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Who Wrote The Bible?

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Old Testament

The following books of the Bible are of unknown authorship:

Genesis

Exodus

Leviticus

Numbers

Deuteronomy

These books are traditionally assumed to have been written by Moses, though his authorship is not claimed internally. Since Deuteronomy records the death of Moses, it seems unlikely that he wrote it; certainly he didn't write the part that describes his death. Though some scholars would claim a composite authorship for these books starting around 950 BC with them reaching their final form during the time of Ezra around 500 BC, I would take a more conservative position and argue for a unitary authorship within fifty years of the Exodus (which would date from either around 1290 BC or 1440 BC; that is another whole area of controversy), with much of the material coming from Moses himself (not excluding some obvious editorial activity over the years; notice, for example, Deuternomy 2:10-12).

Joshua

Traditionally, many have claimed Joshua as the author of the book. But considering that the book describes Joshua's death at the end, and includes in the middle (specifically Joshua 15:13-19; cf. Judges 1:1, 9-15) an incident the occured after Joshua's death, it seems impossible that Joshua is the author. On the other hand, the reference to "we" and "us" in Joshua 5:1 and 5:6 perhaps suggests an eyewitness to the events was the author of the book. The book would thus date to either the 15th or 13th century BC, depending, again, upon exactly when the Exodus from Egypt occured.

Judges (c. 10th century BC)

Ruth (c. 10th century BC)

1-2 Samuel (8th-6th century BC)

1-2 Kings (6th-5th century BC)

1-2 Chronicles (400 BC would be the earliest possible date for composition)

Esther (5th century BC)

Job (c. 10th century BC at the earliest)

Lamentations

Traditionally the book has been ascribed to Jeremiah the prophet. There is, however, no statement in the book itself suggesting who the author might be, other than that he (or she) is obviously an eyewitness to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians (c. 586 BC).

Books with known authorship (either in part or in whole)

Psalms

A conglomerate written by many people. The authorship of individual psalms, as attributed by their titles, breaks down as follows (of the 150 psalms, 116 are provided with a title):

Moses - Psalm 90

Heman the Ezrahite - Psalm 88

Ethan the Ezrahite - Psalm 89

Solomon - Psalm 72, 127

David (73 times) - Psalms 3-9, 11-32, 34-41, 51-65, 68-70, 86, 103, 108-110, 122, 124, 131, 133, 138-145

Asaph (12 times) - Psalms 50, 73-83

Sons of Korah (9 times) Psalm 42, 44-45, 47-49, 84-85, 87

Author unknown - (49 times) the remainder

The Septuagint (an early Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible from around 200 BC) gives some additional authorship identification, as follows:

Jeremiah - Psalm 137

Haggai and Zechariah - Psalms 146-147

Ezra - Psalm 119

Hezekiah (15 times) Psalms 120-134

Though the titles prefaced to the Psalms clearly date back before 200 BC (since they appear in the Septuagint, along with the extras that translation gives), how authoratative they are is subject to much debate.

The psalms, based on the authorship attributions, would then date between the 15th century (or 13th, depending on the time of the Exodus) and the 5th century, by which time the book probably took the form it currently has.

Proverbs

Again, the book is a composite, so far as authorship is concerned.

1:1-24:22 is attributed to Solomon (thus dating to the 900's BC)

24:23-34 are attributed to "the wise"

25:1-29:27 are attributed to Solomon, but were collected and recorded by "Hezekiah's men".

30:1-33 is attributed to Agur

31:1-31 is attributed to Lemuel

Ecclesiastes

The book is attributed to Solomon by some. If that is the case, the book dates to the 900's BC. Others would argue for an unknown author, and put the date of composition around 390 BC.

Ezra-Nehemiah

They are treated as a single book in the Talmud, Josephus, and the Canon of Melito (AD 171). They are also treated as a single book in the Masoretic Text (traditional Hebrew Bible).

The author of the book of Ezra-Nehemiah is unknown, though Ezra 7-9 apparently were written by Ezra, since they are in the first person. The account in chapters 1-6 is compiled from records, including decrees (1:2-4; 6:3-12), genealogies and name lists (2), and letters (4:7-22; 5:6-17). There are two sections that have been preserve in Aramaic (4:8-6:18 and 7:12-26). Aramaic was the diplomatic language during this period. Sources for the section labled "Nehemiah" in our text include what appear to be memoirs of Nehemiah, written in the first person: Nehemiah 1:1-7:73a; 11:1-2; 12:31-43: 13:4-31.

The date of the final composition of the book is generally accepted as being sometime during the 4th century BC.

Song of Songs

The book is attributed to Solomon, which would place its date of composition in the 900's BC.

Isaiah

It is attributed to Isaiah; it consists several oracles given by him over several years (740-690 BC). Its final form as we have it (assuming a single, unitary authorship to the book) would thus be sometime during the 7th century BC.

Jeremiah

It is attributed to Jeremiah, who lived from about 627 to 580 BC.

Ezekiel

It is attributed to Ezekiel, who was born around 622 BC. Based on internal dating, the book covers the time from about 593 through about 570 BC.

Daniel

It is attributed to Daniel, and thus would have been written sometime between 605 BC and about 530 BC.

Hosea

Attributed to Hosea. His prophesies cover the period from 753-715 BC.

Joel

Attributed to Joel. The date of the book is uncertain, with dates ranging from the early pre-exilic (800's BC) to late post-exilic period (500-400 BC).

Amos

Attributed to Amos. Dates between 767 and 753 BC.

Obadiah

Attributed to Obadiah. Dates between 847 and 841 BC.

Jonah

Attributed to Jonah. Dates to the 700's BC.

Micah

Attributed to Micah. Dates between 740 and 695 BC.

Nahum

Attributed to Nahum. Two different dates are generally accepted as possibilities for Nahum's ministry: 661-612 BC or 722-701 BC.

Habakkuk

Attributed to Habakkuk. Dates to sometime between 612 and 587 BC.

Zephaniah

Attributed to Zephaniah. Dates sometime during the reign of Josiah (640-609 BC)

Haggai

Attributed to Haggai. It is possible to date his prophesies very exactly (since he gave us the precise day he uttered his prophesies):

1:1 August 29, 520 BC

1:15 September 21, 520 BC

2:19-20 December 18, 520 BC

Zechariah

Chapters 1-8 are attributed to Zechariah and can be dated precisely.

1:1 October, 520 BC

1:7 February 15, 519 BC

7:1 December 7, 518 BC

Chapters 9-14 were not written by Zechariah and cannot be easily dated. That they were not written by Zechariah is clear from both internal and external evidence.

9-11 were written by Jeremiah, according to Matthew 27:9-10, which quotes Zecharaiah 11:12-13 and attributes it to Jeremiah. The date would then be sometime between 627 and 580 BC

Chapters 12-14 are titled "an oracle" and are attributed to no one.

Malachi

Based on Mark 1:2-3, the book called "Malachi" was apparently actually written by Isaiah, since there the author of Mark quotes from "Malachi" but attributes it to Isaiah. The title "Malachi", taken from 1:1 is simply the Hebrew phrase "my messenger", and the word is so translated in 3:1.

The date of the book would then be sometime between 740 and 690 BC.

New Testament

Matthew

Attributed to Matthew. Probably written sometime between AD 55 and 75.

Mark

Attributed to John Mark. Probably written before AD 70, and before the books of Matthew or Luke were composed.

Luke

Attributed to Luke. Since the book of Acts (also attributed to Luke) was written afterward, and since Acts was apparently written before Paul's execution during the reign of Nero, the book of Luke is apparently relatively early, perhaps before AD 60.

John

Attributed to John. Probably composed between AD 85 and 90, though some scholars have suggested dates as early as AD 45 and as late as AD 110.

Acts

Attributed to Luke. Probably composed around AD 64 (Paul's imprisonment in Rome was from AD 61-63).

Romans

Attributed to Paul. Written AD 56 or 57.

1 Corinthians

Attributed to Paul. Written AD 55.

2 Corinthians

Attributed to Paul. Written AD 56.

Galatians

Attributed to Paul. Written AD 52

Ephesians

Attributed to Paul. Written AD 63.

Philippians

Attributed to Paul. Written between AD 59 and AD 61.

Colossians

Attributed to Paul. Written AD 62.

1 Thessalonians

Attributed to Paul. Written AD 50.

2 Thessalonians

Attributed to Paul. Written AD 50.

1 Timothy

Attributed to Paul. Written between AD 62 and AD 67.

2 Timothy

Attributed to Paul. Written between AD 62 and AD 67.

Titus

Attributed to Paul. Written AD 63.

Philemon

Attributed to Paul. Written between AD 56 and AD 62.

Hebrews

Traditionally Paul has been given credit for the book, though there is nothing in the book to suggest that he is the author; and from the standpoint of the style and structure of the book Pauline authorship is so unlikely as to be excluded as even reasonably possible. Written between AD 66 and AD 70 (certainly written before the destruction of Jerusalem AD 70).

James

Attributed to James. Written between AD 45 and AD 50.

1 Peter

Attributed to Peter. Written between AD 62 and AD 64.

2 Peter

Attributed to Peter. Written between AD 64 and AD 68.

1 John

Attributed to John. Written between AD 85 and AD 90.

2 John

Attributed to John. Written AD 90.

3 John

Attributed to John. Written AD 90.

Jude

Attributed to Jude. Written between AD 60 and AD 65.

Revelation

Attributed to John. Written between AD 54 and AD 68 or between AD 81 and AD 96.

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