The Bible is the one long sprawling story about God’s dream for his creation and his arduous and creative efforts to reclaim and restore his wayward creatures and creation and finally bring both to his dream’s end for them. The “chapters” of this story are:
1. Creation (Genesis 1-2)
2. Catastrophe (Genesis 3-11)
3. Covenant (Genesis 12 – Malachi 4)
4. Christ (Matthew – John)
5. Church (Acts – Jude)
6. Consummation (Revelation)
There are many subdivisions within each of these chapters.
The best way to begin reading this story is to start with the cameos of Creation (Genesis 1-2) and Consummation (Revelation 21-22). In these two chapters we find God’s dream for creation laid out “in the beginning” and that dream pictured as fulfilled in Revelation’s last two chapters. This way of starting enables us to see
-where the story is going,
-how the end maps and goes beyond the beginning, and
-by noticing the shared features common to each of these cameos, what is important for us to keep central in our ongoing reading and interpretation of the story.
The Hebrew Old Testament is divided into three parts, the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. (The Christian ordering of the Old Testament we have in our Bibles came much later). This is the Bible Jesus and the early church knew. If we use the Hebrew ordering a very interesting parallelism emerges that highlights the reality that the Bible is the one long story of
God with his people and his creation.
Torah (Genesis-Deuteronomy) The Gospels (Matthew – John) (“Gospels of the OT”, John Goldingay)
Prophetic History (Joshua-Malachi) Prophetic History (Acts) (History read from point of view of God’s purposes)
Reflections on Community Life (Writings) Reflections on Community Life (Epistles)
Apocalypse (Daniel) Apocalypse (Revelation)