The Authors of Scripture – Old Testament

Gutenberg Bible - detail from the Old Testament
Gutenberg Bible

Who were the authors of the Bible and when did they write? The identity of a book’s author can sometimes give great insight into its meaning and intent. Some of the books of the Bible have eas

ily identifiable authors while others remain a mystery to this very day. The list below provides a key to probable Biblical authorship.

Old Testament Authors

  • The Pentateuch (GenesisExodusLeviticusNumbers, and Deuteronomy) was written by Moses at the end of his life in the wilderness just prior to the Israelites’ entry into Canaan.
  • JoshuaJudges, and Ruth were all likely written during (or immediately prior to) the kingly reign of David over Israel by unnamed, pro-David/anti-Saul, priestly historians.
  • The large portion of the Psalms were written by King David before and during his reign over Israel. Other authors of Psalms include Moses (Psalm 90), Solomon (Psalms 72 and 127), the sons of Korah (Psalms 42-49; 84-85; and 87-88), the sons of Asaph (Psalms 50 and 73-83), and Ethan the Ezrahite (Psalm 89). A number of Psalms are also written anonymously.
  • The book of Proverbs was penned largely by King Solomon during his reign—though chapters 30 and 31 were written by Agur and Lemuel respectively.
  • Authorship of Song of Songs (also known as Canticles) is anonymous, though the majority of scholars have historically cited Solomon as the book’s probable author (there is debate because some of the book’s terminology probably didn’t exist in the Hebrew language until perhaps 500 BC).
  • Though such a date and parentage is contestable, Ecclesiastes likely finds authorship in the Post-Exilic period and is written in the voice of the character of King Solomon. It may well be the last Biblical book written previous the New Testament.
  • The prophetical books of IsaiahHoseaAmosJonahMicahNahum, and Zephaniah were all written during the Kingdom Era by the prophets whose names are borne by the books’ titles.
  • The books of Samuel are anonymously written and probably came about during the Kingdom Era as well.
  • Habakkuk and Joel were probably written just prior the Babylonian capture of Jerusalem and were written by the prophets for whom the books are named.
  • Jeremiah wrote the book of Jeremiah and wrote over a course of years spanning the periods immediately preceding and succeeding the capture of Jerusalem.
  • The author of Lamentations is anonymous (though some traditions ascribe authorship to Jeremiah) and was likely written in the years immediately after Jerusalem’s sack by Babylonian forces.
  • Obadiah probably wrote just after the Exile in Babylon began, while Ezekiel‘s and Daniel‘s respective books spanned the entirety of Israel’s 67-year captivity.
  • The books of Kings were likely penned by their unknown author during the Exile.
  • Ezra may have compiled both Ezra and Nehemiah and Jewish tradition names him the author of Chronicles, but whatever the case, the books were all written Post-Exile.
  • Esther, written after the Exile, was likely penned by a Persian Jew.
  • HaggaiZechariah, and Malachi were all written after Israel’s return from Babylonian and Persian captivity and their authors share names with the books’ titles.
  • The book of Job is of a quite ambiguous origin, but though the author remains anonymous, it too was probably authored during the Post-Exilic Era (though the time of the events portrayed may even have occurred millennia earlier, precursing even the Patriarchs).

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