Why do you need to pay attention to the structure of the Bible? As a student of the Bible, it will greatly aid your understanding and navigation through the text if you know the general structure of the Bible. In addition to the structure, we provide some important facts on this page.

Facts and structure of the Bible

Before we get to the structure of the Bible, lets take a look at some facts.

1) Facts about the Bible

  • The Bible is a collection of 66 books.
  • Has two Testaments (Covenants)
  • The old has 39 books, the new has 27 books. But the original Hebrew bible didn’t have 39 books. Some books were later broken into 1st and 2nd parts. E.g. 1st and 2nd Samuel, 1st and 2nd Kings, 1st and 2nd Chronicles. In the Jewish Bible today, these books are just single books.
  • About 40 authors over a period of 1500 years.
  • Authors were from various backgrounds: Priests, Prophets, Leaders, Fishermen, physician etc.
  • God inspired these authors (2 Timothy 3:16). God didn’t dictate the Bible word for word but guided the writing of every word.
  • Old Testament was written mostly in Hebrew with a few short passages in Aramaic.
  • The New Testament was written in Greek.
  • We don’t have the original manuscripts of any of the books of the bible. What we have are faithful copies of the original manuscripts.
  • Jesus quoted from 24 different the Old Testament books. The New Testament quotes from all but four Old Testament books.
  • When the Bible was written, it had no chapter and verse divisions. In A.D. 1228, Bishop Stephen Langton added chapter divisions. Verses were later added. Some of the divisions are arbitrary and disrupt the flow of the Bible.
  • There are 1,189 chapters in the entire Bible.
  • There are 31,373 verses in the Bible.
  • The longest chapter is Psalm 119
  • The shortest chapter is Psalm 117
  • The Longest OT Book is the book of Psalms
  • The Longest NT book is the Book of Luke


2) Structure of the Bible

The Old Testament is made of up of the following five divisions.

  1. The Law (Pentateuch) – 5 books (Genesis to Deuteronomy)
  2. History – 12 (Joshua to Esther)
  3. Wisdom –5 (Job to Song of Solomon)
  4. Major Prophets –5 (Isaiah to Daniel)
  5. Minor Prophets –12 (Hosea to Malachi)

There was a 400-year period of silence between the last book of the OT Malachi and the accounts of the gospels that begin with John the Baptist proclaiming the arrival of Jesus.

The New Testament can be divided into three portions:

  1. Foundational Books –5 (4 gospels plus Acts)
  2. The Letters (Epistles) –21 (2/3 of them by Paul)
  3. Prophesy –1 (The Revelation of Jesus Christ).