Timeline of the Books of the New Testament
Podcast Episodes: 2.21 on.
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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
|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:
- Clement of Rome (85-100)
- Polycarp (100-155)
- Marcion (140-160)
- Justin Martyr (150-165)
- Irenaeus (150-200)
- Clement of Alexandria (180-215)
- Origen (200-250)
- Eusebius (310-340)
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|
|64–72||Gospel of Mark||Irenaeus||150–250|
|70–100||Revelation to John||?||150–200|
|70–140||☁ 1 Clement||Eusebius||?|
|85–100||Gospel of Matthew||Irenaeus||150–250|
|85–120||Gospel of Luke||Justin Martyr
|85–120||Acts of the Apostles||Irenaeus||200–225|
|90–110||Gospel of John||Irenaeus
|90–110/50–60||Jude||Clement of Alexandria||300|
|100–160||☁ Shepherd of Hermas||Tertullian||Sinaticus|
|110–115||☁ Letters of Ignatius||Polycarp||?|