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I'm just curious as to the actual timeline and known dates of the New Testament books. I know the version fo the Bible I read had the letters from Paul ordered by their size, and not when they were written.

For clarification, I don't want to know in what order the events happened chronologically; I want to know when each of the Gospels were written and completed, and all the epistles. So if each book had been published individually, in what order would they have been recieved by readers?

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For just the order and dependencies of the gospels, I refer you to the synoptic problem on our sister site, Biblical Hermeneutics. Since none of the documents are explicitly dated, the answer comes down to educated guesswork. Welcome to the Christianity--Stack Exchange, by the way! –  Jon Ericson Aug 31 '12 at 21:00

2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted


  1. Paul's letters were probably first, beginning with 1 Timothy and Galatians. Romans was a middling book, 2 Timothy was probably his last. They range from 52 ad to 62 or 68, depending on what you think about deutero-Pauline scholarship

  2. Of the Gospels, Mark is usually considered to be first, although some have proposed Matthew. Luke is usually dated after Mark and Q, John is usually considered to be last.

  3. The Revelation of John is usually considered to be the latest of the books, and is typically dated to the 80s or 90s.

All of the books of the NT were at one time considered to have some apostolic authorship, although Hebrews is no longer considered to be Pauline.

According the Holman Handbook of the Bible, probable dates for each of the books of the NT is as follows:

I combed through the Holman Handbook of the Bible to pull out a possible chronology. These are more or less in an order, though dates can differ based on when one assumes certain events to have occurred. Some of Paul's letters, for example, seem to indicate he left Rome and travelled westward to Spain in a "later" career - other sources say, no, he was beheaded in 62AD. Revelation could have been penned under Nero (68) or Domition (95). The point is, none of this is an exact science. Still, here would be my summary for when the books of the New Testament were written.

[Author]Book - notes on the time frame

[Jame]James - 'early' James doesn't have much church hierarchy, could be one of the earliest

[Paul]Galatians - probably Paul's 1st epistle, 48-52

[Paul]1 Thessal - 51

[Paul]Romans - 56 or 57AD

[Paul]1 Corinthi- 55AD

[Paul]2 Corinthi- a short time afterwards - 55 to 57 AD, at least one theory says that the later part is actually "3rd Corinthians"

[Petr]Mark - late 50s (Note: Marcan v.s Mattean priority is a big question. I tend to go with Mark being first)

[Paul]Ephesians - could be 57-59 or 60-62, depending on the chronology of Paul's imprisonment

[Paul]Colossians - 60 or 61, about the same time as Philemon

[Paul]Philemon - 60 or 61

[Luke]Luke-Acts - 62AD (near the end of Paul's ministry)

[Paul]Phillippi - 62AD (Paul is in prison)

[Paul]2 Timothy - sounds very much like a farewell letter from Paul

--- Sources differ as to whether Paul was executed in 62, 65, or 68AD ---

[Paul]2 Thessal - (disputed authorship), later in "Paul's" career

[Paul]1 Timothy - 64 to 67 AD

[Petr]1 Peter - early 60s

[Paul]Titus - (disputed authorship) 65 - 68 AD

[????]Hebrews - mid to late 60s

[Petr]2 Peter - mid to late 60s. Shares much in common with Jude

--- The late 60s included a revolt by the Jews, a diaspora, and finally, the destruction of the Temple ---

[Matt]Matthew - early 70s, if you assume Marcan priority. An emphasis on Jewish tradition could be a reaction to the Temple

[Jude]Jude - difficult to date, could be from 65 AD to 80AD

[JOHN]John - sometime between late 60s and 90 AD. John was the youngest of the disciples, and lived to be the oldest

[John]1 John - early 90s (?)

[John]2 John - there is very little to go on, but the early to mid 90s is not out of the question

[John]3 John - there is very little to go on, but the early to mid 90s is not out of the question. Was being quoted by 95 AD.

[John]Revelation- 68AD(possible), 95AD(more likely)

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Who wrote Hebrews? I guess I should actually post that if it hasn't been already –  meltdownmonk Aug 31 '12 at 20:19
@meltdownmonk Who wrote the books is a completely different question. –  user1054 Aug 31 '12 at 20:25
Indeed; see this question for interesting discussion. –  Matt Aug 31 '12 at 23:56
With all respect, the overwhelming scholarly research is contrary to the answer given. Timothy, including Timothy I, was more likely written after Paul was dead. By someone else and in the second century. There is no evidence anyone had heard of it in the second century. There is plenty of material available on it, and many apologists aver that Paul did write it. But in my readings I have found nothing substantiating the theory it was written first. I would be interested in knowing the source of any information supporting the answer given. Thanks. –  user4064 Mar 2 '13 at 13:30
Excellent answer! +1 –  Neil Meyer Mar 2 '13 at 13:45

Paul's Letters were written first; 45-60s. Ephesians, likely pseudopauline, is late 1st century.

Mark is the first Gospel written, around 65. Luke (80s-90s) and Matthew (90s) are later. Acts is by the same author as Luke but written a bit later (90-100s).

Hebrews is anywhere from the 60 to 100.

James is probably 80s or 90s.

John's gospel is usually dated to 80s or 90s, but rival view says could around 70.

Titus, 1 Tim, and 2 Ti; "most scholars" (NOAB, 3rd ed) consider to have been written later than Paul, so in the late 1st century.

1 Peter, 1 John, and Jude are all late 1st century. 2nd Peter is by a different author and from early 2nd century. 2-3 John are also late 2nd century.

Revelation most likely written during the persecution of the 80s-90s.

All the dates, citations, and info are from the New Oxford Annotated Bible, ed Michal Coogan, 3rd edition.

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Can you please back up the claim that the pastoral letters "are most often thought to have been written later than Paul"? I very much doubt that is the majority view. The same with your claims about 2 Peter. For best or worse I'm quite sure that most Christians think they're written by the actual apostles. –  curiousdannii Aug 7 at 8:34
I edited my post after checking with a reliable source. Another source that I have, The Dictionary of the Christian Church, agrees that there are "few" scholars hold the pastoral letters to be authentic Pauline letters. It also agrees concerning 2 Peter, citing style and content conflicts, saying that it is "virtually impossible" to ascribe it to Peter or the writer of the 1st letter, and that it was written perhaps in 150. –  Konstantinovich Aug 7 at 21:24
Thanks. Most scholars may think they're written by fakes, but most scholars aren't worth listening to ;) –  curiousdannii Aug 7 at 22:45

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