Here’s my attempt to sum up the contents of the Old Testament books on one page.

The Pentateuch: Covenant People

  • Genesis: Creation of a Covenant People
  • Exodus: Redemption of a Covenant People
  • Leviticus: Worship of a Covenant People
  • Numbers: Chastisement of a Covenant People
  • Deuteronomy: Renewal of a Covenant People

The Historical Books: Redemptive History

  • Joshua: Rewarding History
  • Judges: Rebellious History
  • Ruth: Redeemer’s History
  • 1&2 Samuel: Royal History 1 – The Beginning
  • 1&2 Kings: Royal History 2 – The End
  • 1&2 Chronicles: Review of History
  • Ezra & Nehemiah: Restoration History
  • Esther: Ruler over History

The Poetic Books: Wisdom for Time and Eternity

  • Job: Wisdom for Suffering
  • Psalms: Wisdom for Worshipping
  • Proverbs: Wisdom for Living
  • Ecclesiastes: Wisdom for Thinking
  • Song of Solomon: Wisdom for Loving

The Prophetic Books: Threat and Promise*

  • Obadiah: Vengeance & Victory
  • Joel: God Requires and Responds to Repentance
  • Amos: The Lord Roars and Restores
  • Hosea: A Faithful God and a Faithless People
  • Jonah: Great Sea, Great City, Great God
  • Isaiah: Trust God not Man
  • Micah: Punishment and Pardon
  • Nahum: The Judge, Verdict & Sentence
  • Zephaniah: Look within, Look around, Look ahead
  • Habakkuk: Human Complaints and Divine Responses
  • Jeremiah: From Old to New Covenant
  • Lamentations: Repentance in hope of restoration
  • Ezekiel: The Glory Departs and Returns
  • Daniel: Godless Kingdoms and God’s Kingdom
  • Haggai: The People’s Work and God’s Work
  • Zechariah: Israel’s Return and God’s Return
  • Malachi: Priests and People Sin Against Love

* I’ve taken the prophets in chronological rather than canonical order.

Now see if you can sum up all that in one “Twitter -length” sentence! I’ll give you my summary once I see your ideas.

Update #1: Sharp eyes have noticed that I’ve missed out Jeremiah and Joshua. That’s because my students are completing assignments on these books and I want them to do some thinking!

Update#2: OK, I give in, I’ve put the titles for Joshua and Jeremiah in as well. And see below for my summary of the OT.

  • Brian Kelley

    My tweetable length overview:

    Promised redemption delivered despite difficulties, what it teaches and promises


  • Robert Murphy

    All the more reason to follow the LXX and call 1 Sam – 2 Kings one four part book and not two two-part books. Dorsey’s outline is validated!

  • Cornelius VanKempen

    We ruin everything and need the God-Man to make crooked things straight.

  • Matthew Seymour

    Looks great. I think you may have missed out Joshua! I only noticed it because were working through that in our Sunday evening sermons.

    • David Murray

      Well spotted Matthew. My students are doing assignments on Joshua and Jeremiah, and I didn’t want to give them any help!

  • Reuben Huffman

    Neat. Really neat. Thanks for this concise, ‘big-picture’ view, rightly dividing the Word of God. Any chance of a typo on Song of Solomon’s tagline?…I’m thinking ‘Wisdom for Loving’ would fit just as well and not steal from Proverbs’.

    • David Murray

      Thanks Reuben. Changed that typo.

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  • Ron

    God’s people, their story, their blessings,and their eternal future.

  • Alastair Henderson

    Through acts of creation, leadership, chastisement and redemption, God shows a rebellious world that he is merciful, the Lord of all, and the saviour of His people.

  • Le Gallois

    Did you mean “Song of Solomon: Wisdom for LOving” ?

    • Le Gallois

      Oops ! My browser didn’t refresh.. Sorry folks.

  • David Murray

    Thanks for all the suggested summaries of the OT. I’ll share with my class next week. My summary tries to incorporate the four main headings: “God covenants to redeem His people through Christ with a wise use of threat and promise.”

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  • Steven King

    The old informs the new…follow Israel – Love Jesus more.

  • James
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  • Dave Leland

    Excellent! Now how ’bout the NT books next?

    • David Murray

      I was waiting for that. But I’m not ready for it! How about you do it yourself?

  • James Cuénod

    That looks awesome. I recently spent a lot of time preparing a sermon from Judges and my criticism of your breakdown is that I don’t think Judges belongs in the historical books (and I would make associated changes). I would go with the Hebrew categorisation.

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  • Chris Ashton

    Thanks David. For a twitter-able summary I can’t go past Mark Dever’s headings in “The Message of the Old Testament…

    OT=God’s history of faithfulness, God’s passion for holiness and God’s promise of salvation.

    (I’m in the process of moving so my copy is packed away, but I think I have it right!)

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  • mspeabooks

    “Good job! Here’s a narrative version: In the book of Genesis, He created everything, chose a people to reflect Him, judged and destroyed the evil (e.g. Sodom and Gomorrah) that threatened His people, grew them in numbers and influence and moved them geographically for their protection. In the pentateuch (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), He rescued His people from slavery, gave His people a land and established a theocratic civilization. In the books of the prophets, He established a geopolitical kingdom for them, protected it when His people obeyed His commands and, when they disobeyed, He ultimately dissolved the kingdom and removed them from it – all the while preserving them as a distinct race of faith.”

    Excerpt From: Mike Stair. “On Earth As It Is In Heaven.” iBooks.