L is for Lost Books of the Bible

From one of our locally owned-and-operated bookstores, I bought this deeply discounted tome called Lost Books of the Bible, compiled by William Hone, and published in 1926, though my copy was considerably newer than that. One reviewer says the work “marked the beginning of a new era in Biblical scholarship. They are of inestimable value to an understanding of Christianity past and present.” In the preface, Hone writes: “This collection…is published, without prejudice or motive, save that the reader…may be free to enjoy and hold his own opinion of these ancient and beautiful writings.” For instance, in the First Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus, Joseph had sought a midwife, but this proved to be unnecessary.

One current position about these books notes: Are there lost books of the Bible? No there aren’t. “But that hasn’t stopped people from saying there are. The Christian church didn’t establish the Word of God. Instead, the Christian church recognized it.
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me,” (John 10:27).
Interesting to me, the books that are part of the Roman Catholic, or Douay–Rheims, Bible are considered apocryphal. I find this to be too bad. The inclusion of the warriors in the Maccabees books make a better contrast to the non-warrior Savior.

Whereas others claim: Most followers of churches using the King James Bible feel they have the complete book with all the writings used by the first church and the nation of Israel before it. This work presents evidence that this is not true.


My suggestion has always been to read for oneself. There are interesting stories in these “lost books ” about the gaps in Jesus’ life; the standard Biblical narrative skips from infancy to the story at the temple when He was about 12, then skips again to being baptized by John the Baptiser. I must say that The Childhood of the Saviour (Infancy Gospel of Thomas) suggests a less than Prince of Peace-like fellow.

But what also interests me is how the Bible that is extant, with the 66 books, was also not always as it now presented. Origen (215) omits the epistles of James and Jude. The inclusion of Hebrews is doubted by a few writers. Cyril (340), the Bishops of the Council of Laodices (364), and Gregory (375) all omit Revelation, though by 390, the Bible “perfectly agrees with ours.” Revelation, it is safe to say, is the most perplexing book of the Bible.

Here’s one video to check out (note the music) and this beginning of a lengthy series. But there’s a lot more out there.

ABC Wednesday – Round 10

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37 thoughts on “L is for Lost Books of the Bible

  1. You can see why the Infancy Gospel of Thomas was edited out. I particularly enjoyed the story of Jesus as a little kid, when he pushed another kid out of a second story window and killed him. Young Jesus then went downstairs where all the other kids were standing around the body open mouthed with horror. Young Jesus then brought the dead kid back to life and everything was fine. What a prankster!

    But more seriously, the Gospel According to Thomas (not to be confused with the Infancy Thomas Gospel) is a collection of sayings attributed to Jesus, a record of the guy’s actual words. After you read a little of this stuff you can see why they edited out this book. Without going into detail (go see for yourself) these sayings are highly incompatible with what we call “Christianity.” If someone were to conduct their life according to these sayings then that someone would probably look not very Christian at all.

  2. Book looks interesting.

    I’ve read some of the Apocrypha, mostly Gospel of Thomas and Apocalypse of Peter. I also read chunks of the Dead Sea Scrolls when I was volunteering at Field Museum and they came to town.

    And then there’s other types of old, old Christian, like Coptic Christians, who have their own stories, as well as non-European Jews.

    But even the Bible is pretty open that the stories of Jesus are incomplete: “And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written. Amen.” John 21:25.

    If you’d like to read a weird way of looking at early Christian history, a friend gave me “The Dark Side of Christian History.” It’s a little skewed in one direction – the author is Wicca – but it does contain some things that I think Christians should be aware of to learn to be more tolerant of other faiths.

  3. For many such books, I wouldn’t use the term ‘lost’, but purposely rejected – particularly regarding many of the Gnostic texts, which give a very different interpretation. They became heresies, infact.

  4. It’s difficult to separate fact and legends in the Bible. For me Jesus was a man of peace, a non-violent man who taught us to forgive and love our neighbours like ourselves. The gospels were all written long after Jesus’death. But they all show the same Jesus.And that must be the truth.

  5. Roger, super interesting. Don’t really know how I feel about missing books of the Bible. Maybe it will be something I pick up and read sometime.
    Ann

  6. Interesting post Roger. Besides the issue of lost books, I’ve always been interested in the issues of different translations, interpretations etc. I often wonder when people take the bible they read literally, if they think GOD spoke English to non English speaking people who then recorded it in English. I know that’s being a bit silly but silly thoughts often wander around my brain. I just have this image of someone startled when a burning bush booms out in a language they don’t speak and how they figure out that it’s God speaking since they don’t understand the language. O.K. still being silly but since translations are so important I think of that a lot in terms of holy books. Carver, ABC Wednesday Team

  7. It’s a fascinating subject especially to think about what motivated them to leave certain ones out. Like Carver, I sometimes think about all the translation issues/errors that happened in the many centuries before the King James Version came into being.

  8. Hello.
    The Bible is such a fascinating book. I can’t say I’ve ever finished reading it, but I will never doubt its authenticity because it was written by men and prophets who were moved by God’s spirit to write. Everything prophesied has so far come to pass.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Like A Lotus…

  9. i believe the Bible as we know now is an edited version.:p
    Bible controversies are always an interesting read. The book of Revelation gave me nightmares when i was younger.:p

  10. You’ve certainly opened up numerous opportunities for follow-up posts with this topic! While it’s true the bible as we know it didn’t appear as a collected work until much later, the “books” were being passed around via oral traditions and meticulous scribes for centuries. Evidently there was enough suspicion surrounding the authenticity of some of these “lost” books to not include them as reliable.

  11. And the modern version of editing the Bible belongs to the ‘Emerging Church’ and the ‘Jesus Seminar’ who espouse a secular Christianity.

  12. I have to agree with Anthony North. They were not lost but purposely rejected. It is a really interesting — and time consuming study, to discover why the books of the Bible were included and why others were rejected. For Christians, the Old Testament was settled for us by the Jews. The pseudopigrapha of the OT are interesting, but some of those of the New Testament are ludicrous. A good and solid understanding of the history of the times of writing is essential I think.

  13. I find the whole subject of the Bible and where it came from interesting. I am also interested in how some people get all defensive about it.

  14. Pastor’s wife with definite opinions: History is written by the winners. Thomas’ Gospel was thrown out in part because it mentioned Mary Magdalene assuming the role of teacher and having leadership in The Way. I’m trying to find a good book on the Council at Nicea (from which we get the Nicene Creed).

    The first book in the NT was by Mark, even though it’s out of order on purpose. Matthew’s Gospel starts with the birth narrative as well as Jesus’ “royal lineage,” however, Luke’s traces the lineage through the other spouse. It’s all from oral tradition. As for me, I follow Jesus’ teachings. I don’t need miracles or even resurrection… I lean on his Great Commandment and his teachings, the Sermon on the Mount. That’s just me.

    He never wanted people to worship HIM. Jesus was always pointing up, urging folks to establish a “personal relationship” not with Jesus, but with God, and so avoid having to pay off Pharisees, etc., for useless ritual. Thanks for the soapbox, Rog! Peace, Amy

  15. I did read about this Thomas book, but all too complicated for me. Just a simple faith for me.

    You and you wife were lucky she had an easy labour. Having had a terrible first one, God blessed me with a very easy 2nd, 1/2 an hour, while I was still at work.

  16. really interesting book and I have some of the same questions you have. Would love to have the time to read and research…I think there are many of us that have inquiring minds. lovely website you have.

  17. I have always found myself curious about books actually mentioned in scripture that I have never seen. Of course, at the moment I can not think of what they were.

  18. I am very sceptical about the bible ! It had been translated so many times and from different people, and with the catholic church’s hidden skeletons in their closet, where is the truth ? I am sure that Jesus never wanted that priests are not allowed to marry but the church decided to use St Peter. In St. Matthew suddenly the priests should marry ! There so many different interpretations. Your book must be very interesting !

  19. Great subject for conversation: I know the Catholic church has more books then the Protestant churches. I have also heard of this on Catholic radio EWTN and why books are put where they are put: I don’t remember any of it 🙂 I have to find out more! Thanks for the post.

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