The question of when the Bible was written sparks a great deal of debate because of differing theology. Many believe that it is specifically the word of God, and thus, writing the Bible implies that humans had something to do with it, and might corrupt it. So, for example, much of the Old Testament, especially the first five books, is held by both Jews and Christians to be the divine word of God, scribed by Moses around 1400 BC. According to believers, there is no possibility of error in the scribing of God’s literal word.
What many biblical scholars suggest, however, is that several interpretations seem to exist within the Old Testament. Particularly in Genesis it is confusing to many that there are two, or some count three, creation stories. “Why would God,” some argue, “deliberately obfuscate his own words?”
This has led to many biblical scholars believing that there are actually two to three texts running in the Old Testament’s first five books, or Torah. One is probably the work of Moses, another a superimposition by priests or Rabbis, to spin the Bible toward beliefs held important at the time of writing. In fact, some scholars believe that the current first five books continued to be edited until about 800 BC.
Biblical scholars also take issue with the thought that first five books were written by Moses on his rather short time on Mt. Sinai. How did he manage to get all five books written? This suggests earlier scholarship of some of the books, and then additional information from Moses and his followers, as well as scholarship occurring after Moses. So the timeline of when the Bible was actually written is questionable to even some devout Biblical scholars.
Since the Bible has undergone numerous translations, some Biblical scholars suggest that earlier translations were fraught with error. As well, not all Bibles are the same. The Catholic version, for example, contains several books that are not in the King James version. This has to do with decisions regarding what books were divinely inspired, and what books were not. Thus the Catholic Apocrypha is considered to be not a part of the King James Bible, and to many non-Catholics, represents a divergence in what is believed in Christianity.
Continuing biblical scholarship has rewritten the Bible in many parts. New translations where words are now more clearly understood occur with frequency. They may change the policies of a church or they may not. So in a sense, the Bible continues to be written, as biblical archaeology makes new discoveries about the way in which words were used, at the time certain books were written.
From a more traditional perspective, all New Testament books were considered written between 50 - 95 AD. The Old Testament dates are as follows:
- Job is considered as written between 2166 - 1876 BC.
- Genesis, Leviticus, Exodus, Numbers and Deuteronomy are dated at about 1400 BC.
- Joshua and Judges are dated at sometime between 1400 - 1000 BC.
- Ruth, Samuel, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon were written between 1050 - 900 BC.
- Obadiah, Joel, Jonah, Hosea, Isaiah, Micah, Amos, Nahum, and Zephaniah were written in the 800s - 700s BC.
- Jeremiah, Daniel, Kings, Ezekiel, Habakkuk, and Lamentations are dated in the 600s BC.
- Haggai, Zechariah, Esther, Chronicles, Ezra, Malachi, and Nehemiah were written from around 600 - 440 BC.