Dating the Bible
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The oldest surviving Hebrew Bible manuscripts—including the Dead Sea Scrolls—date to about the 2nd century BCE (fragmentary) and some are stored at the Shrine of the Book in Jerusalem. The oldest extant complete text survives in a Greek translation called the Septuagint, dating to the 4th century CE (Codex Sinaiticus). The oldest extant manuscripts of the vocalized Masoretic Text (the basis of modern editions), date to the 9th century CE. With the exception of a few biblical sections in the Prophets, virtually no biblical text is contemporaneous with the events it describes.
Internal evidence in the texts suggests dating the individual books of the 27-book New Testament canon in the 1st century CE. The first book written was probably 1 Thessalonians, written around 50 CE. The final book (in the ordering of the canon), the Book of Revelation, is said[by whom?] to have been written by John of Patmos during the reign of Domitian (81–96).
Since the original recording of the scriptures, various scribes have made numerous copies of the written originals, which are no longer extant. Copies have been made of those copies, resulting in several text types. Archaeologists have recovered about 5,500 New Testament manuscripts: either fragments or complete books. The earliest extant fragment of the New Testament is the Rylands Library Papyrus P52, a piece of the Gospel of John dated to the first half of the 2nd century. Dating the composition of the texts relies primarily on internal evidence, including direct references to historical events—textual criticism and philological and linguistic evidence provide more subjective indications.
The Hebrew Bible
The first five books of the bible in Judaism are called the Torah, meaning "instruction" (it was translated to nomos/law in the Septuagint), and are regarded as the most important section of the Scriptures, are attributed to have been written between the 16th century and the 12th century BCE by Moses, but scholars now believe that they were actually written by four main sources known as JEDP. This modern explanation of authorship is justified by variations in writing styles, differences in language choice especially in reference to God, tones in writing, contradictory and repetitious segments, and that the books refer to Moses in third person as well as describing his death. Followers of the Copenhagen School place its origins in 5th century Yehud Medinata.[need quotation to verify]
Deuteronomy is treated separately from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. The process of its formation probably took several hundred years, from the 8th century to the 6th BCE. It began as no more than the set of religious laws which today make up the bulk of the book; later it was extended in order to be used as the introduction to the comprehensive history of Israel written in the early part of the 6th century; and later still it was detached from the history, extended yet again, and used to conclude the story told in Genesis–Exodus–Leviticus–Numbers.
|Book of Joshua||ca. 625 BCE by the Deuteronomist (called D) working with traditional materials|
|Book of Judges||ca. 625 BCE by the Deuteronomist (called D) working with traditional materials|
|Books of Samuel||ca. 625 BCE by the Deuteronomist (called D) working with traditional materials|
|Books of Kings||ca. 625 BCE by the Deuteronomist (called D) working with traditional materials|
|Book of Isaiah||Three main authors and an extensive editing process:
Isaiah 1–39 "Historical Isaiah" with multiple layers of editing, 8th century BCE
|Book of Jeremiah||late 6th century BCE or later|
|Book of Ezekiel||6th century BCE or later|
|Book of Hosea||8th century BCE or later|
|Book of Joel||unknown|
|Book of Amos||8th century BCE or later|
|Book of Obadiah||6th century BCE or later|
|Book of Jonah||6th century BCE or later|
|Book of Micah||mid 6th century BCE or later|
|Book of Nahum||8th century BCE or later|
|Book of Habakkuk||6th century BCE or later|
|Book of Zephaniah||7th century BCE or later|
|Book of Haggai||5th century BCE or later|
|Book of Zechariah||5th century BCE or later|
|Book of Malachi||Early 5th century BCE or later|
|Scholarly dating
|Psalms||The bulk of the Psalms appear to have been written for use in the Temple, which existed from around 950-586 BCE and, after rebuilding, from the 5th century BCE until 70 CE.|
|Book of Proverbs||Some old material from the ancient sages, some later material from the 6th century BCE or later, some material borrowed from the ancient Egyptian text called the Instructions of Amenemopet|
|Book of Job||5th century BCE|
|Song of Songs or Song of Solomon||scholarly estimates vary between 950 BCE to 200 BCE|
|Book of Ruth||6th century BCE or later|
|Lamentations||6th century BCE or later|
|Ecclesiastes||4th century BCE or later|
|Book of Esther||4th century BCE or later|
|Book of Daniel||ca. 165 BCE|
|Book of Ezra-Book of Nehemiah||4th century BCE or slightly later|
|Chronicles||4th century BCE or slightly later|
Deuterocanonical books are books considered by the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodoxy to be canonical parts of the Christian Old Testament but are not present in the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and Protestant Bible.
|Tobit||2nd century BCE|
|1 Maccabees||ca. 100 BCE|
|2 Maccabees||ca. 124 BCE|
|3 Maccabees||1st century BCE or 1st century CE|
|4 Maccabees||1st century BCE or 1st century CE|
|Wisdom||during the Jewish Hellenistic period|
|Sirach||2nd century BCE|
|Letter of Jeremiah||unknown|
|Additions to Daniel||2nd century BCE|
|Baruch||during or shortly after the period of the Maccabees|
The New Testament
The following table gives the most widely accepted dates from secular scholarship for the composition of the New Testament books, together with the earliest preserved fragment for each text. Christian scholarship argues for much earlier dates for each of the books.
|Book||Dates determined by scholars||Earliest Known Fragment|
|Gospel of Matthew||70–110 CE||104 (150–200 CE)|
|Gospel of Mark||60–70 CE||45 (250 CE)|
|Gospel of Luke||60–90 CE||4, 75 (175–250 CE)|
|Gospel of John||80–95 CE||52 (125–160 CE)|
|Acts||60–90 CE||29, 45, 48, 53, 91 (250 CE)|
|Romans||57–58 CE||46 (late 2nd century or 3rd century CE)|
|Corinthians||57 CE||46 (late 2nd century or 3rd century CE)|
|Galatians||45–55 CE||46 (late 2nd century or 3rd century CE)|
|Ephesians||65 CE||46 (late 2nd century or 3rd century CE)|
|Philippians||57–62 CE||46 (late 2nd century or 3rd century CE)|
|Colossians||60 CE +||46 (late 2nd century or 3rd century CE)|
|1 Thessalonians||50 CE||46 (late 2nd century or 3rd century CE)|
|2 Thessalonians||50–54 CE||92 (300 CE)|
|Timothy||60–100 CE||Codex Sinaiticus (350 CE)|
|Titus||60–100 CE||32 (200 CE)|
|Philemon||56 CE||87 (3rd century CE)|
|Hebrews||63–90 CE||46 (late 2nd century or 3rd century CE)|
|James||50–200 CE||20, 23 (early 3rd century CE)|
|First Peter||60–96 CE||72 (3rd/4th century CE)|
|Second Peter||60–130 CE||72 (3rd/4th century CE)|
|Epistles of John||90–110 CE||9, Uncial 0232, Codex Sinaiticus (3rd/4th century CE)|
|Jude||66–90 CE||72 (3rd/4th century CE)|
|Revelation||68–100 CE||98 (150–200 CE)|
- Authorship of the Bible
- Biblical manuscripts
- Categories of New Testament manuscripts
- Historical criticism
- Historicity of the Bible
- Marcan priority
- Nag Hammadi library
- Synoptic problem
- Evans, Craig A. (2008). "Introduction". In Evans, Craig A.; Tov, Emanuel. Exploring the Origins of the Bible: Canon Formation in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective. Acadia Studies in Bible and Theology. Baker Academic. ISBN 9781585588145. Retrieved 2015-05-16.
The oldest Masoretic manuscripts date from the late ninth century CE (e.g., Codex Cairensis [C] on the Prophets).
- Bernstein 1996, p. 134
- Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament, Anchor Bible, 1997. pp. 456-466.
- Robert Mounce. The Book of Revelation, pg. 15-16. Cambridge: Eerdman's. Books.google.com
- Robert Stewart, The Reliability of the New Testament: Bart Ehrman and Daniel Wallace in Dialogue p17
- Ska, Jean-Louis, "Introduction to reading the Pentateuch" (Eisenbrauns, 2006) pp.217 ff.
- Miller, Patrick D., "Deuteronomy" (John Knox Press, 1990) pp.2–3
- Van Seters, John, "The Pentateuch: a social-science commentary" T&T Clark, 2004) p.93. Google Books. 23 August 2004. ISBN 978-0-567-08088-2. Retrieved 3 October 2010.
- Dillard and Longman, An Introduction to the Old Testament, Apollos 1995, pp. 329-350.
- Miller, Stephen R. (1994). Daniel (null ed.). Nashville, Tenn.: Broadman & Holman. p. 94. ISBN 978-0-8054-0118-9.
- Duling 2010, p. 298-299.
- "The New Testament (Recovery Version)" pg. 959, ISBN 1-57593-907-X (economy edition, black)
- Earl D. Radmacher, (Th.D.), Ronald B. Allen (Th.D.), H. Wayne House, (Th.D., J.D.). "NKJV Study Bible (Second Edition)" pg. 1903.
- Kim 2003, p. 250.
- Kim, P.J (2003). "Letters of John". Westminster Dictionary of the New Testament and Early Christian Literature. Westminster John Knox Press.
- Bernstein, Alan E. (1996). The Formation of Hell: Death and Retribution in the Ancient and Early Christian Worlds. Cornell University Press.
- Bruce, F. F. The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (6th Edition), Eerdmans, 2003. 5th edition
- Metzger, Bruce M. The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origins, Development, and Significance
- Dever, William G. What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It? Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2001.
- Fox, Robin Lane The Unauthorized Version: Truth and Fiction in the Bible, NY, 1992.
- Hartman, Louis Francis, and Alexander A. Di Lella (eds.). The Book of Daniel. The Anchor Bible Commentary, vol. 23. New York: Doubleday, 1978.
- Külling, Samuel. Zur Datierung der Genesis "P" Stücke. Ph.D. dissertation, 1970
- Larsson, G. "The Chronological System of the Old Testament". Peter Lang GmbH, 2007.
- Pagels, Elaine. The Gnostic Gospels. Vintage, reissued 1989.
- Robinson, John A. T. Redating the New Testament. 1976. Wipf & Stock Publishers, Reprint edition, October 2000. ISBN 1-57910-527-0
- Duling, Dennis C. (2010). "The Gospel of Matthew". In Aune, David E. The Blackwell Companion to the New Testament. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 296–318. ISBN 978-1-4051-0825-6.