Copyright © 1998 by Larry G. Overton
A young man recently asked me about what he called “the lost books of Eden.” He specifically wanted to know “if they were ever in the Bible.” The following information is my response to that question.
The “lost books” this young man was referring to are compiled into a single volume work entitled The Lost Books of the Bible and The Forgotten Books of Eden. This category of books is not a collection of inspired works. They were never in the Bible. They are a group of spurious works written from approximately 200 BC to 200 AD, commonly referred to by the title “pseudepigrapha,” which is a compound Greek word that means “false writings.”
In 1926 a man named Rutherford H. Platt, Jr. compiled 26 pseudepigraphal books into what was called The Lost Books of the Bible. The very next year he compiled 20 more pseudepigraphal books into what was called The Forgotten Books of Eden. Platt himself states on the title page of The Forgotten Books of Eden that these books were “Translated from manuscripts of the pseudepigraphal group. . .” The earliest evidence that I can find in Books In Print of both titles being published together in one binding was in 1948. My own copy of a single volume binding of the two titles was published more recently by Collins/World.
How do we know that they were never in the Bible, that they were never a part of the Word of God? The following information is just a brief (by no means exhaustive) examination of the evidence. It will be presented in to parts, dealing with first The Forgotten Books of Eden and then with The Lost Books of the Bible.
The Forgotten Books of Eden
To begin with, history reveals that these 20 pseudepigraphal books were never accepted as Scripture. The Jews never referred to anything but the 39 books of the Old Testament as Holy Scripture. Actually, the Jews don’t use the term “Old Testament” as Gentile Christians do. They speak instead of the “Hebrew Scriptures.” Furthermore, the Jews of old had a different count of the books (22, not 39), although their “Hebrew Scriptures” has the exact same books our “Old Testament” does. They arrived at a different number by combining multiple books into one compilation. (One example of this is what they call “The Book of the Twelve,” which is in our Bible the last twelve prophetic books of the Old Testament, Hosea-Malachi.)
Not only did the Jews not accept these pseudepigraphal (spurious) works, but neither did Jesus. We find in the Gospels Jesus referring to the what we call the Old Testament, only He calls it “the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44). Jesus was referring to the Jewish (Hebrew) division of the Scripture: Torah (the “Law,” Genesis-Deuteronomy), Nevi’im (the “Prophets,” Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Hosea-Malachi) and Kethuvim (the “Writings,” Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Songs, Ruth, Lamentations, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, 1-2 Chronicles). Obviously, then, Jesus referred to this three-fold division of the Hebrew Scriptures, which therefore includes the 39 accepted books and rejects all others, including the 20 books of Platt’s Forgotten Books of Eden.
The Lost Books of the Bible
What Platt called The Lost Books of the Bible are pseudepigraphal books that claim to tell us of the birth of Mary, of the childhood of Jesus, etc. They also claim to be written by various apostles and/or their companions: the Epistle of Barnabas, the Gospel According to Peter, etc. These claims have historically proven not to be true. Once again, the term “pseudepigrapha” (“false writings” or “falsely ascribed”) applies to these writings.
One proof that these books are not what they claim to be is found in the teachings they put forward. One example of this is the doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary. The Gospel of the Birth of Mary presents this doctrine (1:1; 8:12). The truth revealed in the Word of God, however, contradicts this (see Matthew 1:24-25). This doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary, now put forward by Roman Catholics, was in the early days of church history a view devised by the Gnostics, those heretics written about by apostles Paul (see Colossians) and John (The Gospel of John and 1-2 John).
There are other false doctrines found in the pseudepigraphal books, many of which are not contained in Platt’s compilation. It would be too lengthy a project to try and list all of the errors and contradictions of the pseudepigrapha in this document. Suffice it to say that these books contradict the teachings found in the Word of God, and they make false claims as to apostolic authorship.
Bottom line, The Lost Books of the Bible and The Forgotten Books of Eden have never been a part of Scripture, and we should not receive them as such in our day.