Books of the Bible in Chronological Order: A Guide to Reading the Bible in the Proper Sequence
How many books are in the Bible? The Old Testament (the part of the Bible that isn’t the New Testament) contains 39 books, and the New Testament contains 27 books, so if you were reading them in chronological order, you’d have 66 books to get through.
This list of Books of the Bible in Chronological Order will help you figure out where to start and how to continue reading the Bible without missing anything too important or critical to Christian belief.
Reading the Books of the Bible in Chronological Order
How do you arrange the Old Testament? Listed below are the dates, authors, and purposes for each book. We’ll also cover the books of the New Testament. We’ll conclude with the book of Acts.
In case you’re interested in learning more, you can start with the book of Job, which tells about the early events of the Jewish people. Job was written during the time of Solomon, and it is classified among the “wisdom literature” after Samuel and Kings. Acts was written after the book of Luke, and it relates events from the mid to late first century A.D.
Old Testament books
The Old Testament is an amazing book that tells the story of God’s love and faithfulness. Its chronology shows how God was involved in the lives of His people and His desire to establish a personal relationship with them.
As such, reading the Old Testament in chronological order is a great way to learn about God’s love and mercy. The Old Testament is arranged chronologically into eleven books, each with its own chronological order.
The first and second Kings are the Old Testament chronological narratives. They trace the history of Israel and Judah. These books also give more detail on Solomon, the king of the United Kingdom. Many consider him the wisest person who ever lived, and most of Proverbs and Song of Solomon were written by him. These books are regarded as wisdom books and are considered complementary to the first and second Chronicles.
The books of the Kingdom Era describe the united and divided kingdom periods. The northern kingdom of Israel was taken by Assyria, while the southern kingdom of Judah was seized by Babylon.
These people were much more faithful to God than their northern counterparts. The Chronicler, for example, is anxious for the kingdom of God to return to his people. But this is not the end of the Old Testament. The prophets, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Esther, describe Israel’s ongoing spiritual exile.
The chronological order of the Old Testament is not perfect. Some Bible books are difficult to place in chronological order because the authors did not know when events took place. The book of Job, for example, is not written in chronological order, but it does contain a hint that it was written early in human history.
The book would fall within the book of Genesis, but some lists place it between Genesis 11 and Genesis 12.
Many Bible readers believe that the Scriptures are arranged in chronological order. However, this view leads to misunderstandings. In reality, the Bible is not written in chronological order, but rather by type of literature. The Old Testament contains books written by Moses, the Prophets, and Wisdom Books, while the New Testament contains four Gospels and one book of history and epistles.
This method is not the only way to read the Bible, and the Bible does not necessarily need to be read in chronological order.
Various sources have suggested that the Hebrew Bible and the Protestant Old Testament contain different sets of writings. However, there is no solid evidence that any one book is written by the same author. In the case of the Old Testament, the book of Zephaniah warns the people of the approaching day of the Lord. Haggai, on the other hand, encourages the people to rebuild their temples. Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, shows God’s love for his nation. Lastly, the New Testament includes twenty-seven sacred books. This part of the Bible is about the life of Jesus Christ.
The earliest book of Micah is dated between 700 and 686 B.C. Most scholars believe that the prophet wrote the book between 700 and 686 B.C. and later additions to his prophecies would have been added in the seventh century B.C. Micah was also cited in the Book of Jeremiah, written around 608 B.C. Micah’s book is the earliest book in the Old Testament, but there are some ambiguities.
There is no standard chronological order for the books of the Bible. They are not listed in order of their creation, but by the most likely dates. For example, the Book of Ruth was written around 1030 B.C., while the Book of Job was written about seven centuries later. Proverbs was written about six centuries before Isaiah. The New Testament contains the four Gospels, one book of history, and one book of prophecy.
In addition to the differences in time, there are various theories about when the books of the Bible were written. For example, a literal chronology would place the world creation and flood at about four thousand years before the time of Christ. However, other interpretations have also been made. Some scholars have suggested dates that are much earlier than others. For instance, Rashi says that the Book of Genesis was written about one thousand years before the time of the flood, but he adds a hundred years for Japheth. These are all possible dates, but the question is how to interpret them.
While many historians disagree about the date Jerusalem was destroyed, others suggest that it was during the reign of Zedekiah. This is a very important historical base date. After all, this is the time when Nebuchadnezzar II ended Zedekiah’s reign. The destruction of the Temple caused a famine and a lot of people were exiled, including the prophets.
Various scholars place the Bible in chronological order in the New Testament. According to the Documentary Hypothesis, the Pentateuch was written around 550 B.C. The Book of Revelation is anonymous, though tradition holds that Moses wrote it. The Book of Genesis and the book of Acts were written shortly after each other, but the order of the books is still controversial. This is based on internal evidence and linguistic evidence.
The Bible is divided into several books, with a certain order that is appropriate to the events described within them. The books of Samuel, Kings, and Job are grouped together. The book of Acts is placed after the book of Luke. The order of these books reflects a chronological development rather than any sacred order. In addition, some books of the Bible must be combined with one another for ease of reading and organization.
Those interested in the development of the Christian religion should read the Bible in chronological order. A chronological reading allows readers to make connections between historical events and doctrinal lessons. For example, while reading the Old Testament, they can connect the tumultuous events of 1 Samuel with the psalms and powerful sermons preached by the prophets. This method of reading the Bible is crucial for preachers and Bible teachers, who need to understand the full picture of the events that took place during different periods in the history of the Bible.
The books of Micah are also important. It contains prophecies by Zephaniah, who lived during the reign of Josiah. The book of Nehemiah was written after the Book of the Law was discovered and before the king’s reformation in 628 B.C. As for the rest of the books, there are differences between them and what you will find in the Bible.
In addition to their chronological order, Bible books can be read in topical or literary order. The Psalms and Proverbs have literary names, while the four gospels are named after the individuals or churches who wrote them. Hebrews is believed to have written all of the Scriptures. This group of writers is trusted with the very words of God. It is not always clear who wrote what.
There are several ways to order the Bible. Some follow a chronological order, while others follow a size order. For example, Paul’s letters were typically ordered from largest to smallest. The style of books used by many Christians can vary. Listed below is an example of the styles used in various Bibles. There are other approaches to chronological order as well. To see which style is most common in your own Bible, check the website of your favorite Bible book or church.
The Bible is divided into six volumes. The first volume contains the Torah. The second is the Epistles, which are written to early Christians. The third is Revelation, which is written in apocalyptic style. Chronological Bibles tend to include the most popular English translations. However, a chronological order is not necessary to appreciate the book’s content. You should choose an approach that suits your reading style and your Bible’s historical context.
Many people believe that the order of the Scripture is sacred. But this is not true. For example, Genesis must come before Revelation, as it outlines the beginning of everything. Then, you’ll notice that some books were named after their subject matter, literary style, or even the author’s name. There’s no evidence that the order of books is arbitrary, though. Most books were named after the person or group they addressed. There are some exceptions, though.
Whether or not the book of Psalms was written by Solomon depends on who you believe was the author. There are several possible dates for the book. Others think it was written sometime after Joshua. However, it’s not certain, since the book of Ecclesiastes mentions a second author. In any case, the book was written around nine hundred B.C., although some scholars say it may have been written as late as 200 B.C.
You can boost your Bible study by learning more about the books in the Holy Bible. This page will provide a chronological order for the Bible’s different books, as determined by scholars. Here you will find theories about the authorship and dates of each book. This will allow you to learn more about God’s Word.
This list is based only on the Protestant Bible. It doesn’t include any Deuterocanonical literature.
Genesis is the first book in the list of the books of the Bible in chronological sequence. It is also the first one in the first major division of the Hebrew Bible, called the “Torah.”
There is no information about the author in the book itself. Jewish and Christian Tradition assigns the authorship of the book of Genesis to Moses. He may have used other sources (including oral tradition) to write or compile this book since the events happened a long time before he was born. For example, the creation of the world, Noah’s ark, the tower of Babel, and God sending Abram (later renamed Abraham) to Canaan — all these well-known Bible stories happened centuries before Moses’s lifetime.
Internal evidence, especially from the New Testament, also affirm Moses’s authorship of Genesis (Acts 15:1) and the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Canon of Scripture), usually referred to as the books of the Law (Luke 16:29, 24:27; John 1:45; 2 Corinthians 3:15). This is considered the strongest evidence in favor of the Mosaic authorship. This tradition is so strong that many writers use the expressions “the Law of Moses” or “the books of Moses” when referring to the Pentateuch.
Some scholars who don’t agree with the authorship of Moses developed a theory they called “The Documentary Hypothesis.” Based on the analysis of the biblical text, they identified four different sources that, according to them, were used by one later editor to compile the five books that we know today. Those sources are:
- Source J: The texts that refer to God by His covenant name (Yahweh, translated as “The LORD” in all caps in most English Bibles).
- Source E: The texts that refer to God as Elohim (the more generic word “God”). The proponents of this theory believe these texts were written before the events in Exodus, so people didn’t know God’s revealed name yet (Exodus 3:15).
- Source D: This is essentially the book of Deuteronomy.
- Source P: The priestly texts, especially in Leviticus.
Many modern scholars abandoned the Documentary Hypothesis and affirmed Moses’s authorship of the Pentateuch. They argue that there is no evidence of the existence of those four sources. They also say that the differences, repetition, and apparent contradictions within the five books of the Pentateuch can be explained by the literary style of the ancient Near Eastern narratives.
Scholars who think that Moses wrote the Pentateuch date it to the period when Israel was wandering in the desert, between 1440 and 1400 B.C.
Scholars who defend the Documentary Hypothesis date the compilation of the Pentateuch as a single work to around 550 B.C., during the Babylonian exile.
The book is anonymous, but tradition and many scholars consider Moses to be the author of Exodus. Refer to the Genesis discussion above for more information about the authorship of the whole Pentateuch. Exodus 3:15 is the first time that God reveals His covenant name.
Exodus 17:14, 24:4, and 34:27 are considered internal evidence that Moses wrote sections or the entire book. Also, Joshua 8:31 refers to Exodus 20:25 as a command that was “written in the book of the law of Moses” (Joshua 8:31 KJV). The New Testament also refers to texts found in Exodus as texts written by Moses (Mark 7:10, 12:26; Luke 2:22-23).
Refer to the Genesis discussion in this post for more information.
The book doesn’t identify its author, but tradition and most scholars agree that Moses wrote Leviticus. Refer to the Genesis discussion above for more information about the authorship of the whole Pentateuch.
Even though there is no direct indication that Moses wrote this book, it is clear that God gave him the commands that were registered there (Leviticus 1:1; 4:1; 5:14; 6:1, 8, 19, 24; 7:22, 28; 26:46; 27:34). Paul also affirmed Moses’s authorship of Leviticus in Romans 10:5.
Refer to the Genesis discussion above for more information.
Most scholars agree with the tradition that says that Moses wrote the book of Numbers. Refer to the Genesis discussion above for more information about the authorship of the whole Pentateuch.
Numbers 33:1-2 indicate that Moses wrote at least some part of it. Numbers 1:1, 3:5, 15:1, and other similar verses also indicate that Moses was the one who received most of the contents of this book from God.
Refer to the Genesis discussion above for more information.
Traditionally, Moses is considered the author of Deuteronomy. Refer to the Genesis discussion above for more information about the authorship of the whole Pentateuch.
The verses in Deuteronomy 31:9, 22, 24-25 indicate that Moses wrote at least a major part of this book (his speech started in Deuteronomy 1:5). In 2 Kings 14:6, a quote from Deuteronomy 24:16 is referred to as part of “the book of the law of Moses” (2 Kings 14:6 KJV).
Texts from the New Testament also affirmed the Mosaic authorship of Deuteronomy: Matthew 19:7-8; Mark 10:3-5; Acts 3:22-23, 7:37-38; Romans 10:19.
Most scholars agree that Moses wrote this book, and another unknown author added the introduction (Deuteronomy 1:1-5) and the conclusion (chapter 34).
Scholars and tradition believe that this was the last of the books of Moses, written just before the Israelites entered the Promised Land.
Refer to the Genesis discussion above for more information.
The book of Joshua, despite its name, is anonymous. It is the first of the historical books in the Christian Bible and the first book in the second major division of the Hebrew Bible called Prophets. It narrates the events as Joshua leads Israel into the Promised Land.
According to the Jewish people’s tradition, Joshua wrote it himself, except for the ending (Joshua 24:29-33). Most scholars agree that Joshua wrote at least some parts of it (Joshua 24:26).
Scholars have suggested many possible dates, from the times of Joshua (probably about 1390 B.C.) to the Persian period (fifth and fourth century B.C.).
Some texts indicate that at least portions were written close to when those events took place:
- Some parts of it were written by eyewitnesses (Joshua 5:1, 6).
- Rahab was still alive (Joshua 6:25).
Some other texts suggest a later date or additions:
- There are 12 instances of “to this day,” which puts the author far from those events (for example, Joshua 7:26; 8:29; 15:63).
- An eyewitness wouldn’t need to cite a source (Joshua 10:13).
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The book of Psalms includes five collections of compositions by many authors. It is one of the most popular books in the whole Bible. In terms of literary genre, it is one of the books of poetry in the Holy Book.
Most psalms are prefaced by superscripts that give us information about them. According to those superscripts, we have the following authors: David (73 psalms), Asaph (12), the sons of Korah (11), Moses (1), Solomon (2), Heman (1), and Ethan (1).
Some scholars claim that those superscripts might be a later addition, but even the oldest known manuscripts have them.
An important thing that some scholars argue is that the names in the superscripts don’t necessarily mean the author’s name. They may also indicate that the psalm was dedicated to or inspired by someone. For example, the superscript in Psalm 72 refers to Solomon, but some interpreters claim that this psalm was actually written by David (see verse 20) as a short prayer for Solomon.
Scholars estimate that the composition of all psalms spanned almost a thousand years, from the times of Moses (around 1400 B.C.) to the Babylonian captivity (Jerusalem was destroyed in 586 B.C.).
Considering that David’s psalms make up for almost half of the book of Psalms, the majority of its composition would have happened during his and Solomon’s lifetime, in the late eleventh century and the tenth century B.C.
The author of the book of Judges is unknown. According to the Jewish people’s tradition, the prophet and judge Samuel wrote it.
The date of the writing of this book is also unknown. Scholars argue that the phrase “in those days there was no king in Israel” (Judges 17:6, 18:1, 19:1) indicates that it was written after the monarchy was established (tenth century B.C.).
The book of Ruth is anonymous. The Jewish tradition credits it to Samuel, but most scholars credit it to an unknown author who lived during the period of the monarchy.
Scholars claim that David’s genealogy at the end and the literary style in this book indicate that it was written during Solomon’s reign (ca. 950 B.C.). They think that the author was someone who worked on the staff of the royal court, possibly a scribe.
Proverbs is a popular wisdom book from the Canon of Scripture. It is a collection of writings from several authors, according to the biblical text itself:
- Chapters 1 through 24: the proverbs of Solomon, son of David (Proverbs 1:1).
- Chapters 25 through 29: the proverbs of Solomon that were compiled by the scribes of the king Hezekiah (Proverbs 25:1).
- Chapter 30: the proverbs of Agur, the son of Jakeh (Proverbs 30:1).
- Chapter 31: the proverbs of the king Lemuel (Proverbs 31:1).
Some modern scholars challenge Solomon’s authorship and argue that this book is a product of the postexilic period. However, there is no reasonable evidence to back up that theory.
Solomon wrote his proverbs between 970 and 930 B.C. Hezekiah’s scribes compiled the additional proverbs between 729 and 686 B.C. There is no other mention of Agur and Lemuel anywhere else in the Holy Scriptures. Scholars think that their proverbs may also have been compiled by Hezekiah’s scribes, or they might have been a later addition.
If Solomon wasn’t the author, scholars think that it was written in the fifth century B.C.
11). Song of Songs or Song of Solomon
The first verse tells us that Solomon either wrote it, it belonged to him, or it was written about him (Song of Songs 1:1). The Bible tells us that Solomon wrote 1,005 songs (1 Kings 4:32), so it is reasonable to consider him the author of this book.
Some scholars question Solomon’s authorship and attribute it to an unknown author in the postexilic period, but there isn’t strong evidence to support their claims.
If Solomon is indeed the author, then it was written around 950 B.C. If not, critics claim it was written in the fifth century B.C.
12). 1 Samuel
The author of 1 and 2 Samuel is unknown. Both books were originally written as a single volume. They were split into two parts by the translators of the Septuagint (a Greek translation of the Old Testament from the second century B.C.).
According to the Jewish tradition, the prophet and judge Samuel is the author of both books. However, he couldn’t have written the events after his death (1 Samuel 25:1). Some scholars claim that he wrote the material up to that point, then the prophets Nathan and Gad completed the book. They base this claim in 1 Chronicles 29:29.
The books of 1 and 2 Samuel are books of history that tell us about the establishment of the monarchy in Israel, with David as their key character.
Scholars debate about who was the author and when it was written, but most of them agree that the whole book (1 and 2 Samuel) was completed during Solomon’s reign, around 950 B.C.
13). 2 Samuel
Even though both 1 and 2 Samuel were traditionally attributed to the prophet and judge Samuel, the book of 2 Samuel contains events that took place after his death. That’s why some scholars attribute 2 Samuel to the prophets Nathan and Gad (1 Chronicles 29:29).
The books of 1 and 2 Samuel were originally composed as a single volume. Most scholars think that they were written during the period of the events they depict and concluded by the time of Solomon’s reign (around 950 B.C.).
The author of this book presented himself as “the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem,” and he also said, “I the Preacher was king over Israel in Jerusalem” (Ecclesiastes 1:1,12 KJV). Note that “son of David” may also mean a descendant, not necessarily his son.
Some scholars question Solomon’s authorship because of the third-person reference to the “Preacher” in Ecclesiastes 12:9-14. However, other scholars claim that those verses might have been a later addition by a second author, who compiled the book. The work of a later compiler/editor may also explain the unique literary style of this book.
If Solomon wrote this book, he did it late in his life. That would have been around 940 B.C.
Scholars that reject Solomon’s authorship, or at least argue in favor of a later editor, consider it a postexilic text, written as late as 200 B.C.
The author of the book of Job is unknown. Traditionally, Moses is considered the author, but there is no evidence to support that.
Most scholars debate whether this book was produced by one or more authors. The difference of style in the narrative and the speeches made scholars conclude that a late author wrote this book using preexisting material, probably passed along through oral tradition.
Scholars estimate, based on a careful study of the text, that the events narrated in Job happened during the patriarchal period (second millennium B.C.).
They estimate this book was written sometime between the reign of Solomon (tenth century B.C.) and the postexilic period (fifth century B.C.).
The book tells the story of the prophet Jonah, son of Amittai (Jonah 1:1), the most popular among the minor prophets. Most scholars agree that Jonah either wrote the book himself or was the author’s primary source. Since the book was written in the third person, the argument is stronger in favor of an unknown author.
A prophet called Jonah, son of Amittai, was active in Israel during the reign of Jeroboam II, between 793/92 and 753 B.C., according to 2 Kings 14:25. If Jonah is the author, he probably wrote the book around that time period.
Scholars who think the author of this book is unknown place its composition around the fifth or fourth century B.C. based on linguistic features.
This book records the prophecies of Amos (Amos 1:1). Whether he wrote it himself or another unknown author did it cannot be determined with certainty.
The prophet Amos was active during the reigns of the king Uzziah in Judah, and king Jeroboam II in Israel (Amos 1:1), between 760 and 750 B.C. Scholars estimate that Amos or a scribe wrote the book within that time period.
Scholars cannot determine if the prophet Hosea wrote the book that records his prophecies himself (Hosea 1:1-2) or if an unknown author did it.
The prophet Hosea was active during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and Jeroboam II, king of Israel (Hosea 1:1). Scholars estimate the years of this ministry between 755 and 715 B.C. The book was probably written at the end of that time period, after the fall of Samaria (the capital of the northern kingdom) in 722 B.C.
19). Book: Joel
This book records the prophecies of Joel, the son of Pethuel (Joel 1:1). However, this information isn’t enough to determine with certainty who he was and whether he wrote the book himself.
The book doesn’t contain any references to kings or any other datable events, so it isn’t possible to date it with certainty. Scholars’ most common suggestion is that it was written between the fall of Samaria (the capital of the northern kingdom) in 722 B.C. and the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.
Most scholars agree that the prophet Micah himself wrote parts of the book, specifically the prophecies of judgment. They consider the prophecies of hope (Micah 2:12-13; 4:1-5:9; 7:8-20) a later addition.
The prophet Micah was active during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah (Micah 1:1), between 750 and 686 B.C. Scholars estimate that Micah wrote his prophecies around 700 B.C. They also think that any later addition would have been done early in the seventh century B.C. because it was quoted by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 26:18) around 608 B.C.
The book mentions only one author, the prophet Isaiah, son of Amoz (Isaiah 1:1, 2:1, 13:1). The Jewish and Christian traditions agree with that.
However, many scholars have raised objections to the single author theory. They claim that differences in style and content in some parts of the book led them to identify at least three different authors:
- The prophet Isaiah himself is thought to have written chapters 1 to 39.
- A second author, an anonymous prophet, would have written chapters 40 to 55.
- A third author, another anonymous prophet, supposedly wrote chapters 56 to 66.
Scholars who agree that Isaiah wrote the entire book present many reasons to maintain the traditional single authorship position. Here are some of their arguments:
- An author’s style may change due to several reasons, like age, new experiences, purpose, audience, etc. Also, Isaiah could have used a disciple for the later chapters.
- There are some expressions used throughout the whole book that point to a single author. For example, Isaiah refers to God as “the Holy One of Israel” 12 times in chapters 1-39 and 14 times in chapters 40-66. Outside Isaiah, it is only used 6 times in the whole Old Testament. There are 25 other Hebrew words or expressions used throughout the whole book of Isaiah that are not used in any other parts of the Old Testament.
- Several quotes in the New Testament ascribe them to the prophet Isaiah. Matthew 3:3 (quoting Isaiah 40:3), Matthew 4:14-16 (quoting Isaiah 9:1-2), Romans 9:27-29 (quoting Isaiah 10:22-23 and 1:9), and Romans 10:20-21 (quoting Isaiah 65:1,2), all those texts assign to Isaiah quotes from the whole book, including chapters 40-66.
- The book doesn’t identify any other author. Also, there is no record anywhere else about other authors. Since Isaiah is one of the main prophets of the Old Testament, this silence regarding other authors cannot be ignored.
- One of the reasons some critical scholars question Isaiah’s authorship of chapters 40-48 is the precision of the future predictions about the exile in Babylon. Even though these predictions are accurate, there is no evidence in the text that the author was familiar with life in Babylon. That suggests that the author didn’t experience the Babylonian captivity but wrote about it through the Holy Spirit’s divine inspiration.
These are some of the reasons why many scholars agree that the prophet Isaiah wrote the whole book.
Many scholars believe that Isaiah was the single author of the entire book. They think he wrote chapters 1-39 not long after 701 B.C. (when the Assyrian army was destroyed – see Isaiah 37). They also believe he wrote chapters 40-66 near the end of his life, around 681 B.C.
Those who defend the three authors’ theory claim that the second author would have written chapters 40-55 in the sixth century B.C., and the third author would have been a postexilic prophet, who wrote chapters 56-66 around 400 B.C.
This book contains the prophecies of Nahum, the Elkoshite (Nahum 1:1). There is no other evidence to confirm or deny his authorship.
The book anticipates the fall of Nineveh, which happened in 612 B.C. It mentions the destruction of Thebes in Egypt (Nahum 3:8-10), which happened in 663 B.C. So, scholars estimate it was written around 630 B.C.
The book contains the prophecies of Zephaniah, son of Cushi (Zephaniah 1:1). Due to his prominent social standing, he probably wrote the book himself.
The prophet Zephaniah was active during the reign of Josiah (Zephaniah 1:1), which took place from 640 to 609 B.C. Scholars estimate he wrote this book after the Book of the Law was found (2 Kings 22), around 622 B.C., but before the king’s reformation, in 628 B.C.
Due to the lack of more information, scholars assume that Habakkuk wrote this book himself (Habakkuk 1:1, 3:1).
Habakkuk predicted the Babylonian invasion (Habakkuk 1:6), so many scholars date this book after the reign of Josiah (640-609 B.C.), at the beginning of Jehoiakim’s (609-598 B.C.), between 612 and 605 B.C. Other scholars date it around 630 B.C., before Josiah’s reformation began.
The vast majority of the scholars agree that the prophet Jeremiah, son of Hilkiah (Jeremiah 1:1), wrote the book that bears his name. He dictated his prophecies to Baruch, the scribe (Jeremiah 36:4), who wrote them down.
Scholars estimate that the contents of the book cover Jeremiah’s ministry from 626 to 580 B.C. Also, scholars agree that chapter 52 was added later, possibly by Baruch, after Jehoiakim’s release, around 561-560 B.C.
In the Christian Bible, the book of Daniel is located between the major prophets and the minor prophets. The vast majority of scholars classify it as a major prophet. In the Hebrew Bible, it is in the major division called Writings, not in Prophets. Daniel is mostly known for being thrown into the lions’ den for refusing to suspend his daily prayer to God, one of the most popular passages of the Bible among people today.
The author of the book introduces himself as Daniel (Daniel 7:28; 8:1,15; 9:2; 10:2). Jesus quoted from this book and attributed it to the prophet Daniel (Matthew 24:15-16).
Some scholars question the authorship of the visions because they refer to Daniel in the third person (Daniel 7:1, 10:1). Those scholars think that those texts might have been written by someone else close to Daniel.
The events of the book spanned between 605 B.C. (Daniel 1:1) and 536 B.C. (Daniel 10:1). So, most scholars think that the book was completed by 530 B.C.
The book records the visions of Ezekiel, the priest (Ezekiel 1:3). The use of first-person pronouns since the very first verse suggests that Ezekiel himself is the author.
A few scholars challenged his authorship, claiming this is a postexilic work, but the vast majority consider these claims unfounded.
Unlike other prophetic books, the author recorded the dates of Ezekiel’s prophecies. Based on those dates, scholars determined that the book contains historical records from 593 to 571 B.C., covering 22 years of Ezekiel’s ministry.
This book is anonymous. The Septuagint and the Jewish tradition attribute it to Jeremiah due to 2 Chronicles 35:25. However, that verse refers to the death of Josiah, not the fall of Jerusalem, which is the theme of the lamentations in this book. But since no author is identified, Jeremiah is considered a viable option.
Most scholars think that the book was written by an eyewitness of the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C., and he probably wrote the book shortly after, no later than 575 B.C.
There is no information about the author other than his name (Obadiah 1:1). This is not the same person mentioned in 1 Kings 18:3–16. Obadiah, which means “the Lord’s servant,” was a common name in the Old Testament times, which makes it harder to identify this author.
The book doesn’t mention the name of any king that would help determine the date of its writing. Scholars think that Obadiah 1:11-17 indicates that a major calamity had just befallen Jerusalem. They say that it was most likely the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. If so, this book was probably written shortly after that, no later than 553 B.C.
30). 1 Kings
The author of 1 and 2 Kings is unknown. Both books were originally written as one single volume. They were split into two parts by the translators of the Septuagint.
According to the Jewish tradition, 1 and 2 Kings were written by Jeremiah, but most scholars today rule out this possibility. They believe 1 and 2 Kings were written/compiled by an unknown Judahite exile.
Together, 1 and 2 Kings comprise a book of history that tells us about the kings of Israel, from the death of King David to the fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian captivity.
There is evidence in the text that parts of both books were written before their final edition. For example, 1 Kings 8:8 speaks of the Temple as if it were still there when the text was written, but the Temple was destroyed in 2 Kings 25:8-17. Three external sources were cited (1 Kings 11:41; 14:19, 29). Scholars also believe that the author used the books of Jeremiah and Isaiah as sources as well.
The ending of the second book indicates that 1 and 2 Kings were written/compiled after Jehoiakim’s release from prison in 562 B.C (2 Kings 25:27-30), but before the end of the Babylonian exile in 538 B.C.
31). 2 Kings
Refer to the discussion of the book of 1 Kings, above.
Refer to the discussion of the book of 1 Kings, above.
Most scholars agree that the prophet Haggai wrote this book (Haggai 1:1).
Haggai dated his prophecies, which he delivered between August and December of 520 B.C. These dates show us a special relationship between the book of Haggai and the book of Zechariah: these prophets were active in the same time period. On one occasion, they prophesized in alternate months of the same year.
The book contains the prophecies of Zechariah, son of Berechiah (Zechariah 1:1). Many scholars agree with the tradition that he is the author of this book.
However, since the seventeenth century, scholars have argued that he only wrote the first eight chapters. They claim chapters 9 to 11 were written later by a second author, and chapters 12 to 14 were written by a third author, both unknown. The opinion among modern scholars is divided.
The first eight chapters were dated: the messages were delivered from 520 to 518 B.C. Most scholars think that Zechariah wrote the rest of the book later in his life, between 500 and 470 B.C. Those who think that two other authors wrote the last six chapters estimate that the book was completed around 160 B.C.
34). 1 Chronicles
The books of 1 and 2 Chronicles are anonymous. According to tradition, the priest Ezra wrote Chronicles (the division into two books came much later), Ezra and Nehemiah. Most scholars agree with that view. They claim that there are similarities in the vocabulary, themes, and concerns among those books. They also point out how the book of Ezra seems to pick up where 2 Chronicles left off (compare 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 with Ezra 1:1-4).
Scholars who don’t agree with this view claim that there are many distinctions between Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles. However, those distinctions can be easily explained by the fact that the author of 1 and 2 Chronicles may have used a variety of external written sources to compile the books. He may have quoted those original sources verbatim instead of rewriting them to match his style.
Most scholars date 1 and 2 Chronicles to the second half of the fifth century B.C., which matches Ezra’s lifetime.
35). 2 Chronicles
Refer to the discussion of the book of 1 Chronicles, above.
Refer to the discussion of the book of 1 Chronicles, above.
The Hebrew Bible treats Ezra and Nehemiah as one book. Origen (A. D. 185-253) was the first writer to separate them, calling them 1 Ezra and 2 Ezra.
The book of Ezra is anonymous. It contains some narratives in the first person (Ezra 7:27-28; 8:15-34; 9:1-15), which suggests autobiographical content. Traditionally, Ezra the priest is considered the author of both books.
Scholars date the book of Ezra sometime after 440 B.C.
The book of Nehemiah records the “words of Nehemiah the son of Hachaliah” (Nehemiah 1:1 KJV). It contains narratives in the first person but, traditionally, Ezra the priest is considered the author of this book, not Nehemiah. In the Hebrew Bible, Ezra and Nehemiah are one single volume called Ezra.
Scholars date the book of Nehemiah sometime after 430 B.C.
The book doesn’t mention any author. Scholars can only affirm that the author is a Jew familiar with Persian customs, but he is unknown.
Most scholars agree that the book was written sometime after 460 B.C., when the events in the book occurred, and before 350 B.C., when Greece conquered the Persian Empire.
There are two major theories regarding the identification of the author of this book:
- Some scholars think that the word “Malachi” in Malachi 1:1, which means “my messenger,” is not a proper name. So, it doesn’t designate a specific prophet but an unknown “messenger.”
- Other scholars argue that the grammatical construction in Malachi 1:1 indicates that Malachi was the prophet’s proper name.
Based on clues from the text, scholars place Malachi during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, between 450 and 430 B.C.
The author introduces himself as the apostle Paul (Galatians 1:1). This author shares many personal experiences that allow no dispute to Paul’s authorship.
Scholars present three possibilities:
- Most scholars affirm Paul wrote this letter to the South Galatians while he was in Syrian Antioch, in A.D. 48-49. In this case, Galatians would be Paul’s earliest letter, the first one in chronological sequence of writing.
- Other scholars affirm that Paul was in Syrian Antioch or Corinth, and he wrote the letter to the South Galatians between A.D. 51 and 53.
- Yet another group of scholars thinks Paul wrote this letter to the North Galatians in A.D. 53-57.
41). 1 Thessalonians
Even though Silas and Timothy are mentioned as co-senders in 1 Thessalonians 1:1, most scholars identify Paul as the primary author due to his writing style and the usage of the pronoun “I” in 1 Thessalonians 2:18, 3:5 and 5:27. Early church writers also support Paul’s authorship, like Marcion in A.D. 140.
Most scholars date this letter between A.D. 50 and 52, during Paul’s ministry in Corinth.
42). 2 Thessalonians
The senders of 2 Thessalonians are Paul, Silas, and Timothy. However, Paul’s authorship is more debated.
Some scholars point out differences in the vocabulary, literary style, and theology when compared to the first letter and other letters by Paul.
Those who confirm Paul’s authorship argue that those differences are not substantial enough to disprove the Pauline source.
Scholars think that this letter was written shortly after the first one. So, they estimate that it was written between A.D. 51 and 52.
43). 1 Corinthians
The apostle Paul is the author of this letter, and Sosthenes is the co-sender (1 Corinthians 1:1). Paul’s authorship is confirmed by early church fathers, like Clement of Rome (A.D. 96).
Most scholars date this letter to A.D. 54-55, based on the chronology of Paul’s travels in Acts. He wrote this letter while he was in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 16:8).
44). 2 Corinthians
The apostle Paul is the author of this letter, and Timothy is the co-sender (2 Corinthians 1:1). Paul’s authorship is not disputed.
However, many contemporary scholars argue that this epistle was not originally written as a single letter, but it was compiled out of several smaller letters.
Scholars believe that this letter was written around A.D. 55.
The apostle Paul is the author of this letter (Romans 1:1). There has been no serious dispute about that.
Even though a few scholars disagree, most of them set the date of this letter to around A.D. 57.
Even though the book doesn’t identify the author, Christian tradition and scholars agree that it was written by John Mark (Acts 12:12, 25; 15:37, Colossians 4:10), or simply Mark, his Greek name.
The most significant evidence comes from the writing of an early church father, Papias (around A.D. 125). He quoted another church father, John the Elder (from around A.D. 90), who claimed that Mark was Peter’s close associate (1 Peter 5:13), from whom he received the teachings he used as the source for this book.
Most scholars think that Mark wrote this gospel while Peter was still alive, and date it between the late A.D. 50s and early 60s.
The author identifies himself as “James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1 KJV). There are a few known people named James in the New Testament:
- The son of Zebedee and brother of John, one of the Twelve (Mark 1:19, 3:17).
- The son of Alphaeus, one of the Twelve (Mark 3:18).
- The father or brother of Judas (Luke 6:16, Acts 1:13).
- The brother of Jesus (Galatians 1:19).
According to scholars, it is unlikely that the son of Zebedee is the author of this epistle because he died too early, around 44 A.D. (Acts 12:2).
Scholars claim that, due to the simple introduction and the implied authority of the author, it is likely that he was a well-known leader. The best match among these key characters is the brother of Jesus. He was one of the leaders in the Jerusalem church (Acts 12:17, 15:13, 21:18), and probably the same person mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:7, Galatians 2:9, and Jude 1:1.
Most scholars date this letter to the early A.D. 60s. Some scholars, however, claim that clues from the text indicate an earlier date, possibility before A.D. 50. They agree that this was the first of the general letters of the New Testament to be written.
Most scholars agree that the apostle Paul is the author of this letter. He identified himself as the author (Ephesians 1:1 and 3:1), and he mentions personal experiences that match known episodes from Paul’s life (Ephesians 3:1-13, 4:1, 6:19-20).
Those who disagree with the Pauline authorship refer mainly to its writing style, which they argue is different from other known letters of Paul.
Scholars think that Paul wrote the letter between A.D. 60 and 62, during his imprisonment in Rome (Ephesians 3:1; 4:1; 6:20). Those who don’t agree with Paul’s authorship date the letter between A.D. 70 and 90.
There is little dispute to the apostle Paul’s authorship (Philippians 1:1).
A few scholars argue that this letter was a composition of several letters the apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians, but most don’t agree with that theory.
Also, some scholars, like H. Koester, question the origin of the “hymn” in Philippians 2:5-11, claiming that it might be an earlier writing that Paul quoted.
There isn’t much information that can help establish a precise date when Paul wrote this letter. We know that he was incarcerated (Philippians 1:13), so there are a few options, depending on where he was when he wrote it:
- Rome: between A.D. 60 and 62.
- Ephesus: between A.D. 54 and 57.
- Corinth: around A.D. 50.
- Caesarea: between A.D. 57 and 60.
Most scholars agree that the reference to “Caesar’s household” (Philippians 4:22 KJV) indicates that Paul was more likely in Rome, even though Caesarea is also a possibility.
The apostle Paul is identified as the author of this letter (Colossians 1:1, 1:23, 4:18), and Timothy is the co-sender (Colossians 1:1).
Some contemporary scholars claim that the language and some aspects of the theology don’t match Paul’s other letters.
Other scholars are in favor of Paul’s authorship. They also argue that this letter is too short to demonstrate that Paul didn’t write it based solely upon differences in style.
Most scholars think that Paul wrote this letter while he was incarcerated, most likely in Rome (Caesarea is another possibility), at around A.D. 60.
There is a consensus among contemporary scholars that the apostle Paul wrote this letter (Philemon 1:1). Paul cites Timothy as co-sender (Philemon 1:1).
Paul wrote this letter during his imprisonment (Philemon 1:1), probably in Rome. So, most scholars estimate it was around A.D. 60.
Although there is no information about the author in this book, early church writers are unanimous in ascribing it to Matthew, also called Levi, one of the 12 apostles (Matthew 9:9-13).
Due to similarities between the gospels of Mark, Matthew, and Luke, they are called the synoptic gospels. Scholars have come up with a few theories to try to explain those similarities.
The most common theory among scholars asserts that Matthew and Luke used Mark and an unknown source called “Q” (from the German word Quelle, which means “source”) as primary sources to write their own gospel accounts. However, there is no evidence of the existence of this source “Q.”
That theory has led some modern scholars to doubt Matthew’s authorship. Among other reasons, they question why would Matthew, an eyewitness, use a source from someone who wasn’t an eyewitness?
Those who defend Matthew’s authorship claim that Matthew may have used the gospel of Mark because of Peter’s authority behind it.
There has been much debate about the dating of Matthew’s gospel. Some scholars suggest it was written in the 50s or 60s, before the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Others claim it was later, between A.D. 70 and 80.
This book is anonymous, but evidence from early church writers and early manuscripts identify Luke as the author. The gospel of Luke and the book of Acts are considered a two-volume document that Luke wrote to record Jesus’s life, the early church, and Paul’s life. The openings in Luke 1:1-4 and Acts 1:1-2 make it clear that the same author wrote both books.
Although Luke wasn’t an eyewitness, he makes it clear in the first four verses of this book that he had made a careful investigation of the facts, and he used accounts from eyewitnesses in his research (Luke 1:1-4).
Modern scholars believe that Luke used the gospel of Mark and an unknown source called “Q” in his work (refer to the discussion of the gospel of Matthew above for more information about this theory and the synoptic gospels). This theory is disputed for the lack of external evidence.
Most scholars agree that Luke wrote his gospel when Mark’s was already in circulation. They believe that Luke started writing his gospel after Paul was imprisoned but before his sentencing in Rome. Based on those assumptions, they date Luke’s gospel to A.D. 61-62.
54). Acts of the Apostles
Considering the type of literature, this is the only historical book in the New Testament. It is an anonymous book, but all known evidence from the early church, dating back to the second century, points to Luke as the author of the book of Acts. Few scholars question this tradition. Luke was a physician (Colossians 4:14), which indicates he was well-educated, and a companion of the apostle Paul (2 Timothy 4:11, Philemon 1:24). Based on the “we” passages in Acts (16:9-17, 20:5-15, 21:1-18, 27:1-28:16), where the author includes himself in the narrative, scholars conclude that he was an associate of Paul, which is another argument in favor of Luke’s authorship.
The possible dates for the writing of this book range from A.D. 62, when the last event recorded took place, to the middle of the second century, which is the date of the first known mention of the book.
Most scholars are in favor of an early writing, around A.D. 62, because the book doesn’t mention Paul’s martyrdom (between A.D. 64 and 67) or the severe persecution that begun under the emperor Nero in A.D. 64.
55). 1 Peter
The author identifies himself as Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:1). Evidence from early church writers is strong that the apostle Peter did write it. The author mentions that Silas helped him write the letter (1 Peter 5:12).
Most scholars think that Peter wrote this letter shortly before his martyrdom under the emperor Nero (between A.D. 64 and 68), but not before this arrival in Rome in the early 60s. So, a reasonable date is around A.D. 62 and 63.
The Church tradition identifies the apostle Paul as the writer of this letter (Titus 1:1). Some modern scholars have questioned Paul’s authorship, but others claim the arguments aren’t strong enough.
Most scholars believe that Paul wrote this letter after his release from his imprisonment in Rome, about the same time when he wrote 1 Timothy, between A.D. 63 and 65.
57). 1 Timothy
Christian Tradition and modern scholars claim that the apostle Paul wrote this letter to his disciple Timothy (1 Timothy 1:1-2).
Some contemporary scholars question the authorship of all pastoral letters (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) based on the writing style. Most scholars claim that the evidence critics raise is not enough to doubt Paul’s authorship.
There isn’t significant evidence in the letter as to when it was written. Most scholars think that Paul wrote it after his release from prison in Rome, between A.D. 63 and 65.
58). 2 Timothy
As with 1 Timothy, tradition says that the apostle Paul wrote this letter to his disciple Timothy (2 Timothy 1:1-2) when he was contemplating his death (2 Timothy 4:6–8).
Contemporary scholars question the Pauline authorship based on the style of the letter, but other scholars claim there isn’t enough evidence to doubt Paul’s authorship.
Eusebius dated the martyrdom of Paul to A.D. 67. So, scholars estimate that Paul wrote this letter about a year before that, in A.D. 66.
Some modern scholars claim that Paul was executed between A.D. 64 and 65, so he would have penned the letter shortly before that.
59). 2 Peter
The author of this letter introduces himself as “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:1 KJV). However, there isn’t confirmation from the early church about it. This letter wasn’t associated with Peter until Origen’s time (A.D. 185-253).
Some scholars question Peter’s authorship, especially because of the difference in style when compared to 1 Peter. Those who defend Peter’s authorship argue that the differences can be explained by the fact that Silas isn’t mentioned here as a helper in writing the letter, which may have influenced the style of the first letter.
Peter was martyred around A.D. 64-68, under the emperor Nero. So, scholars estimate the letter was written shortly before his death, at around A.D. 65.
Hebrews is an anonymous letter. Tradition says it was written by Paul, but the vast majority of modern scholars reject this theory. Among other reasons against the Pauline authorship, Hebrews 2:3 indicates that the author received the gospel from someone else, while Paul stated that he had received it from the Lord Himself (Galatians 1:11-17).
Many names have been suggested across the centuries, like Luke, Barnabas, Clement of Rome, Apollos, Priscilla, Silas, Epaphras, Timothy. However, there is no strong evidence in favor of any of them.
Scholars think Hebrews was written before the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. So, they suggest A.D. 60 to 70 as the probable date of its writing.
The author of Jude introduced himself as “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James” (Jude 1:1 KJV). In the Christian Bible, the only Jude (or Judas) brother of James was the brother of the Lord (Mark 6:3). This conclusion matches the tradition of the early church.
Some scholars claim that 2 Peter borrowed content from this letter. If so, then it must have been written before 2 Peter. So, scholars date this letter to no later than A.D. 68. Of course, the borrowing could have happened the other way around.
The author of this gospel is not named, but we know that he was a disciple of Jesus and a witness of the events he narrated. He also called himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20 KJV). According to an early tradition of the church, the author is the apostle John, the son of Zebedee.
Even though this is one of the first books in the New Testament, most scholars believe it was one of the last books to be written. They suggest a late date, around A.D. 85, after the other three gospels and most of the epistles were already written. Other scholars claim that John didn’t use the other gospels, so he could have written it much earlier. These scholars suggest a date before the fall of Jerusalem (A.D. 70), as early as the 50s. Considering all possibilities, scholar’s estimates span from A.D. 55 to 95.
63). 1 John
The author doesn’t identify himself. There are many similarities between this letter and the gospel of John that led scholars to conclude that both were written by the same author. A few scholars have pointed out some differences between them, but the similarities far outnumber them. Also, in 1 John 1:1-3, the author stated that he was an eyewitness to Jesus’s ministry. He affirmed he had heard, seen with his own eyes, and touched Jesus.
Early church fathers like Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Origen affirm that the apostle John wrote the letters we know as 1, 2, and 3 John. Based on this and other evidence, most scholars also agree with the apostle John’s authorship of the three letters.
Since neither one of the three letters of John have any indication of when they were written, scholars date them based on some textual clues. For example, the author refers to his readers as “children”, which indicates that he is an elder. The book of 1 John confronts an early form of Gnosticism, a second-century heresy.
Based on these and other clues, scholars estimate that the three letters of John were written near the end of the first century, between A.D. 85 and 95.
64). 2 John
The author identifies himself simply as “the elder” (2 John 1:1 KJV). According to tradition, this letter was written by the apostle John. Scholars see no reason to doubt John’s authorship, considering the similarities of this letter to 1 John and the gospel of John. Refer to the discussion of 1 John above for more information.
This letter was probably written around the same time as 1 John. Refer to the discussion of 1 John above for more information.
65). 3 John
As in 2 John, the author introduces himself as “the elder” (3 John 1:1 KJV). According to Christian tradition, this third letter was also written by the apostle John. Due to similarities to 1 and 2 John, scholars agree with John’s authorship. Refer to the discussion of 1 John above for more information.
This is the shortest book of the Bible, containing only 219 words in the original Greek language.
This letter was probably written around the same time as 1 and 2 John. Refer to the discussion of 1 John above for more information.
The book of Revelation is usually associated with the second coming of Christ and the end times. In terms of literary genre, it is the only prophecy book in the New Testament.
The book’s author identifies himself simply as “his servant John” (Revelation 1:1 KJV). According to the Church tradition, it was the apostle John who wrote this book.
In the third century, a bishop called Dionysius compared the style and language of the gospel of John and the book of Revelation, and he concluded that they were not written by the same author. So, he attributed Revelation to another John, called “the Elder.”
However, other early church writers like Justin, Irenaeus, and Polycarp affirmed that the apostle John was indeed the author of this book. This is the position widely accepted today.
The book of Revelation was the last book written of the entire Bible. Most scholars date it to A.D. 95-96 based on a quote by Irenaeus (from “Against Heresies,” 5.30.3), an early church father, who said that John received this vision towards the end of Domitian’s reign.
This Bible timeline is worth taking the time to read. A chronological Bible reading plan is better than any other Bible reading plan. It allows you to see the historical order of well-known Bible passages and the entire biblical history. This article can be used to help you read the Bible more deeply and gain a deeper understanding of God’s Word through the Holy Spirit.