The order in which the books are placed in the Revised Version of the Apocrypha
is not a chronological one;
but it is necessary that we should at the outset determine, so far as this is possible, the periods, at any rate, to which the various books belong, respectively.
Exact dates it is impossible to give;
but to indicate approximate dates will be sufficient for practical purposes.
It must, however, be recognized that, even so, we are confronted with difficulties.
In the first place, opinions differ in a number of cases as to the dates
and the arguments for and against a particular date are, as often as not, inconclusive.
The subject is further complicated by the fact that some of the books are
of composite authorship,
the component parts being, in all probability, of different dates;
and here, too, opinions differ both as to authorship and date.
And, once more, inasmuch as it may be regarded as certain that a number of these books, as we now have them, are translations, the question arises as to the relative dates of the original and the translation.
Regarding this last point, however, reference must be made to the respective introductions.
We are concerned here with the dates of books in their original form.
It will be understood, then, that we do not wish to be dogmatic in the matter of the dates here given; at the same time, it will be found that they have the support of many, probably the majority of competent scholars.
In the following chronological table the books are assigned to the three periods:
Pre-Maccabaean; Maccabaean; and Post-Maccabaean;
closer, approximate, dates being added:
|I Esdras||@ 300BC.|
|The Hymn in the Song of the Three Holy Children probably belongs to this period.|
|The Prayer in the Song of the Three Holy Children||@ 168BC.|
|Additions to Esther||@ 140-130BC.|
|II Maccabees||@ 50BC.|
|Bel and the Dragon||? BC.|
|Wisdom||@ AD 40.|
|Baruch||After AD 70.|
|Il Esdras||@ AD 100.|
|Prayer of Manasses||?|
For further details and the arguments in favour of these dates,
see the introductions to the respective books.