When the Books of the Bible Were Written

Two Tables

J.M. Diener

The information in these tables is based on The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (ed. Frank E. Gaebelin; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1981; 12 Vols.). The Old Testament dates assume the early Exodus date of 1446 for the pre-monarchic period. The dates for the period of the monarchy and following are based on the chronology worked out by Edwin Thiele. The New Testament dates assume the completion of the canon at the end of the first century A.D. and Matthean primacy for the authorship of the Gospels. Download and print the 3-page PDF file and keep a copy of it in the front of your Bible for easy reference or bookmark this page for quick access.

Old Testament

Date (B.C.)

Book

Writer(s)

Notes

1445-1406

Genesis

Exodus

Leviticus

Numbers

Moses

Heb. Torah: instruction or Gk: Pentateuch: five books. Traditionally attributed to Moses. Other OT books (Josh. 1:7; 8:31; 1Ki. 2:3; 2Ki. 14:6; Ezr. 6:18; Neh. 13:1; Mal. 4:4), Jesus Christ (Mk. 7:10; 12:6; Jn. 5:46) and NT authors (Lk. 2:22; Ac. 3:22; Rom. 10:5) support this view.

1406

Deuteronomy

Moses, Joshua (?)

See Deu. 1:1. Chapter 34 was likely written by someone other than Moses; style and vocabulary makes Joshua most likely.

1370

Joshua

Joshua, Phineas (?)

See Jos. 8:32; 24:26. Commentators think that the final verses of the book were written by another person, likely the high priest Phineas.

1085-971

Judges

Unknown

Jewish tradition attributes the book to Samuel. Style and vocabulary suggest it was written in the Davidic period.

1085-971

Ruth

Unknown

Jewish tradition attributes the book to Samuel. Style and vocabulary is similar to Judges, thus suggesting it was written in the Davidic period.

1030-931

Samuel

Samuel, Nathan, Gad

The writers of the book are traditionally identified using 1Ch. 29:29.

1030-931

Job

Unknown

The poetic parts of the book are very ancient (2 millennium B.C.), but the introduction (Job 1-2) and conclusion (Job 42:7-17) are written in the language and vocabulary of the Davidic or Solomonic era, suggesting the poetry was edited and completed during that time.

971-686

Proverbs

Solomon, Agur, Lemuel

See Pr. 1:1; 30:1; 31:1. While most of the proverbs come from Solomon’s pen, the final form of the book was produced by editors during Hezekiah’s reign (see. Pr. 25:1).

around 940

Ecclesiastes

Solomon

Compare. Ecc. 1:1 and autobiographical information in Ecc. 1:1 – 2:9.

around 940

Song of Songs

Solomon

See Son. 1:1.

800-700

Joel

Joel

See Joe. 1:1. There is not enough clear information in the book to determine an exact date.

792-752

Amos

Amos

See Amo. 1:1

782-722

Hosea

Hosea

See Hos. 1:1

745-630

Jonah

Jonah (?)

While Jonah lived the events in the book and likely passed them on, the third-person form of the book and the past tense in Jnh. 3:3 suggest that it was written after the fall of Niniveh in 631 B.C.

739-686

Isaiah

Isaiah

See Isa. 1:1.

733-701

Micah

Micah

See Mic. 1:1

663-626

Nahum

Nahum

See Nah. 1:1. The year that best aligns with the description of Assyria in the book is 645 B.C. (P.A. Verhoef).

636-627

Zephaniah

Zephaniah

See Zep. 1:1

627-574

Kings

Jeremiah, Ezra

Jeremiah is suggested as the author, because the style of Kings is similar to the style in Jeremiah. The style of the passage in 2Ki. 25:27-30 is very similar to Ezra and Chronicles, so Ezra is accepted as the author.

626-590

Habakkuk

Habakkuk

See Hab. 1:1. The exact date of the book cannot be clearly determined from its content.

605-580

Jeremiah

Jeremiah, Baruch

See Jer 1:1. Baruch was Jeremiah’s scribe (see. Jer. 36:4; 45:1). According to Jer. 36:1, Jeremiah began writing his book in 605 B.C.

597-573

Ezekiel

Ezekiel

See Eze. 1:3 and first-person accounts in the book. Ezekiel was very careful in dating his visions (e.g. Eze. 1:1; 8:1; 20:1; 24:1; 29:17).

586

Lamentations

Jeremiah

The Septuagint (first century B.C.) cites Jeremiah as the author.

586

Obadiah

Obadiah

See Oba. 1:1. The date of Obadiah is very unclear. Some commentators place it in the 8th century B.C. However, the content of the book fits better with the date cited.

550-530

Daniel

Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar

The second half of the book (Dan. 8:1; 9:2) was clearly written by Daniel, therefore the first half is attributed to him. The fourth chapter is a missive written by Nebuchadnezzar (see Dan 4:1).

520

Haggai

Haggai

See Hag. 1:1; compare Ezr. 5:1. For dating see Hag. 1:1,15; 2:1

520-480

Zechariah

Zechariah

See Zec. 1:1; compare Ezr. 5:1. Zechariah dates many of his visions (e.g. Zec.. 1:1,7; 6:9;7:1)

515-415 (?)

Malachi

Malachi

See Mal. 1:1. The author’s identity is disputed, because the name “Malachi” means “my messenger”. Some think Ezra, Zechariah, or Mordechai might have written it. It is clear that the book is post-Exilic.

474-450

Esther

Unknown

Mordechai is suggested to be the author.

450-400

Chronicles

Ezra

Chronicles is clearly the work of one author. Ezra is accepted both due to Jewish tradition and the style of Chronicles being very similar to that of the book of Ezra.

440

Ezra

Ezra

See first-person expressions in Ezr. 8ff.

440-400 (?)

Psalms

David, Sons of Korah,

Asaph, Solomon, Henan the Ezrahite, Ethan the Ezrahite, Moses, and many other anonymous authors

 

The Psalms are a compilation. It is unclear when the compilation was completed. The oldest Psalm (Ps. 90) is attributed to Moses, which would have to be written before 1406 B.C. David began writing in the 1030s. The other Psalms would have been written in the following centuries. The final form of the book was completed sometime after the return from the Exile to Babylon and before the ministry of John the Baptist, though most likely before the 400 years of silence. Jesus cites it as one of the major parts of the Bible (see Lk. 24:44).

430

Nehemiah

Nehemiah

See Neh. 1:1

 

New Testament

Date (A.D.)

Book

Writer(s)

Notes

45-50

James

James, son of Joseph

See Jas. 1:1. James is assumed to be the son of Mary and Joseph, thus the half-brother of Jesus Christ

48-52

Galatians

Paul

See Gal. 1:1-2. The early date assumes the addressees were the south Galatian churches Iconium, Lystra, Derby and Antioch. The late date assumes the addressees are unnamed north Galatian churches Paul founded during his second journey.

50

1 Thessalonians

Paul, Timothy

See 1Th. 1:1. Written in Corinth.

50

2 Thessalonians

Paul, Timothy

Se 2Th. 1:1. Written in Corinth.

55

1 Corinthians

Paul

See 1Co. 1:1. Written in Ephesus.

56

2 Corinthians

Paul

See 2Co. 1:1. Written while in Macedonia.

57

Romans

Paul

See Rom. 1:1. Most likely written while Paul was in Corinth.

58-60

Ephesians

Paul

See Eph. 1:1. Either written in Caesarea or Rome. Most likely written at the same time as Colossians and Philemon.

58-60

Philemon

Paul, Timothy

See Phm 1:1-2. Either written in Caesarea or Rome. Most likely written at the same time as Ephesians and Colossians.

58-60

Colossians

Paul, Timoteos

See Col. 1:1-2. Either written in Caesarea or Rome. Most likely written at the same time as Ephesians and Philemon.

60-65

Jude

Jude, son of Joseph

See Jude 1:1. The author calls himself “the brother of James”. The general view is that this James is the same who wrote the letter of James. The church fathers write that Jude is a half-brother of Jesus (a son of Mary and Joseph).

60-66

Matthew

Matthew Levi

Synoptic Gospel. The early church gave this Gospel primacy. Matthew is attributed as author by the church fathers.

61-64

Luke

Luke

Synoptic Gospel. Luke is attributed as author by the church fathers. Luke was Paul’s companion (see Ac. 16:10; 20:5; 21:1; 27:1; Col. 4:14; Phm. 1:24; 2Ti. 4:11). This is supported by Gospel of Luke and Acts having the same writing style and the first-person accounts in Acts. Luke states that Acts is his second book (Ac. 1:1-2), thus the Gospel must have been written first.

61

Philippians

Paul, Timothy

See Php. 1:1. Written in Rome

62-64

1 Peter

Simon Peter, Silas

See 1Pe. 1:1. Written in Rome. According to 1Pe. 5:12 Peter uses Silas (“Silvanus”, see Ac. 15:40) as his scribe.

63-64

Acts

Luke

This book is the continuation of the Gospel of Luke according to Ac. 1:1-2. Some commentators think that this was written in Paul’s defense for his trial before Caesar.

62-66

1 Timothy

Paul

See 1Ti. 1:1. Written while in Macedonia (see 1Ti. 1:3)

63

Titus

Paul

See Tit. 1:1. Place of writing is unknown, though Corinth is suggested.

64-67

Mark

John Mark, Simon Peter

Synoptic Gospel. John Mark is mentioned as Paul’s companion in Ac 12:12; 13:15,13; 15:37-39. The church fathers state that Mark wrote down what he heard from Simon Peter, thus requiring the Gospel to have been completed before Peter’s martyrdom at the hands of Nero.

64-68

2 Peter

Simon Petrus

See 2Pe. 1:1. Authorship is disputed because it was added to the canon at a very late date. The given dates assume Peter’s authorship.

66-70

Hebrews

Unknown

The author is unknown, though Paul, Barnabas (Ac. 4:36-37; 13:2ff), Apollos (Ac. 18:24-28), and Priscilla (Ac. 18:18) are suggested.

67

2 Timothy

Paul

See 2Ti. 1:1-2. Written in Rome

70-96

Revelation

John son of Zebedee

See Rev. 1:1,2,4-6. The earliest writings of the church fathers paired with the internal evidence of the book support the authorship of John.

85-90

1 John

John son of Zebedee

The letters attributed to John do not name an author. The testimony of the church fathers and the similarity of the language to John’s Gospel support the authorship claim.

85-90

John

John son of Zebedee

The church fathers state that Jesus’ disciple John son of Zebedee wrote the fourth Gospel. This is supported by the content of the Gospel itself. Some commentators think it was written in the A.D. 60s or 70s.

90

2 John

John son of Zebedee

 

90

3 John

John son of Zebedee

 

 

References

Gaebelin, Frank E., ed. The Expositor's Bible Commentary. 12 vols. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1981.

Merrill, Eugene H. Kingdom of Priests: A History of Old Testament Israel. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 1996.

Thiele, Edwin R. The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1994.