Who changed the order?

One thing that I'd previously been aware of, but was reminded of today, is that the order of books in Bibles today is NOT the same as in earlier Hebrew bibles:

Jesus Himself refers to the OT scriptures in the order of the law (Torah), the prophets (Nebi’im), and the writings (Ketubim) and this order is quite a bit different than the order we use today (which appears to be based more off the order in the Septuagint than the Hebrew Bible). There are also a number of clues within the text itself that leads one to believe the Hebrew order is how it should be read.
For example, while the book of Ruth looks to fit historically somewhere between Judges and 1 Samuel, it actually follows the Book of Proverbs as the 4th book of the writings. It’s interesting to note that Proverbs ends in chapter 31 with a description of a godly woman and is then followed by the book of Ruth, an example of a godly woman. There are many other such examples of this type of continuity which can only help to increase our love for the Word of God as we see His hand ever more clearly in its production. It is also interesting to note that the five books of Moses, the Torah, is really just one book with five chapters and is meant to be read in that way. The twelve “minor prophets” are also only one book in the Hebrew Bible and are meant to be read as one as well. While this may seem insignificant, it is quite an illuminating practice to read them with that mindset. Hopefully somewhere down the road I’ll share more thoughts on this.

Also noted in a comment posted by one Andrea Ritze in response to the linked post:

I read (also noted in NIV study Bible notes) that this order of Hebrew Scripture (and Israel’s revealed/written history) is also seen in Jesus Christ’s reference in Matthew 23:35:
“. . . all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah . . . .”
Abel was the first to be murdered in history (Genesis) and Zechariah, whose murder is noted in 2 Chronicles 24:21, was at the “end” of OT Scripture.
(Also note: Jesus Christ was not referring to their names, and was not saying “from A to Z,” because Z is not the last letter in the Hebrew alphabet.)


The order in our English Bibles follows the Bible of Paul and the apostles, the Septuagint. The Alexandrian translators, for some reason, followed a different order. It could be that their order followed an earlier Hebrew tradition. It's interesting, but it doesn't matter all that much when it comes to exegesis.

Further, it is not true that the Pentateuch is actually a single book. At the conclusion of each book in the Pentateuch there are Masoretic scribal remarks which give a summary of statistics for the book. It is true that those scribal remarks are collected as a whole at the end of the Minor Prophets. But that may be because all those books would be able to fit on a single scroll. A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing...

Any idea what the reasoning behind the change in order was for the Septuagint? Those advocating the order different from that which we follow today do seem to have some points in their favour, although I'd agree that they're not critical. Given that translation generally proceeds from the Hebrew rather than the LXX, what reasons might there be in favour of the order we typically find today in Bibles?

I'm not sure what the original reason was for a change in order (or even that there was a change), but like I said above, it could have been a different scribal tradition. Remember, before the appearance of codices, the Bible existed as a collection of scrolls and the order in which those scrolls were kept could have varied from location to location. As to why our English translations follow the LXX, it's because the Vulgate did the same. Even though Jerome used the Hebrew text for the OT (against Augustine who demanded that he use the LXX), he still followed the LXX order in the Vulgate.

This Wikipedia article has a table illustrating the order of the books in various Bibles.


I seem to recall being told once that the books in each section were placed in order of "importance", with importance being measured by the length of the book. So although the book of Ruth may be in somewhat chronological order in our Bible, many of the other books are not.