Saturday, 22 September 2018

How old is the Bible?

Fragment of the Bible written in Greek on papyrus and dating from about 400 bc

The Bible is a library and not a book. It was written over a very long period of time, so some bits are older than others.

  • Old Testament The oldest part of the Old Testament is probably the so-called ‘Song of Miriam’ in Exodus 15:1–21. It records a song sung by Moses’ sister to celebrate the destruction of the Egyptian army. Miriam probably wrote it in about 1400 bc.
  • New Testament St Paul’s first letter to a Church in Thessalonika is the earliest part of the New Testament. Some scholars think it was written in 50 ad, only 15 years after the crucifixion, though internal evidence suggests he wrote it in 60 or 61 ad.

Latest/most recent

  • Old Testament The most recent part of the Old Testament to be written are chapters 7–12 of Daniel, which were written in about 140 bc. Their subject matter claims to come from much earlier.
  • New Testament Probably the most recent part of the Bible is 2 Peter, which may have been written as late as 120 ad. It is usually dated to 80–90 ad. (St Peter was killed in 68 ad, making it the latest date he could have written it himself.)
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