Ranking the New Testament!

Let’s be clear upfront: Religious biases aside, the New Testament is WAY cooler than the Old Testament. God’s a lot nicer, there’s a lot less holier-than-thou, you’re-all-goin’-to-hell stuff from prophets, Jesus is a lot more compelling than anyone in the Old Testament, and Paul might be the most influential writer in world history.*


That’s why, if you’re gonna try to take down the Bible, start with the New Testament (unless you’re Jewish; that’d be nonsensical [although, do Jews ever attempt to read the whole Bible?]). If you get tired after one testament, you’ve read the good one. And if you decide to soldier on, it’s a lot easier making it through 1 Chronicles knowing you’re almost done.

But if you’re a buffet-style pick-and-choose reader (and who isn’t in these ADD times of ours?), here’s how they stack up in the New Testament:

27. Jude

Jude is the patron saint of desperate causes. Like finishing this book! (j/k…it’s like 300 words long. Plus the author is a different, more obscure Jude. No, not that one either.)

26. Titus

Not surprisingly, the inspiration for the FOX sitcom is both brief and relatively unentertaining.

25. 1 Peter

24. Philippians

Most of this list favors epistles that were authentically written by Paul. This is the one that makes me have to say “Most of the list…”.

23. 3 John

22. 2 John

21. 2 Thessalonians

20. Philemon

It deals with a slave named Onesimus. I know someone who once dated a guy named Onesimus. He was pretty cool, but he wasn’t really anything to write home about. Get it?

19. James

18. 2 Peter

17. 1 John

It’s like the Gospel of John, except not quite.

16. Hebrews

15. 2 Timothy

See: 1 Timothy.

14. 1 Thessalonians

13. Colossians

Col 1:15-20 is pretty cool.

12. Ephesians

This is the top inauthentic Pauline epistle.

11. 2 Corinthians

10. Revelation

Now a lot of people really like the Book of Revelation. A lot of people read it even though they don’t care for Jesus or Christianity or even religion. While Revelation is undeniably cool and different, here’s a warning: Anyone who really likes the Book of Revelation is out-of-their-minds insane. Do not associate with them. They tend to enjoy both fire and vengeance, often at the same time. You heard it here: Avoid them at all costs.

9. Matthew

8. 1 Timothy

I’ll be honest: A lot of this has to do with the fact that my name is Tim.

7. Mark

6. Acts of the Apostles

5. 1 Corinthians

Because even though it’s clichéd, 1 Cor 13 is the best chapter of the Bible.

4. Galatians

The angry rough draft to Romans, this came after the infamous Antioch Incident* when Paul split from Peter. It basically boils down to this: “If justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.”

*The Antioch Incident is arguably the second most significant moment in Christian history that doesn’t directly involve Jesus the human (I mean, all moments in Christian history involve Jesus the idea). In case you’re wondering, the Emperor Constantine’s making Christianity the religion of the Roman Empire is probably No. 1. Other events in the conversation include the Vulgate of St. Jerome, the Schism of 1054, the Babylonian Captivity, the (sigh) Reformation, Vatican II, Pope Leo the Great sticking it to Attila the Hun, and the football career of Tim Tebow.

3. Luke

The gospel of the Gentiles… therefore the gospel for me. It’s the first book I read, and Luke 14:11 is one of my favorite verses.

2. Romans

The final draft of Galatians, it excises the anger and presents Paul’s arguments for what is to become Christian doctrine in coherent and organized form. It deals with participation in Christ and a movement away from the Jewish adherence to laws that were less about religion than about forging a distinct community (i.e. Leviticus). This is probably why Christianity is its own religion and not a Messianic sect of Judaism.

1. John

One of those rare works of art that lives up to all expectations. It’s kind of the gospel as written by Tom Wolfe or Gay Talese—a new journalistic take on Matthew, Mark, and Luke (or, collectively, Q). It includes the tremendous “In the beginning was the word” opening, a clear callback to Genesis and an acknowledgement that what the gospel is trying to do is nothing short of starting over with a new covenant for a new time. There’s a reason John 3:16 is on so many signs at sporting events (to be on TV, of course), and 3:17 is an underrated follow-up. Lastly, 16:33 might be Jesus’ best line: “In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”

Greatest. Story. Ever.

2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Cousin Stu on August 26, 2009 at 9:57 PM

    I have to say, good list but I’d rather see 1 Corinthians up a weeble further. 1 Corinthians 15 I think is the best, and if I remember right one of the historically earliest, declarations of some basic Christian beliefs, Christ as the Son of God and the resurrection and promise of eternal life in Christ, as well as a challenge of sorts for non-believers to go and find the people who had seen the resurrected Christ if they didn’t believe what Paul was saying (1 cor 15:6). Throw in the spiritual gifts of chapters 12 and 14 and the verbal smackdowns Paul laid on Corinth in the first 5 chapters and you got a hell of an epistle.


  2. […] Jacob’s explanation of himself is actually quite God-like, and by that I mean it’s terrible: He is bringing people to the Island as part of a grand experiment designed to prove that man is inherently good—except that he’s going to keep bringing people until he’s proven right. This is not exactly a scientifically rigid experiment system. And he refuses to interfere directly, but has no problem interfering in a variety of convoluted indirect ways. He also claims that he the Island is guarding an Evil from the rest of the world, and yet he refuses to say how or why. If the Man in Black is this “Evil”, then why is Jacob so bent on convincing him that man is good. Jacob is just as inconsistent, irrational, and self-absorbed as the God of the Old Testament…and not even Tim likes that one. […]


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