From The Bible For Dummies by Jeffrey Geoghegan, Michael Homan
You’ll feel more confident about your biblical studies when you see a timeline of the important events as they happened in the Bible, have an understanding of the books of the Bible and how they are organized, and have a quick reference list of the Ten Commandments.
Important Biblical Events Timeline
The Bible is vast and encompasses everything from Creation to the end of time. This brief timeline represents key events that happened in the Bible:
- “In the beginning”: Creation (Genesis 1)
- Very early: Adam and Eve (Genesis 2–3)
- Still quite early: Noah’s flood (Genesis 6–9)
- Around 2000 b.c.e.: Abraham and Sarah leave for their Promised Land in Canaan (Genesis 12–25)
- Around 1250 (or 1450) b.c.e.: Moses leads the Israelites out of Egyptian slavery (Exodus 1–15)
- Around 1000 b.c.e.: David begins ruling as Israel’s King (2 Samuel)
- Around 950 b.c.e.: King Solomon, David’s son, builds the Temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 6–8)
- Around 925 b.c.e.: Israel splits into two kingdoms: Israel and Judah (1 Kings 12)
- 721 b.c.e.: The northern kingdom of Israel is conquered and exiled by the Assyrians, becoming the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel (2 Kings 17)
- Around 622 b.c.e.: King Josiah enacts many religious reforms (2 Kings 22–23)
- 586 b.c.e.: The southern kingdom of Judah is conquered and exiled by the Babylonians, which begins the Exilic Period (2 Kings 25)
- 538 b.c.e.: King Cyrus of Persia allows the Jews to return to their homeland, which begins the Postexilic Period (2 Chronicles 36:22–23)
- 515 b.c.e.: The rebuilt Temple is dedicated under the leadership of the Judean governor, Zerubbabel, which begins the Second Temple Period (Ezra)
- Around 425 b.c.e.: Nehemiah repairs the walls of Jerusalem, and Ezra and Nehemiah enact religious reforms (Nehemiah)
- Around 165 b.c.e.: The Hasmoneans, under Judah Maccabee, rededicate the Temple, which is today celebrated as “Hanukkah” (1 Maccabees 4)
- Around 6 b.c.e.: Jesus is born during the reign of Herod the Great, a Roman-appointed King of the Jews (Matthew 1 and Luke 2)
- Around 30 c.e.: Jesus is crucified during the rule of Pontius Pilate, the Roman-appointed governor of Syria-Palestine (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)
- Around 46–64 (or 67) c.e.: The apostle Paul’s missionary journeys and letter writing (Acts 13–28 and Pauline Epistles)
- 70 c.e.: The destruction of the Jewish Temple by the Romans
- Around 95 c.e.: Revelation, the final book of the New Testament, is completed
The Bible’s Ten Commandments
Moses received Israel’s laws from God on Mt. Sinai. Although there were more than 600 laws given (613 according to Jewish tradition), the most notable and significant, inscribed onto two rock tablets by God, are the Ten Commandments:
- You shall have no other gods before Me.
- You shall not make for yourself an idol.
- You shall not lift up the name of the Lord your God in vain.
- Observe the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
- Honor your father and mother.
- You shall not murder.
- You shall not commit adultery.
- You shall not steal.
- You shall not bear false witness.
- You shall not covet.
The Books of the Bible
The Bible, maximally speaking, is comprised of the Old Testament (or Hebrew bible), the New Testament, and, if you are studying from the Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Bible, the Apocrypha.
The Hebrew Bible or “Old Testament” (Jewish Ordering)
The sacred books that Christianity and Judaism share in common refer to the Old Testament or Hebrew Bible (nearly all of which was originally written in Hebrew – therefore the name). The books in the Jewish Bible or Christian Old Testament are:
The Former Prophets
- 1 and 2 Samuel
- 1 and 2 Kings
The Latter Prophets
- Song of Songs
- 1 and 2 Chronicles
The Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical Books
The Apocrypha is an elaborate and assorted group of Jewish writings found, with slight variations, in both Catholic and Eastern Orthodox versions of the Old Testament.
- Additions to Esther
- Wisdom of Solomon
- Letter of Jeremiah
- Prayer of Azariah and the Song of the Three Jews
- Bel and the Dragon
- 1 and 2 Maccabees
- 1 and 2 Esdras
- Prayer of Manasseh
Eastern Orthodox additions:
- 3 and 4 Maccabees
- Psalm 151
The New Testament
The books comprising the New Testament include narratives of Jesus’ life, an account of the spread of early Christianity, letters to various churches and individuals by important Christian leaders, and the final showdown between good and evil.
Gospels (Life of Jesus)
Life of Early Church
- Acts of the Apostles
Letters or Epistles
- 1 and 2 Corinthians
- 1 and 2 Thessalonians
- 1 and 2 Timothy
- 1 and 2 Peter
- 1, 2, 3 John
Apocalypse (Future Events)
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