Bible-based | Christ-centered | Family-focused | Mission-minded
One of the most ironic titles, from among the many books in my library, is one that reads, “The Lost Books of the Bible.” I find that most humorous because if they are lost, then how is it that we have them here in a book form? While my juvenile humor may be lost on some, it still highlights an important point – titles such as that one relate man’s tendency toward sensationalism and a fascination with mysticism. Movies like the The DaVinci Code (2006) is yet another example of this compulsion toward a notion that the general public has been duped into believing the Bible is true. In such provocative theories, these “Lost” books, or some newly discovered, secret document that had been previously withheld from the public, will suddenly enlighten the entire world about how Christianity has been nothing more than some imaginary charade foisted upon naive, unsuspecting, gullible simpletons. How sad.
So, are there other books, or documents that should be included in the Bible that aren’t there? Are there writings that are considered sacred, which contradict what we have in Scripture? Has someone deprived us of pertinent information regarding the truth of the Bible? The short answer is, “No.” God has given us all that we need (2 Timothy 3:16,17; 2 Peter 1:3). There is nothing missing. To answer the question with more detail, it is necessary to divide the many ancient, Biblical and unbiblical writings into a few categories. Here is a list and what they entail:
These include all the books we have in the Bible. Each is regarded as authoritative and authentic because they meet a specific standard of requirements, such as: claiming inspiration, being revelatory in nature, being universally recognized by the early church, and bearing the marks of an inspired writer. History reveals that within just a short period after the church began, congregations all around the Roman Empire had collections of copies of all the books and epistles that we have in our Bibles today.
These are writings by early Christian leaders who wrote letters, commentaries, and other documents long after the New Testament had been established and its inspired writers had died. They include people such as Ignatius, Polycarp, Papias of Hierapolis, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen. These are all valuable and useful as historical works, but they are not considered sacred or canonical.
The apocrypha are works, usually written, of unknown authorship, or of doubtful origin. They also do not meet the standard of requirements to be considered Scripture. A very important point is they were never included in the Hebrew Bible. These include books like: Tobit, Judith, Maccabees, Baruch, Wisdom of Solomon, and others.
The Pseudepigrapha is the largest group, comprised of many spurious, pseudonymous writings, which are typically, falsely ascribed to various biblical characters, yet were composed many years after the establishment of the church. This is the category that includes many of the so called, “lost books,” such as the: Didache, Gospel of Thomas, Gospel of Barnabas, Goepl of Mary, Lost Gospel of Peter, Book of Enoch, Testament of Solomon, Apocalypse of Daniel, and many others. These books have some historical value, are interesting, but they absolutely are not Scripture.
Even the Apostle Paul had to deal with false writings like these in his time. In 2 Thessalonians 2:2, he appears concerned about a “letter seeming to be from us.” In other places, he would clearly specify, “I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. This is the sign of genuineness in every letter of mine; it is the way I write” (2 Thessalonians 3:17; also 1 Corinthians 16:21; Galatians 6:11; and Colossians 4:18). This was to ensure the readers of its authenticity and would eventually become one of the identifying marks of canonicity. That’s important! At the end of the day, we need not doubt the Scriptures. God has provided all that we need. So, let’s focus more on that and doing His will.