What Are the Books of the Bible?

The books of the Bible are the different writings in the canon of Christian scripture and sometimes non-canonical writings, as well. The term “books” refers to the fact that they’re written manuscripts; it’s not the common usage, today, of a bound, written work.

Following is (as far as I know) a list of books of the Bible from all Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant traditions. Further down are sections about terminology and lists sorted by specific traditions. I’ve tried to make the book list exhaustive, but the information afterward is only a brief introduction to each section; there’s a lot more information in the embedded links.

Note: book titles will be linked to posts about each book, when available, and book icons will link to the book text, if you’d like to read them. Some of those texts aren’t available, yet, but hopefully will be in the coming years; other groups have ongoing translation projects. (Open Book icon by Icons8)

Books of the Old Testament

  • Genesis
  • Exodus
  • Leviticus
  • Numbers
  • Deuteronomy
  • Joshua
  • Judges
  • Ruth
  • 1 Samuel
  • 2 Samuel
  • 1 Kings
  • 2 Kings
  • 1 Chronicles
  • 2 Chronicles
  • Jubilees
  • Enoch
  • Ezra
  • Nehemiah
  • 1 Esdras
  • 2 Esdras
  • Tobit
  • Judith
  • Esther (with or without select passages)
  • 1 Meqabyan
  • 2 Meqabyan
  • 3 Meqabyan
  • 1 Maccabees
  • 2 Maccabees
  • 3 Maccabees
  • 4 Maccabees
  • Job
  • Psalms (with or without Psalm 151)
  • Proverbs
  • Ecclesiastes
  • Song of Songs
  • Wisdom
  • Sirach
  • Isaiah
  • Jeremiah
  • Lamentations (sometimes included as part of other books)
  • Baruch
  • Letter of Jeremiah (sometimes included at the end of Baruch as chapter 6)
  • Ezekiel
  • Daniel ( with or without select passages)
  • Hosea
  • Joel
  • Amos
  • Obadiah
  • Jonah
  • Micah
  • Nahum
  • Habakkuk
  • Zephaniah
  • Haggai
  • Zechariah
  • Malachi
  • Josippon

A note about Esdras: Esdras naming conventions vary between traditions. There are between two and six books of Esdras, and unless otherwise stated, I’ll be referring to them as Ezra, Nehemiah, 1 Esdras, and 2 Esdras.

Books of the New Testament

  • Matthew
  • Mark
  • Luke
  • John
  • Acts
  • Romans
  • 1 Corinthians
  • 2 Corinthians
  • Galatians
  • Ephesians
  • Philippians
  • Colossians
  • 1 Thessalonians
  • 2 Thessalonians
  • 1 Timothy
  • 2 Timothy
  • Titus
  • Philemon
  • Hebrews
  • James
  • 1 Peter
  • 2 Peter
  • 1 John
  • 2 John
  • 3 John
  • Jude
  • Revelation
  • Sinodos
  • 1 Covenant
  • 2 Covenant
  • Ethiopic Clement
  • Ethiopic Didascalia

Other Books and Writings

Some of these are considered books in certain traditions, but others, even when included, may not be considered “books” on their own. These usually appear in the Old Testament or as part of an apocrypha, if they’re included.

  • Prayer of Manasseh (sometimes included as part of other books)
  • 4 Baruch (sometimes included as part of Jeremiah)
  • Psalms of Solomon
  • Book of Odes

Note that Book of Odes shouldn’t be confused with Chinese Classic of Poetry or the Arabic Kitab al-Aghani, both of which are sometimes referred to as Book of Odes.

Books of the Bible: Terminology

Here are some common terms when talking about books of the Bible. Many of the links point to Wikipedia articles, because the sources there tend to be from several traditions rather than only one. They’re a good starting place for learning more, and I suggest looking at the sources in those articles for more scholarly reading.

Apocrypha

Apocrypha refers to texts that may have been, and may still be, used as scripture but aren’t considered canonical. The disagreement about these texts is whether they’re genuine or even beneficial for reading. Whether a text is apocryphal or canonical varies by tradition; traditions that consider some or all of these texts canonical often refer to them as Deuterocanonical. Apocrypha may include 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, 1, Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah, Prayer of Manasseh (a.k.a. Prayer of Manasses), and select passages from Esther, Psalms, and Daniel.

Biblical Novellas

Biblical Novellas are books written as instructive stories. Different traditions may consider these part of the historical books, while others distinguish between the two groups. Biblical Novellas may include Tobit, Judith, Esther, 1 Maccabees, and 2 Maccabees.

Books of the Law

Books of the Law (a.k.a. Law of Moses or Mosaic Law) often refers to the first five books of the Bible (a.k.a. the Pentateuch or Torah).

Deuterocanonical Books

Deuterocanonical Books are books that were included in the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) but which were not considered canonical in the Hebrew Bible. Some Christian traditions consider them canonical for the Christian Bible, while others consider them apocryphal. Deuterocanonical books may include 1 Esdras, 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, and Letter of Jeremiah. There may also be other deuterocanonical writings, such as the Prayer of Manasseh (a.k.a Prayer of Manasses), which is a 15-verse prayer, and select passages from Esther, Psalms, and Daniel.

Epistles

Epistles means letters and usually refers to books of the New Testament that were originally written as letters to specific people or communities. These include most of the books of the New Testament and are often broken into two groups: Pauline Epistles and General Epistles. Although Luke and Acts are both addressed to someone named Theophilus, they aren’t usually included as epistles; one or both of them is usually categorized with gospels. Revelation, which is often grouped with General Epistles, is sometimes also categorized as Prophetic.

General Epistles

General Epistles (a.k.a. Catholic Epistles) refers to New Testament letters whose authorship were not attributed to Paul. These include James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and Jude. Note that “catholic,” here, means general or “applying to the church universal” (the entire body of believers, everywhere); this is not Catholic as in the Roman Catholic church.

Gospels

When talking about books of the Bible, the gospels are usually the first four books of the New Testament: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The first three (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) are also commonly referred to as the Synoptic Gospels. Sometimes, Acts (a.k.a. Acts of the Apostles) is included, since Luke and Acts are often considered a two-part work.

Historical Books

The Historical Books are writings in the Old Testament that present a narrative of God’s covenantal people, the Israelites. They span from the Israelites’ entrance into the promised land (Canaan) through the Babylonian captivity, but they don’t include the Exodus, which is part of the Pentateuch. Historical Books may include Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Tobit, Judith, Esther, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees, 4 Maccabees, and 3 Esdras.

Major Prophets

The Major Prophets are the longer prophetic books of the Old Testament and may include Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Baruch, Letter of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel.

Minor Prophets

The Minor Prophets (a.k.a. Twelve Prophets, The Twelve, or Book of the Twelve) are the twelve, shorter prophetic books of the Old Testament. Sometimes, these books are combined into one book. The Minor Prophets include Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi.

New Testament

New Testament refers to the books of the bible that were written after Jesus, most of which are epistles. See above for a list of possible inclusions.

Old Testament

Old Testament refers to the books of the Bible that were written before Jesus, most of which are found in the Hebrew Bible. See above for a list of possible inclusions.

Pauline Epistles

Pauline Epistles are letters in the New Testament whose authorship are traditionally attributed to Paul, the apostle. Many of these may actually have been written by people other than Paul (pseudepigraphic), but scholars don’t always agree on which ones are authentic. Pauline epistles usually include Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, and Hebrews.

Pentateuch

The Pentateuch (a.k.a. Five Books of Moses) is the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The word comes from “penta-” (five) and “teukhos” (book). You may also have heard these referred to as the Torah, which means Law or Teaching.

Poetic Books

Poetic books (a.k.a. Sapiential Books) are usually the same books found in the Wisdom Literature category (sapiential means relating to wisdom), except for Baruch and 4 Maccabees, which aren’t considered poetic. This category is called “poetic” because they were originally written in poetic styles, although the poetic style is sometimes lost in English translations.

Prophetic Books

Prophetic books are those whose authorship is usually attributed to prophets. These are often broken into two categories: Minor Prophets and Major Prophets. The New Testament epistle Revelation (a.k.a. Book of Revelation), is sometimes also listed as a prophetic book.

Protocanonical Books

Protocanonical Books are those books of the Old Testament that are also included in the Hebrew Bible.” This includes the following 39 books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Note that in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh), these are consolidated in only 24 books.

Septuagint

The Septuagint (a.k.a. Greek Old Testament or The Translation of the Seventy or LXX) is the earliest surviving Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible. It contains all of the Protocanonical Books, the longer versions of Ester and Daniel, and Psalm 151. Some versions of the Septuagint also include Prayer of Manasseh as part of the Book of Odes, the Book of Odes (a.k.a. Odes), and the Psalms of Solomon.

Wisdom Literature

Wisdom literature is collections of proverbs, maxims, or writings teaching about wisdom or virtue. These may include Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (a.k.a. Song of Solomon), Wisdom (a.k.a. Wisdom of Solomon or Book of Wisdom), Sirach (a.k.a. Wisdom of Sirach or Ecclesiasticus), and sometimes Baruch (a.k.a. 1 Baruch) and 4 Maccabees (a.k.a. On the Sovereignty of Reason).

Variations Between Traditions

Variations exist between Christian traditions as far as which books are considered canonical, and some books are included in Bibles in a section called Apocrypha even if a tradition considers them non-canonical. Some traditions even disagree on specific passages of certain books. Most of the differences are in the Old Testament.

Many Christians don’t learn about these differences, because we tend to read from whatever version of the Bible our traditions use. Following are some of the variations by traditions with embedded links to additional information. I’ll try to note things like book naming differences between traditions wherever it seems relevant.

Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Churches

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church both use the Orthodox Tewahedo biblical canon, which has 81 books (depending how you split/count them). Other groups that are sometimes labeled as Oriental Orthodox also use this canon. Although they aren’t all currently available in a single publication (as of the time of this post), a translation and publication effort is under way by the Ethiopian Orthodox Bible Project.

Note: I’ve found conflicting information regarding the unity of Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Churches and other Orthodox traditions. Regardless of how people choose to group the churches, I have tried to pull accurate canons from sources within the traditions.

Narrower Old Testament

  • Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles; 2 Chronicles, which includes Prayer of Manasseh (a.k.a. Prayer of Manasses); Jubilees, Enoch, 1 Ezra (a.k.a. Ezra-Nehemiah), 2 Ezra (a.k.a. in the Western apocrypha: 1 Esdras; in the Clementine Vulgate: 3 Esdras; in the Septuagint: Esdras A; or Greek Esdras), Ezra Sutuel (a.k.a. in the Western apocrypha: 2 Esdras 3-14; in the Clementine Vulgate: 4 Esdras 3-14; or Latin Esdras 3-14, 4 Ezra, Jewish Apocalypse of Ezra, or Apocalyptic Esdras), Tobit, Judith; Esther, with additional passages; 1 Meqabyan, 2 Meqabyan, 3 Meqabyan (not to be confused with the Maccabees); Job; Psalms, with Psalm 151; Proverbs, which is split into two parts: Messalë (Ch. 1-24) and Tägsas (Ch. 25-31); Wisdom of Solomon (a.k.a. Wisdom), Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (a.k.a. Song of Solomon), Isaiah; Jeremiah, which includes Lamentations, Letter of Jeremiah, Baruch, and 4 Baruch (a.k.a. Paralipomena of Jeremiah); Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum (a.k.a. Nahium), Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, The Book of Joshua the Son of Sirach (a.k.a. The Book of Jesus the Son of Sirach or Sirach)

Broader Old Testament Canon

  • Narrower Old Testament Canon
  • Josippon (a.k.a. Yosëf wäldä Koryonor Josippon or The Book of Josephas the Son of Ben Gorion; or in some non-Ethiopian contexts: Pseudo Josephus)

Narrower New Testament Canon

  • Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts of the Apostles (a.k.a. Acts), Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, James, Jude, Revelation

Broader New Testament Canon

  • Narrower New Testament Canon
  • Sinodos, which is comprised of, and sometimes separated into, four sections: Ser`atä Seyon (a.k.a. Sirate Tsion or the Book of Order or the Order of Zion), Te’ezaz (a.k.a. Tizaz or The Book of Herald or Commandments), Gessew (a.k.a. Gitsew), and Abtelis (a.k.a. Abtilis); 1 Covenant (a.k.a. 1 Book of Dominos or Book of the Covenant I), 2 Covenant (a.k.a. 2 Book of the Dominos or Book of the Covenant II), Ethiopian Clement (a.k.a. The Book of Qälëmentos or Clement), Ethiopic Didascalia (a.k.a. Didesqelya or Didascalia; not to be confused with Didascalia from other traditions)

Protestant

Most Protestant traditions don’t officially claim a specific, English translation of the Bible, but some of the most common translations are the King James Version (KJV), New King James Version (NKJV), New International Version (NIV), and The Living Bible (TLB), all of which have 66 books. The deuterocanonical books are usually considered apocryphal, and the apocrypha is usually left out.

Old Testament

  • Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (a.k.a. Song of Solomon), Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

New Testament

  • Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews, James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation

Orthodox

According to the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Buffalo, NY, Orthodox, Eastern Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, Greek Orthodox, and Antiochian Orthodox all refer to the same “international federation of patriarchal, autocephalous, and autonomous churches.” Unlike many other denominations, they aren’t unified under a single governing body, but they share many traditions and beliefs concerning scripture.

The Orthodox churches use the Septuagint and Greek New Testament and haven’t officially adopted any full English translation of the Bible, although many are temporarily using the King James Version and the Revised Standard Version (one of the most popular versions). There is an Eastern-Greek Orthodox Bible, but only the New Testament has been translated.

Note: I’ve found conflicting information regarding the unity of Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Churches and other Orthodox traditions. Regardless of how people choose to group the churches, I have tried to pull accurate canons from sources within the traditions.

Old Testament (Septuagint)

  • Law: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
  • History: Joshua, Judges, Ruth; 1 Kingdoms, 2 Kingdoms, 3 Kingdoms, 4 Kingdoms (a.k.a. 1 Basileion, 2 Basileion, 3 Basileion, 4 Basileion or 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings); 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles (a.k.a. 1 Paraleipomenon, 2 Paraleipomenon); 1 Esdras (a.k.a. Esdras A), Ezra-Nehemiah (a.k.a. Esdras B), Tobit, Judith, Esther, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees, 3 Maccabees
  • Wisdom: Psalms; Prayer of Manasseh (a.k.a. Prayer of Manasses), sometimes included in the Book of Odes; Book of Odes, Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (a.k.a. Song of Solomon or Canticle of Canticles), Wisdom (a.k.a. Wisdom of Solomon), Sirach (a.k.a. Ecclesiasticus), Psalms of Solomon (non-canonical but included)
  • Prophets: Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zachariah (a.k.a. Zechariah), Malachi, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Baruch, Lamentations, Letter of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel
  • Appendix: 4 Maccabees

New Testament

  • Gospels and Acts: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts of the Apostles
  • Pauline Epistles: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews
  • General Epistles: James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude
  • Prophecy: Book of Revelation

Roman Catholic

According to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

Old Testament

  • Pentateuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy
  • Historical Introduction: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah
  • Biblical Novellas: Tobit, Judith, Esther, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees
  • Wisdom Books: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, Sirach
  • Prophetic Books: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Baruch (including Letter of Jeremiah), Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

Some Catholic Bibles include the deuterocanonical passages from Esther and Daniel.

New Testament

  • The Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts of the Apostles
  • New Testament Letters: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews
    These are the same books sometimes referred to as Pauline epistles in other traditions.
  • Catholic Letters: James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude, Revelation

Summary

  • There are as many as 61 books in the Christian Old Testament and as many as 32 in the New Testament, depending on which tradition we examine.
  • Most (but not all) Christian traditions agree on the 66 books of the Protestant canon with other traditions having additional books or passages.
  • Some traditions will include non-canonical books in their Bibles under the label of apocrypha.
  • The Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox traditions have the largest canon with 81 books, depending how you count them.

As always, these FAQ posts aren’t exhaustive. They’re just brief introductions to questions and topics — jumping off points to help you on your journey. You can contact me if you’d like to ask a question or request a more in-depth look at a particular topic, and you can check out some of the Bible Study or Theology posts for more.

If you’re enjoying the content on Breaking Bread Theology or find it helpful, please consider supporting this work. I would love to make this a full-time effort and continue to expand the available content, but that will only be possible with enough support from readers like yourself. I hope that together we can continue to create safe spaces for people to explore faith and theology.

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