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Overview of the Bible's Storyline

Dennis Bratcher

Date Event Story Found in Other Writings*
Prehistory Creation - Sin, Cain/Abel, Flood - Babel Genesis 1-11  
2000-1800 BC Patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Sojourn in Egypt Genesis 12-50  
1290 -1250
(some place at 1440)
Moses - Passover and Exodus - Sinai Covenant and 10 Commandments - Wilderness Journey Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy  
1250 - 1050 Joshua, Settlement in the Land, the Judges, Deborah, Gideon, Samson - Samuel Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel 1-12 Ruth
1050 - 1020 Rise of Monarchy - Saul, David, and Solomon 1 Samuel 13-24, 2 Samuel,1 Kings 1-11, 2 Chronicles 9 JE traditions of the Pentateuch
922 - 850 Division of Kingdom - Early Monarchy 1 Kings 12-15, 2 Chronicles 10-20  
850 - 815 The era of Omri, Ahab and Jezebel, Elijah, Elisha - the purge of Jehu and aftermath 1 Kings 16 - 2 Kings 10, 2 Chronicles 21-24  
815 - 700 "Golden Age" of Prophets, Fall of Northern KingdomHezekiah, Deliverance of Jerusalem from Assyria 2 Kings 10-20, 2 Chronicles 25-32 Amos, Hosea,
Isaiah, Micah, Jonah*
700 - 587/6 Babylonian power, Fall of Southern Kingdom - Destruction of Jerusalem 2 Kings 21-25, 2 Chronicles 33-36 Jeremiah, Ezekiel 1-32, Habakkuk, Nahum, Obadiah
587-538 Babylonian Exile   Ezekiel 33-48, Daniel*,
D Pentateuch traditions, Lamentations
538-400 Return from Exile, and Restoration, Persian era Ezra, Nehemiah Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, P Pentateuch traditions, Esther
400 - 6/4 Intertestamental Period, Greek and Romans, Maccabean Wars 1 and 2 Macabbees Apocalyptic traditions [Daniel], Apocrypha
6/4 BC-
AD 27/30
Birth, Life, Death, Resurrection of Jesus Matthew*, Mark*, Luke*, John*  
AD 30-60 The Early Church, Ministry of the Apostle Paul Acts 1-2 Thessalonians,
Galatians, Romans,
1-2 Corinthians,
Prison and Pastoral Epistles
AD 60-100 Other Early Christians   General Epistles, Revelation

* Note that the time period in which a writing is set or describes does not mean that it was written in that era.  For example, the book of Kings is a recounting of Israel's entire history in the land from the perspective of exile after the nation had been destroyed (after 586 BC). Chronicles is an exilic rewriting of the Samuel/Kings traditions from the perspective of anticipated restoration and the hopes of a new Davidic kingdom (c. 550-500 BC).  The book of Jonah most likely dates to the time of Ezra and Nehemiah (c. 450 BC) although set in the Assyrian period (c. 720 BC). Although the issue is debated, many scholars attribute Daniel to the period of the Maccabean Wars (c. 164 BC) even though it is set in the Babylonian period (586-538 BC).  Even though they recount the life and teachings of Jesus (c. 4 BC - AD 30), the Gospels were not written until shortly before and after the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in AD 70 after Paul's letters were written (AD 55-60).

This reflects the fact that most biblical material is a reflection on the significance of history for the ongoing community from a much later time rather than being a purely contemporary record of events. This does not invalidate the historical dimension, but it does serve to emphasize the theological and confessional aspects rather than just historical data (see The Three Triads of Biblical Interpretation).

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