A close-up photograph capturing the intricate details of an ancient, weathered Bible, showcasing the worn pages and faded text, alluding to the 73 books contained within.

The 73 Books Of The Bible

The Bible is composed of 73 different books written over the course of more than 1,000 years by many different authors. While that might sound daunting, don’t worry! If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: the 66 books of the Protestant Bible are split into 39 books in the Old Testament and 27 books in the New Testament.

There are also an additional 7 books in the Catholic and Orthodox Bibles in a section called the Apocrypha or Deuterocanonical books. So let’s dive into the details!

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover the 73 books of the Bible categorized by Testament – Old, New, and Apocrypha. For each Testament, we’ll explore the different types of books it contains, providing an overview of major themes, authors, history and more.

By the end, you’ll have a solid understanding of each book in the Bible and what it contributes to Scripture as a whole.

Books of the Old Testament

Overview and Categories of Old Testament Books

The Old Testament contains 39 books written between about 1000 and 100 BC. These books are grouped into four main categories: The Pentateuch (Torah), the Historical Books, the Poetic and Wisdom Books, and the Prophetic Books.

The Pentateuch – First 5 Books of the Bible

The Pentateuch, meaning “five scrolls”, contains the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. They tell the story of the creation of the world, the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, the giving of the Law to Moses at Mount Sinai, and the Israelites’ 40 years of wandering in the wilderness before reaching the Promised Land.

Historical Books of the Old Testament

There are 12 Historical Books: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1&2 Samuel, 1&2 Kings, 1&2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah and Esther. Spanning over 1,000 years, they record Israel’s history from its entrance into Canaan under Joshua’s leadership to its return from the Babylonian exile. Key stories include the anointing of Israel’s first two kings, Saul and David, the building of the temple by Solomon, and the Babylonian invasion.

Wisdom and Poetic Books

There are 5 Wisdom Books – Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs. Extremely diverse, they contain prayers, sacred songs, wise philosophical sayings, and romantic poetry. For example, Job grapples with suffering, Psalms is a collection of hymns, while Proverbs gives practical advice for righteous living.

These books teach deep spiritual truths that remain relevant today.

Major and Minor Prophetic Books

The Prophetic Books are divided into the Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel and Daniel) and the 12 Minor Prophets ranging from Hosea to Malachi. Written between the 8th and 5th centuries BC, these books call God’s people to repentance and faithfulness through both warnings of judgment and promises of restoration.

For instance, many of Daniel’s prophecies have been precisely fulfilled, proving the reliability of God’s Word.

Books of the New Testament

Overview and Categories of New Testament Books

The New Testament consists of 27 books written in the first century AD. These books are categorized into 4 genres: the Gospels, the book of Acts, the Epistles (letters written to churches and individuals), and the book of Revelation.

The Gospels – Life and Teachings of Jesus

The 4 Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, tell the story of Jesus’ life, ministry, death, and resurrection. They provide eyewitness accounts of Jesus’ teachings, miracles, encounters, and fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah.

Though 4 accounts, they show consistency and harmony in relaying the good news of salvation through Christ.

History of the Early Church in Acts

The book of Acts provides a historical narrative of the early Christian church, from Jesus’ ascension to heaven to Paul’s imprisonment in Rome. It bridges the story of the Gospels and the Epistles, documenting the gift of the Holy Spirit, the apostles’ preaching and establishment of churches, the conversion of Saul to Paul, and his 3 missionary journeys to spread the gospel.

Paul’s Letters to Churches and Individuals

Paul wrote 13 letters or “Epistles” that are included in the New Testament canon. These letters provided doctrinal foundations, practical Christian living advice, church leadership guidance, and spiritual encouragement to the early churches and disciples he established throughout the Roman empire.

Major letters include Romans, 1 & 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and 1 & 2 Timothy.

General Epistles

The General or Catholic (universal) Epistles contain 8 letters addressed to the early Christian church as a whole. Though smaller in size, they contain much theological and practical wisdom. These include: Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1-3 John, and Jude.

They cover themes of enduring faith, Christ’s return, false teaching, godly living, brotherly love, and standing firm in truth.

Apocalyptic Prophecy in Revelation

Revelation is an apocalyptic book written by John about prophetic visions of Christ’s second coming, God’s final judgment, tribulation, and the promise of eternity with God in heaven for believers. Though complex and symbolic, it brings comfort that good will ultimately triumph over evil, and God is sovereign and in control of human history and ultimate destiny.

The Apocrypha / Deuterocanonical Books

Overview and History of the Apocrypha

The Apocrypha (or Deuterocanonical books) are texts written between 250 BC and 50 AD that were not included in the Hebrew Bible but were included in the Greek Septuagint. They were accepted as part of the Bible by the early Catholic church at the councils of Rome (382 AD), Hippo (393 AD), and Carthage (397 AD), but Protestants rejected them as non-canonical during the Reformation.

The Catholic church affirmed them as inspired at the Council of Trent (1546 AD). Today, Catholic and Orthodox Bibles include the Apocrypha, while Protestant Bibles do not.

Some key Apocryphal books include Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, Baruch, and 1 and 2 Maccabees. Though not considered Scripture by Jews or Protestants, the Apocryphal books provide historical context in the 400 year gap between the Old and New Testaments.

They describe Jewish life under foreign rule and the Maccabean revolt against Syrian oppression. Themes include wisdom, endurance of suffering, and living by faith in difficult times.

Additions to Old Testament Historical Books

Parts of Esther and Daniel found in the Septuagint but not in the Hebrew Bible are considered Apocryphal additions. The Book of Esther has six major additions totalling 107 verses interspersed throughout the text.

These include Mordecai’s dream, Esther’s prayer and fasting, and more details about the king and Haman. Daniel has three primary additions: The Prayer of Azariah, the Song of the Three Young Men, and the stories of Susanna and Bel and the Dragon.

Susanna portrays Daniel wisely solving a false accusation, while Bel and the Dragon mocks idol worship.

The Apocryphal Books Proper

Beyond additions to canonical books, the Apocrypha has books considered Apocryphal in their entirety. First and Second Maccabees detail the Jewish revolt against religious persecution by the Seleucids around 165 BC.

First Maccabees has historical and military focus, while Second Maccabees includes theological reflections on martyrdom and resurrection. Other Apocryphal books are:

  • Tobit – A story about honoring one’s parents and burying the dead.
  • Judith – Heroic story of Judith defeating an Assyrian general through trickery.
  • Additions to Esther – Additional stories about Esther added to the canonical text.
  • Wisdom of Solomon – Philosophical work where wisdom leads to immortality.
  • Sirach (Ecclesiasticus) – A varied collection of wise sayings.
  • Baruch – Book claiming to be written by Baruch, Jeremiah’s scribe.
  • Letter of Jeremiah – Warnings against idolatry now appended to Baruch.
  • Additions to Daniel – Extra stories about Daniel: Susanna, Bel, and the Dragon.
  • Prayer of Manasseh – Repentant prayer by wicked King Manasseh.
  • 1 and 2 Esdras – Visions purportedly experienced by Ezra.

Though non-canonical, the Apocryphal books provide valuable historical and religious context for God’s people between the Testaments. They demonstrate the development of Jewish thought and life under foreign domination and were regarded as Scripture by generations of faithful believers.


We’ve covered a lot of ground exploring the 73 books of the Bible – 39 from the Hebrew Old Testament, 27 from the New Testament, and 7 Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical books. As you’ve seen, while each book is unique, together they weave an intricate, unified story of God and humanity.

From the commanding history of the Pentateuch, to the sweet songs of David in the Psalms, to the Gospels recounting Jesus’s ministry, to the final revelation in John’s Apocalypse, each section of Scripture contributes something vital.

It’s worth taking the time to appreciate how these different books came together to become the Bible we read today!

Similar Posts