As many of our readers know, the Mormons claim the Book of Mormon was needed because "many plain and precious parts" had been removed from the Bible (See Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 13:26). On page 501 of the Mormon "Articles of Faith", James E. Talmage presented a list of 20 allegedly "missing books" which are mentioned in the Bible. If this list does, in fact, accurately refer to books originally in the Bible, but have since been lost, then it admittedly would be difficult to have much confidence in the Bible as a complete revelation from God. What about the so-called "Lost Books of the Bible?"
The Mormon Obligation
Before looking at the list in any detail, let me point out that Mormons bear the burden of proof in establishing the following
1. That these books are indeed inspired of God and
2. That if they are inspired, they contain revelation from God in addition to that contained in existing scripture.
Keep it in mind that the bare citation of a book does not prove anything other than the work was known at the time. There should be something in the context or in the manner of citation that implies divine authority. In place of LDS assumptions and assertions that these books are inspired, we need to see some proof!
But an even more grievous obligation rests upon Mormon assertionists: They are obligated to produce these missing books! In the same Book of Mormon chapter mentioned above, it states that when the Book of Mormon was to be revealed, it was to "make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away" from the Bible. Where are those 20 "missing books" to be found in LDS literature? Their inability to produce them is a tacit admission of the failure of the Book of Mormon and its promises.
Examining the List of "Missing Books"
A careful examination of Talmage's 20 citations indicates that not a single one of them refers to a book that should be in our Bible. All of them can be accounted for by one of the three following categories:
I. A misunderstanding or misapplication of the text. The alleged "lost book" is either not a book at all or is not lost.
II. A historical and/or poetical work cited only for corroborative purposes, but with no evidence of inspiration.
III. A work that, if granted to be the product of inspiration, is with no evidence that it contained revelation other than that in a known book of the Bible.
Let us look at those on the list that fall into Category #1:
Book Of The Covenant (Exodus 24:7). Reading from the beginning of chapter 24, even the most casual student can see that "book of the covenant" is merely the Law of Moses, a copy of the contract or covenant that God made with Israel. Read verses 3 and 4, in particular. This same covenant is spoken of in Deuteronomy 4:13 and also 1 Kings 8:9. Reference is also made to it in Hebrews 9:18-20. We have the words of this covenant recorded clearly in the very book (Exodus) where the citation is given. All Mormons succeed in establishing by this citation is their lack of careful study in the context of the passage.
Another Epistle To The Ephesians (Ephesians 3:3). The passage reads, "How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words..." Mormons jump to the unwarranted conclusion that Paul refers to another letter. But a thoughtful glance at Ephesians 1:9 will reveal that Paul wrote, "Having made known unto us the mystery of his will..." Paul had indeed "written afore in few words" concerning God making known to him the "mystery", but not in another book - in the very same letter!
Epistle To The Colossians From Laodicea (Colossians 4:16). The passage in question states: "...and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea." Very few thorough students of the Bible today hold that this refers to a missing epistle. Even liberal scholars, whose position would be bolstered by such a finding, affirm that this is not true. The most widely accepted view is that the epistle we know as "Ephesians" is, in reality, the epistle from Laodicea. Space will not permit rehearsing all the evidence for this conclusion. But here are four points that we need to consider:
1. Textual study seems to support this view. In the two most important uncial Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, the Codex Vaticanus and the Codex Sinaiticus, the words translated "at Ephesus" are omitted. Also, Marcion, of the 2nd Century, recognized the epistle to the Ephesians and the epistle from Laodicea to be one in the same. Likewise, Origen of the early 3rd Century and Basil (about a century and a half later) affirmed the same. From this evidence the majority of scholars have concluded that the Epistle to the Ephesians was originally a circular letter sent first to Laodicea and designed to be circulated throughout the churches in Asia. It would be understandable how it could have come to be known as Ephesians, if its final repository was in the capital city of Asia.
2. This view is further supported by the nature of the material in the book of Ephesians. The subject matter has a universal ring to it. The only exclusive matter in it is addressed to gentile converts, of which the churches in Asia primarily consisted. These facts are entirely consistent with the view that it was originally meant to be applied to several churches as a circular letter.
3. A rather remarkable feature of the book of Ephesians is its impersonal tenor. In no other of Paul's letters is this found. When we recall that Paul spent three years in Ephesus (Acts 20:31), it is incredible to believe that he wrote a letter meant for them alone, yet neither refers to his sojourn with them, nor so much as mentions one familiar name. Contrast these facts with his letters to Rome, Colossae, Philippi, etc. If it is true that this book was meant to be a circular letter, this apparent difficulty disappears and all is made clear.
4. In Ephesians 3:2, Paul wrote, "...if ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward..." If language means anything at all, this infers the possibility that those to whom he was writing might not have heard. But such could not be so, if written exclusively to the Ephesians, because of Paul's long stay with them and his affirmation that he had not "shunned to declare the whole counsel of God" to them (Acts 20:27). But, if the letter was a circular letter meant for other churches and sent originally to Laodicea, this passage is made clear, as well as the one found in Colossians 4:16.
But, in the face of this and other overwhelming evidence, if one still wishes to assert that there is a "lost epistle from Laodicea," evidence must be produced that it contained revelation absent in other scripture. And, again, the Mormon (who believes his own book) is obligated to produce the epistle itself!
Missing Epistle of Jude (Jude 3). "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you to earnestly contend for the faith..." It is difficult to understand how anyone could read this passage and come up with a "missing letter." "Earnestly contending for the faith" is an important element of the "common salvation" about which Jude gave diligence to write. Where's the missing book here?
We shall continue examine the Mormons' list of "lost books" next month. - Bob West, Milpitas Messenger, March 1997
Lost Books Of The Bible? - 2
In our previous article, we quoted from the Mormon Articles of Faith by James Talmage in which he listed some twenty books or writings mentioned in the Bible. He then asserted that these writings were "missing books of the Bible," and that such proved the Bible to be incomplete. If possible, please secure and read the previous article. In any event, we shall briefly summarize the last article.
We pointed out that the Mormons are obligated to show that these writings are indeed inspired of God, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, if they are inspired, they contain revelation from God in addition to that contained in existing scripture. We further referred to the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 13:26-40) which shows their obligation to actually produce these "missing books" or admit the failure of Book of Mormon promises.
The fact of the matter is that the burden of proof rests upon Mormon teachers. But in the interest of truth, we began an examination of the 20 citations listed by Talmage and found that not a one of them refers to a book that should be in our Bible. We pointed out that all of them can be accounted for on one of the three following grounds:
A misunderstanding or misapplication of the text. The alleged "lost book"
is either not a book at all or is not lost.
A historical and/or poetical work cited only for corroborative purposes, but with no evidence of inspiration.
A work that, if granted to be the product of inspiration, is with no evidence that it contained revelation other than that in a known book of the Bible.
In the last article we examined the books which fall into category #I. We shall not notice those which fall into category #II.
The Jews were prolific record-keepers. It is therefore no unusual phenomenon to see the Bible writers cite a well-known historical or poetical work to corroborate the veracity of their testimony. In the New Testament, the apostle Paul quoted from heathen poets to emphasize his teaching (see Acts 17:28; Titus 1:12). Would our Mormon friends think for a minute that those poets who believed not in God were speaking by inspiration and their writings are "lost books of the Bible?" If not, then why insist on the citation of other historical and poetical works in the Old Testament as evidence of "lost books?" Surely the honest reader can see this.
Book of the Wars of the Lord - Numbers 21:14. This is a purely historical and geographical reference. Where is the evidence of inspiration?
Book of Jasher - Joshua 10:13. The quotations from this book (see 2 Samuel 1:18) indicate that it was a well-known historical/poetical work. Again, the references are devoid of any evidence of inspiration. It was cited only for corroborative purposes.
Book of Statutes - 1 Samuel 10:25. Observe that this passage does not give a name to the "book." Talmage read that into this passage. From the brief mention of the book, there appears to be evidence enough to conclude only that Samuel wrote it and that it was included among the historical and political records of the people. One not only has to read the name of the book into the passage, but also has to read inspiration into it as well.
Book of the Acts of Solomon - 1 Kings 11:41. Again, there is no evidence that his book was anything other than a historical record written to supplement the temple archives. The wording would indicate that all the significant acts and wisdom of Solomon had been related in the book of 1 Kings.
Books of Nathan the Prophet and Gad the Seer - 1 Chronicles 29:29. The subject matter of these books was "the acts of David the king," the same, as the passage states, as that contained in the book of Samuel. While there is evidence of the inspiration of the books of Samuel, we would have to assert the same for these books.
Books of Ahijah the Shilonite and visitions of Iddo the Seer - 2 Chronicles 9:29; Book of Shemiah - 2 Chronicles 12:15; Story of the Prophet Iddo - 2 Chronicles 13:22; Book of Jehu - 2 Chronicles 20:54; Acts of Uzziah by Isaiah - 2 Chronicles 26:22; Sayings of the Seers - 2 Chronicles 33:19. We list all of these books together because they are all of identical nature. Look up each of the references and notice that the writer cites them merely to corroborate one incident or subject that had already been related in 2 Chronicles.
The Book of Enoch - Jude 14. In this passage you will note that the name "Book of Enoch" nowhere appears. Jude cites a statement made by Enoch who lived thousands of years before Christ. It is true that there is now in existence a "Book of Enoch" that contains a passage similar to the one quoted by Jude. The scholarship of the world, however, affirms with certainty that this existing book was not written by Enoch; rather, by a Jewish author, perhaps as late as the 1st Century, although there is no concrete evidence of its existence until the 2nd Century. It may well be that this author included in the book some statements that were traditionally attributed to Enoch - one of them rightly so (the one mentioned by Jude). But Jude's quoting of this one statement no more indicates the inspiration of the entire book, than does Paul's quoting the heathen poets indicate the inspiration of their writings.
Other Writings About Jesus - Luke 1:1. Again, Mr. Talmage errs in jumping to the conclusion that Luke is speaking about "writings." Just read the passage. It is far from certain that "writings" are intended. But even if this could be established, where is the evidence that such writings were inspired? Many men, from early times until now, have undertaken to write or otherwise narrate the life of Jesus. No one would think that all such works are inspired of God.
It appears to me that the language itself implies the inferior quality of efforts of others (either written or oral). Notice the language at verse 3, "It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write..." Is this not an implication that the other mentioned undertakings were either fragmentary or inaccurate? It would appear so to me. In any event, the Mormons are still obligated to prove that writings were indicated in the passage and, if so, that they were inspired.
In the next issue of the Messenger, we shall conclude our study.(sorry, I do not have part three, cs)
by - Bob West, The Milpitas Messenger, May 1997
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