The chart below is a list of all 66 canonical books of the Bible along with the number of chapters in each book. Most of the books were written for a group of readers. Those written to specific individuals are identified with an asterisk. This list of Bible books has them in the order in which they appear in Bibles today. The order is more in terms of subject matter -- history, wisdom literature, prophecy, gospel accounts, letters, and so on -- than in the chronological order in which they were written.
For example, Bible scholars say Mark was likely the first Gospel account to be written. However, Matthew is the first book of the New Testament, likely because it makes more references to the Old Testament than any of the other three Gospel accounts. Scholars also think1Thessalonians was the first of Paul's letters or epistles to be written. However, Romans the first book in the section containing his letters to churches and individuals. The same kind of thing occurs in the Old Testament. Esther, for instance, is about events during the Babylonian exile while books like Psalms and Isaiah, which were written prior to the Exile, appear in the Bible after Esther's story.
*Biblical writings addressed to an individual
|See the Old Testament portion of this outline in a graphic table [ more ]|
There are three ways to measure the length of the books of the Bible. One way is by the number of chapters. The second is by the number of words. The third is by the number of verses into which the books are divided.
By number of chapters and total number of verses, Psalms is by far the longest book. Jeremiah is the longest Bible book in terms of words.
In terms of the shortest Bible book, five have only one chapter: Obadiah, Second John, Third John, Jude and Philemon. Third John has the fewest words while Second John has the fewest verses.
Note: Books having an equal number of chapters are listed in alphabetical order.
Note: The writings of the Bible were not originally divided into chapters. Around A.D. 1227, Englishman Stephen Langton developed the chapter divisions used today by every Bible publisher I know of. The chapters in the Old Testament were divided into verses by a Jewish rabbi in 1448 A.D. Robert Estienne divided the chapters of the New Testament into numbered verses in 1555 A.D.
With 176 verses, Psalm 119 is the longest Bible chapter. It is divided into 22 stanzas. Each stanza starts with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet.
With just two verses, Psalm 117 is the shortest Bible chapter. Since it is the 595th of 1189 Bible chapters, Psalm 117 is also the middle chapter of the Bible..
Which Bible book is the longest? Well, it's not necessarily the one with the most chapter divisions. Take a look at this list.
The word count given is the number of words each book has in the original languages (Hebrew and Greek). The word count would, of course, vary from language translation to language translation.
The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35: "Jesus wept."
The longest verse in the Bible is Esther 8:9: "At once the royal secretaries were summoned -- on the twenty-third day of the third month, the month of Sivan. They wrote out all Mordecai's orders to the Jews, and to the satraps, governors and nobles of the 127 provinces stretching from India to Cush. These orders were written in the script of each province and the language of each people and also to the Jews in their own script and language."
-- Howard Culbertson,
Introduction to Biblical
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