Skip to comments.Beginning Catholic: When Was The Bible Written? [Ecumenical]
Posted on 07/15/2008 4:35:15 PM PDT by Salvation
Many people ask, "When was the Bible written?" It's a common question, and the answer shouldn't be so hard to find!
This article contains the likely dates of composition for the various books of the Bible.
Of course, the Bible contains many different books, written at different times by different people. This means that sometimes there isn't a straightforward answer to the question when was the Bible written.
The theology faculty at the University of Navarre, Spain, put together an outstanding Bible commentary called the Navarre Bible. These volumes also contain a number of excellent introductory essays about the Bible. I've used a number of sources for this article, but the bulk of this information can be found in the essays "General Introduction to the Bible" and "Introduction to the Books of the New Testament", both found in the Gospels & Acts volume of the Navarre Bible.
It's hardest to answer the question, "When was the Bible written?" for the Old Testament books. In fact , their authorship spans a period of about twelve centuries!
The individual books of the Old Testament were written at different times. Scholars say that some of the earliest individual books were written down probably beginning near the end of the thirteenth century BC perhaps 1200 BC or so.
The last Old Testament book to be written was 1 Maccabees, probably written around 100 BC.
It's easier to answer, "When was the Bible written?" for the New Testament books.
The New Testament was written within a much shorter timespan, more or less in the years between 50 AD and 100 AD. While none of the books contains a specific date of composition, scholars have managed to assign dates that are fairly accurate. Some are quite exact, while others are more approximate.
This chart shows likely dates of composition for the New Testament books. A question mark indicates that there is significant uncertainty about the actual authorship or the exact date of composition.
And of course, regardless of uncertainty about dates or even about exact authorship, the Catholic Church affirms that all texts of the Bible are divinely inspired and teach "solidly, faithfully and without error that truth which God wanted put into sacred writings for the sake of salvation." (Vatican II, Dei Verbum, 11)
|51-52 AD||1 and 2 Thess||Paul|
|50-55||[early version of Gospel of Mt in Aramaic]||Matthew|
|62||Col, Philem, Eph||Paul|
|65||1 Tim and Tit||Paul|
|95-100||1,2, and 3 Jn||John|
(This information is mainly drawn from the Navarre Bible, "Introduction to the Books of the New Testament")
Another good page answering when was the Bible written is available on the Web site of St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Mississippi. (They also have an excellent online Catechism of the Catholic Church.)
I hope that this brief article has helped to answer the question of when was the Bible written. It's important to know that the Biblical texts are deeply anchored in historical facts.
But it's more important to read the Bible! Not only is it a literary treasure, but it contains the living Word of God. Your life depends on it!
|BOOKS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT|
|BOOKS OF THE NEW TESTAMENT|
|Judges||c.1200 B.C.||1 Corinthians||55|
|Ruth||c.1000 B.C.||2 Corinthians||56|
|1st Samuel||c.700 B.C.||Galatians||56|
|2nd Samuel||c.700 B.C.||Ephesians||58|
|1st Kings||c.600 B.C.||Philippians||58|
|2nd Kings||c.600 B.C.||Colossians||58|
|1st Chronicles||c.350 B.C.||1 Thessalonians||early 50|
|2nd Chronicles||c.350 B.C.||2 Thessalonians||50-51|
|Ezra||c.400 B.C.||1 Timothy||55|
|Nehemiah||c.400 B.C.||2 Timothy||58|
|1st Maccabees||c.100 B.C.||James||40's|
|2nd Maccabees||c.125 B.C.||1 Peter||65|
|Job||c.500 B.C.||2 Peter||61-62|
|Psalms||c.500 B.C.||1 John||57-62|
|Proverbs||c.450 B.C.||2 John||57-62|
|Ecclesiastes||c.300 B.C.||3 John||57-62|
|Song of Songs||c.450 B.C.||Jude||61-62|
|Sirach (Ecclesiasticus)||c.180 B.C.|
Source of dates of New Testament: John A. T. Robinson, "Redating The New Testament" 1976.
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When the Canonical books were chosen. I don’t know the date.
There will be someone who does know that.
Just found the date of the Council of Trent in a CUF article about the Canon of the Bible.
I’m 65 and have been a practicing Catholic all my life. I admit that I am no biblical scholar. My brother-in-law was visiting with us for ten days earlier this month. He is a strict fundamentalist and is a total bible scholar. He is convinced that the universe is only 6,000 years old. I asked him what he thought of all the carbon dating, and of scientists saying that the earth was 4.5 billion years old (I got that from a geology course in college). He said that’s now how the bible counts time. His mother was in my living room while I was showing her some photos from a DVD on my TV. She asked me about one picture of Victoria Falls and I said that it had been doing that for millions of years. My B-i-L interjected, and said that no, it’s only been there for 6,000 years. Can anyone here shed some light on where he comes up with that number?
There are several schools to Young Earth Creatinism, they added the generations of all the people named in the Bible in the geneologies, add 2000 years and you get a number.
It’s based upon a reading, a myopic reading in my opinion, of Genesis 5 and 11. If you add up all the generations and carry them forward until modernity, 6,000 is a close approximation.
There are a few complications: The Pentatuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy) are actually a combination of writings from two eras, the latter contemporaneous with the Exile and return (appx 590 BC). So the table perhaps oversimplifies by listing only the earliest date. Another slight problem is that Isaiah is believed to be both pre-and post exilic (Chs 1-39 pre-Exile), Chs 40 - during Exile.
Regarding the New Testament, in the first table in the opening post I like the “early Aramaic version of Matthew” much better than what the scholars simply call “Q”. This would really be much of the material common to Matthew and Luke but not found in Mark.
I saw different references for the Old Testament too. Very interesting to me. And I think it had those two eras separated. I think it was on wiki
I’m not sure of what was in your brother-in-law’s mind.
I’ve heard some say the entire universe was created in six 24 hour days and calculating back through Bible chronology and time periods they arrive at 6,000 years or so to the creation of Adam.
The belief is that the “days” of creation of Genesis can only mean days of 24 hours.
The poster ist a preterist?
Why do you figure it was a preterist? (Many Catholics are partial preterists: they believe that there is a sense in which a prophesy is describing current conditions... but usually to demonstrate a larger theme which will come to full fruition at a future date. For instance: the Beast of Revelations is Nero, whose Hebrew name (QSR NRN) adds up to 666. BUT Nero serves merely as a fore-runner for an apocalyptic repression.)
My figuring was based on the observation that the chart shows all NT books being completed prior to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. Many futurists date many of John's books later than that (but still 1st century).
(P.S. I'm not Catholic, so I'm not familiar with the RCC take on this)
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