History in the Bible Podcast

Timeline of the Books of the New Testament

Podcast Episodes: 2.21 on.

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Introduction to the Timeline

This is a timeline and table of the New Testament books. Many early church fathers regarded some books as canon that did not make into the final cut. I have included them in my table below, preceded with a cloud symbol ☁. Read this in conjunction with my page on the early church fathers.

The dates cited are the broadest accepted by scholars. The dates of many books are disputed. Notes on the authenticity of books are according to modern scholarship.

Most of the documents in the New Testament are letters. Those books that are not letters are shown in bold like this.

The Table and Timeline

Date Book Notes
45–52 1 Thessalonians Authentic letter of Paul. Written in Corinth or Athens. Dating uncertain. Radical letter.
54–56 Galatians Authentic letter of Paul. Written in Ephesus? Radical letter.
54–55 1 Corinthians Authentic letter of Paul. Written in Ephesus. Radical letter.
55 2 Corinthians Authentic letter of Paul. Combination of two letters. Written in Macedonia. Radical letter.
56–57 Romans Authentic letter of Paul. Written in Corinth or Ephesus. Radical letter.
57–59/60–64 Philemon Authentic letter of Paul. Imprisonment letter. Not sure if Paul imprisoned in Caesarea or Rome. Radical letter.
60–64 Philippians Authentic letter of Paul. Imprisonment letter written in Rome. Radical letter.
60–115 Hebrews Anonymous. Traditionally attributed to Paul, but that is unlikely. Challenged in the West.
64–72 Gospel of Mark Anonymous. Traditionally attributed to Mark, companion of Peter.
70–100 Revelation to John Traditionally attributed to the author of the gospel and the letters of John. Challenged in the East.
70–100 1 Peter Claims to have been written by the disciple Peter.
70–130 ☁ Barnabas Anonymous. Attributed to a companion of Paul. Rejected in the East.
70–140 ☁ 1 Clement Anonymous. Widely regarded as by Clement, bishop of Rome.
80–100 or 60–64 Colossians Disputed letter of Paul. No consensus on authorship or date. Imprisonment letter written in Rome? Conservative letter.
80–100 or 52 2 Thessalonians Disputed letter of Paul. No consensus on authorship or date. Conservative letter.
80–100 or 60–64 Ephesians Disputed letter of Paul. No consensus on date. Imprisonment letter written in Rome? Conservative letter.
80–100 Titus Inauthentic letter of Paul. Pastoral reactionary.
80–100 1 Timothy Inauthentic letter of Paul. Pastoral reactionary.
80–100 2 Timothy Inauthentic letter of Paul. Pastoral reactionary.
80–120 James Traditionally attributed to Jesus' brother James. Challenged in the East.
85–100 Gospel of Matthew Anonymous. Traditionally attributed to Jesus' disciple Matthew.
85–120 Gospel of Luke Anonymous. Traditionally attributed to Luke, a companion of Paul.
85–120 Acts of the Apostles Consensus it was written by the author of Luke.
80–120 Didache Anonymous. Book of church order. Often regarded as canon by early fathers.
90–110 Gospel of John Traditionally attributed to John, Jesus' beloved disciple.
90–110/50–60 Jude Traditionally attributed to Jesus' brother Jude. Challenged in the East. No consensus on date.
100–110 1 John Anonymous. The West held it to be by the author of the gospel of John. The East held it to be written by a different person, John the Elder.
100 2 John Anonymous. The West held it to be by the author of the gospel of John. Challenged in the East.
100–150 3 John Anonymous. The West held it to be by the author of the gospel of John. Challenged in the East.
100–160 Shepherd of Hermas Supposed author is the slave Hermas. Often regarded as canon by early fathers.
110–115 ☁ Letters of Ignatius Bishop of Antioch. Student of John.
125–150 2 Peter Supposed author is the disciple Peter. Challenged in the East. Consensus it is the latest book in the NT.

Earliest Literary and Physical Evidence

Here I give the earliest evidence we have for each book. Evidence consists of two forms.

First, citations of a book or letter by an early church father. Hear all about them in my episode 2.21 Battle for the New Testament I: Earliest Times. There are seven earliest attestors:

Second, physical evidence we have in the form of papyri. Almost all the earliest physical evidence for books and letters comes from scraps of papyri, for which I give dates. There are a few exceptions. In those cases, the earliest manuscript evidence we have is that of great Codex Sinaiticus, the earliest complete New Testament. This is dated to 325–360. For more on that, listen to my episode 2.17 Recovering the Bible: A Century of Revelations.

Table of Earliest Evidence

Date Book Author of Earliest Citation Date of Earliest Manuscript
45–52 1 Thessalonians Marcion 175–225
54–56 Galatians Marcion 175–225
54–55 1 Corinthians Marcion 175–225
55 2 Corinthians Marcion 175–225
56–57 Romans Marcion 175–225
57–59/60–64 Philemon Marcion 175–225
60–64 Philippians Marcion 175–225
60–115 Hebrews Clement 175–225
64–72 Gospel of Mark Irenaeus 150–250
70–100 Revelation Justin Martyr 150–200
70–100 1 Peter Polycarp 300
70–100/80–130 ☁ Barnabas Clement of Alexandria Sinaticus
70–140 ☁ 1 Clement Eusebius ?
80–100/60–64 Colossians Marcion 175–225
80–100/52 2 Thessalonians Marcion 200–225
80–100/60–64 Ephesians Irenaeus 175–225
80–100 Titus Irenaeus 200
80–100 1 Timothy Irenaeus 300
80–100 2 Timothy Irenaeus Sinaticus
80–120 James Origen 200–225
85–100 Gospel of Matthew Irenaeus 150–250
85–120 Gospel of Luke Justin Martyr
175–250
85–120 Acts of the Apostles Irenaeus 200–225
80–120 Didache Eusebius 300–400
90–110 Gospel of John Irenaeus
125
90–110/50–60 Jude Clement of Alexandria 300
100–110 1 John Polycarp 200–225
100 2 John Irenaeus Sinaticus
100–150 3 John Irenaeus Sinaticus
100–160 Shepherd of Hermas Tertullian Sinaticus
110–115 ☁ Letters of Ignatius Polycarp ?
125–150 2 Peter Origen 300–400

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