Over the course of many posts in recent history, we have considered the canon books of the Scriptures, but that said… what of the other books? What of the “hidden” books?
To be clear here, the term ‘canon’ is derived from a Greek word meaning a ‘rule’ or a “standard of measurement.” Canonicity in Scripture thus references that which is regarded as genuine, authentically inspired by God. It is a notion that is declared within the Scriptures themselves, and it asserts two truths:
- (a) the authentic Scriptures come from God alone, and
- (b) the authors of the Scriptures were, in a sense, intermediaries, relaying God’s words through their writings
Beyond those canon books of Scripture though lay a number of others which have led to much confusion over the years. It would be an utter shame if we didn’t at least address in passing those controversial works that some claim belong in the Bible.
These additional works of course include the various apocryphal (so-call “hidden books of the Bible) books, the deuterocanonical (These are the “Second Canon” books, not traditionally regarded as canon but otherwise are held with some degree of reverence, including among other the books of Tobit, Judith, 1 & 2 Maccabees, etc) books, pseudepigraphical works (historic works that are falsely attributed to more notable figures or otherwise spurious in their renderings, such as the “Book of Enoch” and the “Book of Jubilees”), and even the so-called lost Gnostic Gospels of Mary, Thomas, Philip, Judas, etc. Like it or not, there are some highly relevant truths that must be considered before applying the same level of integrity to them as is found amongst the canonized Scriptures.
To be quite honest, a number of the apocryphal books were, over the years, included not only in the early Jewish texts, but also a number of Bible translations. In most cases however they were regarded as addenda, not counted as true Canon. In any case, a number of surviving manuscripts exhibit remnants of these extra books, including such examples as:
- Codex Vaticanus
- Codex Sinaiticus
- Codex Alexandrinus
- Latin Vulgate
- Syrian Peshitta
In years to come, rather than omitting those doubtful books, some translations would ultimately segregate the apocryphal books into their own section, sandwiching it in between the Old Testament and New Testament. For a time, even the perineal King James Version of the Bible retained these holdovers, a list which included the books of:
Baruch and the Epistle of Jeremy
While a few Christian denominations still hold these particular books in high regard, most have unrepentantly dropped them. Why?
Well, what one finds through a study of these addenda are a great many errors, irreconcilable contradictions, and abundant confusion. Only in the canon Scriptures do we find a clear and viable narrative that stretches miraculously across time, impossibly conveying meticulous details and subtle clues. Thus, such a contradiction with viable Scripture absolutely necessitates its omission from alongside them, and what’s more is that simply because a document can be authenticated as ancient – contemporaneous even with various books of cannon Scripture (such as the Book of Enoch) – does not in fact validate them as accurate and trustworthy.
Honestly, considering the writings of our own time, would it be proper for some future historian to place a fictitious account alongside a nonfiction one, blurring the boundary between and amalgamating the disparate halves into a singular account? It would make no more sense to do so in that case than it does in this one, especially when we have such valid evidence to the contrary.
Historically, these various works appear dubious in both the doctrines they present and with the very conditions of their discoveries, with the fact that many seem to arise during the fourth and fifth century – and later – only compounding the doubt surrounding them. Spiritually, even greater problems arise. Simply put, we should question whether God – who has been adamant in the revelation of Himself to the believer and our singular path to Him through what has been recognized as the whole of Scripture for millennia – would withhold important details of His being, especially those that contradict or otherwise infringe upon the established teachings of the Church? Would He, if He is as good as Scripture and history claim, keep pertinent aspects of salvation from the believing Church body for countless generations, only to have it “discovered” now? Or perhaps, more likely, is it that such is the work of deception?
Was it not the same since the beginning, with countless liars and heretics becoming profiteers of praise? Couldn’t there have been many who sought excess and notoriety by peddling accounts of dubious advent, perhaps bolstering the believability of such tales and their teachings by attaching to them the names of certain Scriptural persons? Could not such have even been specifically designed to sow doubt into the early Church by those who had an agenda against it? Furthermore, could such even now be exploited by any number of liberal academics seeking to discredit that which they disapprove of, or to otherwise leave their own mark on the scholarship of Biblical history? There were no doubt many who would have loved nothing more than to see the fall of Christianity, and such a cause has lost no steam over the millennia.
All told, a conclusion on the matter of these works is easy enough to reach when carefully considered. Though such accounts may be intriguing to read, valid even insofar as the cultural insights they may provide, these works were handedly rejected by the early Church and the modern scholarship alike for they are far too divergent in their claims and teachings, and their discoveries wrought with far too many uncertainties, to be on par with the inspired books of canonized Scripture. Only in the true Word of God do we see the overarching narrative and details that have been confirmed by history, technology, and good sense.
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