Are there lost books of the Bible?

by Matt Slick

There is much talk these days about lost books of the Bible.  From cults to the New Age, people make all sorts of claims about how the Bible is missing books, books that help justify what they hope to believe.  Sometimes people claim that the Bible was edited to take out reincarnation, or the teaching of higher planes of existence, or different gods, or ancestor worship, or "at-one-ment" with nature.

The "lost books" were never lost.  They were known by the Jews in Old Testament times and the Christians of the New Testament times and were never considered scripture.  They weren't lost nor were they removed.  They were never in the Bible in the first place (see: Reasons why the Apocrypha does not belong in the Bible).

The additional books were not included in the Bible for several reasons:

  1. They were not referenced by Jesus.  Jesus directly referenced the entire Jewish canon of Scripture by referring to Abel (the first martyr in the Old Testament) and Zacharias (the last martyr in the OT) (Matt. 23:35).  He also never quotes directly from any of the apocryphal writings, but makes numerous references to the Old Testament books.
  2. They lacked apostolic1 or prophetic authorship.
  3. They did not claim to be the Word of God.
  4. They contain unbiblical concepts such as prayer for the dead (2 Macc. 12:45-46) or the condoning of magic (Tobit 6:5-7).
  5. They have serious historical inaccuracies (For more information, see "Errors in the Apocrypha").

Nevertheless, the Roman Catholic church has added certain books to the canon of scripture.  In 1546, largely due in response to the Reformation, the Roman Catholic church authorized several more books as scripture known as the apocrypha.  The word apocrypha means hidden. It is used in a general sense to describe a list of books written by Jews between 300 and 100 B.C. More specifically, it is used of the 7 additional books accepted by the Catholic church as being inspired. The entire list of books of the apocrypha are: 1 and 2 Esdras, Tobit, Judith, the Rest of Esther, the Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach, (also titled Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, The Letter of Jeremiah, Song of the Three Young Men, Susanna, Bel and the Dragon, The Additions to Daniel, The Prayer of Manasseh, and 1 and 2 Maccabees. The books accepted as inspired and included in the Catholic Bible are Tobit, Judith, 1 and 2 Maccabees Wisdom of Solomon Sirach (also known as Ecclesiasticus), and Baruch.

The Pseudepigraphal books are "false writings."  They are a collection of early Jewish and "Christian" writings composed between 200 BC and AD 200.  However, they too were known and were never considered scripture.

The deuterocanonical (apocrypha) books are those books that were included in the Greek Septuagint (LXX) but not included in the Hebrew Bible.  The recognized deuterocanonical books are "Tobit, Judith, Wisdom of Solomon, Ecclesiasticus (also called Sirach or Ben Sira), Baruch (including the Letter of Jeremiah), 1 and 2 Maccabees, and additions to the books of Esther and Daniel. The canon of the Greek Orthodox community also includes 1 Esdras, the Prayer of Manasseh, Psalm 151, and 3 Maccabees, with 4 Maccabees as an appendix."2

 

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  • 1. Every book in the New Testament was either written by an apostle or someone who knew an apostle (i.e. Luke, who was not an apostle, knew Paul; Mark, who was also not an apostle, knew Peter). One characteristic of an apostle was someone who had seen the risen Jesus (1 Cor. 9:1).
  • 2. Harper's Bible Dictionary, San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985.

 

 

 

 
 
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