply it. That's what do to your kids. You explain something to them. You say now go do it.

Let's talk about that for the writings. It begins with the book of Psalms where I'm going to explain this principle. It's about life in the land, those first six books. What is the first thing you need to know about living in covenant with the Lord in your inheritance? It's about worship. It's a life of worship. The Psalms provide those constructs for worship. They're theological, they're doxological, they're instructive, and they're wise. They're all these things, but they help you worship. I'm going to call the Psalms when we get there, constructs for your affections.

The number one type of Psalm in the book of Psalms is lament. Almost 50% of the Psalms are laments. That's an impressive number because there are at least 10 types of Psalms in the book of Psalms: lament, thanksgiving, hymns, royal, Zion, wisdom, Torah. Then there are groupings like the Asaph Psalms, the Hallelujah Psalms, the doxologies at the end and at the seams. When we get there it'll be really cool to see the structure of the psalter. It's like today where we have praise songs in the church and hymns that are quite different, or you have rock and roll and country and the blues, that diversity exists in the psalter or in the book of Psalms.

The number one type of Psalm is lament, and the reason for that is because they're living between the promise of God and the fulfillment of that promise. Life between promise and fulfillment like we live in now is a life of suffering. So you sing laments in the context of suffering. You express your affections to God that way. Who is the number one guy in the Bible who suffers in a virtuous way? Job. Psalms gives you the exposition. Here's the theology of suffering, and Job is the illustration of that fact, of the innocent sufferer. He's not suffering for his sin. He's suffering because he's blameless and upright in God.

I know that life in the land is going to be a life of worship, but suffering, because we haven't gotten to the end yet. We're not in a consummation. I need to know how to live wisely. I need to know about the way of wisdom in this world and the way of folly, and I need to choose one of them. There are only two ways, the way of wisdom and the way of folly. How do you live in this fallen and broken world with principles that will help you navigate suffering and avoid suffering if you can? Proverbs. Proverbs is basically wisdom and instruction for young boys trained to be wise. That's its original context. We can apply it to women as well, but it's helpful to know the original context.

At the very beginning there are 15 “My Son” poems where a father and mother instruct a son. But you can say mother and father instruct a child, too. It's just the way the ancient world worked. I remember once I was reading those poems to my daughter and she said, "Daddy, do any of these apply to me?" It reminded me, "Yes, they all apply to you." I started changing it to my child because I was updating on the fly, so I'm sensitive to the issue and I want to make sure that's good. But there are 15 “My Son” poems that are trying to convince you to choose the way of wisdom. They're both enticing, the way of wisdom and folly. They both have things that are attractive, but one leads to life and one leads to death. Then there's all the kind of practical sayings, that follow in 10 to 31.

At the end of Proverbs is Proverbs 31, which is the poetic accounting of the wife of excellence, the Eshet Hayil. A wife of excellence, who can find? Then they detail what that is. It's exposition. You could say in this sense that the height of Hebrew wisdom is to get a good wife and that makes sense because wisdom literature is rooted in creation. It's how to live in God's world according to His truth, both expressed in nature itself, but also in His redemptive word. So you kind of say His special revelation, His common grace revelation. You put those two things together and you navigate this world.

The climax of creation in Genesis Chapter 2 day six is the creation of the woman and the marriage covenant. We know from Genesis Chapter 1 that everything is good seven times over, and very good on the sixth day. Genesis Chapter 2 recounts that sixth day and right in the middle says, "And it's not good." You come to a screeching halt because He's created Adam and he's had a garden. Then he's in the garden, he's got God's presence, and everything's good. Then all of a sudden it says, "It's not good that man should be alone." The only thing that takes day six in Genesis 2 from not good to very good is the creation of the woman and the marriage covenant. It's an amazing thing to think about. If wisdom literature is rooted in creation, you can see that the greatest and wisest decision the man needs to make is on his spouse.

We'll talk about that when we get there, but then we move into the book of Ruth. The only woman in Hebrew scriptures to be called an excellent wife is Ruth. She is the Eshet Hayil, the exact same word from Proverbs 31. She is the illustration of that exposition. In case you want to know what it looks like, and it's a striking thing because she's a Moabite. The Israelites have forsaken the Lord and are whoring after idols and going into exile. Ruth forsakes the other land and comes and unites herself to Yahweh, and that's what makes her an excellent wife. It's an amazing thing and has all kinds of implications for how we think about how marriages work in the old covenant and new covenant. It's not a nationality thing. It's a faith thing. Don't be unequally yoked. That same principle was at work here, which we know this, too, from the book of Judges. Everyone was doing what was right in their own eyes and whoring after idols. So Ruth, a Moabite, comes and sets the standard. It's an amazing example. It's gospel grace all over the place in the Old Testament.

Song of Songs comes right after that celebrating that marriage covenant. The Song of Songs, I'm going to argue, is the female correlate to Proverbs 31. Proverbs 31 says, "Hey guys, here's what to look for in a woman." Song of Songs says, "Hey women, this is the kind of marriage you should want." It was actually written for young women to make good decisions in choosing a marriage partner and what a good marriage looks like. So we'll talk about that when we get there. It's one of the most fun books I do because we often shy away from it. But I like what it has to say. I try to obey that book more than any other book.

Then at the end it says, "Hey, if you don't want to embrace the way of wisdom, right, if you don't want to embrace the way of wisdom... Let's try wisdom. Let's try a life without God," in Ecclesiastes. It's all vanity. Boom. That's the mantra right there. Then we get down here. So you can see how Ruth is strategic. Then we get down here, it's about life in exile. Again, Lamentations is the fall of Jerusalem.

Esther and Daniel are two examples of what it looks like to live a life of faith in exile. Their stories are the same. They're both captives in exile. They both rise to prominence. They're both afflicted and persecuted in that prominence. They risk their lives to save God's people. It's the same plot, different characters over that. They prevail and God graciously helps them to prevail. So you can see Daniel is not in the prophets. He's in the writings there. There's a great amount of theology and themes that are important to know for understanding these things.

With regard to the Hebrew Bible, we know chronology, genre, and authorship are important, but they're not the governing structures of the Hebrew Bible order. Covenant, covenant history and covenant life are. So we're going to take that one and I'm going to show you how it works out over time. Then once you see the symmetry and the seams, then we'll be able to say, "Yes, this works or this doesn't." As a group we can try to see the togetherness of it. Does that make sense? We'll see if it works and goes together and we can challenge it. If there's not, remember, Friedman says, “if you see symmetry, intentional symmetry, symmetry you find from the text, and if you see this in pairings, binary pairings, or doublings, and it makes sense”.

III. General Editor of the Old Testament (21:11):

Then we'll be able to make sense of it. Now, to be honest we don't know who put the Hebrew Bible together in this order. It's like so many things, it's an anonymous work. Some people call him the canonicaler because he put the canon together in order, the final editor or the redactor. It's just a final word for that. We know that over time that the Bible was edited and updated in Israel's history. We know that the books of Moses, for example, they were written in a script that we no longer see. It was a Paleo-Hebrew script with probably a different earlier Proto-Hebrew grammar, and about 1000 BC were updated. That's why you get all these statements like "until that day" or "until this day" stuff like that. But an editor did it. But an inspired editor, I would argue. Just because there's an editor putting it together in its final form and update doesn't mean it's not an inspired work.

I think we have the same thing at the end of the day. When God's people return from exile in Babylon, they've been unschooled in the ways of the Lord for so long, Ezra and Nehemiah, but Ezra primarily, has to scribe. He's copying the scriptures, he's storing the scriptures, and he's reading them and teaching them to the people. We know that he and Nehemiah were making a library to store the sacred books because they would normally go in the temple, but the temple was needing to be rebuilt and having all these kinds of problems with it as well. The temple would've been the library and that's where the authoritative scrolls would've been kept, and they would've been kept in an order and stuff like that.

Just like we don't know ultimately where the Greek or English Bible order came from, we can look back.  I'm just being honest with you that we don't know in detail the original work of either one. We just know in God's sovereignty and providence, He's arranged it this way for us.

IV. Order of the New Testament (23:00)

But when you think about the New Testament, it's kind of funny, too. If I were the editor, let's say Bill got to be the final editor of the New Testament and you didn't have any orderings of it and you sat down and said, "Okay, what order are we going to put this in?" Whenever I write a book, one of the very first things I do sit down and say, "Okay, what do I want my chapter structures to look like? What are going to be my big divisions? What are going to be my chapters? How am I going to progress?" It's very important how you work through a book. When Gary Pratico and I did the Hebrew grammar and we spent a long period of time saying, "What are our major divisions? How are we going to progress? Which one's going to start incrementally getting better and better and better?" Working through it was so important.

If I were to sit down and get a chance to edit the New Testament, I would not put Matthew first. I would probably put John first because it starts, "In the beginning." Then I would've done Mark because he is shorter, Matthew, and then Luke. I'd put Luke last so can go right into Acts, volume two. But it's weird that Luke and Acts are separated by John, which is a huge genre change. It's like an assault. Then you've got the book of Acts, I guess, because it's just continuing that gospel history, then the Epistles so you've got a little bit of genre there.

There's even some questions with the Epistles in terms of how you should order them. Earliest Greek manuscript evidence is Acts, Catholic Epistles, so Peter, James and John, and then Pauline Epistles. Then with Hebrews kind of right in the Pauline Epistles between letters to the church and letters to the individuals. Then Revelation is an easy end. Even now the ESV is partnered with Cambridge in their new Bible and they use that order. They use that second century manuscript order, not the one we're familiar with in our English Bible. So it always happens in the New Testament, scholarship progresses faster than Old Testament. So there's hope for us to get to the end.

So when you think about those decisions, then, there's going to be some intentionality. I'm going to try to prove to you that Chronicles must be the last book and Matthew must be the first book. They make sense that way, not because I'm going to force it into it, but because there are actually literary features that connect them that we are not trained to look at. So in this next lecture, we're going to look at the structure of the whole and then the literary features that connect those parts together.

When you talk about covenant interpretation and application, if you miss any one of those, then you miss out on an important part. I think that's what we do sometimes when we actually study scripture. We either focus on one of those. We'll focus on application and not really have our facts right. We're focused on the facts and not really pay attention to how we're going to apply it. Or are we focused on the facts and application and don't really change in the process? But the change is an important part of that.

Yeah, because you understood the literature.

VIII. Conclusion (26:05):

That's how God wants us to progress. He wants us to change so that our application as a result of who we are, not just what we're trying to do to make ourselves better.

You change from the inside out, they would say. It's when you're overwhelmed by the gospel that change comes without you really having to try. You want to do it. It happens. It's the fruit of worship when you encounter the Word of God and the power the Spirit of God.