The key period in the development of the Bible is from 586 BCE to 538 BCE. This is the time of Hebrew captivity and exile, by the conquering Babylonians. Prior to this period, the Hebrew religion followed a slow, gradual evolution from its roots in African tribalism, to a more sophisticated form that was strongly influenced by Hinduism.
During the exile, the books began to take on a pessimistic tone, due to a feeling that Yahweh had abandoned them. After King Cyrus of Persia defeated the Babylonians, and gave the Israelites their freedom; Persian beliefs caused a profound change in the religion. Whereas evil had previously come from Yahweh, the post-exile period adopted a personification of evil, to mirror the Persian duality doctrine. Until the end of the exile, the Hebrew religion had always been polytheistic, but the introduction of Persian Zoroastrian monotheism began a shift toward the concept of one god.
The list of books to be included in the Old Testament was finalized around 100 BCE.
Genesis - Compilation written, by various contributers, during the period covering 900 BCE - 400 BCE; drawing on an oral tradition that may date back to 1100 BCE, or earlier.
Exodus - Around 550 BCE.
Leviticus - During the 400's BCE; but an earlier version likely existed in the 600's.
Numbers - During the 500's BCE.
Deuteronomy - During the 600's BCE.
Joshua - Original source material from the mid 900's BCE; rewritten in the 600's BCE, and again around 500 BCE.
Judges - Most written between 500 BCE - 600 BCE; chapters 17 - 21 were added some time between 500 and 200 BCE, while chapter 5 may date back to the 10th century BCE.
Ruth - Written sometime during the period 400 BCE - 250 BCE; likely based on an older folktale.
1 Samuel / 2 Samuel - Originally one book. Compiled of material written during two, or possibly three, periods: the oldest from 961 BCE - 922 BCE, most recent from 750 BCE - 650 BCE, and a possible third source from the period in between.
1 Kings / 2 Kings - Originally one book. Compiled from the work of two unknown authors, one from around 609 BCE, the other from 550 BCE. The writers drew from earlier works of the Bible, and other Hebrew text.
1 Chronicles / 2 Chronicles / Ezra / Nehemiah - Originally one book written by an unknown author in 300 BCE.
Esther - Standard version from the 100's BCE; Greek additions in the Catholic version added just prior to the Common Era.
Job - Folktale written between 500 BCE and 250 BCE; with chapters 32 to 37 added more recently.
Psalms - A diverse collection spanning a period from as early as 1300 BCE, to 500 BCE.
Proverbs - A collection of short moral sayings compiled by a number of authors in the 5th or 4th century BCE. Some of the sayings are likely oral traditions that are considerably older.
Ecclesiastes - Written in the 200's BCE.
The Song of Solomon (Canticles) - Written sometime between the 5th and 3rd centuries BCE.
Isaiah - Three separate works: 1 Isaiah (1-39) 742 BCE - 700 BCE, 2 Isaiah (40-59) 539 BCE, 3 Isaiah (56-66) shortly after the end of the exile in 538 BCE.
Jeremiah - Most of the original material was written by Jeremiah between 609 - 580 BCE, but the work was a very late compilation by others: hence the substantial differences between the Hebrew and Greek versions.
Lamentations - From the Exile period (586 - 538 BCE). Chapters 1-4 are by the same unknown author; with Chapter 5 likely by a second person.
Ezekiel - Much of the work was by Ezekiel 597 - 571 BCE, with the last part of the book compiled after his death.
Daniel - Anonymous author from around 150 BCE.
Hosea - Much of the work is likely written by Hosea in the 8th century BCE, with later additions by Jewish editors.
Joel - From 537 - 500 BCE.
Amos - Most written by Amos in the 700's BCE, with chapter 9, verses 9 - 15 added considerably later.
Obadiah - Written in the post-exile period. There is some debate as to whether it is a compilation, or the work of Obadiah alone.
Jonah - Post-exile parable, by an unknown author.
Micah - Parts written by Micah, prior to 721 BCE; other parts written by unknown authors during, and after the exile. Most of the first 3 chapters were added relatively recently.
Nahum - 663 BCE - 612 BCE.
Habakkuk - Chapters 1 and 2 from 597 BCE, chapter 3 by a later unknown author.
Zephaniah - Most written between 640 and 609 BCE. Chapter 3, verses 14 - 20 added considerably later.
Haggai - 520 BCE. Possibly by Haggai; but more likely by one of his disciples.
Zechariah - Chapters 1 - 8 from 518 BCE. 9 - 14 possibly around 400 BCE.
Malachi - 460 - 450 BCE.
The final list of books for the New Testament was settled, for the most part, in 367 CE; although Revelation was disputed until almost 600 CE. The New Testament Canon settled on four gospels, out of the fifty that were available.
Matthew - By St. Matthew 70 - 90 CE.
Mark - By St. Mark 70 - 90 CE.
Luke - Possibly by St. Luke 70 - 90 CE.
John - By either St. John, John the Elder, or an unknown author 70 - 90 CE.
Acts - Possibly by St. Luke 70 - 90 CE.
Romans - St. Paul 58 CE.
1 Corinthians - St. Paul 54 CE.
2 Corinthians - St. Paul 55 CE.
Galatians - St. Paul 54 CE.
Ephesians - Possibly by St. Paul 60 CE; if not, 60 - 92 CE.
Philippians - St. Paul 61 - 65 CE.
Colossians - St. Paul 55 - 63 CE.
1 Thessalonians - St. Paul 50 CE.
2 Thessalonians - Possibly St. Paul 50 CE.
1 Timothy / 2 Timothy / Titus - Unknown author from the late 1st century CE (were originally attributed to St. Paul).
Philemon - St. Paul 56 - 65 CE.
Hebrews - Unknown author 60 - 90 CE (originally attributed to St. Paul)
James - Unknown author 70 - 132 CE.
1 Peter - Possibly St. Peter 64 - 65 CE; or an unknown author 96 CE.
2 Peter - Unknown author around 150 CE.
1 John / 2 John / 3 John - Either St. John, John the Elder, or an unknown author 90 - 110 CE.
Jude - 70 - 100 CE.
Revelation - Either John Mark, John the Elder, or an unknown John 81 - 96 CE
|| TOP OF PAGE || HOME || INDEX ||