Updated: Jul 13, 2022
I just wrote a post about memorizing the books of the New Testament. It helps you look up Scripture and is a useful thing to know. It is easier to memorize the books of the New Testament because we are more familiar with them and there are fewer of them. See Memorize Order of the New Testament Books.
But it is just as important to know the order of the books of the Old Testament.
Now to be up front I will tell you right now, I do not have the order of the books of the Old Testament memorized. I do fine until I get to the minor prophets - the last 12 books of the Old Testament and then I can't remember the order. I have tried several times to memorize them. I have a horrible memory. Always have. Even when I was a kid and had to memorize musical pieces for recitals. I had a bad experience of being at a recital and after just receiving the award for the best student, I sat down to play my piece, got part way through it and forgot it. I had to put the music up and start from the beginning. I was so embarrassed! (I'm sure my piano teacher was too.) But as far as having trouble keeping the order of the minor prophets straight, I know the book is a minor prophet and I can find it pretty quickly.
Just as with memorizing the books of the New Testament, it helps to know the types of books.
Just like the New Testament which is organized by Historical Books, Letters or Epistles, and the Prophetical Book; the Old Testament is organized by the Historical Books, Wisdom Writings/ Poetical Books, and Prophetical Books.
There are 39 books in the Old Testament. The Historical Books of the Old Testament are the 17 books Genesis through Esther. These are further divided into the first 5 books - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy - are called the Pentateuch (Greek word meaning five scrolls) or the Torah (Hebrew word meaning the Law.)
Next comes the 5 Wisdom Writings - Job through Song of Solomon. Sometimes these books are called the Poetical Books because that is their genre.
Next comes the 17 Prophetical Books - Isaiah through Malachi. These 17 books are further divided into the 5 Major Prophets, Isaiah through Daniel; and the 12 Minor Prophets, Hosea through Malachi. Major Prophets are not more important than Minor Prophets - just longer books. The Minor Prophets are the ones I can't seem to keep straight.
17 Historical Books
5 Wisdom Writings
17 Prophetical Books
For more detail on the organization of the Old Testament Books see my post called The Books of the Old Testament.
Again, some people find it helpful to hear songs of the books of the Old Testament to help them memorize the order. Google it. Here are some I found.
I kinda like this one! Silly.
Here's one to the tune of Ten Little Indians.
This one isn't a song, but is a great explanation of the organization of the books of the Old Testament with ways to remember the order. Check it out!
"Having Jesus Always Offers Joy." (Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah) and "My New Happy Zookeeper Hoists Zebra Manure!" (Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi.) I SO love this and I am so stealing it!! It should help me remember the order of the Minor Prophets.
And if you want to work on all 66 books at the same time, there are lots of videos to help you memorize them. But I like the enthusiasm of Breanna and Karen in this one. Kudos if you can do the hand motions too! Ha.
Knowing the books of the Bible in order is just a useful thing to know. I know it is harder to memorize the Old Testament Books than it is to memorize the New Testament Books. But you can do it. I believe in you.
CHALLENGE: DO IT!