A Similarity in Old and New Testament Structure

This is just a brief post noting a similarity in the basic structure of the Old and New Testaments. In the Bible we Protestants use, both testaments begin with a founding core (the Pentateuch/Torah — Gospels), followed by some subsequent history (Joshua through Esther — Acts), and then a long series of books that are theologically rich but non-narrative (the major and minor prophets — the Pauline and then non-Pauline epistles).

And I’ll add that in each testament there is a book or group of books that doesn’t have a precise counterpart in the other testament. In the Old Testament that’s the Wisdom books (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon), and in the New Testament it’s Revelation (Daniel has its own apocalyptic writing, but it’s not quite the same thing).

I don’ think the sequence of the books in Scripture is God-ordained, and of course the Bible is all just one book, not two, but I think the similar structures are interesting nonetheless.


I started thinking about this, by the way, because I was struck by the paucity of narrative accounts in the Old Testament after the book of Esther. That is, what is almost half the OT has only three “stories” in it: Job, the first half of Daniel, and Jonah.

While I’m at it, I’ll just make one observation about each of these three, probably none original. Daniel’s career reminds us of Joseph’s and Esther’s: a talented Jew does well in a gentile royal court, all the while staying true to the faith. The great scene of God confronting Job out of a whirlwind reminds me of when God confronts the equally beleaguered Lieutenant Dan in the movie Forrest Gump (see this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oyjR0foanYU; it’s not in the clip, but this sequence ends with Forrest saying this about a transformed Lieutenant Dan: “He never actually said so, but I think he made his peace with God”). And who does Jonah remind us of? I’d say the Prodigal Son’s older brother.