Brandon's Notepad

July 13, 2010

New Testament Authorship Timeline

Filed under: Christianity — Brandon @ 1:32 am

The content of the Bible and what it means is far more important than the order in which the books were written. Usually, dates of authorship are examined either when trying to determine authenticity or as circumstantial evidence to draw a correlation that may or may not actually exist. I am far more interested having this information on hand from a variety of sources to prove that Bible scholarship isn’t so accurate, and that such correlations should probably be based on something less circumstantial (e.g. linguistic characteristics). It may also be helpful to have when analyzing non-canonical Christian documents. I expect to update and add to this information periodically.

Disclaimer: These lists were compiled somewhat hastily. Several of the sources below were only scanned for dates, possibly causing some of the dates to have been accidentally missed.


Order of Authorship

The following table shows the dates reported by various sources. Obviously, all are Anno Domini. ‘E’ and ‘L’ stand for ‘early’ and ‘late’, and ‘Sp’, ‘Su’, ‘Fa’ & ‘Wi’ for the seasons. A hyphen represents a range, but a lone dash (two hyphens) means that the source was silent on a date for that book. A tilde (~) indicates an approximation and other math operators (e.g. <,>,=,+) mean what you would expect. Question marks mean that the author stated ignorance as to the date, that it is ‘unknown’.

Book Nelson-1 GTY I BS NAB Lukefahr-1 Kreeft-1 K.Baker-4
Mt 50-60 40-45 35 >70 80-85 <70 43 or 70
Mk L60s 50-60 55-60 42 E70s 65-70 ~60
Lk ~70 60-61 45-50 59 80-90 80-90 ~64
Jn L90s 80-90 60-65 42 (95) 90-100 ~90 70 or 90
Acts 62-E70s 62 50-55 63 TBD ~65
Rom 56-57 56 45-50 Wi57 56-58 57 <64 58
1 Cor 56 55 45-50 Wi56 56 56-57 L50s Sp57
2 Cor 57 55-56 45-50 Su57 Fa57 Fa57
Gal 49-50 45-50 Sp53 48-55 54 TBD 54
Eph L50s-E60s 60-62 50-55 61-63 61-100 90 60-62 61-63
Php E60s 60-62 50-55 61-63 L50s-E60s 55 54
Col L50s-E60s 60-62 50-55 61-63 ??? 61-63
1 Th 50-51 51 45-50 50 ~51 51 51-52
2 Th 50-51 51-52 45-50 51 90 51-52
1 Tim 65-90s 62-64 50-55 63 60s ~65
2 Tim 65-90s 66-67 50-55 67 60s 66
Titus 64-66 62-64 50-55 63 65
Phm L50s-E60s 60-62 50-55 61-63 61-63 56 or 62 61-63
Heb <=70 67-69 50-55 61-63 <70-96 60-90 ~70
Jm ~60 44-49 55-60 40-41 90-100 <62 <44 ~57
1 Pet 64-65 55-60 64-65 64-67 (70-90) 64 <62 ~64
2 Pet 67-68 55-60 65-66 <150 62-66 <70
1 Jn 90s 90-95 60-65 63-64 95-100 ~90
2 Jn 90s 90-95 60-65 63-64 95-100 ~90 ~90
3 Jn 90s 90-95 60-65 63-64 ~90
Jude 68-70 55-60 66-67 80+ 60-80 ~70
Rev 81-96 94-96 60-65 95 81-96 TBD 68 or 95

NAB Notes

The Catholic sources tend to include more historical information and present the dates of authorship in narrative form and not simple lists. This is especially true for the New American Bible, where the dates are buried in the introductions to each book. Here are a few examples:

  • The Introduction to Matthew states that the early Church regarded this to be the first Gospel written; however, Mt 22:7 refers allegorically to the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
  • The Introduction to Galatians notes that the date of the letter may depend on if it was sent to Galatians in the south or north, 48-50 and 54-55 respectively.
  • The Introduction to Ephesians notes that it was either written by Paul (61-63) or a secretary (80-100).
  • The Introduction to 2 Tim states that it may be the earliest of the pastoral espistles and the most likely to include fragments of text actually written by Paul.

Conclusions

By comparing and contrasting these ranges, the following conclusions may be drawn:

  • The Catholic sources, most notably the NAB, are far more willing to assign later dates based on the understanding that many of them may be pseudonymous, a popular literary convention of the time.
  • The non-Catholic sources tend to date the synoptic Gospels far earlier than the Catholic sources.
  • Almost all sources rely heavily on the periods of travel and captivity when dating the epistles of Paul and Peter. Consequently, there is less variance.
  • There is much variance for the date of James, dated earlier by non-Catholic sources. This may be significant considering what the Reformers thought of it.

Sources

I was rather surprised that the NIV, at least my student edition, did not provide this info in the introductions to each book.

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