How Old Is the Bible and When Was it Written?
- Melissa Henderson Contributing Writer
- 2021 18 Mar
Have you ever picked up a Bible, looked at the cover and the inside, and paused to consider ‘How old is the Bible?’ You’ve probably heard that the Bible was written thousands of years ago. Were you curious enough to try and find an answer? With many choices, finding the Bible translation that is right for the reader can take time and effort.
Scholars have researched for many years and developed various conclusions as to the timeline of the writing of the Bible. Perhaps you have discovered facts about the Bible that you previously were unaware of and were amazed at the results. Or maybe are just beginning your faith journey and are looking for answers. The Bible is filled with God’s directions and love.
When Were the First 5 Books of the Bible Written?
The Pentateuch is the first five books of the Bible. Some scholars say the first five books lay the foundation for the rest of the Bible. From ‘In the beginning…’ to the last verse of Deuteronomy, God gives us the opportunity to learn more about Him and to grow in faith. As a young child, I remember learning to name these books in Sunday School class. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy were often recited to receive stickers on our class chart.
Bible researchers generally conclude that the first five books of the Bible were written probably during the 1400s B.C., at the time of Israel’s wandering in the desert.
Moses is named as the author of the first five books of the Bible. Moses may have written facts shared by others. The last part of Deuteronomy tells of the death of Moses, so that would have been written by another person. Joshua is listed as sharing about the death of Moses.
As you read and learn more about the Bible, look for facts shared by reputable researchers and scholars.
When Were the Prophets and Writings Written?
Prophets were messengers sent to guide and to warn the people (Deuteronomy 18: 18-19). Whether the people listened or chose to ignore the warnings, these messages were important. The prophets spoke for God and not for themselves. They shared information the people needed to know. They spoke the truth which came from God.
The books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi all share writings from the prophets.
Other prophets are listed in the Bible. Miriam is known as a prophet, although her name is not included in the major or minor list.
The book of Jeremiah warns that people need to turn away from evil or face severe consequences. Some listened. Some did not listen. The book may have been written around 600 B.C. The book of Lamentations is listed as probably being written by Jeremiah, somewhere between 586 and 516 B.C.
Study Bibles offer detailed information about the prophets and the dates of their writings.
When Were the Old Testament Books of Poetry and History Written?
Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, and Lamentations are considered to be books of poetry in the Bible. Remembering that poetry does not have to rhyme allows the reader to read these books as the writer may have spoken the words.
Researchers say the story of Job is presumed to date back to the time of Abraham, and most likely passed down in oral form until someone put the words into writing.
In the book of Psalms, David is listed as the author. Yet, many people contributed to writing the Psalms. These contributions were given in different time periods. The Bible tells that the book of Psalms was gathered together by temple workers after the exile, probably in the third century B.C.
One Scripture that can bring comfort is Psalm 108: 3-4.
The Song of Solomon was probably written during the 10th century B.C. Often referred to as a love song, the author of this book in the Bible is uncertain, yet listed as possibly Solomon.
You may wonder why Lamentations is listed as a book of poetry. Possibly written by Jeremiah sometime between 586 and 516 B.C., the book is Jeremiah’s account of devastation in his homeland. Amidst the turmoil and sadness of the writing, the author reminds the reader that hope is found in God.
The historical books of the Bible include Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, and 1 and 2 Kings.
Joshua declares the faithfulness of God in his writing. Scholars believe the original manuscript was probably written in the 1300s B.C. and had more words added later. In Joshua, we read the story of Rahab and her bravery and faithfulness. In the last chapters of Joshua, he asks the people to choose whom they will serve (Joshua 24:15).
In the book of Judges, Samuel is thought to be the author. Yet, there is some question about authorship. Judges was probably written around 1000 B.C. and covers a time period of 330 years. The book of Judges records Israel’s history after the death of Joshua.
1 Samuel and 2 Samuel were written by an unknown author, sometimes after the division of Israel into northern and southern kingdoms, probably around 930 B.C.
1 Kings and 2 Kings were probably written around 550 B.C. and the author is unknown.
Each book of poetry and history has important messages for God’s people.
When Were the New Testament Books of the Bible Written?
The New Testament shares the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each book includes details of some aspect of the life of Jesus. From the genealogy of Jesus to Mary learning about the special child she was carrying, to the works and healing of Jesus, and finally to His life, crucifixion on the cross, death, and rising again, the New Testament is filled with vital details.
The New Testament begins with the book of Matthew. The name Matthew means ‘gift of God’. Matthew, a tax collector, shows that God can use anyone to share His love and glory. The book of Matthew was written sometime before the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Once again, scholars have debated the actual date the book was written around A.D. 55.
Luke, a physician, wrote his account probably around A.D. 59 to A.D. 63. Luke shares his account directed to Theophilus.
In John, we find some of the most famous words of Scripture. (John 3:16-17) On t-shirts, billboards, bookmarks, signs at sporting events, these words are shared daily. This Scripture was one of the first verses I learned as a child.
Reading the Bible and asking questions is key to growing a relationship with the Lord. When you have questions, pause and pray. Ask God to help you find the answers you seek. Find a trusted person to ask and learn from. Ask a Pastor about the Bible. Be ready to learn more about God and the love He has for all of His children.
The message God has for each person is the same today as yesterday. His Word is the truth. The Bible does not change.
The words of the Bible are impactful. The words of the Bible can guide us and lead us to a closer relationship with God. Amen.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/pcess609
Award-winning author Melissa Henderson writes inspirational messages sometimes laced with a bit of humor. With stories in books, magazines, devotionals, and more, Melissa hopes to encourage readers.
Melissa is the author of Licky the Lizard and Grumpy the Gator. Her passions are helping in the community and church. Melissa is an Elder, Deacon, and Stephen Minister.
Follow Melissa on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and at http://www.melissaghenderson.