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Who wrote the book of 1 Kings? Who was the author of 1 Kings?

author of 1 Kings

Originally a unified work, the Book of Kings was divided in the Greek Septuagint into two parts, and the title “Kings” comes from the Latin Vulgate. Modern Bibles separate the books like the Septuagint did, each spotlighting specific periods in Israel's history. First Kings commences with an aging David, unfolds the events leading to Solomon’s coronation, and narrates the ascent and downfall of Israel’s wisest king. Included within the history of 1 Kings is the construction of the temple.

The authorship of 1 Kings remains uncertain due to no explicit mention of the author within the text and minimal scriptural testimony. Some clues, such as the literary style, thematic consistency, and material used, suggest a single author or compiler. Together, 1 and 2 Kings cover the history of Israel spanning over 400 years, meaning the author likely had access to various source materials and probably wrote during Israel’s exile.

Based on the clues, Jewish tradition attributes the text to Jeremiah. Other commentators also consider Ezekiel and Ezra. All three individuals were alive during the time of exile and are viable options.

Several modern scholars align with the view of German scholar Martin Noth, who advocated the Deuteronomistic history theory. According to Noth, the books of Deuteronomy through 2 Kings were the work of a single author, with Deuteronomy serving as an introduction of sorts to the entire collection. Thus, 1 Kings would be part of that group. Other scholars who hold to the Deuteronomisitic history model have introduced various modifications such as the idea that the collection is a composite work.

However, the Deuteronomistic history model comes with its challenges. According to a Gospel Coalition review of Noth’s work, “Criticism has, in the main, been directed against Noth’s explanation of the Deuteronomist’s purpose in writing his history. A number of scholars . . . have rejected Noth’s negative—or at best neutral—evaluation of the notice of Jehoiachin’s rehabilitation at the end of 2 Kings, preferring to see a glimmer of hope in the historian’s tailpiece. Others have complained that Noth did not give full play to the Davidic promises which had a prominent place in the DH and which, in their view, cannot be so easily dismissed as Noth imagined” (, accessed 2/13/24).

Identifying the author of ancient texts can be challenging, and not just for biblical texts. Nonetheless, it’s certain that Ezra or Jeremiah or whoever wrote 1 Kings did so in the power of the Holy Spirit. The result isn’t just a recounting of events but a theological text laden with lessons on obedience versus disobedience to God’s commands and a foreshadowing the perfect King, Jesus.

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This page last updated: April 23, 2024