262: LOL #18: SHORTEST ON THE LEFT, TALLEST ON THE RIGHT!

The order of Paul’s letters in the N.T. is a joke!

If you were responsible for sorting 21 historical books that were to be published together in one volume, what order would you put them in? Perhaps the order in which they were written. Surely not the way a sergeant major in the army sorts out a line of new recruits: shortest on the left, tallest on the right! Yet that is exactly what happened to the 21 epistles in the Greek (New) Testament of the Christian Bible!. The committee that decided what books to include in the canon (and which interesting less orthodox books to exclude) met in Algeria in the 2nd century, I think (read it somewhere, it’s not important.)

The letters are written by Paul and others. Some are written to churches at different times and in different cultures and experiencing different problems; some to individuals, also at different times and about different issues. It was not known at that time when the letters were written. There was no precedent at that time for alphabetical or chronological ordering either. The custom was  to order literature according to decreasing length.

Following the present chaotic order blinds us from seeing the entire panoramic view of the N.T.

The present order as it appears in your New Testament is as follows. The books are arranged according to descending length:
Romans
1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians
Galatians
Ephesians
Philippians
Colossians
1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians
1Timothy
2 Timothy
Titus
Philemon

(Letters attributed to other authors, e.g. the Epistle of James, have been omitted)

According to the best available scholarship, the proper chronological order, i.e. the order in which they were written is:
Galatians
1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians
1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians
Romans
Colossians
Philemon
Ephesians
Philippians
1 Timothy
Titus
2 Timothy

Source:
Barna, G. & Viola, F. “Pagan Christianity? Exploring the roots of our church practices.” Barna books (2002) p.226

[262, linked & indexed, t&c]

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