The Bible is the story of God’s interactions with humans. It is not a book of theory, abstract philosophy or mind games but is set firmly in human – historical contexts. For example, the Old Testament shows God interacting with a tribe of people called the Hebrews – descended from a man named Abraham. It shows God making a promise to Abraham that his descendants would be a great kingdom with their own land. It traces Abraham’s sons through hundreds of years of history – and watches them progress from nomadic herders into a fully fledged kingdom with a capital city, a temple, a king and a set of laws given by God they should live by.
It then follows them through their rebellion against God, their destruction and enslavement at the hands of a foreign power and their return to their capital city and rebuilding their temple. The Bible’s New Testament also records Abraham’s most famous descendent, Jesus his interactions with the Hebrew people and the ripple effect of his life, not just on the Hebrews but the entire world – fulfilling the promise God made to Abraham thousands of years earlier.
Knowing where in history each book is set, knowing what has gone on previously, allows you to get a grasp on the fuller meaning of the Bible. What’s more, it gives you a sense of the big picture allowing you to see the continuity of God’s plan through history to interact with humans and bring them into a peaceful relationship with Himself.
The historical picture is not the only overview that helps understand the Bible. Knowing who wrote each book, when it was written and why, the themes in each book and their progression through the Bible are also important. This site is aiming to give tools for self study, not explain my idea of what any given theology is about. As such the references below are very broad – dealing as much as possible with facts and data – not interpretation. However, in order for you to interpret what you read in the Bible, knowing these facts and having this data will help inform your study.
The Bible broken down into 12 historical chunks – 12 steps to understanding the Bible’s big picture