The importance of date
Establishing the date of the writing of the book/passage is key to determining the original audience and their spiritual condition, and therefore, the original message. Some questions to ask include:
1. Who was the author and when did he live?
2. Do the contents of the book take place during the author's lifetime, in the past, or in the future?
3. Who was the book written to or who was the original target audience?
4. How would the original audience have understood the book?
5. What Scripture was in existence to help the original audience to understand the book?
6. What Scripture is quoted or referenced in the book to help with dating and understanding it?
7. What was the geopolitical setting in which the book was written and how does it affect the original audiences' understanding of the book?
8. What is the culture of the original audience and how does that affect their reception of the book?
9. Does Scripture itself provide a date or time frame for the book?
When trying to determine the date of writing, all resources should be used including all of Scripture, commentaries, studies and search engines. Once the date has been found or a time frame has been established for the book, then the study narrows down to the perspective of the original audience and original intended message, but without at least a rough time span of possible dates for the book, it can be very difficult to determine the original audience and also the original message.