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Lost Books of the Bible

QUESTION: Why are there lost books of the Bible?


To begin with, there are no "lost books of the Bible." These so-called "lost books" were known by the Jews in Old Testament times as well as by Christians of the New Testament era, but they were not considered inspired Scripture. Therefore, they were not included in the Bible.

Why were they not included? There are several reasons for exclusion of these books. Many of them lacked apostolic or prophetic authorship, they did not claim to be the Word of God, and they contained unbiblical concepts or serious historical inaccuracies.

However, the Roman Catholic Church did include certain books to the canon of scripture which they called the Apocrypha meaning "hidden." They were written by the Jews between 300 and 100 B.C., and the Catholic Church felt they should be included because they consider them inspired. The Apocrypha was contained in the Greek scrolls probably available during Jesus' lifetime, but were not considered a part of the Scriptures. The Apocrypha was included in the Bible until the 1500s, but Martin Luther objected, and decided not to include it in his German version of the Bible.

There are, however, books available that have collections of the "Lost Gospels" and of other "Epistles" that are not found in our Bibles today. Why?

Before the Bible became the book we know of today, there was an official collection of books recognized by the church which were called scrolls (the form of binding used for all writings including books like the Gospels and less formal writings like letters and Epistles). They were very expensive to duplicate, and they were also produced by hand so the early churches shared resources with each other. Therefore, the scrolls were freely circulated among the churches, but concerns arose among the churches that letters and books containing less than Christian ideals were being circulated. So, in 397, the Council of Carthage adopted an official canon of books that were considered to be "in" and books that were to be considered "out." So, now, we have the official Bible of today with 66 books with an addition of the 14 books of the Apocrypha.

There is also discussion that the so-called "lost books" of the Bible refers to ancient Israelite books that are not really "lost" because we know of their existence as they are mentioned in the Bible. They are just a scriptural sidelight. There are 54 biblical passages that cite 20 different titles of "lost books," but scholars believe these titles are just duplicates.

When we think of the Bible which is to be the inspired Word of God, we cannot believe that this book would not be complete. We know the Spirit of God worked through man who wrote the Bible, so we conclude man makes mistakes. Yes, mistakes are possible, but not mandatory. Human beings can and do produce writings with NO errors. Divine inspiration solves that problem of human involvement as God insures the results so it doesn't make any difference who does the writing.

It is also theorized that since man produced the Scriptures, then the Bible is not the Word of God. It is made up of beliefs of the early church leaders, therefore, since they rejected certain books as unrepresentative of their beliefs and did not represent their point of view then they have the final word on what is included. Any books they rejected were never part of their Bible to begin with so the definition of "lost books" is not defined correctly. The early church had within its authority to reject as non-canonical certain books, but they are not lost; merely discarded.

Archaeology has discovered many manuscripts that are most valuable and significant, but while they are noteworthy and wonderful pieces of literature, they are not lost books of the Bible.

Learn More about the Gospel of St. Thomas!

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