The Church View:
In the Catholic Church, the Bible is the Douay Bible consisting of 73 books. In the Protestant church only the 66 books that were approved by the Synod of Dordrecht in 1618 are in what is known as the Authorized King James Bible.
The Bible View:
Though there is no specific list or accounting of all the books that made up the complete Bible in scripture, there are over 20 books mentioned in the Bible, but not found there. This is proof that many have been removed and there is evidence that many more fell under the same fate.
Human history has allowed precious few ancient religious writings to survive the onslaught of the more aggressive and powerful religious forces, which seek only to gain territory and wealth. Genocide and cultural eradication always go hand in hand with missionary zeal. In many cases every trace of the conquered society’s religious writings, practices, icons, and even buildings were destroyed in the name of conversion from worship of gods considered evil, and religious customs labeled as heresies. What generally results from past crusades is the conqueror’s religion replacing or predominantly blending with the conquered culture’s former religious practice, making its religion almost unrecognizable. Christianity falls into the latter category, having been the victim of the Roman Empire, under the Emperor Constantine, who blended the Christian Church with the institutionalized “pagan” practices of Rome and eliminated any semblance of either the Jewish religious influence or the first church Jesus established during his ministry.
The First Reformation
After solidifying his position to gain complete control of the western portion of the empire in 312, the Emperor Constantine instituted the Edict of Milan, a “Magna Carta of religious liberty,” which eventually changed the Empire’s religion and put Christianity on an equal footing with paganism. Almost overnight the position of the Christian Church was reversed from persecuted to legal and accepted. Constantine began to rely on the church for support, and it on him for protection. The Church and the Empire formed an alliance, which remains to this day. Very rapidly, the laws and policies of the Empire and the doctrine of the Church became one with Constantine as the interpreter of both law and policy. This was accomplished by eliminating hundreds of books thought to be against “Church” doctrine and watering down what remained by blending Christian beliefs and practice with long established Roman sanctioned pagan worship.
Constantine believed that the Church and the State should be as close as possible. Constantine tolerated pagan practices, keeping pagan gods on coins and retaining his pagan high priest title “Pontifex Maximus” in order to maintain popularity with his former subjects. In 330 he began an assault on paganism, but used a clever method of persuasion to force people to follow the laws by combining pagan worship with Christianity. He made December 25th, the birthday of the pagan Unconquered Sun god, the official holiday now celebrated as the birthday of Jesus. He also replaced the weekly day of worship by making rest on Saturday unlawful and forcing the new religion to honor the first, not the seventh day, as a day of rest. As a way of defining his concept of the new universal religion, he simply classified everything “Jewish” to be an abomination. Considering almost every aspect of the Bible is “Jewish” by association, every doctrinal biblical principle was changed or eliminated. After 337 Constantine increased his purging of the more obvious aspects of paganism.
Through a series of Universal Councils, he and his successors completely altered doctrine without regard to biblical edict, set up a church hierarchy of his own design, and established a set of beliefs and practices, which are the basis for all mainstream Bible-based churches. The separation of the Protestants and the Roman Church caused a physical split, but the beliefs and practices established by Constantine remained almost identical. Very little has changed since the 4th century Councils changed the face of Christianity. An effective practice instituted was the purging of any book in the formerly accepted biblical works, over 80% of the total, that church leaders felt did not fit within their new concept of Christianity. The doctrines and practices remaining in the surviving books were effectively eradicated by simply changing them by replacing clear scripture with Church-sanctioned doctrine.
Forbidden, Not Lost
Constantine began what was to become a century’s long effort to eliminate any book in the original Bible that was considered unacceptable to the new doctrine of the church. At that time, it is believed there were up to 600 books, which comprised the work we now know as the Bible. Through a series of decisions made by the early church leadership, all but 80 of those books, known as the King James Translation of 1611, were purged from the work, with a further reduction by the Protestant Reformation bringing the number to 66 in the “Authorized” King James Bible.
What we now have in Bible-based religion, whether labeled as “Catholic”, or Protesting Catholic, known as “Protestant”, is unrecognizable from either the Hebrew religion, now known as the Jewish religion, or the church established at Jerusalem by the Apostles and disciples of Jesus. The practices of this first church are not practiced by any major religion and they are almost unknown, despite being clearly outlined in the existing New Testament. In its place are doctrines and practices first established in the first “true” Reformation of Christianity, which was begun by Constantine.
There is much controversy over how many books the Bible should actually contain, but considering the depth and scope of those few works remaining in the “accepted” Bible, we see but a fragment of incredible wisdom and history. A study of the Lost Books of the Bible is incomplete without a clear understanding that this is not a matter of simple loss, but a campaign by the Roman Catholic Church to purge books variously classified as heretical, dangerous, and corruptive. To the public they are “lost”; to the Church they are “forbidden”. Although the exact number of books purged is known only to the Church, and not shared knowledge, some can be determined by the discovery of their presence in the church prior to the reformation resulting in what became known as the Roman “Universal” Church.
One of the more obvious forms of discovery comes from the surviving books themselves, which cite works not present in the existing collection. Also, many do not know that the Apocryphal books were actually included in the King James translation until the Synod of Dordrecht removed them in 1618. And, other writings connect many books to the first church. Whatever the number before the purge by the formation of Catholicism by Constantine; even one lost book is a great loss indeed.
We claim no expertise concerning the authenticity of any of the lost books and leave this judgment to the reader. We do, however, strongly reject the self-proclaimed authority of any dogmatically motivated and church-controlled mortals who think themselves qualified to make such decisions. One of the most logical and realistic concepts in the Bible is the caution that one should prove all things. We believe that proving the veracity of a given thing is an individual responsibility, which must not, and should not be the duty of those who think themselves better judges.
Old Testament Apocryphal Writings
The term “apocrypha” comes from a Greek word meaning “hidden” or “secret” and the books were originally considered by the early church as too exalted to be available to the general public. As time progressed, the exalted nature of the books was lost and the books were deemed by some as false. Between the Book of Malachi and Matthew there is a gap of approximately 450 years. It is these books that fill that gap and in the time of Christ, these books formed part of the Septuagint Greek Bible that was in circulation at that time.
What is missing from most Bibles, and our understanding of it, is what happened in that 450-year gap. Prophets were still writing and reflecting on life in the Holy Land right up until the Romans destroyed the temple of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The world that Jesus entered in 4 BC is not the world that Daniel and Malachi experienced. One of the values of these books is how they reflect the mindset of Judaism and a Roman world that the New Testament writers faced. Malachi and Daniel leave us in Persia; Matthew brings us into a Roman world. The Apocrypha bridges that gap and gently nudges us into the reality of Roman Palestine. It was only in the fourth century AD that Christians first started to question the “canonicity” of the works, although most survived to be included in the King James translation of the Bible in 1611.