“This is part 3 of a series of posts titled “Relearn the Bible.” These four blog posts are written to challenge notions of the Bible held by biblically illiterate Christians, including that the Bible is a magical rule book void of human history, influence, & the need for careful interpretation.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, there is a huge amount of Biblical illiteracy found amongst professing Christians. Stranger still is the large quantity of dogmatic beliefs about the Bible by those who hardly read the Bible. One of these big misconceptions that I have encountered is a gross misappreciation of the human aspect of the holy writings. While calling the Bible “The Word of God” many forget it was also written by the hand of man. Sometimes people act as though those hands were under a supernatural trance, which robbed the writer of his humanity and individuality. Sometimes there is at least an allusion given to this fact, namely by admitting that God used the local language and culture of the writer as the “style” of said Biblical book. Yet, even in this the human writer and culture are often presented as “excuses” for the uniquely human appearance of the text, rather than as part of the model of a mutual convergence of the human and the divine.
Some Biblical scholars, like Dr. Peter Enns and Dr. Kenton Sparks have presented alternative ways of looking at this. Enns famously wrote of the “incarnational model,” stating that in the same way as Jesus was completely divine and completely human, so too, is the Word, completely human and completely divine. However, this type of thinking is not easily accepted by many fundamentalists and ultra-conservative evangelicals. Instead the prevailing view is a very strict form of verbal plenary inspiration (that in each case God dictated the individual words, not just the ideas; leaving the human author as a lifeless utensil). There are many things in the text itself that seem to challenge the extreme manifestation of this view (see Dr. Spark’s essay titled After Inerrancy for examples).
One example, coming from within the pages of Scripture itself, which challenges the fundamentalist view of Scripture, is the existence of many Biblical references towards “lost books.” Many fundamentalist Christians that I grew up with believe that God dictated each word of the Bible (and the human authors merely wrote down God’s words) to be a revelatory book for modern Christianity, especially for their own culture and church. According to them, God would never specifically dictate words into the Bible that are irrelevant today. They would argue that if something isn’t a command, it is given for our example or our understanding of the big picture. Yet there are many God breathed words that seem to be of little or no use for contemporary believers (if you disagree, try doing your devotionals by reading the two genealogies of Jesus). Some of these divine words are used in citing and pointing to “lost books” that can never be read by us (we can’t even confirm that they exist). These Biblical words that are used to describe and mention these “lost books” seem to be wasted on us and offer no use for our edification (I’d rather see that space be devoted to clearing up the teaching on politics or evolution ). If someone were to mention a historic event, and merely point towards some lost ancient text that I can never obtain, it would give me no further information about the event itself (except that it was written down and lost). Surely if God, apart from the humanity and culture of the authors, were writing a universal declaration to every individual on the planet, He would not include obscure references to lost tribal records? Yet that is what we see: in the divine words, there is an irrevocable human presence, a prolific Hebrew and Near East influence, even as much as quoting and linking to local texts from a long lost era. The existence of these “lost books” ought to make us realize the ‘human aspect’ of the Bible, and that ‘Gods Word’ cannot always be defined by our simplistic projections (such as a voice from the clouds dictating to a bearded prophet).
22 Lost Books Referenced in The Bible
Below is a list of the books that the Bible references, or tells us to look at, that are lost forever. A few have pseudepigraphical (fake copies that claim to be the original) versions, but none have the original versions. Note that many conservative Bible scholars would argue that even though these books are referenced or quoted, none of them were intended to be a part of the canon of the Bible.
Book of the Wars of the Lord – “Therefore it is said in the Book of the Wars of the LORD, “Waheb in Suphah, and the valleys of the Arnon, and the slope of the valleys that extends to the seat of Ar, and leans to the border of Moab” (Num 21:14-15)
Book of Jasher – “And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar?” (Joshua 10:13). Also referenced in 2 Samuel 1:18.
Manner of the Kingdom – “Then Samuel told the people the rights and duties of the kingship, and he wrote them in a book and laid it up before the LORD. Then Samuel sent all the people away, each one to his home” (1 Samuel 10:25)
Acts of Solomon – “Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, and all that he did, and his wisdom, are they not written in the Book of the Acts of Solomon?” (1 Kings 11:41)
Chronicles of the Kings of Israel – “And the rest of the acts of Jeroboam, how he warred, and how he reigned, behold, they are written in the book of the Chronicles of the kings of Israel.“ (1 Kings 14:19). This book is also referenced in 1 Kings 16:14, 1 Kings 16:20, 2 Kings 1:18, 2 Kings 14:28
Chronicles of the Kings of Judah – “Now the rest of the acts of Rehoboam and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?” (1 Kings 14:29)
Book of the Kings of Israel – “Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, from first to last, are written in the chronicles of Jehu the son of Hanani, which are recorded in the Book of the Kings of Israel. (2 Chronicles 20:34). This is mentioned on many occasions, though under a more expanded name, as the Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel, see 2 Chronicles 16:11, 2 Chronicles 27:7, 2 Chronicles 32:32, and etc.
Annals of King David – “Joab the son of Zeruiah began to count, but did not finish. Yet wrath came upon Israel for this, and the number was not entered in the Chronicles of King David.” (1Chronicles 27:24).
Book of Nathan the Prophet, Book of Gad the Seer – “Now the acts of King David, from first to last, are written in the Chronicles of Samuel the seer, and in the Chronicles of Nathan the prophet, and in the Chronicles of Gad the seer.” (1 Chronicles 29:29). In this case, it appears as though these three books are all written by real prophets, bringing up interesting questions. One apologist has hypothesized that perhaps these three separate books were at one point composed into our contemporary books of Samuel, this is plausible but there is no way to confirm this.
History of Nathan the Prophet – “Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, from first to last, are they not written in the History of Nathan the prophet, and in the Prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the Visions of Iddo the seer concerning Jeroboam the son of Nebat?” (2 Chronicles 9:29).
Prophecy of Ahijah – “Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, from first to last, are they not written in the History of Nathan the prophet, and in the Prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the Visions of Iddo the seer concerning Jeroboam the son of Nebat?” (2 Chronicles 9:29). The question here is whether Ahijah was a real prophet, and if so, why his books are lost, if not, why they are referenced in Scripture.
Visions of Iddo the Seer – “Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, from first to last, are they not written in the history of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the Visions of Iddo the seer concerning Jeroboam the son of Nebat?” (2 Chronicles 9:29). This is also mentioned in 2 Chronicles 9:29. Also the same question as above can be posed, if Iddo was a real prophet, then why are his books lost, if not, why they are referenced in Scripture.
Iddo Genealogies – “Now the acts of Rehoboam, from first to last, are they not written in the records of Shemaiah the prophet and of Iddo the seer, according to genealogical enrollment?” (2 Chronicles 12:15)
Story of the Prophet Iddo – “The rest of the acts of Abijah, his ways and his sayings, are written in the Story of the prophet Iddo.” (2 Chronicles 13:22)
Book of Shemaiah the Prophet – “Now the acts of Rehoboam, from first to last, are they not written in the records of Shemaiah the prophet and of Iddo the seer, according to genealogical enrollment?” (2 Chronicles 12:15).
Book of Jehu – “Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, from first to last, are written in the Chronicles of Jehu the son of Hanani, which are recorded in the Book of the Kings of Israel. (2 Chronicles 20:34).
Story of the Book of Kings – “Accounts of his sons and of the many oracles against him and of the rebuilding of the house of God are written in the Story of the Book of the Kings. And Amaziah his son reigned in his place. “(2 Chronicles 24:27)
Acts of Uziah – “Now the rest of the acts of Uzziah, from first to last, Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz wrote.” (2 Chronicles 26:22). This appears to be a lost book written by Isaiah the prophet.
Acts of the Kings of Israel – “Now the rest of the Acts of Manasseh, and his prayer to his God, and the words of the seers who spoke to him in the name of the LORD, the God of Israel, behold, they are in the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel.“ (2 Chronicles 33:18)
Sayings of the Seers – “And his prayer, and how God was moved by his entreaty, and all his sin and his faithlessness, and the sites on which he built high places and set up the Asherim and the images, before he humbled himself, behold, they are written in the Chronicles of the Seers” (2 Chronicles 33:19). In most Hebrew manuscripts “Seers” is replaced by the name “Hozai.”
Laments for Josiah – “Jeremiah also uttered a lament for Josiah; and all the singing men and singing women have spoken of Josiah in their laments to this day. They made these a rule in Israel; behold, they are written in The Laments.” (2 Chronicles 35:25)