In Christianity you have the idea of the "Old Testament". In Judaism, this is broken down into smaller (and larger) chunks. You can find it in the Torah, the first 5 books of the Old Testament. You can find it in the Tanach, the source of the Old Testament in Christianity. This is divided into the Torah, the Nevi'im, and the Ketuvim. Then there are the Five scrolls (Hamesh Megillot). I'm not sure how the Dead Sea Scrolls fit into all this....

But I'm wondering if there are any formal/standard ways of subdividing the New Testament in a similar way. Perhaps there are the Gospels (the 4 first books). Does that count as a standard subset? Then what else for the remainder of the New Testament?

Wikipedia divides it up like this:

  • The Gospels
  • Apostolic History
  • Catholic Epistles
  • Pauline Epistles
  • Apocalypse

But that sounds more like categorization than a collection of books like how the Tanach does it. I am trying to imagine, "if I saw a book named 'X', would I know it was part of the New Testament?". So if I saw a book named "The Gospels", I would actually think this is the 4 gospels starting the New Testament. Maybe that's just me? Then if I saw "The Catholic Epistles", I wouldn't think that is a subset of the NT, but maybe it would suffice? Is there a better way?

  • 1
    Wikipedia's categorisation is the only one I've ever seen (except for the extra subcategory of the Pastoral letters, which are a subset of the Pauline letters.) I'm not sure why you're not happy with it. It's not really any different from a categorisation of the Hebrew Bible (of which there are at least two common ones.)
    – curiousdannii
    Commented Nov 14, 2019 at 3:32
  • What makes the Gospels (a collection of very similar books) less of a collection then the Ketuvim (which is quite a diverse set of books)? Commented Nov 14, 2019 at 17:04
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    Since the middle of the first millennium, Eastern Orthodox churches have employed separate Gospel- and Apostle-books. The former, containing portions or divisions of the four Gospels, is kept on the altar, to be used by the priest, while the latter, consisting of portions or divisions of the Acts and Epistles, is kept in the kliros, to be used by the reader (lector), singer (cantor), or (sub)deacon.
    – user46876
    Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 15:27
  • Only one I saw is like the one wiki had which you repeated here. Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 2:39

1 Answer 1


Are there any bundles of subsets of the New Testament that are common?

Catholic Bibles are divided into 5 subsets for the New Testament.

The Catholic New Testament is composed 27 books of the New Testament.

The Catholic Bible is composed of the 46 books of the Old Testament and the 27 books of the New Testament.

Old Testament

  • Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy

  • Historical books: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, 1 Kings, 2 Kings, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Tobit, Judith, Esther, 1 Maccabees, 2 Maccabees

  • Wisdom books: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach

  • Prophetic books: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Baruch, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi

Of these books, Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom, Sirach, Baruch, are the deuterocanonical books of the bible.

New Testament

  • The Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John

  • Historical book: Acts

  • Pauline Epistles: Romans, 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, 1 Timothy, 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, Hebrews

  • General Epistles: James, 1 Peter, 2 Peter, 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude

  • Revelation

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