Any Lost Books?

by Gregory Koukl

Many bookstores carry titles in the religious section suggesting the discovery of lost books of the Bible. The Gospel of Thomas, unearthed in the Nag Hammadi library in Upper Egypt in 1945, serves as a well-known example of one such lost-and-found ancient manuscript. The idea that lost books of Scripture may exist excites some people and jars others. It certainly raises questions: “Have archaeologists uncovered ancient biblical texts that cast doubt on the current canon of Scripture?” “Is it possible that the Bible is incomplete?”

These questions can be answered without ever doing any research. No ancient tomes need to be read, no works of antiquity perused. Curiously, the entire issue can be answered by careful consideration of one word: Bible.

The whole question of allegedly lost books of the Bible hinges on what the word Bible means. When asked what the Bible is, a Christian would likely say, “The Bible is God’s Word.” Pressed for a more theologically precise definition, he or she might add that God superintended the writing of Scripture so that human authors, using their own style, personalities, and resources, wrote down word for word exactly what God intended them to write in the originals. This verbal plenary inspiration is a critical part of the Christian definition of the word Bible.

A common objection to the notion of inspiration is that the Bible was written by men, and men make mistakes. However, it does not logically follow that because humans were involved in the writing process, the Bible must necessarily be in error. Mistakes are possible, but not mandatory. To assume error in all human writing is also self-defeating. The humanly derived statement, “The Bible was written by men, and men make mistakes,” would be suspect by the same standards. Human beings can and do produce writing with no errors.

Further, the challenge that men make mistakes ignores the main issue—whether or not the Bible was written only by men. The Christian accepts that humans are limited, but denies that man’s limitations are significant in this case because inspiration implies that God’s power supersedes man’s liabilities.

So the first definition of the word Bible necessarily includes God’s authorship (by inspiration) and supernatural preservation. The divine inspiration of the Bible automatically solves the problem of human involvement. Since God insures the results, it doesn’t matter who did the writing. Supernaturally inspired by God, the Bible is both adequate and complete, 66 books compiled under one cover, preserved and protected by his power.

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