How Many Books Are in the Bible?


Some historians believe that the Bible is the most-read book in history. They also say it’s the best-selling book of all time. One reason for this is that despite having multiple authors, different settings, and a variety of readers, the books of the Old and Testaments tell different parts of the same story. Therefore, one question many people wonder about is how many books the Bible has.

The Bible contains 66 books. There are 39 in the Old Testament. The Hebrew Bible, which is the same as the Christian “Old Testament,” has 22 books. Yet, they are comprised of the exact same writings, just arranged differently. The New Testament has 27 books.

What section of the Old Testament has the largest number of books? What section of the New Testament has the most? How many chapters does each book of the Bible have? Why does the Catholic Bible have more books than the Protestant Bible? Keep reading to learn the answers to these questions and others.

books of the Bible
Are there more Wisdom books or Prophetic books in the Old Testament? See below

39 Old Testament Books

Christians conventionally divide The Old Testament into four sections: the Pentateuch, the Historical Books, the Wisdom Literature, and the Prophetic Literature. People also divide the Prophetic Literature into Major and Minor Prophets, which describe their size, not the importance of their content.

The section of Prophetic Literature has the most books, with 17 (five Major and 12 Minor). The History section has 12 books. The Pentateuch and Wisdom Literature sections each have five books. It doesn’t matter if a book has 150 chapters like the Psalms or one like Obadiah; each is still called a “book” of the Bible.

Pentateuch: 5 Books
Genesis (50 chapters)
Exodus (40 chapters)
Leviticus (27 chapters)
Numbers (36 chapters)
Deuteronomy (34 chapters)

In the arrangement of the Hebrew Bible, 1 and 2 Samuel are one book called “Samuel.” The same is true for 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles, which are respectively called “Kings” and “Chronicles.”

History: 12 Books
Joshua (24 chapters)
Judges (21 chapters)
Ruth (4 chapters)
1 Samuel (31 chapters)
2 Samuel (24 chapters)
1 Kings (22 chapters)
2 Kings (25 chapters)
1 Chronicles (29 chapters)
2 Chronicles (36 chapters)
Ezra (10 chapters)
Nehemiah (13 chapters)
Esther (10 chapters)
Wisdom Literature: 5 Books
Job (42 chapters)
Psalms (150 chapters)
Proverbs (31 chapters)
Ecclesiastes (12 chapters)
Song of Solomon (8 chapters)
Prophetic Literature (Major): 5 Books
Isaiah (66 chapters)
Jeremiah (52 chapters)
Lamentations (5 chapters)
Ezekiel (48 chapters)
Daniel (12 chapters)

In the arrangement of the Hebrew Bible, the Minor Prophets are considered one book.

Prophetic Literature (Minor): 12 Books
Hosea (14 chapters)
Joel (4 chapters)
Amos (9 chapters)
Obadiah (1 chapter)
Jonah (4 chapters)
Micah (7 chapters)
Nahum (3 chapters)
Habakkuk (3 chapters)
Zephaniah (3 chapters)
Haggai (2 chapters)
Zechariah (14 chapters)
Malachi (5 chapters)
total books in the Bible
Are there more Gospels of Letters of Paul? See below

27 New Testament Books

The New Testament has four Gospels, 13 letters of Paul, and eight “General Epistles.” Regarding genre, there are two stand-alone books, Acts and Revelation. As with the Old Testament, it doesn’t matter if a book has 28 chapters (Matthew and Acts) or one; it’s still called a “book” of the Bible.

The Gospels and Acts: 5 Books
Matthew (28 chapters)
Mark (16 chapters)
Luke (24 chapters)
John (21 chapters)
Acts (28 chapters)

Many New Testament “books” are actually letters. Paul wrote more than 13 letters, but there are only that many that survive and are included in the Bible. When people read them, it’s clear from their introduction and conclusion that they are letters. Nevertheless, it’s conventional to refer to them as “books.”

The Letters of Paul: 13 Books
Romans (16 chapters)
1 Corinthians (16 chapters)
2 Corinthians (13 chapters)
Galatians (6 chapters)
Ephesians (6 chapters)
Philippians (4 chapters)
Colossians (4 chapters)
1 Thessalonians (5 chapters)
2 Thessalonians (3 chapters)
1 Timothy (6 chapters)
2 Timothy (4 chapters)
Titus (3 chapters)
Philemon (1 chapter)

The General Epistles don’t have a more descriptive name because they are so diverse. This section has multiple authors, including Peter, James, and John. Authors also wrote them at different times and for various purposes.

The General Epistles and Revelation: 9 Books
Hebrews (13 chapters)
James (5 chapters)
1 Peter (5 chapters)
2 Peter (3 chapters)
1 John (5 chapters)
2 John (1 chapter)
3 John (1 chapter)
Jude (1 chapter)
Revelation (22 chapters)
total books in the Bible
What is the Apocrypha? See below

Do Catholic Bibles have more books?

Catholic Bibles have seven more stand-alone books in the Old Testament than Protestant ones. Collectively, people often call them the Apocrypha or Deuterocanon (i.e., “second canon”).

They are Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus, also called Wisdom of Sirach, Baruch, and 1-2 Maccabees. Catholic Bibles also contain additions to biblical books, like Chapter 14 at the end of Daniel.

Jewish people in the Old Testament era didn’t accept these books as canonical or inspired. So the first time they appear alongside Old Testament books is in the Septuagint.

The Septuagint is a Greek translation of the Old Testament completed in Egypt in the third century before Christ. The prefix “sept” alludes to the legend that 70 scholars worked to complete the translation. The Septuagint contains the disputed books.

The first Christians also rejected these books, discerning that God hadn’t inspired them for teaching and preaching in the church.

Protestants didn’t remove these books from the Bible; they just never added them as the Catholic church did.

Theologian Wayne Grudem explains the Protestant perspective this way: “They do have value for historical and linguistic research, and they contain a number of helpful stories about the courage and faith of many Jews during the period after the Old Testament ends, but they have never been part of the Old Testament canon, and they should not be thought of as part of the Bible.” [1]

References:
[1] Bibletraining.org
[2] The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church.
[3] The New International Bible Dictionary.

Daniel Isaiah Joseph

Daniel's seminary degree is in Exegetical Theology. He was a pastor for 10 years. As a professor, he has taught Bible and theology courses at two Christian universities. Please see the About page for details.

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