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Are there missing Books from the Bible?
The modern Bible has 66 books which make up the old and new testaments. These are the books accepted by early church leaders and have been included in every version of the Bible since it was first assembled. While these books are accepted as divinely inspired, are there additional books which could and perhaps should have been included in the Bible? Books, apparently deemed reliable by the Bible's authors that were either omitted from the Bible, or lost to history before the Bible was assembled. This is not a reference to the Gnostic writings which have from time to time garnered attention in the media and popular fiction. Books with titles such as The Gospel of Thomas, the Acts of Pilate, or The Letter of Peter to Phillip. These are all known to have been written several centuries after the events they claim to record and most were clearly attempting to capitalize on the growing popularity and spread of Christianity. In addition, most scholars agree these books have little if any historical or theological value. There is however another group of books which did, in a way, find their way into the Bible. These 15 lost books are barely noticed by readers, but at one time may have been the source, a reference, for a substantial portion of the Biblical story.
The books in question, of which I have listed 13 from the Old Testament, are actually mentioned in the Bible. These books are mentioned as confirmation of facts in the Bible narrative and it is highly possible some of these books were used as reference materials by the Bible writers. Unfortunately these books are lost to us now, but if they still existed, or if lost copies should ever be discovered, it is possible they could act as a secondary source of confirmation for many of the historical facts listed in the Bible. There are also possibly at least 2 missing books from the New Testament which had they survived, would almost certainly have been accepted and included in the canonical books of the Bible.
Listed here are 13 book titles mentioned in the old testament. Depending on the version of the Bible you are using the titles may vary slightly. Should you research this subject you may also find some lists include additional books not listed here. This is because some of these books are listed multiple times under different but very similar titles. Books such as "Samuel the Seer" is believed by most to be a reference to the books of 1 and 2 Samuel. The Books of the Kings goes by several titles while other titles are mentioned only in passing and do not reference a specific book. The 13 titles listed here all seem to be an actual book the author is referencing. It is as if they are telling their audience, "If you don't believe me, then just check this source and you will find the same thing recorded there." It seems obvious the titles mentioned were somewhat well known to the people of the time and must have been available to the general public, at least to a point. It also seems obvious the Biblical authors believed these books to be reliable and accurate.
In the list below I have included a passage from the Old Testament which mentions the missing book. In several cases the missing book is mentioned in several books of the Old Testament. To simplify things, and due to space limitations, I have listed only one reference for each. Most of the references come from 2 Chronicles, 1 and 2 Kings as well as 1 and 2 Samuel.
(1) 'Books of the Annals of the Kings of Israel' - 39 As for the other events of Ahab’s reign, including all he did, the palace he built and adorned with ivory, and the cities he fortified, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? (1 kings 22:39)
(2) 'Books of the Annals of the Kings of Judah' - As for the other events of Jehoshaphat’s reign, the things he achieved and his military exploits, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? - (1 Kings 22:45)
(3) 'Annals of Solomon' - 41 As for the other events of Solomon’s reign—all he did and the wisdom he displayed—are they not written in the book of the annals of Solomon? (1 Kings 11:41)
( 4 & 5) 'Nathan the Prophet' - 'Gad the Seer' - 29 As for the events of King David’s reign, from beginning to end, they are written in the records of Samuel the seer, the records of Nathan the prophet and the records of Gad the seer, 30 together with the details of his reign and power, and the circumstances that surrounded him and Israel and the kingdoms of all the other lands. (1 Chronicles 29:29) (Note: The book of Samuel the Seer is believed to be the Books of Samuel contained in the Old Testament.)
(6) 'Annotations on the book of the Kings' - 27 The account of his sons, the many prophecies about him, and the record of the restoration of the temple of God are written in the annotations on the book of the kings. (2 Chronicles 24:27)
(7) 'Jasher' - So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies, as it is written in the Book of Jashar. (Joshua 10:13)
(8) 'Prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite' -29 As for the other events of Solomon’s reign, from beginning to end, are they not written in the records of Nathan the prophet, in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite and in the visions of Iddo the seer concerning Jeroboam son of Nebat?(2 Chronicles 9:29)
(9 & 10) 'Visions of Iddo the Seer' - 'Book of Shemaiah the Prophet' - 15 As for the events of Rehoboam’s reign, from beginning to end, are they not written in the records of Shemaiah the prophet and of Iddo the seer that deal with genealogies? There was continual warfare between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. (2 Chronicles 12:15)
(11 & 12) 'Annals of Jehu' - 'Story of the Book of the Kings of Israel' - 34 The other events of Jehoshaphat’s reign, from beginning to end, are written in the annals of Jehu son of Hanani, which are recorded in the book of the kings of Israel. (2 Chronicles 20:34)
(13) 'Book of the Wars of the Lord' - 14 That is why the Book of the Wars of the Lord says: (Numbers 21:14)
In the New Testament there are potentially two writings which, if they had survived, would have certainly been included in the Bible. Both of these belong to the Apostle Paul whose writings make up nearly half of the New Testament. In total Paul is credited with writing 13 of the 27 New Testament Books. Within these letters are references to potentially two additional letters which apparently did not survive.
The first of these is mentioned in Colossians and would have been the Letter of Paul to Laodicea. Some believe this reference is not to a lost letter but is actually a reference to the Letter to the Ephesians. This theory is not universally accepted and while possible there are many who believe this is indeed a reference to an unknown letter of Paul.
16 After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.
Laodicea was one of the seven churches of Asia and Paul would have travelled through or very near to Laodicea on his third missionary journey. This journey lasted from approximately 53 to 57 A.D. Paul is believed to have written Colossians in or near 60 A.D. so the time-line for a missing letter fits almost perfect.
The second potential missing letter is referenced in 1 Corinthians. In this letter Paul mentions an earlier letter to the Corinthians and reminds them of things he had warned against. There are no credible theories which account for this letter being any of the other letters of Paul. This would, in theory, be 3 Corinthians. Actually it would be 1 Corinthians since the suspected missing letter would have been the first letter Paul wrote to the Corinthians.
9 I wrote to you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— 10 not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world.
(1 Corinthians 5:9-10)
Paul established the church in Corinth during his second missionary journey and is believed to have written 1 Corinthians in approximately 55 A.D. Paul's second mission trip took place between 50 and 52 A.D. So the missing letter must have been written sometime between 52 and 55 A.D. with best estimates placing its writings in 53 A.D. As all known writings of the Apostle Paul are included as canonical books it is an almost certainty these would have been included in the Bible had any copies been available.
In addition to the possible two missing letters of Paul there are hints in the New Testament of other writings which recorded the events of Jesus' life and His teachings. In the opening of the Gospel of Luke he tells us 'Many' have undertaken to draw up an account. This seems an obvious reference of other writings. Luke wrote his gospel in approximately 60 A.D. so the referenced writings would have been written prior to this date, and even closer to the life-time of Jesus than the four Gospel accounts included in the Bible.
1 Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, 2 just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. 3 With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, 4 so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.
Are there additional gospel accounts which did not survive the turbulent first century? A time when Christianity was just emerging, when Rome eventually destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem and Jewish rebels made a last stand in the desert fortress of Masada. Given the violence and political tensions prevalent in those years it should not be surprising certain articles and artifacts were lost. Books once well known to Old Testament writers, letters by the Apostle Paul and even potential additional Gospel accounts lost to history, perhaps forever. Should this concern us? Should we be worried we have only a portion of what the Bible could have been, perhaps should have been?
Believers insist the Bible is the inspired Word of God. Written by human hands but guided by the Holy Spirit. Would God allow books to be left out of the Bible, left out of our education and instructions? While these books would be of great interest to both historians and theologians, they are not needed to complete God's teachings and instructions for us. As John tells us, there would not be enough room in the world to record all the things Jesus taught and did. Enough has been recorded to lead us, teach us, and inspire us to believe. We can have confidence the Bible is historically accurate and contains all the teachings we need to live a life of faith.
25 Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.