Can you find your way around the Bible - without using the Contents page?
This quiz uses the Protestant Christian Canon,
and will work for any standard Bible which excludes the Apocrypha / Deutero-canonical books.
A multiple-choice quiz
Estimated time: 4 mins.
1. Many people - even Christians! - are quite unfamiliar with the Protestant Old Testament.
Which book would you find just before Nehemiah?
Ezra and Nehemiah (which are one book in the 'Tanakh', the Hebrew Bible) both deal with the reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple after the Jews return from the Exile in Babylon.
The three shorter books of Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther conclude the group of historical books which run from Joshua to Esther. The Wisdom literature comes next.
2 Chronicles is also historical, but comes earlier in the group.
Job is the first book in the Wisdom literature group.
2. Which book would you find between Jeremiah and Ezekiel in the Protestant Bible?
Lamentations is also by Jeremiah, a prophet so renowned for the misery of his messages that his name has been given to a litany of woes: a 'jeremiad'!
Isaiah is the first of the major prophets, and comes before Jeremiah.
Daniel comes after Ezekiel, not before it.
Habakkuk was one of the minor prophets, and is nowhere near Jeremiah or Ezekiel.
3. In the New Testament, many people cannot find their way through Paul's letters.
Right after 2 Corinthians, there is a group of four short letters. Which is the correct order in which they appear in the Bible?
No, they are not in alphabetical order.
Why are they in this particular order? I don't know, and I don't think anyone does.
I suspect the origin lies in the order in which the early church recognised them as divinely inspired and therefore the order in which they were included in the Christian canon.
4. What is the middle book of the Pentateuch, or Torah?
Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy make up the first five books of the Bible (thence 'Pentateuch'), which are traditionally attributed to Moses. These foundational works form the common basis of Scripture for Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Numbers is next after the middle position, and Psalms and Proverbs are the central works of the Wisdom literature, not of the Pentateuch.
5. You finish reading Joel. In the Protestant Bible, what is the name of the next book you come to?
These are all minor prophets, but only Hosea is close: it comes just before Joel, not afterwards.
Amos is the story of a Judean shepherd whom God called to go to the Northern Kingdom of Israel as a prophet; he was not well received...
6. What book falls after Philemon and before James in the New Testament?
Titus is only just wrong (before Philemon, not after it). Jude comes right at the end, just before Revelation, and Romans is the first of the Pauline letters, right after Acts.
Hebrews is a bit of a mystery, because no one knows for sure who wrote it. It is the only anonymously authored document in the New Testament canon. Popular candidates include Barnabas, Silas, Apollos, Timothy and, last but not least, Priscilla, with or without the collaboration of her husband Aquila.
7. Which of these is NOT a book of the Bible?
Hezekiah was a king of Judah, not a book! (The others are three of the minor prophets).
For Hezekiah, see 2 Kings 18-20 and 2 Chronicles 29-32. There are sundry other mentions, but these chapters will tell you about him.
8. The Protestant Old Testament is arranged in four major groups or categories of books. In alphabetical order these are: historical books, Mosaic books, prophetic books, and wisdom literature.
In what order are these groups found in the Protestant Old Testament?
Answer: Mosaic; Historical; Wisdom; Prophetic.
The Pentateuch (made up of the Mosaic books) is followed by the historical books in three subsets: the early history (before the kings), in Joshua - Ruth;
the history of the kings, up to the Exile, from 1 Samuel to 2 Chronicles; and
the history after the exile, in Ezra to Esther (although Esther is out of chronological order here).
Next is the wisdom literature, from Job to Ecclesiastes; and finally the Prophets, in two subdivisions: the major prophets from Isaiah to Daniel, and the minor prophets from Hosea to Micah.
As a matter of interest, the Jewish Bible (the 'Tanakh') is identical in content to the Protestant Old Testament, but with the books in a different order and in different groups.
The Tanakh has three major subdivisions, not four, and in this order they are: the Torah first; next the Prophets, grouped into the former prophets (including the historical books of Joshua and Judges, and all of Samuel and Kings) and the latter prophets (which includes all the major prophets except Daniel and the twelve minor prophets as one volume called 'the twelve'); and finally the Writings, which includes the Wisdom literature, Lamentations and Daniel, and also the historical books of Ruth, Ezra-Nehemiah (one book), Esther and Chronicles (1 and 2 Chronicles are also combined in one book).
9. You finish reading Zechariah. What is the next book in the Protestant Bible?
Zechariah is the second-last book of the Old Testament, just before Malachi.
It contains, among other things, the well-known prophecy that the Messiah would enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9).
Matthew, the first book of the New Testament, follows Malachi, the last book of the Old; Haggai follows Zephaniah, not Zechariah, and Micah is much earlier in the order of minor prophets.
10. Do you know the order in which all the minor prophets appear in the Protestant Bible? Pick it out!
There are only twelve, and they all appear together; no other books are mixed in among them.
I use this mnemonic to remember them (there may well be a better one out there):
HoJAm ObaJoMi NaHab ZephHag ZechMal.