Brief Summaries of the Bible


Seminary was the first place where I saw the Bible as a whole. Since then I’ve been interested to help people learn the overarching narrative. This page provides several summaries to help you get a grasp on the entire story the Bible presents. Enjoy!

The Bible Story–short version–New Zealand Bible Society

This short summary of the Bible comes from New Zealand.

The Bible Story–slightly longer version

Again from New Zealand, only this one is expanded. You can still read it in a matter of a few minutes.

SparkNotes: Bible: The New Testament

This entry is a little more extensive if you’re into the oxymoron of an extensive summary.

SparkNotes: Bible: The Old Testament

Same as above, but for the first 39 books.

The following is a summary from the late Old Testament and Preaching professor, Elizabeth Achtemeier: Achtemeier, Elizabeth. “Renewed Appreciation For An Unchanging Story.” Christian Century 107.19 (1990): 596-599. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials. Web. 8 June 2013.

God created his world to be “very good,” but we corrupted his creation by attempting to be our own gods and goddesses and by trying to shape our own futures apart from him. We thereby brought distortion and ruin into the world of nature, family, work and community, bringing upon ourselves God’s absence and curse, and the sentence of eternal death.

But God would not give up on us. He called Abraham and Sarah out of Mesopotamia to be the forebears of a new community that would live under his guiding lordship in justice, righteousness and obedience. Then through all of the vicissitudes of actual life in the ancient Near East, God made himself a people from those forebears—delivering them from slavery in Egypt, protecting them against their enemies, leading them through the terrors of the wilderness, entering into covenant with them, giving them his guiding presence in the covenant law, bringing them into a land flowing with milk and honey, giving them a Davidic king to be their protector of justice in peace and in war, and finally taking up his own dwelling in their temple on the Mount of Zion.

When that people nevertheless rebelled against God’s rule, he constantly wept and worried over them, repeatedly forgiving their waywardness and sending them prophets to speak his words of judgment and mercy. Then to erase their sin he sent them into exile, but he nevertheless promised them “a future and a hope,” forgiveness and blessing in a new land, with a new covenant written on their hearts, under a new Davidic king ruling over an obedient, faithful and righteous community of all peoples.

Finally, in the fullness of time, God kept his promise to Israel, sending his Son to be the cornerstone, covenant and Davidic leader of that new, forgiven, universal community. Through the death and resurrection of that Son, God wiped out our sinful past, joined us to himself in an everlasting and unbreakable covenant, gave us instructions about how to live until his Son comes again to set up his rule over all the earth, and promised, to all who trust his ways and work, eternal life and joy in his kingdom which will have no end.


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