Why Those “Lost Books” of the Bible Don’t Cut It
by Lenny Esposito
What is it that separates those sixty-six ancient texts that we call collectively The Bible from the many other ancient texts which have existed over the centuries? How did the early church decide to follow only certain books and not others? Is there something that unifies all the biblical texts that is missing from, say, the Gospel of Thomas or the Gospel of Judas?
The answer is yes, there is. I’ve begun t look at three specific attributes that all biblical texts share that are not true of any so-called “lost books” of the Bible. Yesterday, I discussed how all of the biblical books shared a specific authority, both in their claim to speak on God’s behalf and in their recognition as authoritative voices given their proximity to the apostles. Today, I’d like to look at the second common attribute of scripture: its acceptance throughout the early Christian Church.
Christianity has always been a faith that claims a certain kind of unity. When the disciples tried to stop a man who wasn’t part of their group from casting out a demon using his name, Jesus rebuked them, saying “He who is not against you is for you” (Luke 9:50). The Christian church is one church, one body of Christ with many members (1 Cor. 12:12-13). The early church held this concept of unity highly, even incorporating it into their statement of faith, the Nicene Creed, which states “We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.” Protestants today may be thrown by the world “catholic;” it doesn’t refer to the Roman Catholic Church (Capital “C”), but it simply means “universal.”
The Universal Acceptance of the Biblical Books
Because Christianity is both apostolic and catholic, it shouldn’t surprise many that the writings we recognize as scripture are also apostolic and catholic. The Hebrew Old Testament was seen as authoritative and called scripture by both Jesus and the apostles. The early church fathers would also cite OT books as authoritative. When a man born just one generation after the Apostles named Marcion sought to throw out the Old Testament, he was…
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