Bible Society of South Africa

Biblical Books

1 Corinthians: Structure

The first letter to the Corinthians is the second longest letter of Paul. The most important subject in the letter is the disagreement within the church.

1 John

The first letter from John is the longest of the three letters attributed to John. In certain respects, these three letters fit well with the Gospel according to John. It is not known if the letter was written by the apostle John. The letter was probably written at the end of the first century AD. The letter warns of false teachers who deny that Jesus was ever a human being.

1 John: Authorship and Date

It is not certain whether the apostle John is the author of 1 John. This letter was probably written around the year AD 100.

1 John: Structure

The first letter from John is not very clearly structured.

1 Kings: Dating

1 and 2 Kings form part of a large historical work that, along with the books of Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel, covers the history of Israel and Judah until around 560 BC.
In its present form the book probably dates to the period 550 to 500 BC. The book describes events that happened in the period from the tenth century BC until the ninth century BC.
The book contains many different traditional stories about well-known prophets and the history of Israel and Judah. In its present form, 1 Kings is the result of a lengthy process of transmission and editing. The editing process was completed during or after the Babylonian exile.

1 Kings: Structure

1 Kings contains stories about the various kings of Israel and Judah.

1 Peter

The first letter from Peter is one of the so-called general or catholic letters, not addressed to a particular person or community, but a circular letter with as many Christians as possible in mind. The letter is attributed to the apostle Peter. It is not known when the letter was written.

1 Peter: Authorship and Date

The first letter from Peter was probably written by a disciple of the apostle Peter at the end of the first century AD.

1 Peter: Intended Readership

The first letter from Peter is addressed to the congregations in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia (1 Peter 1:1). All these regions lay in Asia Minor.
From various details in the letter, it seems that the addressees were non-Jews.

1 Peter: Structure

The first letter from Peter is a carefully written letter in the name of the apostle Peter.

1 Samuel

In 1 Samuel we read about the prophet Samuel, about King Saul who is the first king of Israel, and about the rise of King David. 1 and 2 Samuel form a continuous story, but in Bibles the story is spread over two books, and continues even further in 1 and 2 Kings.

1 Samuel: Dating

1 Samuel is part of a great historical work which includes the books of Joshua, Judges, 1 Kings and 2 Kings. This deals with the history of Israel and Judah until around 560 BC. In its present form the book probably dates to the period 550 to 500 BC.

1 Samuel: Structure

1 Samuel is set in the transition period between the time of the judges and the time of the kings. When considering the arrangement of the text of 1 Samuel, we must also include 2 Samuel 1.
In 1 Samuel 1 to 2 Samuel 1 three sections can be distinguished:

1 Thessalonians: Addressees

The first letter to the Thessalonians is directed to the Christians in Thessalonica.
Thessalonica was the capital city of the Roman province of Macedonia, a province in the north of Greece.
Paul founded a Christian church there, which was mainly composed of non-Jewish Christians.
There was only a short time between the founding of the church and the writing of this letter (see 1 Thessalonians 2:17).

1 Thessalonians: Structure

The first letter to the Thessalonians is not very rigidly constructed. The style is quite spontaneous and hardly polished.

1 Timothy: Authorship and Date

The first letter to Timothy was probably not written by Paul but by one of his disciples. If the letter is not by Paul, it was written at the end of the first or the beginning of the second century.

1 Timothy: Intended Readership

The first letter to Timothy is one of the “pastoral letters”. These letters, according to the opening, are directed to Paul’s close co-workers: Timothy and Titus. But these letters always have teachers of the generation after Paul in mind. This is apparent from the subjects that are dealt with in the letters.

1 Timothy: Structure

The first letter to Timothy contains references to pastoral care within the Christian community.

1 Timothy: Structure

The first letter to Timothy contains references to pastoral care within the Christian community.

2 Corinthians: several Letters?

There is general agreement that 2 Corinthians was genuinely written by Paul. Experts are divided though about whether the text was originally one unit. It is also possible that the letter was compiled by a later editor using two, three, four or even five letters which Paul would have written to the Corinthians. 

2 Corinthians: Structure

The second letter to the Corinthians is one of the most personal letters which Paul wrote.

2 John

The second letter from John is a short letter, which, like 1 John and 3 John, is attributed to the apostle John. In certain respects, these three letters fit well with the Gospel according to John.

2 John: Authorship and Date

It is not certain whether the apostle John is the author of 2 John. This letter was probably written around the year AD 100.

2 Kings: Dating

1 and 2 Kings are part of a great historical work that, along with the books of Joshua, Judges, 1 Samuel and 2 Samuel, deals with the history of Israel and Judah until around 560 BC.
In its present form the book probably dates to the period 550 to 500 BC. The book describes the events in the period from the tenth century until the ninth century BC.
The book contains many different traditional stories about well-known prophets and events in the history of Israel and Judah. In its present form, 2 Kings is the result of a lengthy process of transmission and editing. The editing process was completed during or after the Babylonian exile.

2 Kings: Structure

2 Kings contains the continuation of the historical accounts about the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. It can largely be divided into two sections:

2 Peter

Although the second letter from Peter is called a letter, it does not bear the hallmarks of a personal letter. The writing has much more in common with the “testament” genre. The writing is attributed to the apostle Peter. It is not known when the letter was written.

2 Peter: Authorship and Date

The second letter from Peter was probably written by a disciple of the apostle Peter at the beginning of the second century AD.

2 Peter: Sources

There are clear points of agreement between 2 Peter and the letter from Jude. Many biblical scholars think that the letter from Jude is the older of the two and that this letter was used by the writer of 2 Peter.

2 Samuel: Dating

1 and 2 Samuel form part of a great work of history which along with the books of Joshua, Judges, 1 Kings and 2 Kings, deal with the history of Israel and Judah until around 560 BC. In its present form the book probably dates to the period 550 to 500 BC.

2 Samuel: Structure

2 Samuel 1 forms the conclusion of the stories in 1 Samuel. From 2 Samuel 2 onwards, three sections can be distinguished.

2 Thessalonians: Author and Dating

The second letter to the Thessalonians is written in the name of Paul, but was probably not written by Paul himself. It is not known who wrote the letter or when it was written.

2 Thessalonians: Structure

The second letter to the Thessalonians seems to be a sort of reworking of the first letter to the Thessalonians.

2 Timothy

The second letter to Timothy is attributed to the apostle Paul and is addressed to his co-worker, Timothy. It is not known when and by whom this letter was written. The letter gives instructions to the leaders of the Christian community. The first and second letter to Timothy, together with the letter to Titus, are known as the “pastoral letters”.

2 Timothy: Authorship and Date

The second letter to Timothy was probably not written by Paul but by one of his disciples. If the letter is not by Paul, it was written at the end of the first or the beginning of the second century.

2 Timothy: Intended Readership

The second letter to Timothy is one of the “pastoral letters”. These letters, according to the opening, are directed to Paul’s close co-workers: Timothy and Titus. But these letters always have teachers of the generation after Paul in mind. This is apparent from the subjects that are dealt with in the letters.

2 Timothy: Structure

The second letter to Timothy contains instructions for pastoral care within the Christian community.

3 John

The third letter from John is a short letter, which, like 1 John and 2 John, is attributed to the apostle John. In certain respects, these three letters fit well with the Gospel according to John.

3 John: Authorship and Date

It is not certain whether the apostle John is the author of 3 John. This letter was probably written around the year AD 100.

Acts: Author and Dating

Acts and the Gospel according to Luke both have the same author. It is not known who wrote these books. The books were probably written around the year AD 80.

Acts: Target Group

The author most probably wrote Acts mainly for Christians with a non-Jewish background. In particular, he does his best to explain the Jewish elements of the text. In addition, his work shows signs of a Christian universalism, which makes it accessible to everyone.

Additions to Daniel

The book of Daniel is longer in the Septuagint than in the Hebrew-Aramaic text. Three passages are known to be additions.

Amos: Dating

Amos is one of the oldest prophetic books in the Bible.

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