I've recently been researching the various ways the New Testament has been categorized by scholars. The obvious example is a grouping based on genre, with categories such as biography, historical, epistolary, and apocalyptic.

I've also been made aware of an entirely different categorization scheme which is based on the theological focus and tone of the author, as opposed to genre. The classic categories I've seen are Pauline, Johannine, Synoptic, and Petrine.

However, there are some books that are tricky to classify according to this scheme. For example, what category is James? "Jamine" perhaps? And is Jude normally classified as Petrine, or is it better to think of it as independent from the influence of the Petrine letters?

(In a nutshell, I'm looking for a categorization scheme which is complete, and which has some reasonable justification based on research and/or scholarly consensus)

Here is my attempt to group the books, for reference (I haven't included Acts, Jude, or James):

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  • 2
    This looks like a pretty open-ended question. Surely there are countless ways to "completely" categorize the entire NT.
    – Flimzy
    Nov 23, 2014 at 13:25
  • @Flimzy That is why I included the second paragraph in my post. The last sentence in that paragraph is meant to give the question a more specific direction. Maybe I did not make that clear enough.
    – Ryan
    Nov 23, 2014 at 23:43
  • That's still a pretty subjective criteria.
    – Flimzy
    Nov 24, 2014 at 1:27

1 Answer 1


The Books of the Bible, a reading Bible version of the NIV, has reordered the NT in this way:

Luke-Acts and the Pauline epistles
1 Thessalonians
2 Thessalonians
1 Corinthians
2 Corinthians
1 Timothy
2 Timothy

Matthew and works addressed to Jewish believers in Jesus

Mark and works addressed to a Roman audience
1 Peter
2 Peter

John and the letters of John
1 John
2 John
3 John

In each section the books are ordered according to their hypothesised date of writing. This arrangement also groups Luke and Paul's writings and Mark and Peter's writings together, which is an advantage as both of these pairs are thought to have worked together in their ministry.

I suspect though that all of these categorisation systems are going to be pretty simplistic. There are so many factors you could categorise them by. For example you could group Colossians, Ephesians and 1 Peter together for their instructions to husbands and wives, or 1 & 2 Thessalonians and 2 Peter together for their focus on eschatology. However you look at it you're likely to see new ways to categorise them, and in the end this kind of scheme can only tell you a tiny fraction of the content of any book.

  • Does revelation even claim to be written by the sample John as John's letters? I could be wrong but I thought that it was widely attributed to a different John entirely (John of Patmos)? Also it is very different in style and tone to any of the other Johannine texts and I would have thought would be better under its own category of prophesy. Nov 24, 2014 at 14:33
  • @Reluctant_Linux_User Yeah there's lots of debate about all of the books by 'John'. There are definitely lots of people who think it's all the one person though. I'm not sure personally. Revelation shares some vocab with the other Johannine books, but it has some differences too. And The Books of the Bible does actually put Revelation kind of separately, but it's in that position.
    – curiousdannii
    Nov 24, 2014 at 22:50

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