This post is a continuation of a series of posts about what I am learning from a set of mini-courses I am reading through on OnlineBibleCollege.com. See the previous post here.
Although the Bible is truly a book made up of more than just text – it has true spiritual meaning in each passage and is the very words of God to mankind – an academic study of it can be very interesting. As an older child and young teenager, I loved to read the stories in the Old Testament just for the enjoyment of the narrative, even though I wasn’t always learning the spiritual truths that existed in those narratives. Because I wasn’t reading the entire story (it’s hard as a child to read through genealogies and the law!), I wasn’t able to see the big picture of salvation portrayed on the pages I was reading. Now as I have gotten older and have received a little teaching here and there, I am able to grasp a little better the themes behind the different parts of the Bible. As I was reading through the Online Bible College (OCB) material, I studied one lesson that discussed the Bible as a whole and the different parts it could be broken down into. It listed 12 historical divisions or eras found in the Bible, which I have listed below along with the locations in the Bible where each is described and a short description.
- The Creation Era – Genesis 1-11 – Describes the creation of the world, the fall of man, and the birth of nations
- The Patriarch Era – Genesis 12-50 – Describes the beginning of God’s plan of salvation through his covenant with Abraham. Describes the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and his sons, who founded the 12 tribes of Israel
- The Exodus Era – Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy – Describe God’s rescue of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt and explains the establishment of the Covenant of Law with them.
- The Conquest Era – Joshua – The story of how the 12 tribes of Israel take possession of Canaan, their promised land.
- The Judges Era – Judges, Ruth – The story of the settling down of Israel in Canaan. Describes Israel’s cycle of forgetting God and worshiping idols, being oppressed, crying out to God, and God delivering them.
- The Kingdom Era – 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, 1 Kings, 2 Kings – Describes the history of Israel as it was ruled by a monarchy. Contains 2 distinct periods:
- The United Kingdom Period – Israel, as one nation, under the kingdoms of Saul, David, and Solomon
- The Divided Kingdom Period – Two tribes of Israel (Judah and Benjamin) remain loyal to Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, making up the kingdom of Judah and centered in Jerusalem; the other 10 became the northern kingdom of Israel centered in Samaria (also known as the kingdom of Ephraim)
- The Exile Era – Ezekiel, Daniel – Describes the 70 years when Judah is taken into captivity by Babylon
- The Restoration Era – Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi – Describes the closing history of the Old Testament, where the temple and the city of Jerusalem are rebuit.
- The Silent Era – a 400 year period where no prophet uttered the words of God; Greek became the prominent language of the region (due to the conquests of Alexander the Great), and Rome rises to power. The OBC also mentions that “The main sects of Judaism in Jesus’ day – the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the Essenes, and the Zealots – all had their roots in the centuries prior to the birth of Christ.”
- The Messianic Era – Matthew, Mark, Luke, John – Describe the coming of the messiah, Jesus, to save all people from their sin.
- The Pentecost Era – Acts 1-7 – Describes the birth of the church on the day of Pentecost, and the time when the church was centered in Jerusalem
- The Expansion Era – Acts 8-28 – Describes the expansion of the church throughout the world; All of the New Testament epistles were written during this period, and technically this is the period in which we now live.
*I got this material from the OBC’s course, A Passion for God’s Word, Lesson 3