Does somebody have a good chronological order for all books, by book, for the OT?

Before I started this topic, the forum search brought up a bunch of similar past topics, but unfortunately they are all a few years old and before the forum transition, and all of them seem to contain links to CAF apologist columns and PDFs etc that are now dead, so not much help there and I need to start a new thread.

Anyway, I’m trying to read the OT in more or less chronological order, By Entire Book. Initially I tried the Jeff Cavins timeline but that didn’t work out because he left various books out entirely, among other annoyances. So I just started on page 1 and began reading straight through. I got through the Pentateuch and the Historical Books okay and it seemed like things were mostly in chrono order, but reviewing the upcoming Prophetic Books it looks like they are all over the place in time and not in chrono order, and also I’m not sure what to do with the Wisdom books. Job probably belonged way back in the Pentateuch somewhere, and as for Psalms, several of the chrono timelines I’m looking at seem to break it up and put certain chapters here and certain chapters there, and while that may be correct chronologically, I prefer to read the whole books straight through.

So, I am looking for a reasonable chronological list of all the OT books, by whole book, and not leaving any books or parts of books out. I realize this won’t be perfect because some books like Psalms skip around a bit in time, so just looking for a reasonable order. Has anyone got such an ordering to share?

I read where Bible apps will provide a chrono sort for you, but I’m not using an app, just reading it off the free Vatican website.

I also read that a book called “The Books of the Bible” has a reasonable chrono order, but it’s a Protestant book using the NIV so I don’t want to be paying money for that, obviously. I looked at its free T of C using the “Look inside” feature on Amazon and it seems to still break the books up into subcategories Covenant History, Prophets, and Writings, and order each subcategory separately, which is understandable but not what I’m looking for, and in addition of course it leaves out some of the Catholic canonical books. If there is a Catholic reference book doing something similar, could someone let me know the title?

I have never seen a full list of all the OT books in chronological order, though I once looked for one and ended up trying to compile my own list, based on the prefaces and footnotes in the Jerusalem Bible and others. I never got very far with it and, in any case, I lost it when my computer died, though I printed it out from time to time as it developed and I may still have those bits of paper somewhere. The trouble is that much of the information is either vague or disputed. A couple of examples: Job for vague and Daniel for disputed, both from the Jerusalem Bible prefaces:

Job.— The book is later than Jeremiah and Ezekiel (with which it has certain expressions and ideas in common) and its language has a strong Aramaic flavour. We are therefore in post-exilic times when absorption in the destiny of the nation as a whole was giving way to an interest in the individual. The most likely, though still uncertain, date is the beginning of the 5th century, B.C.

Daniel.— The date of composition is decided by clear evidence given in ch. 11. The wars between the Seleucids and Ptolemies and a portion of the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes are described with a wealth of detail quite unnecessary for the author’s purpose. … The book must therefore have been written during the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes and before his death, even before the success of the Maccabaean revolt; that is to say between 167 and 164.

Did you include what he calls “supplemental” books, or just the ones he calls “narrative” books? If memory serves, they’re all there on his “timeline”, in chronological order.

I think it might be helpful to distinguish “the time of the writing of the book” from “the time of the setting of the book”. Although its phrasings fit the culture of the time of the writing, it seems to look back to an earlier age.

The only timeline I was provided for free was for his Great Adventure course. It didn’t include everything - for starters, Leviticus wasn’ t there at all. Now I know Leviticus is both dull and somewhat confusing having read it before in the past, so I can understand Cavins leaving it out of a “Great Adventure” course that’s probably targeted at people who’ve barely picked up a Bible before in their life, but I still wanted to crank through it.

Do you have a link to Cavins’ more complete timeline?

Yeah, I’m a little more interested in “the time of the setting of the book”. I’m not enough of a Bible scholar to care about whether the writing mirrors the style of era A or era B, especially when I’m reading an English translation anyway. If there is some reason why this book was written in a particular era, then that can be addressed in the preface.

Yes, I fully agree. When I was trying to draw up my list, I was concerned with the date of composition only.


IIRC, that was covered in the Bible Timeline from the Great Adventure Bible Study. ETA I loved that timeline because it reflected the world events at the same time.

People keep telling me this, so why was my version of the Bible Timeline/ Reading Plan that I was sent by Great Adventure themselves (The free version, a paper list) missing a bunch of the books?

Maybe the paid version is more complete? I elected not to go for the paid version because when I signed up for the “free” version they failed to send me most of the reading lessons and then spammed me repeatedly with ads for some video on “how to improve my marriage” which I didn’t need and didn’t want. Unfortunately I do not have time to take a Great Adventure course at a parish where I’d have to show up every week for X weeks, and the cost of buying the stuff for just one person’s use was very high.

Again, is there someplace on the web where the Great Adventure timeline Showing All Books of the Bible can be read for free? Please post link if so.

It has been years since I did the study with a large group, and I do not remember details (too much water under my bridge, has wiped away a few brain cells!)

I’ve a friend who is an amazing Bible Scholar, let me message him.

If he knows of any other Catholic reference on the order of the Protestant “Books of the Bible” I mentioned, that would also be great.

Have you looked at Dating the Bible?

Books are broken up by date of composition when they have been produced over centuries, I am not sure how you could avoid that.
It is a wikipedia article, not a Catholic source, but I am pretty sure it covers everything.

Except 3 & 4 Esdras, which aren’t in Catholic bibles anyway. :roll_eyes:

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I found my old list of the Prophets, which is relatively straightforward. However, it’s still only a tentative list of the eighteen prophetic books in chronological order, with their estimated dates. Any corrections, suggestions, and comments will be welcomed. My main source was the introductions in the Jerusalem Bible, though I sometimes looked at several different websites, including the old online Jewish Encyclopedia and also, I think, Fr. Felix Just’s impressively well-stocked site, which I now go to all the time.

Only one of the eighteen books, Haggai, can be dated precisely. The Jerusalem Bible says:

Haggai appears at a critical moment in the development of Judaism, the birth of the new Palestinian community. His short exhortations are precisely dated, August and September of 520.

At the other extreme, three books – Baruch, Daniel, and Obadiah – cannot be dated with any real degree of certainty at all, so the sources say. Consequently each of these three appears twice in the following list, marked with an asterisk, showing what are said to be the earliest and latest possible dates. The remaining fourteen books are shown with a range of possible dates, sometimes spanning ten or twenty years, sometimes as much as a full century. Let me repeat: Any corrections, suggestions, and comments will be warmly welcomed!

*Obadiah, possibly as early as 900
Amos, 780-740
Hosea, 770-730
Micah, 750-700
Isaiah, 730-680
Zephaniah, 640-610
Nahum, 630-610

Babylonian Exile, 597

Jeremiah, 620-590
Ezekiel, 620-570
Habakkuk, 610-590
*Daniel, possibly as early as 600
*Baruch, possibly as early as 580
Lamentations, 580-560

Return from Exile, 538

Haggai, 520
Zechariah, 520-510
Malachi, 480-440
*Obadiah, 450-400
Joel, 410-390
Jonah, 400-350

Conquest Alexander the Great, 332

*Baruch, 200-100
*Daniel 170-160


Thanks, I’ll check out the Dating the Bible page.

Thank you, this is interesting and helpful information to have in the forums as I’m sure I’m not the last person who will have this type of question.

I thought about compiling a list like this but I am short on time and figured someone else had already done it, and voila! you have.

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Good that you’re reading the OT. I’m currently on the Book of Numbers and slowly progressing through.

Not to seem annoying, but perhaps you might consider reading the 46 OT books from Genesis to the end. Although they might not be in chronological order, they were placed in this order for a reason.

I think that it’s wrong of them to exclude Leviticus from the chronological order. Reading about the rituals in Leviticus has assailed many of my doubts about the faith. Our Catholic Mass and other liturgical celebrations reflect what is described in Leviticus.

Leviticus isn’t one of the books he defines as “narrative”, but it is there as a “supplementary” book in the Egypt and Exodus period.

Do you have one of the timeline charts? It’s right there…

I don’t. I have a timeline chart packed away somewhere, but it’s still in the box from my most recent move…

I’ve never seen the “free version”. Is it simply a list of the “narrative books”? 12 or 14 of them, or whatever?

In any case, I’m sure you could buy just the timeline chart from them, if that’s all you want.

From what I’ve seen, in the past couple years, is that they’ve made their materials available on the web as streaming video, if you’re signed up in a Bible study. So, strictly speaking, you could sign up at a parish anywhere ($20? $40?), get the materials, and then just watch the videos at home!

I read it straight through like that once when I was younger. It was about 40 years ago though so I have forgotten a lot.
I’m trying to get a better historical perspective now.

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Hmm, I’ll consider that. I’m the type of person who’d be watching them when I wake up at 3 am or some other weird time.

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Have you, by any chance, considered the Bible timeline from I have no idea as to its accuracy, but the timeline appears comprehensive. You should be able to construct a reasonable chronology of the Old Testament books from this source–or, at least, a starting point or frame of reference.

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