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Excerpted from an English translation of the story "The Bet" by Anton Chekhov:

Then after the tenth year, the prisoner sat immovably at the table and read nothing but the Gospel. It seemed strange to the banker that a man who in four years had mastered six hundred learned volumes should waste nearly a year over one thin book easy of comprehension. Theology and histories of religion followed the Gospels.

B is preceded by A = B follows A.

Having taken into account the explanations above, and if they are correct, would you tell me how the bold part could be correct?

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Theology and histories of religion followed the Gospels.

This simply means that after the prisoner spent a year reading the gospels, he moved on to reading books about theology and the history of religion. He had read other books before he started on the Gospels - "six hundred learned volumes", but what followed his reading of the Gospel was books on religion specifically.

B is preceded by A = B follows A.

This is correct. Books on theology were preceded by the Gospel; books on theology followed the Gospel; books on theology were read after reading the Gospel - all have the same meaning.

You must be careful to distinguish "is/was preceded by" and just "preceded". All the following mean that the Gospel came first in the reading order:

The Gospel preceded the books on theology.
The books on theology were preceded by the Gospel.
Books on theology followed the Gospel.
The gospel was followed by books on theology.

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