In the Christian sequencing, the Psalms fall at the halfway point through the Old and New Testaments.
They would be even further along in the pages following the ordering of the Hebrew Bible.
Either way, there’s a lot more ahead.
Still, in looking for an overall structure and developing line of theological thought in my straight-through reading of the Bible, I was already perplexed by the lack of systematic development. Too many things seemed to be moving in contrary directions. Rather than clarifying a concept of the Holy One, for starters, I found the opposite happening. Yes, the war-god was giving way, but that was more a consequence of military defeats, flawed government, and Babylonian exile. The evolving comprehension remained, for me, lacking.
In the arrangement of the Biblical books I was tracking, I’d already come through the history of the development of the Jewish people — one that peters out before the fall of the second temple and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE — and entered the books of Wisdom. I still had a few more Wisdom books to encounter and then the Prophets. The history, in other words, fizzles out before the biggest scene.
The Hebrew Bible, in contrast, mixes history, Wisdom, and the Prophets in what may be a more organic or unified approach, especially when it applies Chronicles as its concluding recap.
Looking at the sections by length, the brevity of the New Testament comes as a shock — just about 15 percent of the total. Rather than a second act, it would seem more of an appendage or even an encore, of sorts.
One thing I hadn’t expected was the awareness of authorship, once I had encountered the commentary on J, the Jahwist or Yahwist. This perspective intensifies in learning of scholarship adding the Elohist, Deuteronomist, and Priestly sources. This definitely wasn’t the “written by God,” as we children had been taught in Protestant Sunday school, or, as I was concluding, not even the “inspired by God” alternative. Rather, what was emerging were texts of experiences of Otherness. Even the Five Books of Moses, from this perspective, would be more accurately titled the Five Books about Moses.
Well, now it’s on to the rest of the story.