Who Wrote What?: A Different Approach

Rather than arguing for particular authors for each book of the Bible, I think it’s interesting to present three contrasting views: 1.)What the Bible says about itself, 2.) the so-called “traditional” view and 3.)the contemporary critical view. While it is literally impossible to obtain unanimity in either of the second two categories, I’m going to do my best to present a chart showing each biblical book with the author proposed by each of the 3 views.

The Bible doesn’t talk about itself a whole lot, but I’ll assume that if a book is named after somebody or explicitly says it was written by a certain person, then that’s the Bible’s own take on the issue. I’ll be updating the list over the next few weeks, but I think it will make for a fascinating comparison. (I’ll keep the updates in this post.) If I make any mistakes, please comment to let me know and I’ll be happy to correct the oversight.

It is important to remember that when I list any of the three views as calling a certain person an “author” that doesn’t mean that their hand was the last to shape the book. Especially in the case of the Wisdom and Prophetic literature, many editors and compilers were included in the process of codification of the texts. But that does not make the editors the authors of the books. The editors did not write the books, but organized them or inserted headings or collected works together.

td>Johannine School

Three Views of Biblical Authors
Book Bible Claims “Traditional” View “Critical” View
Genesis (None) Moses Yahwist,Elohist,Priestly
Exodus (None) Moses Yahwist, Elohist, Priestly
Leviticus (None) Moses Priestly Writer
Deuteronomy Moses Moses Deuteronomist
Joshua (None) Joshua and Eleazar Deuteronomist
Judges (None) Samuel Deuteronomist
Ruth (None) Samuel Davidic court official
1 Samuel (None) Samuel Deuteronomist
2 Samuel (None) Samuel Deuteronomist
1 Kings (None) Samuel Deuteronomist
2 Kings (None) Samuel Deuteronomist
1 Chronicles (None) Ezra The Chronicler
2 Chronicles (None) Ezra The Chronicler
Ezra Ezra (parts) Ezra Unknown
Nehemiah Nehemiah (parts) Ezra Unknown
Tobit Tobit (parts) Tobit and Tobiah Unknown post-exilic author
Judith (None) Unknown Unknown
Esther (None) Unknown A Diaspora Jew in Persia
1 Maccabees (None) Unknown Unknown
2 Maccabees The epitomizer of Jason of Cyrene Unknown Unknown
Job (None) Job or Moses Unknown
Psalms David, Solomon, Asaph, etc. David, Solomon, Asaph, etc. Court poets
Proverbs Solomon, Agur, Lemuel, the Wise Solomon, Agur, Lemuel, the Wise Court poets
Ecclesiastes Qoheleth, son of David, king in Jerusalem Solomon Unknown personifier
Songs Solomon Solomon Unknown post-exilic poet
Wisdom Solomon Solomon An Alexandrian Jew
Sirach Jesus, son of Eleazar, son of Sirach Jesus, son of Eleazar, son of Sirach Jesus, son of Eleazar, son of Sirach
Isaiah Isaiah Isaiah Isaiah and unknown deutero-Isaiah
Jeremiah Jeremiah Jeremiah Jeremiah and later editors
Lamentations (None) Jeremiah Unknown
Baruch Baruch and Jeremiah Baruch and Jeremiah Unknown compiler
Ezekiel Ezekiel Ezekiel
Daniel (None) Daniel A Jew during reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes
Hosea Hosea Hosea Hosea
Joel Joel Joel Joel
Amos Amos Amos Amos
Obadiah Obadiah Obadiah Obadiah
Jonah Jonah Jonah Unknown post-exilic Jew
Micah Micah Micah Micah and a post-exilic Jew
Nahum Nahum Nahum Nahum
Habakkuk Habakkuk Habakkuk Habakkuk
Zephaniah Zephaniah Zephaniah Zephaniah
Haggai Haggai Haggai Unknown (not Haggai)
Zechariah Zechariah Zechariah Zechariah and Deutero-Zechariah
Malachi Malachi or Isaiah Ezra Anonymous exilic Jew
Matthew (None) Matthew Levi Unknown (not Matt.)
Mark (None) John Mark Disputed
Luke Luke Luke Luke
John (None) John the Apostle
Acts Luke Luke Luke
Romans Paul Paul Paul
1 Corinthians Paul Paul Paul
2 Corinthians Paul Paul Paul
Galatians Paul Paul Paul
Ephesians Paul Paul Disputed
Philippians Paul Paul Paul
Colossians Paul Paul Disputed
1 Thess Paul Paul Paul
2 Thess Paul Paul Disputed
1 Tim Paul Paul Disputed
2 Tim Paul Paul Disputed
Titus Paul Paul Disputed
Philemon Paul Paul Paul
Hebrews (None) Paul Unknown
James James, brother of Jesus James, brother of Jesus James, brother of Jesus
1 Peter Peter Peter a pseudonymous author
2 Peter Peter Peter a pseudonymous author
1 John (None) John the Apostle Johannine School
2 John The Presbyter John the Apostle Johannine School
3 John The Presbyter John the Apostle Johannine School
Jude Jude, brother of James Jude Thaddeus Jude, brother of Jesus
Revelation John John the Apostle Johannine School

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