Missing Books of the Bible?
I've been hearing a lot lately about missing books of the Bible. The most common thing I hear is that way back in church history, evil church priests, hungry for power and control, decided to expunge 60, 80, perhaps as many as 120 books from the Bible, depending on who you ask. Is this true? The simple answer is, no it isn't true. Not only isn't it true; it is absurd. But the conversation actually gets a little complicated. The most basic thing you must understand is that originally, there was no such thing as some magical "Bible" that dropped from the sky (In a UFO, like the image of Artemis of the Ephesians, like the black stone of the Kaaba? You get the point) that people added books to or took away from. This kind of comment shows a serious lack of understanding of what the Bible even is.
Now, there are missing books mentioned in the Bible. For instance, we no longer have the Book of the Wars of the LORD (Num 21:14-15) or the Records of Gad the Seer (1Chron 29:29) or or Shemaiah the Prophet (2Chron 12:15) or the Annals of Jehu (2Chron 20:34), etc. They have been lost. The reason? No one ever considered them sacred enough to preserve, let alone qualify as books of the Bible.
That's what the Bible is, a collection. The universal church has had minor disagreements over which books are canonical, though it should be said, no one disputes the 66 books. The question is, should books like the Apocrypha be considered Scripture? How about Pseudepigraphal intertestamental or NT literature? Or what about Gnostic texts? The Gnostic texts are easy. Apostolic Christianity has never considered any of these Scripture. Not even one. They were never in a collection to rip out in the first place. Our earliest known collection of NT books is called the Muratorian Fragment and dates to the second century.
The Fragment is a fascinating and short read and lists nearly all of the NT books we have today, and adds only the Apocalypse of Peter.
The Apocrypha is not considered Scripture by most Protestants, but this does not mean we think no one should read them or that we are secretly hiding them because they contain vital knowledge or something. Rather, we think they are good and useful, but not inspired by God to tell us anything about Faith and Salvation that we don't already have in Scripture.
And that's a major point. The Bible isn't a book to end all books in that it discusses everything ever in history. It is the book of Faith. It tells us the revelation of God in Christ and reveals to us how God wants us to live and how we may be saved from our sin. But we honor many other books as important and truthful. They just don't reveal these things infallible from the Spirit of God.
What about 1 Enoch? This book has received a ton of attention in some circles recently. I heard that those evil church Fathers took it out of the canon. But that just isn't true. The Jews totally knew about this book. The NT uses is quite often. But no Jew considered it Scripture, even though they (and Christians) preserved it. I think everyone should read it. In fact, I think it tells us things that we do not learn in the Bible. And that's OK. Because like I said, the Bible's purpose is not to tell us everything about everything. But we do not need 1 Enoch to tell us how to be saved. What we have is already sufficient. Those who are making these claims would do well to learn just a little basic history on this subject. We know full well what books were considered sacred, deutero-canonical (second-canon, so lesser), good for reading, and total trash. If you are one spreading these lies, I would challenge you to reconsider. Let's take these other books seriously and read them (even the Gnostic books). The Bible will stand on its own merits, for it is the Word of God and really is sufficient for all we need for faith and obedience to God.