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Q: #272. In what order were the books of the Old Testament written?

     A: There are a total of 39 books in the Old Testament. They were written over a period of about 1500 years from approximately 2000 B.C. to 425 B.C. There is much more controversy over when the Old Testament books were written vs the New Testament books. The date range for each book can vary from one scholar to another by as little as a few years, to as much as 100 years (or more). In making my chart below, I wrote out estimates from NUMEROUS scholars on a paper. I then took what I considered about the average consensus (tossing out way above average highs or lows), and made a date range for each book. Because of this, and some overlap, the books may not be laid out in perfect order. In addition, the date ranges I have for some of these books may be a bit wider than other sources you might find, but this is on purpose to include as many opinions as possible.

Job2000 – 1800 B.C.
Genesis1450 – 1405 B.C.
Exodus1450 – 1405 B.C.
Leviticus1450 – 1405 B.C.
Numbers1450 – 1405 B.C.
Deuteronomy1450 – 1405 B.C.
PsalmsEach One Written Between 1440 – 450 B.C.
Joshua1405 – 1385 B.C.
Judges1100 – 1043 B.C.
Ruth1100 – 1010 B.C.
Song Of Solomon971 – 950 B.C.
Proverbs950 – 700 B.C.
Ecclesiastes936 – 925 B.C.
1 Samuel1040 – 930 B.C.
2 Samuel1040 – 930 B.C.
Obadiah1040 – 930 B.C.
Joel835 – 796 B.C.
Jonah785 – 760 B.C.
Amos760 – 750 B.C.
Hosea750 – 710 B.C.
Micah742 – 687 B.C.
Isaiah740 – 680 B.C.
Nahum663 – 612 B.C.
Zephaniah640 – 621 B.C.
Habbakkuk615 – 588 B.C.
Ezekiel593 – 570 B.C.
LamentationsApp. 586 B.C.
Jeremiah627 – 570 B.C.
1 Kings580 – 538 B.C.
2 Kings580 – 538 B.C.
Daniel538 – 530 B.C.
HaggaiApp. 520 B.C.
Zechariah520 – 470 B.C.
Esther483 – 450 B.C.
Ezra460 – 444 B.C.
1 Chronicles450 – 425 B.C.
2 Chronicles450 – 425 B.C.
Nehemiah445 – 432 B.C.
Malachi450 – 424 B.C.

     The reason the books of the Old Testament were not placed in the chronological order in which they were written is because they were grouped by category instead. These categories are:

Law: 5 books (Genesis-Deuteronomy)
History: 12 books (Joshua-Esther)
Poetry: 5 books (Job-Song Of Solomon)
Prophecy: 17 books (Isaiah-Malachi)

     It should also be noted that the content of some of the books can fit chronologically into another book. For example, Isaiah and Micah ministered at about the same time, during the time period mentioned in the book of Kings. Therefore, content in those “prophetic books” can fit into the “historical book” of Kings. The content of other “prophetic books,” as well as “poetry books,” (the Psalms, as mentioned above, were written over a period of about 1000 years) can also be interwoven into the “historical books.” Keeping this in mind, I strongly suggest taking the time to purchase and read a “chronological Bible” at some point. These Bibles attempt to put everything in the historical order in which it was written. It is very interesting to read the Bible this way.

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