Old Testament Books

Table of Old Testament Books


The following table contains a list of the 39 Old Testament books as listed in a typical Protestant Bible.

As you may know, the Catholic and Protestant Bibles differ in the number of books that each considers to be divinely inspired.

I have written a short article on this subject if you wish to study it further (Catholic vs. Protestant Bibles).

You will also note that I have split the books of the Old Testament into their different genres or literary categories.  This makes it much easier to organize the books in the Old Testament.

Afterward, I have also included an explanation of the four main genres / or categories where each book fits.

PentateuchHistorical BooksPoetical / WisdomMajor ProphetsMinor Prophets
Numbers1 SamuelEcclesiastesEzekielObadiah
Deuteronomy2 SamuelSong of SolomonDanielJonah
1 KingsMicah
2 KingsNahum
1 ChroniclesHabbakuk
2 ChroniclesZephaniah

Genre of Old Testament Books

As you can see from the four columns above, each of the 39 books can be categorized into one genre or literary type.

Books of the Law

The author of the first five Old Testament books is believed to be Moses.

These books narrate the origins of universe, the earth and mankind as well as the birth of the nation of Israel.

They are known as the Torah, the law, the first five books of Moses and the Pentateuch. Three of its books, Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy lay out a series of civil, religious and ethical laws by which the nation of Israel is to be governed.

Historical Books

The historical books take up:

  • The story of Israel just prior to their conquest of the promised land
  • The establishment of judges to rule over Israel
  • The establishment of the Israelite Kingdom under Saul, David and Solomon
  • The split of the kingdom into the southern and northern kingdoms
  • The subsequent exile of both kingdoms. The northern kingdom was exiled by the Assyrian empire, while the southern kingdom suffered the same fate at the hands of Babylon.

Poetry and Wisdom Books

As the name suggests these five books contain what is called Israel’s wisdom literature.

These include the Book of Proverbs (many of them credited to Solomon, whom the Bible extols for his wisdom) and Ecclesiastes.

These books are also written in poetic style, hence the category. This does not mean that other parts of the Old Testament are devoid of poetry.

Quite the contrary, many prophetical books contain much poetry.

Prophetical Books

There are 5 major prophets and 12 minor prophets (so designated because of the size of the books).

A majority of the prophets spoke prior to Israel’s exiles as they tried to warn the kingdoms of the north and south to cease their idolatry and social / religious injustices.

Some of the prophets comforted Israel during her exile, speaking of a return to the promised land and the coming of a Messiah who would remove Israel’s enemies and establish peace and justice for God’s people.

Finally, some of the prophets spoke after the exile encouraging the nation to rebuild their temple and identity and warning God’s people not to fall into idolatry again.

All of God’s blessing as you seek to learn more about his word.