When Was the Bible Written?

Contrary to popular assumption, the Bible is not a single book but a collection of religious scriptures pertaining to Christianity and Judaism.'When was the Bible written' is a question that has provided fodder for speculations and controversies over the ages. Let us delve deeper and make an attempt to find the answer...
The Holy Bible, as we know it, is a collection of 66 books that have been classified under two broad divisions: the Old Testament, having 39 books, and the New Testament, having 27 books. If you want to know when the Bible was written, then you should know that the earliest of these books were supposed to have been written about 3500 years ago. The first five books, viz., Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy, are believed to have been written by Moses during his sojourn on Mount Sinai, somewhere around 1400 BC. The subsequent books of the Old Testament are accredited to numerous other authors and spread over about 11 centuries.

The 27 books of the New Testament have been written by 10 different authors, the authorship of some of these books being disputed. These books were written between 49 AD and 90 AD.

When Was the Holy Bible Written?

The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry has enlisted the books of the Holy Bible, further classified by the authors and approximate periods during which they were written. The answer to the titular question cannot be given by citing a single date or era. The development of the Bible as the Holy Scripture of Christianity has spanned over numerous centuries, as the tabulated representations show below.

Old Testament

BookAuthorDate Written
GenesisMoses? - 1445 BC
ExodusMoses1445 - 1405 BC
Leviticus Moses 1405 BC
NumbersMoses1444 - 1405 BC
DeuteronomyMoses1405 BC
JoshuaJoshua1404 - 1390 BC
JudgesSamuel1374 - 1129 BC
RuthSamuel1150? BC
First SamuelSamuel1043 - 1011 BC
Second SamuelEzra?1011 - 1004
First KingsJeremiah?971 - 852 BC
First ChroniclesEzra?450 - 425 BC
Second ChroniclesEzra?450 - 425 BC
EzraEzra538 - 520 BC
NehemiahNehemiah445 - 425 BC
EstherMordecai?465 BC
David1000? BC.
  • Sons of Korah wrote Psalms
    42, 44-49, 84-85, 87
  • Asaph wrote Psalms 50, 73-83
  • Heman wrote Psalm 88
  • Ethan wrote Psalm 89
  • Hezekiah wrote Psalms
    120-123, 128-130,132, 134-136
  • Solomon wrote Psalms 72, 127
  • Solomon wrote 1-29
  • Agur wrote 30
  • Lemuel wrote 31
950 - 700 BC
EcclesiastesSolomon935 BC
Song of Solomon Solomon965 BC
IsaiahIsaiah740 - 680 BC
JeremiahJeremiah627 - 585 BC
LamentationsJeremiah586 BC
EzekielEzekiel593-560 BC
DanielDaniel605 - 536 BC
HoseaHosea710 BC
JoelJoel835 BC
AmosAmos755 BC
ObadiahObadiah840 or 586 BC
JonahJonah760 BC
MicahMicah700 BC
NahumNahum663 - 612 BC
HabakkukHabakkuk607 BC
ZephaniahZephaniah625 BC
HaggaiHaggai520 BC
ZechariahZechariah520 - 518 BC
MalachiMalachi450 - 600 BC

New Testament

BookAuthorDate Written
MarkJohn, MarkLate 50's AD
Early 60's AD
JohnJohnLate 80's AD
Early 90's AD
ActsLuke61 AD
RomansPaul55 AD
1 CorinthiansPaul54 AD
2 CorinthiansPaul55 AD
GalatiansPaul49 AD
EphesiansPaul60 AD
PhilippiansPaul61 AD
ColossiansPaul60 AD
1 ThessaloniansPaul50 AD - 51 AD
2 ThessaloniansPaul50 AD - 51 AD
1 TimothyPaul62 AD
2 TimothyPaul63 AD
TitusPaul62 AD
PhilemonPaul60 AD
Hebrews(Paul, Apollos, Barnabas...?) 60 AD
JamesJames, half-brother of Jesus40s AD or 50s AD
PeterPeter63 AD
PeterPeter63 AD- 64 AD
JohnJohnLate 80s AD
Early 90s AD
JohnJohnLate 80s AD
Early 90s AD
JohnJohnLate 80s AD
Early 90s
JudeJude, half-brother of Jesus60's AD or 70's AD
RevelationJohnLate 80s AD
Early 90s AD

Other Popular Versions of the Bible

Over the centuries, numerous versions of the Bible have surfaced. Among them, the most popular are the Catholic Bible, the Protestant Bible, The Authorized King James Version, the New International Version and the New Revised Standard Version. Let us take voyage back in time and get familiar with the periods when these versions were created.

When was the Catholic Bible Written?
The Catholic Bible is the original Bible and contains all the original set of books which are believed to have been used by Jesus and His apostles and is the original testament and guide to Christian spirituality. Therefore, it can be said that the Catholic Bible is the first version, containing all the original books of the Old and New Testament, some of which were later rejected by the Protestant reformers.

When was the Protestant Bible Written?
The Protestant Bible is no different from the original Catholic Bible. The crux of the debate on Catholic Bible vs Protestant Bible lies in the fact that the Protestant Bible omits some of the books that are included in the Catholic Bible. This is the sole basis of divergence between Catholicism and Protestantism. During the 1500's, the Old Testament got organized by Protestant leaders as per official canons of Judaism instead of the Septuagint (Greek translation of Jewish Scripture). Those books which were not there in the Jewish Canon were separated and archived as the Apocrypha. After the mid 1800's, the Apocrypha was dropped from the Protestant Bible as it was considered less important.

When was the King James' Bible Written?
The first Bible, regarded as God's own words to mankind, is believed to have been written in 1400 BC. Since then, the Bible has undergone numerous translations and a myriad of versions have resulted thereby. The most popular of these versions is King James' Bible, which was a translation by the Church of England. The translations began in 1604 and the first edition was concluded and printed in 1611. Forty seven scholars, all members of the Church of England, were employed for translating this Bible and the final publication included a list of morning and evening prayers. The translators were specifically instructed by King James to make sure that the translated version was in conformity with the theological study of the Christian Church and the Church Governance hierarchy, that was prevalent in the Church of England at that time.

When was the NIV Bible Written?
The vision for New International Version Bible came through in 1965. It was a translation of the Bible made by more than a hundred scholars by studying and working on the most reliable Aramaic, Greek and Hebrew texts. This venture was conceptualized by committees from the Christian Reformed Church and the National Association of Evangelicals and after numerous years of research and study, an international gathering of scholars took place at Palos Heights, Illinois, to work on a new version in contemporary English. The proposition of the contemporary version won consensus of a multitude of Christian Clerical heads and a self-governing body, the Committee on Bible Translation, was vested with the onus of the creation of the New International Version Bible in 1966. The translation and printing of the entire Bible was concluded in 1978 and revisions were introduced to it in 1983.

The New Revised Standard Version
The new Revised Standard Version was published in 1990, the latest amendment to which was made in June, 2010. This publication is a result of the efforts of the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. It is part of an ongoing process of making the Bible available in the most current English usage prevalent today.

As time changes, the context of religious beliefs and understanding of scripture also changes. Therefore, to keep religion in pace with the times, our scriptures undergo translations and re-inventions. This enables the common man to balance sprinting in the rat race as well as to hold on to his faith. At this rate, we will see many more versions of our sacred scriptures, designed to reach out to the modern spiritual needs.