Talk:Dating the Bible

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See also Talk:Dating the Bible/archive.

Reverted edit[edit]

I have just reverted a long, unformatted, unwikified and signed contribution by a newbie, see User talk:Franck Ver Stut and his contributions.

Possibly there is material in it that should be incorporated into the article. Hopefully, we might even interest the author in doing this work, after some study of our policies, standards and in particular the ideal of a neutral point of view.

But this is only one of several similar essays he has contributed, and in his revert war edit summaries of some of the others he is currently pleading the constitutional right of free speech, so we have a way to go. Andrewa 18:36, 17 July 2005 (UTC)

Jump to: navigation, search NT dating?[edit]

How reliable do people feel these dates are? They differ somewhat from the ones posted here.

See for example:
50-60 1 Thessalonians
50-60 Philippians
50-60 Galatians
50-60 1 Corinthians
50-60 2 Corinthians
50-60 Romans
50-60 Philemon
50-80 Colossians
65-80 Gospel of Mark
70-100 Epistle of James
80-100 2 Thessalonians
80-100 Ephesians
80-100 Gospel of Matthew
80-110 1 Peter
80-130 Gospel of Luke
80-130 Acts of the Apostles
90-95 Apocalypse of John
90-120 Gospel of John
90-120 1 John
90-120 2 John
90-120 3 John
90-120 Epistle of Jude
100-150 1 Timothy
100-150 2 Timothy
100-150 Titus
100-160 2 Peter

Non-canonical but quoted by some church fathers as inspired/scripture (before the NT canon was finally set by the 370's) or popularly read in churches/included in pages of somebody's bible:
80-120 Epistle of Barnabas
80-140 1 Clement
80-150 Gospel of the Hebrews (or possibly confused with 50-95 Book of Hebrews)
100-150 Apocalypse of Peter
100-160 Shepherd of Hermas
100-200 Odes of Solomon
130-160 2 Clement
150-200 Acts of Paul
170-175 Diatessaron

Sources: (Dave Armstrong) (Peter Kirby)

The entire list of approximate dates for the New Testament is currently unsourced. (talk) 09:26, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

In regards to Luke and Acts, good arguments have been put forth for a pre 70AD dating. This also pushes the dates of Matthew and Mark back, as they predate Luke.

Source: (Norman Geisler) —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:39, 30 July 2008 (UTC)

Not mentioned outside Israel?[edit]

The article begins:

  • With the exception of a couple of fragments (found among the Dead Sea scrolls, discussed below), no Bible texts that we currently have predate about 200 BCE. Nor are they mentioned by historians outside Israel. Therefore differences that exist between different schools are more ideologically driven than based on historical documentation.

I don't want to edit this because it is possible the author means something sensible, but at present it seems to be saying that Bible texts are not mentioned by historians outside of Israel, which is obviously untrue. Perhaps the author should edit it to clarify meaning. Ordinary Person 08:16, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

I think the meaning is: that 'Historians outside Israel [who may have an ideological investment in asserting the antiquity of the Hebrew Bible] do not speak of physical artifacts bearing biblical texts that can be dated to before about 200 BC.'

This is problematic on several fronts. First, it is not true. The silver amulets from Ketef Hinnom date to sometime in the sixth century, and bear a brief text identical to a prayer in the book of Numbers. The dating is accepted by all archaeologists, historians, philologists etc that I am aware of, inside and outside of Israel. This does not prove the antiquity of the whole book, of course, but it does present a more ambiguous situation than the entry would currently suggest. The next oldest fragment is from the Book of Samuel, and dated to about 250 BC. Secondly, while I would tend to agree that scholars in Israel tend to have an ideological predisposition to argue for the antiquity of biblical texts, so do many non-Israelis. I agree with the final statement that differences in dating are ideological rather than factually driven, though. (ADAS)


according to the 'maximalist' hypothesis, which would be the oldest part of the torah (i.e. which book was found by Josiah?) J, E, or already JE? would the timeline

  • J, E 10th-9th century
  • Deuteronomy 7th century
  • Torah redaction 6th century

be approximately right? Or is there a possibility that Genesis is younger than Deuteronomy? dab () 12:37, 8 August 2005 (UTC)


There is an error in the opening lines of this article I hope someone will correct. There are in fact biblical texts that predate the 2nd century BCE. For example, the blessing of the kohens have been found on inscriptions that are significantly older. I don't have the sources at my disposable to do a meaningful revision. The article should probably say something like no texts of substantial length exist that are older than the second century BCE.

To quote the article: "With the exception of a couple of fragments (found among the Dead Sea scrolls), discussed below, no Bible texts that we currently have predate about 200 BCE." This seems to imply that some of the Dead Sea Scrolls can be dated earlier than 200 BCE. But this conflicts the statement from Dead Sea Scrolls page that "the documents were written at various times between the middle of the 2nd century BC and the 1st century AD". Explanation, anyone? --Itinerant1 18:37, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

Nevi'im Errata[edit]

The last sentence in this section is quoted below. The clause following "form," does not make grammatic sense. Sorry, I cannot fix it, because I cannot guess at the author's intended meaning.

"In the time of Jesus the book existed in its present form, with many prophecies in the disputed portions are quoted in the New Testament as the words of Isaiah."


Schools of thought[edit]

How accurate is to say that there are two schools of thought on this topic (as the introductory text of the article states)? It seems that there authors were trying to divide people into those who generally believe in the Bible from those who do not, but this seems like a gross oversimplification of the issue. Threepounds 06:55, 3 December 2005 (UTC)


The first two sentences seem to have poor grammar/style. Is there any chance someone could work on rewriting them? --Improv 16:08, 7 January 2006 (UTC)

Why should anyone feel compelled to date the bible?

Section on Torah[edit]

Some critical scholars (the biblical "minimalists") would insist that the whole of the Torah which came after the bible is a construction (after 538 BC), perhaps with material from an earlier oral tradition.

I'm sorry, the Torah came after the Bible all of the sudden? VolatileChemical 09:25, 14 January 2007 (UTC)

the Torah is obviously part of the Bible. This statement should read, the "minimalist" position is that the Torah is later than the Nevi'im. dab (𒁳) 08:41, 10 May 2007 (UTC)

No Catholic sources used?[edit]

Why are there no Catholic sources used or suggested? Since we have the writings of the Early Church Fathers (what a tremendous reference!), we could see where non Catholics, Catholics and Jews disagree.CatholicDavid 21:03, 14 September 2007 (UTC)

Because there are no Catholic sources, nor Jewish ones nor Protestant ones - textual criticism is non-denominational. The Church Fathers believed that Moses wrote the Torah, David wrote the Psalms and Luke wrote Acts. All of this was based on tradition - the rabbis said Moses wrote the Torah, and the Church Fathers had no reason to doubt them. Eusebius and others had the traditions for the NT. But it really wasn't an issue - what counted was what the scripture said, not who wrote it or when, and so there was no disagreement between the rabbis, the Church Fathers, or, later, the Protestants. Or more accurately, there was no discussion. When textual criticism emerged as a scholarly discipline in the 19th century, it was dominated at first by German Lutherans, but the Vatican gave its approval to the new scholarship in the mid-20th century and modern Catholic scholars work within the same framework as their Protestant, Jewish, and, I fear, agnostic and possibly even atheistic colleaugues. Documentary hypothesis gives a brief history.PiCo 10:44, 15 September 2007 (UTC)

Redating of Luke[edit]

I have changed the dates given to Luke and Acts for two reasons. Firstly that Luke is generally considered to have been composed after Matthew. Secondly because Mack in "Who Wrote the New Testament" shows that there elements in Luke/Acts that show a provenance early in the 2nd century. John D. Croft (talk) 02:40, 19 February 2008 (UTC)

I would like to hear the argument for a second century dating of Acts and Luke. There are convincing arguments for a pre 70AD dating.


(Norman Geisler)

—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:42, 4 August 2008 (UTC)

Quite a number of scholars have advocated a second century date for Luke-Acts. F.C. Baur argued that the catholicizing nature of Acts indicated a late date, the idea being that the pro-Torah and Torah-free Christianities must have been firmly established before any catholicizing movement could take place. More recently, Richard Pervo has argued that Luke-Acts is dependent on Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews. Since Antiquities did not appear until 93/94 CE, this would suggest a second century date for Luke-Acts. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Shadgregory (talkcontribs) 21:15, 3 January 2013 (UTC)

NPOV Issues: "Conservative" dating[edit]

The NT section suffers from some serious POV issues, and I have tagged it. For example, for Luke it says "+85–105 AD (conservative dating in the 60s)". Surely that must equate to "60-105 AD". As it stands, it seems to marginalise a conservative dating, and hence interferes with neutrality. StAnselm (talk) 13:24, 6 April 2008 (UTC)

I think we should aim to put the mainstream range of dates first, with any minority viewpoints noted separately. I have no idea what the actual position is, and leave that to others.PiCo (talk) 04:58, 17 April 2008 (UTC)
WP:DUE: if you try to account for even the most fringy minority views, the date range given will be reduced to uselessness. It is good practice to give a mainstream range of estimates, and quote extreme minority views subsequently if at all. That said, I don't know just how fringy a 60s date is for Q. Still, an edit such as this represent a loss of information and consequently a deterioration of article quality. Both a pre-70 (7Q5) and a post-135 date of Mark does seem to be a rather stretching things. I don't see how "+70 AD" could become "50-70 AD", turning the formerly early estimate into a late estimate. It should be "60-115" if we're being reasonable, or "50-150" if we're including fringe views. Clearly, the mainstream range is more useful to the reader just interested in a quick idea of reasoable estimates. dab (𒁳) 13:56, 12 May 2008 (UTC)
Yes, but I would reject the idea that 60AD is "fringy". See John A. T. Robinson#Redating the New Testament. StAnselm (talk) 22:06, 12 May 2008 (UTC)
When I read the Wiki article on Robinson, I get the impression that his ideas haven't won majority acceptance. "Fringe" carries a pejorative overtone wch is clearly not appropriate here, but nevertheless, if my impression is right and Robinson's view is not mainstream, then we shouldn't be putting it in our table without alerting readers. PiCo (talk) 07:31, 23 May 2008 (UTC)
I agree that Robinson's ideas haven't won majority acceptance. I'm not sure why this is, as I personally find his argument that none of the NT mentions the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans (circa 70) persuasive for earlier dating. How best to represent the range of dates that have been proposed? I think the suggestions of going with "mainstream" dates is best for a wikipedia article and readers can delve into the references for the controversial stuff. Then there is the question of which dates are mainstream...Xhile (talk) 06:26, 7 July 2008 (UTC)

Perhaps what we should offering is a sortable table, with the dates proposed by different identified scholars in different columns. Then people could get more of an idea what is broadly agreed; and how systematic are proposed differences. Jheald (talk) 17:32, 24 June 2008 (UTC)


discussion of the age of the various books of the Hebrew Bible is a question completely distinct to the questions surrounding the compilation of the New Testament. Even regarding the Tanakh, there is little point in treating the date of the Torah together with questions surrounding the Nevi'im and the Ketuvim. But since the Tanakh has a history of editing (Development of the Jewish Bible canon), a single article History of the Tanakh may make sense. Similarly, an article on the history of the New Testament will need to be divided into a discussion of the synoptic gospels Q document separate from Authorship of the Pauline epistles and Authorship of the Johannine works. As it stands, this article has no identifiable overarching scope. dab (𒁳) 12:57, 12 May 2008 (UTC)

What strikes me most prominently is how much is missing from the article, and how much it ought to be expanded. For example, the discussion of the Ketuvim discusses only the book of Daniel and nothing else; the discussion of the Neviim discusses just the book of Kings and the book of Isaiah -- no mention, eg, of Amos, considered by many scholars to be the earliest of the prophetic books; and according to many scholars likely to be earlier than any of the books of the Torah as we now have them.
By comparison, consider this survey from The Straight Dope, a column from a Chicago newspaper, and quite responsible and solidly researched whatever one might think of the name. The treatment is still quite informal and cursory, and while broad still only scratches the surface. Yet it still runs to five articles:
  1. Who wrote/compiled/edited (and when) the first five books of the Bible, called the Torah or Pentateuch or Five Books of Moses?
  2. Who wrote/compiled/edited (and when) the various histories in the Old Testament (such as Judges, Kings, etc.)?
  3. Who wrote/compiled/edited (and when) the various prophetic books (Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc.) and the wisdom literature (Psalms, Proverbs, etc.) in the Old Testament?
  4. Who wrote/compiled/edited (and when) the various New Testament Books?
  5. Who decided which books should be included and which excluded from the Bible(s)? Why are there differences in the Bibles for Catholics, Protestants, and Jews?
I think we too should probably have separate articles, with at least as detailed coverage as the series above, for each of these questions.
But I also think it is probably useful to retain this article, at roughly its present length, though perhaps somewhat different content, as a summary-style central starting point and distributor to the other articles. Jheald (talk) 06:57, 24 June 2008 (UTC)
I can see your points, but for many people "the Bible" means both the Hebrew scriptures and the christian scriptures. I think this topic should be retained. However, it could contain general background with the detail in two separate links. Xhile (talk) 04:12, 6 July 2008 (UTC)
the fact that "the Bible" means different things to different people, and that "dating the Bible" really refers to the task of dating individual books within a compendium, is precisely the reason this article should be split, or at least reduced to terse WP:SS format. The straightdope organization of the topic is fine, we could use that. dab (𒁳) 13:41, 8 July 2008 (UTC)
So there seems to be consensus that this article should be shortened to summary style and the two proposed subarticles are created to cover the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. Itsmejudith (talk) 15:32, 11 July 2008 (UTC)
Yes, though we already have articles on the process of cononisation for both the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, which discuss date, so this article would in effect be giving a summary overview/introduction to at least 4 articles. Jheald (talk) 10:27, 12 July 2008 (UTC)

"but according to medieval sources..."[edit]

the whole question is complicated enough. If you keep commingling it with references to traditional narratives, the whole thing becomes unreadable. Create a separate section on traditional Jewish dates, but don't spam the academic discussion with them. Phrasings like "modern academic analysts find this difficult to establish", "However Modern era scholars are less certain" aren't serious, idly alleging that the dates accepted by critical academia are somehow less reliable than medieval tradition.[1]. Sheesh, that's like saying "heat is transferred by phlogiston according to Johann Joachim Becher, although modern engineers find this difficult to accept." dab (𒁳) 13:03, 10 July 2008 (UTC)

Have to agree with the above. Wikipedia pages are supposed to as per WP:NPOV present "significant views fairly, proportionately, and without bias". Content should also lay more emphasis on reliable, third-party published sources with a reputation for fack-checking and accuracy", as per WP:SOURCES. I sincerely wonder whether medieval sources on biblical provenance currently have much of a "reputation for fact-checking and accuracy", particularly considering the amount of material on the subject which has accumulated since those works werer published. I have to agree that greater emphasis should be placed on the dates as per modern academia, rather than medieval studies, to comply with the policies cited above. John Carter (talk) 17:53, 12 July 2008 (UTC)
General comment: unsourced comments cautioning against sourced viewpoints are original research and should removed. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 06:29, 13 July 2008 (UTC)
I believe the question of whether what "medieval sources on biblical provence" are unreliable sources is a more complicated one and requires a longer answer. Currently, these sources essentially represent religious points of view and are relied on by religious communities. I'd certainly agree they aren't currenly reliable for anything else. My view has been that Wikipedia should be neutral between academic and religious views when both have something significant to say on a subject. Significant religious sources may be considered reliable in religious communities for expressing religious points of view; they can have a reputation for fact-checking and accuracy in the religous community and be considered authoratative in that field. Academic sources often do not have a similar authority or reputation for reliability in that community. In many cases each side tends to distrust each others' sources in some of these disputes. So long as the religious sources themselves can be documented as well-established, authoratative religious sources that people in the relevant religious community consider high-quality and are known to rely on, and as long as the religious viewpoint itself is a significant one, My view is that WP:RS, which is expressly with respect to a field, is satisfied regardless of what we think of those sources personally. This dispensation has important limits and justifies inclusion in limited cases. The religious viewpoint has to be a historically and culturally important one, and the whole concept of authorative religous sources may only apply in religions with scholarly traditions, organized theological academies, and systems of recognized experts. Attribution is critical. Religious viewpoints need to be presented as such, just as academic scholarship needs to be presented as such, so readers will not be confused about what point of view a claim represents. In my view, if religious sources commonly relied on by a religious community could not be used to present the community's viewpoints, WP:RS, which is a guideline, would be making an end run around WP:NPOV. People who disagree with a point of view can always say that that point of view's sources are unreliable. This is a different situation from fringe science. In Arbom's rulings about fringe science, the sources involved claimed to be scientific. When an opinion is claiming to be science, the scientific community gets to judge what is and isn't science and what represents a reliable science source. Similarly, these types of sources could not be used in BLP matters In this case, nobody should be claiming that the religious viewpoints being presented are science or history. And if people are, the article should be clarified to indicate that the sources and views involved are regarded as religious in nature and the sources' significance comes from their authority in a religious community and because of the historical and cultural importance of that religious community's viewpoints with respect to the article's subject. In disputes between religion and science, on matters where both systems of thought are culturally significant, WP:RS should not be used to prevent the fair and correctly attributed exposition of either viewpoint. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 06:29, 13 July 2008 (UTC)
Additional comment: There are some fine lines on appropriate sourcing where secular "fact" and religious views intersect. For example, in cases where religious courts have made made rulings about the religious law of sexual harassment, my view has been that secular BLP compliant sources are needed to establish that any sexual harassment occurred in a case and the parties to a case can't be mentioned absent such sourcing. However, religious scholars and commentators are not only reliable, but more reliable than secular media, for explaining how the relevant religious law handles the situation. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 07:01, 13 July 2008 (UTC)
Shirahadasha, your cultural relativism between "secular" and "religious" viewpoints may be perfectly valid in cases like the definition of sexual harassment, which can be defined by legislative fiat, but it is completely beside the point in questions of historical fact, such as the date of composition of a given text. No legislative body can declare that Bereshit was composed in 1247 BC without looking like unenlightened theocratic fools. Wikipedia can, should and does discuss relgious views in detail, qua religious views, but there is no way we will conflate or treat on equal footing religious views with critical scholarship. Religious views are the object of encyclopedic articles, while academic literature is our source of information regarding such objects. We are not looking at "conflicting viewpoints", we are looking at medieval literature that has now become venerated religious tradition, and as such presents a cultural value in itself, as opposed to the completely different case of current academic study of historical questions. Academic literature isn't the object of religious veneration, it is only as good as its reception in the academic community. Wikipedia is built to reflect academic literature, as up-to-date as possible. It is not built to adhere to some religious canon. This is important. The Talmud is an encyclopedic topic, and the primary source for anything regarding the Talmud, but not an acceptable secondary source. This is plain Wikipedia core policy and as such beyond debate. We do speak of "conflicting viewpoints" when there is disagreement within academia. This does not appear to be the case here. If there are academic minority positions we neglect, we can certainly mention them, as minority views, within WP:DUE. (𒁳) 14:32, 13 July 2008 (UTC)
dab, I have to abide by and enforce Wikipedia policy as the community made it. The community has several times considered and rejected the viewpoint you proposed. Early in the history of Wikipedia Jimbo Wales endorsed and the community adopted Larry Sanger's view in Larry's Big Reply as the appropriate way to handle Creationist viewpoints, and this is still reflected in the policy. For example, WP:NPOV/FAQ#Making necessary assumptions finds it necessary to clarify that creationist viewpoints only need to be presented in articles involving core controversies, and there doesn't have be creationist boilerplate in every article on every detail of evolution. More recently, the community carefully considered and rejected a proposed Scientific point of view guideline which would have given scientific viewpoints priority over other viewpoints. In the ensuing discussion and rejection, the community feeling was that they wanted to keep the historical broad concept of WP:NPOV. It may be that community thinking has changed since. If so, you might want to consider refloating WP:SPOV or a new analogue that would reflect the viewpoint you discussed above for the community's consideration and possible acceptance. I believe a discussion of the relative merits of different approaches should await a community discussion on a policy proposal and is inappropriate here. Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 19:42, 13 July 2008 (UTC)

Final comment: I think it's worth quoting the last paragraph of Larry's Big Reply:

We should not impose our values on other thinking people. You are all liberal-minded people, I trust--not liberal politically, necessarily, but liberal in the sense that you want to free minds. I enjoin you to think carefully about the best way to achieve this. By failing to take stands on controversial issues, we aren't demonstrating weakness--in fact, we are demonstrating the strength of our faith in the minds of our fellow human beings. We should let them arrive at their own conclusions. We should trust them to use their own minds--just as you want to be trusted. More benighted souls than our enlightened selves will appreciate our stance and be more apt to listen when we hand down the truth.

Larry provides a vigorous defense of exactly the "relativism" at issue here, carefully addressing concerns about appearing "unenlightened." Best, --Shirahadasha (talk) 20:10, 13 July 2008 (UTC)

No real disagreement with the above. Only question would be how to phrase the matter in such a way to accurately reflect all sides. There might be a few Christian or other Abrahamic groups which hold the same beliefs, I don't know. John Carter (talk) 15:37, 14 July 2008 (UTC)
Yes. I think Shira's long post of 06:29, 13 July 2008 summarises things well. But there are a couple of points I would add.
  • Identification of POV. Where faith-based dates are being presented, it is important that they are presented as faith-based dates, rather than dates which have been open to academic challenge and been upheld as the academic consensus. This may not have been a problem in this article, but elsewhere dates have sometimes been given with a reference to Kantor (1994), without clarifying that Kantor's book is a compilation of Talmudic sources, rather than dates that are necessarily generally accepted across all communities. To avoid misunderstanding, rather than just citing Kantor, IMO articles referring to these dates need to cite Kantor and say that these dates represent Talmudic sources rather than modern thinking.
  • WP:DUE. In this article, I believe the question is not whether traditional Jewish sources should be reviewed at all (they should), but whether they should get first billing. That's maybe an issue for article-by-article consensus, but IMO the article is easier to assimilate and reads better as User:Dbachmann has left it, rather than with the proposed changes. Jheald (talk) 08:39, 15 July 2008 (UTC)
Agree with this and I'd also like to point out that we should not be comparing a modern scholarly view directly with a medieval view. We should compare the modern scholarly view of the history of the text with a modern scholarly view of the medieval views of the text. Itsmejudith (talk) 09:27, 15 July 2008 (UTC)

NT: Discrepancy between this article and others[edit]

Either the dates used by this article as the mainstream academic views are highly misleading or out-of-date, or the particular articles dealing with these issues need major updating. Compare the 'academic consensus' dates used by this article v. the ones used by other articles:

Book Date here Date elsewhere
Gospel of Matthew 60-105 AD 50-100 AD
Gospel of Mark 60-105 AD 70-80 AD
Gospel of Luke 60-105 AD 80-90 AD
Gospel of John 90-100 AD 90-100 AD
Acts 70-105 AD 70-80 AD
Romans 57–58 AD 55-58 AD
Corinthians 57 AD 53-57 AD
Galatians 45-55 AD 48-58 AD
Ephesians 65 AD 70-170 AD
Philippians 57–62 AD c. 62 AD
Colossians 60 AD+ 60-80 AD
Thessalonians 50 AD 50-52 AD*
Timothy 60-100 AD 90-140 AD
Titus 60-100 AD 90-140 AD
Philemon 56 AD 55-62 AD
Hebrews 60-90 AD 60-100 AD
James 60-200 AD 60-180 AD
First Peter 90-96 AD 70-90 AD
Second Peter 100-140 AD 80-130 AD
Epistles of John 95-110 AD 85-110 AD
Jude 60-100 AD 90-125 AD
Revelation 81-96 AD 68-96 AD
  • The date specified is for 1 Thessalonians; no date-range is suggested anywhere for 2 Thessalonians, for some reason.

Thoughts? -Silence (talk) 09:42, 15 August 2008 (UTC)

I think you're right on target. It looks like the dates aren't really sourced well in either the specific article or this page. Maybe if we took some time and gathered some sources we could put together the scholarly consensus. I'll list some out as I collect them. If you also did that we'd have a shot at actually getting a real list of dates. We might even be able to get a list of scholars and their dates. I think that might be the very best option, that way we can see what the consensus is and more importantly WHO the consensus is. What do you think about that idea? Motocop (talk) 17:51, 15 August 2008 (UTC)
Ok ... hope this works out. If you add something, can you do it do the table below so that when it's finished we can just plop it right in?
Book Date Author Reference
Gospel of Matthew 60 - 66 AD Smith, William, Dr [1]
Gospel of Matthew 40 - 45 AD The New Unger's Bible Dictionary [2]
Gospel of Mark 63 - 70 AD Smith, William, Dr [3]
Gospel of Mark 63 - 68 AD The New Unger's Bible Dictionary [4]
Gospel of Luke 58 - 60 AD Smith, William, Dr [5]
Gospel of Luke prior to 61 AD The New Unger's Bible Dictionary [6]
Gospel of John
First Peter
Second Peter
Epistles of John

Only two sources so far ... I don't have time to complete it, but I'll add to it later. Please add those you find to the list as well!

Here are some links:

  2. (chart of dates ... no scholarly refs though so may not be helpful)

Motocop (talk) 18:46, 15 August 2008 (UTC)

Using sources is exactly the right method to go about if we're going to clear up the actual consensus dates. However, we need to be discerning in what sources we use: remember that we're dealing with a topic that is not only going to be weighed in by leading historians, but also by theologians, religious leaders, and laypeople aplenty, all of whom have a personal stake in particular dates.
Unger's and Smith's dates above, for example, seem like the extreme end of the spectrum, rather than a good resource to determine scholarly consensus: notice that while both Dating the Bible and our other articles on the Gospels (some referenced, some unreferenced) have tended to converge on dates no earlier than 70-80 AD, these sources suggest the exact opposite: that the Gospels could not have been written later than 70 AD. There's definitely a disconnect, and, I think, bias creeping in. Let's begin by collecting the information from each of the actual articles on the matter, which are at least much of the time referenced, unlike Dating the Bible; then we can see if there are still gaps in the specific articles, and move to improve the gaps both here and on the articles themselves by scrounging up new sources:

Silence's List[edit]

Book Approximate Date References
Gospel of Matthew 70–100 AD [7][8][9]
Gospel of Mark 70 AD [10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17]
Gospel of Luke 85 AD [9][8][18][19][20]
Gospel of John 90–100 AD [8]
Acts 70–80 AD [21][9]
Romans 56 AD [22][23]
Corinthians 55 AD [24][25]
Galatians 49–58 AD [26]
Ephesians 70–170 AD [27][28][29]
Philippians 62 AD [8]
Colossians 60–80 AD [10][30]
1 Thessalonians 51 AD [9]
2 Thessalonians 80–100 AD [31]
Timothy 90–140 AD [8][32][33]
Titus 90–140 AD [9][8][34][35]
Philemon 56 AD [36]
Hebrews 60–100 AD [37]
James 60–180 AD [38][39]
First Peter 70–112 AD [9][8][40][41]
Second Peter 80–130 AD [8][42][43][44]
Epistles of John 85–110 AD [45][46][47]
Jude 90–125 AD [48][49][50]
Revelation 81–96 AD [9][51][52]

There, I'd think that's a good start. 40+ references and a mix of date ranges or approximate dates (circa notation would be redundant here, I think; we should just make clear that all the dates have a margin of error of a few years at minimum), avoiding the 'extreme' ends of the spectrum which wouldn't be very informative to readers wanting to know the consensus of historians; we certainly could expand any of those ranges to include much earlier and much later dates, but that be giving undue weight and sacrificing informational value. -Silence (talk) 21:45, 15 August 2008 (UTC)


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ Smith, D. Moody. Matthew the evangelist, Encyclopedia of Religion, vol. 9, p.5780
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g Brown, Raymond E. (1997). Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Anchor Bible. pp. p. 226. ISBN 0-385-24767-2. 
  10. ^ a b Brown, R., et al. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, Prentice Hall, 1990.
  11. ^ Peter, Kirby (2001–2007). "Early Christian Writings: Gospel of Mark". Retrieved 2008-01-15. 
  12. ^ Achtemeier, Paul J. (1991-). "The Gospel of Mark". The Anchor Bible Dictonary. 4. New York, New York: Doubleday. p. 545. ISBN 0385193629.  Check date values in: |date= (help);
  13. ^ Meier, John P. (1991). A Marginal Jew. New York, New York: Doubleday. pp. v.2 955–6. ISBN 0385469934. 
  14. ^ Helms, Randel (1997). Who Wrote the Gospels?. Altadena, California: Millennium Press. p. 8. ISBN 0965504727. 
  15. ^ Funk, Robert W.; Roy W. Hoover, and the Jesus Seminar (1993). The five Gospels: the search for the authentic words of Jesus: new translation and commentary. New York, New York: Macmillan. ISBN 0025419498.  Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)
  16. ^ Crossan, John Dominic (1991). The historical Jesus: the life of a Mediterranean Jewish peasant. San Francisco, California: HarperSanFrancisco. ISBN 0060616296. 
  17. ^ Eisenman, Robert H. (1998). James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Penguin Books. p. 56. ISBN 014025773X. 
  18. ^ Meier, John P., A Marginal Jew: Rethinking the Historical Jesus. Doubleday, 1991, v. 1, pp. 43
  19. ^ "Matthew, Gospel acc. to St." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  20. ^ Brown, Schuyler. The origins of Christianity: a historical introduction to the New Testament. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. p. 24
  21. ^ Guthrie, Donald. "Nine". New Testament Introduction (third ed.). Downer's Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press. pp. 347–348. ISBN 0-87784-953-6.  Unknown parameter |origmonth= ignored (help)
  22. ^ Dunn, J. D. G. (1988a). Romans 1-8. World Bible Commentary. Dallas, Texas: Word Books, Publisher. 
  23. ^ Bruce, F. F. (1983). The Epistle of Paul to the Romans: An Introduction and Commentary. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press. 
  24. ^ Corinthians, First Epistle to the, "The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia", Ed. James Orr, 1915.
  25. ^ Pauline Chronology: His Life and Missionary Work, from Catholic Resources by Felix Just, S.J.
  26. ^
  27. ^ Barth, Markus. Ephesians: Introduction, Translation, and Commentary on Chapters 1-3. New York: Doubleday and Company Inc., 1974. 50-51
  28. ^ Goodspeed, E. J. (1956). Key to Ephesians. 
  29. ^ Mitton, C.L. The Epistle to the Ephesians (1951) p. ii
  30. ^ Mack, Burton L. Who Wrote the New Testament? San Francisco:Harper Collins, 1996.
  31. ^ Kirby, Peter. "2 Thessalonians." Early Christian Writings. 2008. 15 Aug. 2008
  32. ^ Berding, K, (1999), Polycarp of Smyrna's View of the Authorship of 1 and 2 Timothy,Vigiliae Christianae, Vol. 53, No. 4. (Nov., 1999), pp. 349-360.
  33. ^ New Testament Letter Structure, from Catholic Resources by Felix Just, S.J.
  34. ^ William Paley Horae Paulinae (1785)
  35. ^ Bart D. Ehrman. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings 3rd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. pp. 385ff
  36. ^ Kirby, Peter. "2 Thessalonians." Early Christian Writings. 2008. 15 Aug. 2008
  37. ^ Attridge, Harold W. Hebrews. Philadelphia, PA: Fortress Press, 1989.
  38. ^ Epistle of James
  39. ^ Grant, Robert M. The Formation of the New Testament. New York: Harper & Row, 1965.p. 155
  40. ^ Eve, Eric. Oxford Bible Commentary, p. 1263
  41. ^ Ehrman, Bart D. The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. 2d ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
  42. ^ Bauckham, RJ (1983), World Bible Commentary, Vol.50, Jude-2 Peter, Waco
  43. ^ Chester, A & Martin, RP, (1994), The Theology of the letters of James, Peter & Jude, CUP, p.144
  44. ^ Jeremy Duff. "2 Peter". Oxford Bible Commentary. Oxford University Press. 2001.
  45. ^ Marshall I. H. (1978). The Epistles of John. The New International Commetry on the New Testament. William B. Eerdmans. 
  46. ^ Rensberger D. (1997). 1 John, 2 John, 3 John. Abingdon New Testament Commentaries. Abingdon Press, Nashville. 
  47. ^ Brown, R. E. (1982) The Epistles of John. Anchor Bible, 30. Garden City, NY: Doubleday.
  48. ^ [ USCCB - NAB - Jude
  49. ^ Norman Perrin, (1974) The New Testament: An Introduction, p. 260
  50. ^ Bauckham,RJ (1986), Word Biblical Commentary, Vol.50, Word (UK) Ltd. p.16
  51. ^ Before Jerusalem Fell, ISBN 0930464206. Powder Springs, GA: American Vision, 1989.
  52. ^ Robert Mounce. The Book of Revelation. Cambridge: Eerdman's.

Hardcopy Unger Dates[edit]

Book Date Author Reference
Gospel of Matthew 40-45 AD Unger 1966 page 706 [1]
Gospel of Mark 65-68 AD (pre-63 AD?) Unger 1966 page 696 [1]
Gospel of Luke C 61 AD Unger 1966 page 671 [1]
Gospel of John 85 - 95 AD Unger 1966 page 598 [1]
Acts 63 AD Unger 1966 page 18 [1]
Romans 56 AD Unger 1966 page 933 [1]
Corinthians Spring 54-55 AD/ 59(?) AD Unger 1966 page 221 [1]
Corinthians Fall 54-55 AD/ 59(?)AD Unger 1966 page 222 [1]
Galatians 48 AD or 52 AD Unger 1966 page 386 [1]
Ephesians 64 AD Unger 1966 page 316 [1]
Philippians 61 AD Unger 1966 page 859 [1]
Colossians 60 AD Unger 1966 page 214 [1]
First Thessalonians 52 - 53 AD Unger 1966 page 1088 [1]
Second Thessalonians not stated Unger 1966 page [1]
First Timothy 63-67 AD Unger 1966 page 1101 [1]
Second Timothy 67 AD Unger 1966 page 1101 [1]
Titus 64 - 67 AD / 65 AD Unger 1966 page 1101 / 1104 [1]
Philemon 61-62 AD Unger 1966 page 856 [1]
Hebrews 67-69 AD Unger 1966 page 465 [1]
James Possibly the first epistle. Pre-62 AD Unger 1966 page 553 [1]
First Peter 65 AD Unger 1966 page 851 [1]
Second Peter 66-67 AD Unger 1966 page 852 [1]
First John 90-95 AD Unger 1966 page 599 [1]
Second John 95-100 AD Unger 1966 page 599 [1]
Third John 95 AD Unger 1966 page 599 [1]
Jude 66 to 75-80 AD Zahn dates it to 75 AD Unger 1966 page 616 [1]
Revelation 68-69 AD (Wescott, Lightfoot, Hort, and Solomon) 96 -96 AD (Swete, Moffat, Milligan, Zahn) Unger 1966 page 924 [1]
  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa Unger, Merrill F (1957; 1961; 1966). Unger's Bible Dictionary. Moody Press. ISBN 0-8024-9035-2.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

jonathon (talk) 22:25, 15 August 2008 (UTC)

Based on the above dates, Unger's book seems to be more apologetic than historical in bent. Unlike Wikipedia (which is read by readers of all denominations, not just evangelical or fundamentalist Christians), this Bible Dictionary seems to be an effort to espouse and defend traditional Christian doctrine, not a neutral scholarly work.
The scholarship seems very, very fringe, and not good a reflection of the modern mainstream views: it apparently rejects Markan priority (considered a cornerstone of modern Biblical scholarship) and the two-source hypothesis, instead advocating the Augustinian hypothesis, which dates back to the 5th century AD and has been quite widely rejected by Biblical historians for centuries. The text also apparently assumes that none of the epistles are pseudepigraphic, even ones which many conservative Christian scholars accept as having later dates, like the pastoral epistles.
As such, I'm a bit puzzled by why this particular 40-year-old book has an entire table devoted all to itself (as compared to the 40 or so independent sources of the above synthetic table), as though it were the scholarly authority for all Biblical historians of all faiths and creeds. Surely that is not the intent. -Silence (talk) 23:05, 15 August 2008 (UTC)
Obviously Unger's represents the viewpoint of Mainstream, Conservative, Fundamental Evangelical Protestant Christianity. (What else you would expect from a professor at Dallas Theological Seminary?) It has a table of its own, because that is the easiest way to present the dates that it contains. (FWIW, it supports Markan Priority, and the Two Source Hypothesis.)jonathon (talk) 00:53, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
Based on the Unger dates you provided, Unger supports Matthean priority (by over two decades!), not Markan priority (which is a prerequisite for 2SH). -Silence (talk) 01:20, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
The problem with a list of dates, is that the explanation of why a date, or range of dates is used, is not provided. And, as you just did, an erroneous conclusion based upon faulty assumptions, is made.jonathon (talk) 01:59, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
Er, are you unfamiliar with what 'Markan priority' means? Markan priority means that Mark was written first. No assumption needs to be made to see Matthew dated 20-28 years earlier than Mark and conclude 'Matthean priority'; that's simply the term's definition. Markan priority means Mark was the earliest Gospel; Matthean priority means Matthew was the earliest gospel; Lukan priority means Luke was the earliest gospel; etc. According to the dates you provided, Mark was the last synoptic Gospel written; overwhelming modern scholarly consensus is that Mark was the first. We should not mislead readers on this point. -Silence (talk) 03:26, 16 August 2008 (UTC)
Of course I know what Markan priority is. And, as I wrote earlier, the problem with a list of dates, is that the explanation is not provided. That context explains why the dates don't sync. How justifiable their deviations are, is a separate issue.jonathon (talk) 04:08, 16 August 2008 (UTC)

Ok, guys, if I could just interject here. Silence, thanks for gathering all of that info, very helpful. jonathon, thanks to you as well for the references.

I was thinking it would be a better idea to cite the scholar that gives a certain date, and in this way we could look at the dates by scholar (maybe with another column that indicates where it falls with respect to the average of all the other scholar's dates?). It seems that this would convey the consensus in a very complete and helpful way. If that is just too large a task, or it would necessarily cause confusion, and you think it would be a bad idea then let me know. I'm not really stuck on that idea, but it seemed good at the time.

However, the above is kind of irrelevant to the real issue here, I think. That issue being, 'what is the scholarly consensus' or more to the point 'what is the best way to determine the scholarly consensus?' Secondary to that we should determine 'what is the best way to display this information?' But primarily we should determine the consensus before moving forward with anything else, and I'm open to suggestions on how to best do that.

Here are my thoughts: I don't think the best way is to only look at the dates given in the various wikipedia articles, as they might show bias themselves, or just be plain wrong (Luke written after Acts? Yikes!) I think gathering the wiki info we already have (as Silence did) is a huge help, but it is just a start, in my opinion. Ideally we would list all the scholars that have published information on it within the last, say, 30-50 years, and then list their dates. We could then look at the data and determine what the average seems to be, and how many standard deviations off the fringe scholars are, etc.

Thoughts? Motocop (talk) 20:45, 18 August 2008 (UTC)

Traditional School[edit]

The last sentence of the second paragraph curently has this bit added to the end

this reliance on the supernatural renders the approach essentially non-falsifiable.

It seems like this is irrelevent. It's essentially a critique of the "traditional school." Are we going to include an entire section on critiquing the "traditional school" and its dating methods? If so it should be a little more formal than a tiny snipit at the end of a paragraph. I'm going to give this a few days to get some feedback before I remove the last bit. Motocop (talk) 13:53, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

Minimalist Maximalists[edit]

If the heading makes no sense it is because the text makes no sense. Under the sub-section "Torah", the "maximalists" have been assigned an essentially minimalist view with the dates moved back a bit, unless this part of the article is simply badly written. At the moment it says that only Deuteronomy was written (relatively - 10thC is hardly 'early') early and that all the rest was made up to give context to Deuteronomy in the time of Josiah - that is clearly a Minimalist view.--FimusTauri (talk) 11:07, 16 January 2009 (UTC)

Another thing that can use addressing[edit]

Is there any information on using linguistic and philological evidence to date the Pentateuch relative to the rest of the Old Testament? There is a notably different style and some different terminology, so such an approach could prove very fruitful. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:54, 3 March 2009 (UTC)

BCE/BC - CE/AD[edit]

Using both "BCE/BC" and "CE/AD" for everytime the date is mentioned is ever so annoying.--Ari89 (talk) 13:25, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

It's also against the Wikipedia manual of style (Wikipedia:MOS_(dates_and_numbers)#Year_numbering_systems). I have therefore removed it. If some prefer BC/AD rather than BCE/CE this can be discussed, but both forms should not be used together.--Jeffro77 (talk) 11:53, 18 May 2009 (UTC)

Stopping by for some rough information about bible dates, I had neve heard of BCE and CE, so I got no useful information. Since it took some time to find a reference that cleared it up, I highly recommend (and reasonably assumed I would find) links at the first occurrance of each term pointing to the Wiki article explaining them. I'd to it, but I am not very familiar with editing. Regards, -- Steve -- (talk) 17:38, 1 August 2014 (UTC)

Attempts to introduce weasling[edit]

Changing "estimates of its oldest elements range from the 10th to the 6th centuries BC" to "some estimates" completely changes the meaning.[2] (the "but" is also completely misplaced). These aren't "some estimates" selected at random from a much larger range, the point is to give the full range of scholarly estimates, viz., the 1000 BC is the terminus post quem and the 500 BC the terminus ante quem. I daresay five centuries is a very comfortable margin of error. This is much like saying that the Iliad dates to between 1100 and 600 BC, or the Rigveda to between 1500 and 1000 BC: the dates are chosen so as to be very much on the safe side. --dab (𒁳) 10:01, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

I agree with your basic point here. However, I want to note that the only potential danger of erring on the side of wider dating margins is that it can sometimes have misleading implications either about the degree of uncertainty (e.g., perhaps for one book written between 500 and 1000 BC there's about a 75% chance it was written in the 8th century, while for another book written between 500 and 1000 there's an equal, 20% chance it was written in any one of the centuries) or about the average date most scholars lean toward (e.g., if 0% of scholars support a date earlier than 1000 BC, but 50% support a 10th-century date, 20% support a 9th-century date, 15% support an 8th-century date, 10% support a 7th-century date, and 5% support a 6th-century date, giving a range of 500-1000 could misleadingly suggest that the 'average' date scholars would consider most likely is in the 8th century, when in reality the most popular date is in the 10th century and the only reason '10th' isn't in the middle is because scholars know it can't be before the 10th (e.g., due to some externally known historical event that happened then). Moreover, if we're too lenient in our standards of how popular a dating theory must be before we acknowledge it (e.g., by expanding a range accordingly), we violate WP:NPOV's 'equal weight' clause. So we can't simply pick the widest possible ranges willy-nilly. -Silence (talk) 14:24, 19 August 2009 (UTC)

I appreciate your point, but scholarly estimates do not arrange themselves in a bell curve. There are schools of thought, and each school must be presented and weighed by its notability. It isn't possible to do this in a single sentence, and yet the discussion must begin with some sentence. It is perfectly fair to say that the discussion takes place within the timeframe of 950-450 BC (excepting Biblical minimalism, which is a fringe theory).

If people then walk away without reading the second sentence, and indeed the rest of the paragraph, this isn't our fault. You can only judge an article by reading all of it. I know attention span is a problem, because of this the first sentence in an article gets about 90% of people's attention while the lower part of an article's body tend to rot away unattended (unless there is an infobox, in which case 90% of attention goes to expanding and fighting over the infobox content while the article is forgotten completely). But it isn't possible to give a complex topic due coverage in two sentences. --dab (𒁳) 09:07, 6 September 2010 (UTC)

'The Bible is a compilation of various texts or "books" of different ages'???????[edit]

Who compiled these texts and why? This is an incredibly weak introduction for the most studied book in the world. Can someone with a bit of background knowledge kindly work on this article. --Jan-da-man (talk) 22:05, 19 May 2010 (UTC)

Perhaps you should read more than just the first sentence. It is impossible to convey a complex topic in a single line of text you know. The problem is your attention span, not the introduction to the article, which is entirely accurate. --dab (𒁳) 09:01, 6 September 2010 (UTC)


I just did a rather major edit to the first part of the article, about the date of the torah. The reason was that the table was rather misleading, and the info was better presented in prose. But I really think this article could be merged with Authorship of the bible, and that article retitled Authorship and date of the bible. Please have a look at that article and see what you think. PiCo (talk) 10:09, 12 November 2012 (UTC)

Article in french[edit]

If someone is interested, I've been working for a while on the french version of this article, and it's now up to date and full of references. Do you think it could be translated here? ChercheTrouve (talk) 20:45, 27 January 2013 (UTC)

Reason behind dates[edit]

Could someone explain why the old Testament's dates vary so much? In other words it is nice to know what are the dates academics give. But It would be nicer if someone could explain where that conclusion came from Thanks Sadya goan (talk) 08:36, 16 August 2015 (UTC)

Part of it is because the section lacks references. Another factor is that parts of the Tanakh - like the Torah or the musical Psalms - were probably past down orally, possibly for centuries, before being written down. Plus, there are also competing schools of thought about whether the books of Bible can be trusted with their own history or history of other books. Borderlandor (talk) 20:12, 30 August 2015 (UTC)
Sadya goan, in these matters there is simply no certainty. Scholars do their best, but we have to accept that all we have is theories. PiCo (talk) 12:48, 6 October 2015 (UTC)
As Bart Ehrman said:

This isn’t simply the approach of “liberal” Bible professors. It’s the way historians always date sources. If you find a letter written on paper that is obviously 300 years old or so, and the author says something about the “United States” — then you know it was written after the Revolutionary War. So too if you find an ancient document that describes the destruction of Jerusalem, then you know it was written after 70 CE. It’s not rocket science! But it’s also not “liberal.” It’s simply how history is done. If someone wants to invent other rules, they’re the ones who are begging questions!

Quoted by Tgeorgescu (talk) 00:35, 7 November 2014 (UTC)
Sadya goan's wish, as I understand, was to know (a) why the dates given for the OT books vary so much (not sure if he means why they vary from one academic to another, or why individual academics so often give dates in centuries rather than years(, and (b) how academics reach their conclusions. That seems a reasonable request, and I'll do my best to answer it when I return to editing this page in a few weeks. I'll put the dates (without explanations) in Table I, and the explanations in the remaining tables. And thanks to all those editors who have been so patiently watching and not reverting as I edit - it's appreciated. PiCo (talk) 11:32, 6 November 2015 (UTC)
There's also the French Wikipedia article that Cherche Trouve links to in the immediately preceding thread. It takes a totally different approach layout-wise and is very detailed and well documented. I'll use it for sure.PiCo (talk) 11:36, 6 November 2015 (UTC)
Wouldn't it be appropriate to include in this article a brief survey of the methodology for dating? TomS TDotO (talk) 13:03, 6 November 2015 (UTC)
Agreed. The French Wiki article seems to have a fair bit on that.PiCo (talk) 15:50, 6 November 2015 (UTC)

Recent edit war[edit]

Verifiable statements should not be changed to the figments of one's own imagination and still be (falsely) attributed to the WP:SOURCES which present the mainstream view. Tgeorgescu (talk) 01:23, 19 July 2016 (UTC)