Why Were Some Books Left Out Of The Bible?

Have you ever wondered by books like Jasher, Enoch, and the Gospel of Thomas are not in our Bibles? Michael Brown, who holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures, tackles this question.
Have you ever wondered why some books were left out of the bible?

Have religious leaders conspired together to keep certain books out of the Bible? Is there a secret cabal of corrupt Catholic priests and power-hungry Zionists who have joined together in a nefarious plot to keep books like Jasher and Enoch and the Gospel of Thomas out of our Scriptures?

These are questions lots of people ask, and they deserve solid answers. Let's search together for the truth.

When it comes to books like Jasher (pronounced Yashar in Hebrew), books which are actually referenced within the Bible (see Joshua 10:12-13 and 2 Samuel 1:19-27), we don't have them today because they were not preserved. They simply do not exist.

As for versions Jasher you can buy on the internet, none of them are the original book referenced in the Scriptures. The most famous forged edition claims on the title page: "translated into English by Flaccus Albinus Alcuinus, of Britain, Abbot of Canterbury, who went on a pilgrimage into the Holy Land and Persia, where he discovered this volume in the city of Gazna."

Not only was this volume determined to be an obvious hoax by his contemporaries, but the printer Jacob Ilive was sentenced to jail for this fraud.

The original Book of Jasher was lost, which means that, from the perspective of faith, God did not want it in the canon of Scripture. To claim that a religious group or some spiritual leaders tried to keep it out of the Bible is completely untrue.

What about the Book of Enoch?

Jude quotes from it in the New Testament (see Jude 14), and we know it was very popular among the ancient Jewish and Christian communities. Why, then, has it been excluded from the Bible (except for the Ethiopic Church, which includes it)? Why isn't it found in Jewish, Protestant, or Catholic Bibles?

There are a few reasons.

First, all evidence tells us that the book as a whole does not go back to the Enoch of the Bible. Some select quotes might go back to Enoch - like the words quoted by Jude - but the book as a whole certainly does not go back to him.

Second, just because Jude quoted Enoch doesn't mean that Enoch belongs in the Bible. After all, the New Testament authors sometimes quoted Greek poets! (See Acts 17:28 and Titus 1:12.) And when Jude quoted Enoch, he didn't say, "As it is written in Enoch," or, "As the Scripture states," which would have told us he believed Enoch was Scripture.

Third, Enoch was written too late to be included in the Old Testament canon - the Hebrew Bible - and too early to be included in the New Testament canon. Obviously, the Lord could have caused this to happen differently, but He didn't. Some of this was simply a matter of timing (and, possibly, also of content).

But to think that Jewish leaders or Christian leaders conspired to suppress Enoch is totally false. As mentioned, the book was very popular with ancient Jews and Christians, and there was no ban on reading it or studying it, just as there is no ban on doing so today. In fact, some early Christian leaders were quite fond of the Book of Enoch themselves.

What about books like the Gospel of Thomas?

The answers are even easier here.

First, the Gospels that we do have in our Bibles - Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - were widely accepted by the earliest believers. Why? It's because the authors were known, and they had direct connections to the apostles (or, were themselves apostles). There was a close link between Jesus, His first followers, and the writers of these Gospels, and so, they were almost universally accepted.

Second, the true Gospels were written decades, if not centuries, before the false Gospels, like Thomas. As a major dictionary explains, "there were four Gospel writings in circulation early in the second century, each of them acknowledged by its readers as carrying apostolic authority . . . . The Gospel writings which explicitly (and falsely) claim apostolic authorship did not begin to appear until after mid-century." (Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, p. 95)

This is confirmed by looking at early collections of the Gospels.

You will find Matthew, Mark, and Luke together (these are called the Synoptic Gospels), or the Synoptic Gospels plus John together, but you will never find the Synoptics bound together with Thomas.

Simply stated, Thomas never made it in. Or, put another way, the Gospel of Thomas was not removed from the Bible because it was never part of the Bible. As noted by Prof. Michael J. Kruger, "there was a core canon of NT books that was well-established by the early to middle second century. These would have included the four gospels, the epistles of Paul (at least 10, if not 13), and a handful of other books."

Third, at many points, the content of Thomas - and other books like it, referred to as the Apocryphal Gospels - was out of harmony with the other, authentic Gospels. While it may have preserved some genuine sayings of Jesus, it breathed a different spirit - a Gnostic spirit - and hence mixed the true with the false - the very false - making for a dangerous concoction.

That's why there's no evidence the book was ever received by a significant portion of the believing community, and that's why it was rejected through the ages.

So, why were certain books left out of the Bible? It's because they were never part of the Bible, since, in the wisdom of God, they didn't deserve to be. There is nothing conspiratorial or sinister about this.