One of the seemingly daunting tasks while approaching the Bible as a whole is its massive amount of content…not just the volume of it but also its diverse range of genres and varying social, historical, geographical and cultural contexts. So, I have found it very immensely helpful to use some structure to help categorize the information in the Bible to breakable chunks.
While I have come across a few different ways of classifications…including by the genre and the type of writings or its purpose, the one I have found the most helpful are the Bible Eras introduced by Max Anders in his book: 30 Days to Understanding the Bible in 15 Minutes a Day!
In this book, Anders lays out the entire Biblical story in one cohesive whole using what he calls as 12 biblical Eras: Creation, Patriarch, Exodus, Conquest, Judges, Kingdom, Exile, Return, Silence, Gospel, Church and Missions.
I have put them in my own format here:
You can get a summary version of the details about what each Era is by downloading this PDF file: Biblical Time Periods
This format also is very easy to grasp for the kids. Mine often refer back to this overall structure (of which they each have a printed copy) so that they can get a point of reference of which part of the Bible era a certain story falls into.
There are of course few other ways of helping classify the Biblical narrative….and I list them here for you as well.
This structure is one that I picked up from one of the best Biblical Leadership professors I studied under: Dr. Bobby Clinton. He has given the following structure from a leadership perspective:
- Patriarchal Era (Leadership Roots)–Family Base
- Pre-Kingdom Leadership Era–Tribal Base
- The Desert Years
- The War Years–Conquering the Land
- The Tribal Years/Chaotic Years/Decentralized Years–Conquered by the Land
- Kingdom Leadership Era–Nation Based
- The United Kingdom
- The Divided Kingdom
- The Single Kingdom–Southern Kingdom Only
- Post-Kingdom Leadership Era–Individual/Remnant Based
- Exile–Individual Leadership Out of the Land
- Post Exilic–Leadership Back in the Land
- Interim–Between Testaments
- New Testament Pre-Church Leadership–Spiritually Based in the Land
- New Testament Church Leadership–Decentralized Spiritually Based
- Jewish Era
- Gentile Era
There is another very common and popular method used to define the structure the Bible. This one is based mostly on the genre (the type of writing) and the general message of the biblical books. This structure is also very useful to help memorize the books of the Bible in their structural sequence.
- Old Testament
- Major Prophets
- Minor Prophets
- New Testament
- Pauline Epistles
- General Epistles