The Authors of Scripture
Who were the authors of the Bible and when did they write?
The identity of a book's author can sometimes give great insight into its meaning and intent. Some of the books of the Bible have easily identifiable authors while others remain a mystery to this very day. The list below provides a key to probable Biblical authorship.
Old Testament Authors
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- The Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) was written by Moses at the end of his life in the wilderness just prior to the Israelites' entry into Canaan.
- Joshua, Judges, and Ruth were all likely written during (or immediately prior to) the kingly reign of David over Israel by unnamed, pro-David/anti-Saul, priestly historians.
- The large portion of the Psalms were written by King David before and during his reign over Israel. Other authors of Psalms include Moses (Psalm 90), Solomon (Psalms 72 and 127), the sons of Korah (Psalms 42-49; 84-85; and 87-88), the sons of Asaph (Psalms 50 and 73-83), and Ethan the Ezrahite (Psalm 89). A number of Psalms are also written anonymously.
- The books of Proverbs and Song of Solomon (also known as Canticles) were penned by King Solomon during his reign though chapters 30 and 31 of Proverbs were written by Agur and Lemuel respectively.
- Though such a date and parentage is contestable, Ecclesiastes likely finds authorship in the Post-Exilic period and is written in the voice of the character of King Solomon. It may well be the last Biblical book written previous the New Testament.
- The prophetical books of Isaiah, Hosea, Amos, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, and Zephaniah were all written during the Kingdom Era by the prophets whose names are borne by the books' titles.
- The books of Samuel are anonymously written and probably came about during the Kingdom Era as well.
- Habakkuk and Joel were probably written just prior the Babylonian capture of Jerusalem and were written by the prophets for whom the books are named.
- Jeremiah wrote both Lamentations and the book of Jeremiah and wrote over a course of years spanning the periods immediately preceding and succeeding the capture of Jerusalem.
- Obadiah probably wrote just after the Exile in Babylon began, while Ezekiel's and Daniel's respective books spanned the entirety of Israel's 67-year captivity.
- The books of Kings were likely penned by their unknown author during the Exile.
- Ezra may have compiled both Ezra and Nehemiah and Jewish tradition names him the author of Chronicles, but whatever the case, the books were all written Post-Exile.
- Esther, written after the Exile, was likely penned by a Persian Jew.
- Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi were all written after Israel's return from Babylonian and Persian captivity and their authors share names with the books' titles.
- The book of Job is of a quite ambiguous origin, but though the author remains anonymous, it too was probably authored during the Post-Exilic Era.
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- The gospel according to Matthew was written by Matthew the tax collector.
- The gospel according to Mark was written by John-Mark.
- The gospel according to Luke was written by Luke the Physician.
- The gospel according to John was written by John the disciple that Jesus loved.
- The Acts of the Apostles was written by Luke the Physician.
- Epistles (or letters):
- The Pauline Epistles are those written by Paul (Saul) of Tarsus:
- 1 Corinthians
- 2 Corinthians
- 1 Thessalonians
- 2 Thessalonians
- 1 Timothy
- 2 Timothy
- The Peterine Epistles are those written by Peter of the Twelve:
- 1 Peter
- 2 Peter
- The Johanine Epistles are those written by John, the disciple that Jesus loved:
- 1 John
- 2 John
- 3 John
- And though sharing in three literary traditions apocalyptic, prophetic, and epistolary listing John's Apocalypse (also called Revelation) as an epistle will suit our purposes here. This was written by the same John as above.
- The book of James was written most likely by James the brother of Jesus.
- The book of Jude was written by Jude the brother of James.
- The epistle of Hebrews is written anonymously. Some people ascribe it to the Apostle Paul while others prefer Apollos. Most scholars lean toward someone other than Paul (simply because the grammar and use of certain key Pauline terms is markedly different from the whole body of his identified epistolary work). In the end, God didn't see the book's authorship as important to us (if He had, He would have identified the man He used in writing Hebrews), so any guess as to the identity of the author is mere speculation and should have no bearing upon our interpretation of the passages found within.
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