Oldest Books in the Bible

8 Oldest Books in the Bible

Determining when the books in the Bible were written can be difficult because there is a lot of disagreement between academic scholars and those who closely believe in and follow the Bible. Since it can be hard to figure out when in history these stories were first written, the dates on this list are based on the information presented in the Bible and are the dates widely accepted by followers of the Bible.

Whether or not these dates line up with actual history is up for debate and arguments have been made for both sides. There are events in the Bible that are historically correct and others that are not. With that said, this list covers what are widely believed to be the oldest books in the Bible.

8. Book of Judges

Year Written: c.10th century BCE
Author:  Unknown – possibly Samuel
Number of Chapters:  21
Book Number:  No. 7

Book of Judgesphoto source:  Wikimedia Commons

According to tradition, the Book of Judges was written by Samuel. However, no one knows for sure if Samuel was the actual author of Judges. While the author is unknown, there is some evidence that suggests the Book of Judges was written in the early 10th century BCE

The Book of Judges picks up the story of the Israelites after the death of Joshua to the establishment of kingdom. In Judges, God fulfills many of the promises he made to ancestors of Joshua and his fellow Israelites after they conquer the Promised Land. Judges also reminds people that God is faithful to those that are faithful to Him and that ultimately He is the one responsible for the welfare of Israel.


7. Book of Joshua

Year Written: c.15th century BCE
Author:  Joshua and Eleazar son of Aaron
Number of Chapters:  24
Book Number:  No. 6

Book of Joshuaphoto source:  Wikimedia Commons

The Book of Joshua continues the story of the Israelites from the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible written by Moses). In the Book of Joshua, God transfers leadership of the Israelites to Joshua after the death of Moses. Joshua and the Israelites arrive at Canaan and march around destroying their enemies, who are also the enemies of God.

There is some disagreement over whether or not Joshua wrote his book himself during his lifetime or if the Book of Joshua was written hundreds of years later. However, there is a lot of evidence that suggests that Joshua most likely wrote the book himself and that the final section of the book, which details Joshua’s funeral, was written by Eleazar son of Aaron.


6. Book of Deuteronomy

Year Written: c.1446 – c.1406 BCE
Author:  Moses and unknown author
Number of Chapters:  34
Book Number:  No. 5

Book of Deuteronomyphoto source:  Wikimedia Commons

The Book of Deuteronomy is the fifth book in the Bible and the final in the Pentateuch. Deuteronomy concludes the story of Moses. In Deuteronomy, Moses delivers his final words and prepares to pass leadership of the Israelites to Joshua.

Like the other books in the Pentateuch, Moses is credited with also writing a majority of Deuteronomy. However, it is evident that someone else edited the story, most likely after Moses’ death. The last chapter of Deuteronomy is written in the third person and it is not known when that part of the story was added to the Book of Deuteronomy.


5. Book of Numbers

Year Written: c.1446 – c.1406 BCE
Author:  Moses
Number of Chapters:  36
Book Number:  No. 4

Book of Numbersphoto source:  Wikimedia Commons

The Book of Numbers is the fourth book in the Bible and the next part of the Pentateuch after Exodus.

Although Numbers was mostly written by Moses, some parts of the story were most likely added later and edited until it reached its current form.

Numbers continues the story from Exodus and shows the Israelites preparing to leave Mount Sinai for the Promised Land. In Numbers, the Israelites wandered in the desert for about 38 years before arriving at their destination. The English name of the book is based on the Greek translation of the Old Testament and was named for the list of numbers recording in the book. The numbers were part of the census that was taken to determine the number of Israelites at the time.


4. Book of Leviticus

Year Written: c.1446 – c.1406 BCE
Author:  Moses
Number of Chapters:  27
Book Number:  No. 3

Book of Leviticusphoto source:  Wikimedia Commons

The Book of Leviticus is not quite as long as the rest of the other books in the Pentateuch. Like the rest of the Pentateuch, the Book of Leviticus was written by Moses sometime during Israel’s exile between 1446 – 1406 BCE.

Most of Leviticus contain God’s speeches to Moses, which He commands Moses to repeat to the rest of the Israelites. In the previous book in the Pentateuch, Exodus, God provided the instructions for how to build the tabernacle and in Leviticus, God provides the laws and regulations for how the Israelites should worship there. Some of the instructions include ceremonial cleanness, moral laws, holy days, the sabbath year, and the Year of Jubilee.


3. Book of Exodus

Year Written: c.1446 – c.1406 BCE
Author:  Moses
Number of Chapters:  40
Book Number:  No. 2

Book of Exodusphoto source:  Flickr via brett jordan

The Book of Exodus is the second book in the Bible and picks up directly where the Book of Genesis ended. As the name of the book implies, Exodus covers the story of how the Israelites leave Egypt and are freed from slavery. The Exodus is believed to have taken place around 1446 BCE.

The Israelites are led by the prophet Moses to Mount Sinai where God speaks to Moses and lays the foundation for how the Israelites should live and worship God. The most famous part of the Book of Exodus is when God reveals the Ten Commandments and the Book of the Covenant to Moses.


2. Book of Genesis

Year Written: c.1446 – c.1406 BCE
Author:  Moses
Number of Chapters:  50
Book Number:  No. 1

Book of Genesisphoto source:  Wikimedia Commons

The Book of Genesis is the first book of the Bible and the first of the five books of the Pentateuch, which were all written by Moses. It is believed that Moses wrote the majority of the Pentateuch during Israel’s exile, which lasted from around 1446 – 1406 BCE.

As the very first book in the Bible, Genesis establishes a point of reference for the rest of the events in the Bible. Generally, the Book of Genesis is divided into two sections, chapters 1-11 and 12-50. The first section details the creation of the world and mankind, the fall of mankind, the flood, and confusing languages of the tower of Babel. The rest of genesis covers the story of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph.


1. Book of Job

Year Written: c.2nd millennium BCE
Author:  Unknown
Number of Chapters:  42
Book Number:  No. 18

Book of Jobphoto source:  Wikimedia Commons

The exact date of the Book of Job is unknown, but there is strong evidence that Job lived in the 2nd millennium BCE and that the Book was written around that time as well. The events in the Book of Job are believed to have taken place before the time of Moses, possibly during the era of the Bible’s Patriarchs.

Additionally, the Book of Job is written differently from all the other books in the Bible and it also makes no reference to any other books or events in the Bible. This suggests that the events of Job took place long before those in the rest of the Bible. Job uses Arabic words and describes Arabic customs, opinions, and manners.

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