Lost books of the Bible? Nope.

Some false teachers and skeptics claim that some books like the Gospel of Thomas were “lost” from the Bible (1).  This is still an important issue.  An agnostic employee of mine saw one of those “lost books” shows on TV and was captivated by it.  He asked me a lot of questions and seemed convinced by the DaVinci Code-type reasoning that Constantine and/or those misogynistic church fathers deliberately left out books they disagreed with.

But whether you think that the Bible is divinely inspired or not, it is bad reasoning to claim that any books of the Bible have been lost.  Greg Koukl has a great summary of this in No “lost” book:

Regardless of how you view the Scripture – as supernatural or as natural – there is no sense in which there could be lost books of the Bible.  If the Bible is supernatural – if God is responsible for its writing, it’s transmission and its survival – then God, being God, doesn’t fail.  He doesn’t make mistakes, He doesn’t forget things and He’s not constrained by man’s limitations.  God can’t lose his lessons.

However, if the Bible is not supernatural, as many will contend, especially those who claim to have found lost books – one faces a different problem.  By what standard do we claim that these are bona fide lost books of the canon of the early church?  If, from a human perspective, the Bible is that collection of writings reflecting the beliefs of early Christianity, then any writings discarded by the church fathers were not books of their Bible by very definition.

The good news is that my employee has an open mind and saw the wisdom in this reasoning.  He’s still exploring, but I’m encouraged.

Whether one believes that the Bible is divinely inspired or not, there is no rational basis to claim there are any lost books.  God doesn’t lose things, and if it was a purely man-made creation then by definition they put in what they wanted.

Anyone claiming the name of Christ who believes that books were lost is, at best, “saved and (very) confused,” and most likely a false teacher.

(1) See this example where false teacher Chuck Currie claims that the Gospel of John does not belong in the Bible but that the Gospel of Thomas does (So long, John 3:16 and more!).  Of course, that tips his hand as to not believing in any real God at all, because Chuck’s “god” isn’t powerful enough to preserve his teachings.

You’d think that such a transparent wolf in sheep’s clothing would be booted out of any church, yet Chuck is a spokesperson for the UCC.

The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry has an excellent collection of articles on the supposed lost books.   You can read the Gospel of Thomas there, for example.  Note that the Bible critics and false teachers rarely quote passages like this one:

114 Simon Peter said to them: Let Mary go forth from among us, for women are not worthy of the life. Jesus said: Behold, I shall lead her, that I may make her male, in order that she also may become a living spirit like you males. For every woman who makes herself male shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.

They just use the existence of these books to cast doubt on the real Bible.  Just your basic Satan-inspired actions.

 

13 thoughts on “Lost books of the Bible? Nope.”

  1. I don’t know about your employee, but in my experience, when people refer to “lost” books of the Bible, they are not trying to argue that there was some publishing error. It is a colloquialism used to refer to primary source historical letters from the same time, region and society reflecting views that were either “lost” or, as you seem to argue, intentionally discarded. The point is that there are others letters written by scholarly Christians of that time that can give us a fuller picture of the development of the early church, and precisely because they were “lost” (by God or man), people today are looking back through a narrower window than they otherwise could. So while I appreciate your point, I’m not quite sure it’s directed at the people you want. But I could be wrong.

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    1. Hi RP — My experience has been that it is typically taught by “Christians.” My employee gave me the distinct impression that the show was designed to attack the credibility of the Bible and the early church. Of course there are other books of history that can give value to the discussion.

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      1. Hello again. Sorry to be a pain, but doesn’t it still work for that? In other words, it’s perfectly fine if early Church leaders elected to drop some works, or at least to not include them. But doesn’t that leave them open to charges of conspiracy?

        You charged that, whether made by God or man, the Bible is defined as a particular collection works, so by definition there can be no “lost” books. I was trying to suggest that is true, but it doesn’t really address the criticism, which is that there are some very human reasons why some works were included in the final product – as you note, by design – but not others.

        I don’t know the show you were referring to, but saying you define the Bible such that there can logically be no lost parts of it doesn’t really address the criticism they are levying.

        I am not saying I agree with Da Vinci Code-like conspiracy theorists. I don’t. I don’t think there was anything nefarious about early church fathers choosing some people and not others. But the “lost” works do highlight the fact that they made a choice…

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      2. I don’t know the show you were referring to, but saying you define the Bible such that there can logically be no lost parts of it doesn’t really address the criticism they are levying.

        Sure it does. Their hidden claim is that the Bible is man-made, misogynistic, etc. Therefore, whatever the original people put in it is the Bible. Nothing was lost. If you dig deeper into what the “lost gospels” (Thomas, Mary, Judas) say, it becomes even more obvious why they don’t belong. If they want to delve into the criteria for canonization there are much more honest ways to do that.

        Of course they made choices. Read Eusebius’ Church History, for example, and you’ll get a better idea how the Canon was formed. http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2009/02/27/eusebius-the-church-history/

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      3. I think what Neil’s driving at is that the compilation of the canon wasn’t a big secret. Of course there were books that were in contention, and were discarded. This is a fact of history and nobody is trying to hide it. The majority of people who watch those sort of TV programs probably have no idea how the bible came to be in the form it is, and thus easily fall for sensational claims like so-called lost books – they don’t make the critical leap to “lost from what?”

        That’s not to say that the content of those books is not a matter of interest, especially to those of us who don’t believe in divine inspiration. What motivated those authors to write the things they did and why were the books discarded? We also know that the Catholic canon is longer than the Protestant versions, so at least since 1500 it’s been about prevailing theology.

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    1. Apparently their strategy for a failing and shrinking denomination is to put a failed “reverend” in front of the microphone. (How can a liberal “reverend” in a liberal denomination in a liberal city have a failed church?)

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      1. This would be consistent with their worldview I think. Their world is one of leader-subject relationships with large power blocks being represented by the “leader”. There are no black people, there is Jessie Jackson, Al Sharpton etc. There are no conservatives, there is only Rush Limbaugh. I know it must have been frustrating for them therefore when James Baker and Jimmy Swagart fell and the whole Church didn’t go down the tubes with them. So it stands to reason then that their entire church–if you want to call it that–actually WOULD be wrapped up in one man.

        Just a thought.

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  2. That’s a very good argument. I discovered the passage about women after discussing the “lost books” with a man who believed in Gnosticism. He reasoned the passage away and told me that my mind needed to be “elevated” in order to see that it wasn’t sexist.

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  3. My former boss wanted me to read the book, “The Lost Books of the Bible” and bought me my own copy. I was fascinated that THE AUTHORS said that the reason for publishing the book was to show that these are NOT lost books of the Bible — that they don’t rise to anything like the level of Scripture.

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  4. Having never read the books I guess they could have been written and found to be MAN’s folklore telling stories of peoples lives that must have been out of context .So they were PURPOSEFULLY left out by the Holy Spirit’s guidance. I mean hey men probobally sat around writing more to the Declaration of Independence but it just wasnt enough for those for-fathers to add. Does that make the Declaration and writers any less honest ? Most would agree not so why do some still doubt the inherent Word of God . We are agreeing here that he is ALMIGHTY . correct?? Aswers in Revelation 22:19 and 1st Corinthians 10;13

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    1. Renee, the “lost books” were often by the Gnostic heretics, and were written long, long after the books of the Bible were written. For the NT books to be accepted they had to be by one of the apostles or other first-hand witness (such as Luke), and had to have already been accepted as authoritative in the churches. before the end of the 1st century. I have read the “Lost Books of the Bible,” and about half of them weren’t Gnostic, and were written by good Christian leaders, but they were not by apostles, and were written mostly in the 2nd century. For example, the Apostle’s Creed is included and we know that is one of the creeds of the church, but it was not written until long after the NT books.

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  5. After reading on the Lost Books, and having discussions with those at church on the subject, I believe our Lord with all His power put the 66 books together as He chose, which gave us the Past, the Present, and the Future. These books that they choose to call lost, should be Lost. They show no signs of scriptures being in reference too others, so many quotes contradict the Holy Scriptures. And to be honest, we have 66 books we are still studying and figuring out, do we really need other books that have contradictions against the Bible? Anyone now, or even back then could have written anything they felt like, but it doesn’t mean it was from the Spirit of our Lord. The Bible says “Not to Add or Take Away” that means Don’t Touch! Let’s preserve the Lord’s words.

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