Lost Books of the Bible
Friends and acquaintances regularly ask me about the "Lost Books of the Bible." There seems to be no shortage of these "lost" books, The Gospel of James, The Gospel of Peter, The Gospel of Judas, The Gospel of Thomas and more. The first thing that comes to my mind is, If they are "lost," how can they be published, in your hands and you are reading them? That doesn't sound very "lost" to me.
I'll talk more about these "lost" books in a moment, but right now let me say to you up front, that there are no "lost" books of the Bible. Calling these writings "Lost Books of the Bible" is simply a marketing ploy to get you to buy books. Please don't fall for such transparent advertising gimmicks; you're too sophisticated for that.
The Bible as we know it was officially accepted by the church at the Calcedon Council in AD 451. That council formally accepted what previous generations of scholars had studied and decided on. What we call the Old Testament (the Tenach) is what the Jews accepted as their scriptures. Most of the New Testament church writings (20 out of 27) were accepted as inspired and true immediately. The final seven epistles were examined with other writings and they were tested with certain standards. Of the writings, seven were accepted as inspired and belonging in the Bible. About fifteen were designated as "not inspired like the Bible, but worthy of reading and study." Those were called the Apocrypha. They are included in the Roman Catholic Bible and certain Protestant Bibles, such as the original 1611 Authorized King James Version. The others were discarded as being not inspired, not worthy and not beneficial to read.
Thus, many of the "Lost Books of the Bible" were not lost. They were simply discarded as being unworthy.
Books of Heretics
Immediately after the founding of the New Testament church, heresies sprang up. The "Party of the Circumcision" is talked about extensively in the Bible, especially in the books of Acts and Galatians. Gnosticism is alluded to in the epistles of John. Historians know about other heresies around Judah and especially in Egypt. The Gospel of Thomas was discovered near Nag Hammadi, Egypt, in December 1945.
Just because they are heretical, that does not mean their followers were illiterate. Each religious group wrote their beliefs in their doctrines. To discover these writings today and label them "Lost Books of the Bible" is deceitful. They were never part of the Bible. To believe they are Biblical is incredibly naive.
That does not mean I'm saying you should not read them or that you should burn them. Read them if you want. Think about what they say. Ponder them. Compare them to the Bible. Think. But don't call them "Lost Books of the Bible," because they're not.
True Lost Books of the Bible
There are some legitimate "Lost Books of the Bible." The Bible talks about them. The book of Jasher is referred to in Joshua 10:13 and 2 Samuel 1:18. The book of Nathan the prophet is mentioned in 2 Chronicles 9:29. The Books of Shemiah, Iddo and Jehu are mentioned in 2 Chronicles 12, 13 and 20.
I don't know what happened to those books. Israel and Judah were overrun and destroyed so many times by so many nations that they were lost, as far as I know. However, there are some yet untranslated writings among the Dead Sea Scrolls. Perhaps some of those "lost" books will be found there. However, nowhere does it imply in the Bible that those books are inspired and worthy of a place in the Bible.
The Message of the Bible
The message of the Bible is salvation. It is God reaching out to man to save him from the penalty of his sins and restore him to God. Jesus Christ is the bearer of that message. He is the "Word of God," as recorded in John 1:1-14, 1 John 1:1, Revelation 19:13 and throughout the gospel of John.
What do you suppose can be added to that message that is of value to us? Do you think the "Lost Books of the Bible" contain magic words that if uttered will save us? Do you think that instead of saying, "Lord, save me," we should instead utter "Lord, SKJOMSKI save me," then we would be saved but not otherwise? Given all their legendary wisdom and power, what do you suppose could be in those books that is of real, useful value to us?
The best these books can do is either confirm what we already know, or else contradict the Bible. If they contradict the Bible, then you have to make a decision as to which one you're going to believe. If you do make such a decision, then I hope you would do it with full diligence, by studying it as scholars have studied the Bible for centuries.
The Lost Books of the Bible and the Forgotten Books of Eden
There is a book out now, published lately in 1998, called The Lost Books of the Bible and the Forgotten Books of Eden. It is a combination of two books by those two names. Basically, it is a compilation of those writings rejected by the early church. They were never lost. They were studied, considered and found lacking. But they're still around; they're not "lost." They are published and you can buy them at a bookstore. So why call them "lost"?
One of the stories in the Forgotten Books of Eden is "The conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan." It is of Christian origin dating to around the 5th or 6th century, and was found in Ge'ez – which is in Ethiopia (south of Egypt).
The book of Genesis, which people believe was written by Moses around 1500 BC, predates that story by two thousand years. Who do you think would have lived closer to the time the story of Adam and Eve took place? When Moses wrote about Adam and Eve, it was around 2,593 years after Adam, if you use the Biblical calculation.
Tell me something special about your ancestor who lived 2,593 years ago? What were their names? What did they do? Tell me anything at all about them. What? You can't do it? You can't even get past your great grandparents? Then how in the world do you think that Moses could tell us anything about Adam and Eve, let alone the anonymous source of "The conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan," written 2,000 years after Moses?
There's only one way Moses could tell us what he told us, and that is if somebody told him, somebody who was there or otherwise knew what had happened. And that's what the Bible says, or implies. Moses was God's friend on earth. God spoke to him face-to-face. They spent time together. God told him what to write. You can read about Moses and God in the last four books of the Torah (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). Or just review these short verses: Exodus 33:11, Numbers 12:7-8, Deuteronomy 34:10.
Moses and the book of Genesis is the only source from which we even know there was an Adam and Eve, and it was supernaturally given. And now, another story comes along written two thousand years after Moses, whose author we don't know, in a land we don't know, that borrows from the original story but tells its own story, and somehow we're supposed to test the original story with the new story? Shouldn't that be the other way around? Aren't we supposed to test the new story with the original?
It totally boggles my mind how people will grasp anything that titillates the imagination and put God to the test.
As I said earlier, read them if you want. Enjoy them. Think about them. But don't make the naive assumption that they are Biblical or "Lost Books of the Bible."