Most followers of churches using the King James Bible feel they have the complete book with all the writings used by the first church and the nation of Israel before it. This work presents evidence that this is not true.
In a manner that is somewhat similar to a modern research paper, citations appear in both the Old and New Testaments. The inspired writers sometimes referred to certain works that no longer exist—a fact that has caused some people to question the accuracy and completeness of the Bible. Atheists and skeptics claim that if it was truly God’s Word, then it would not lack any composition cited.
Massimo Franceschini, an Italian convert to Mormonism, has suggested that the biblical text is more than sixty-five percent incomplete, due, in part, to the lost books cited within the Bible itself (Franceschini, 2002). If the Bible is, at most, thirty-five percent complete, then the Christian faith can be no more complete than that. Duane Christensen, in the October 1998 issue of Bible Review, listed twenty-three referenced books that have been lost in antiquity (14:29), to which we can add seven additional works mentioned in the Bible.
Such compositions as the Book of Jashar (Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18), the Acts of Gad the Seer (1 Chronicles 29:29), and Paul’s previous Corinthian letter (see 1 Corinthians 5:9) are among the thirty cited works twenty-eight from the Old Testament era, and two from the New Testament era that are not included in the canon of Scripture, and that are missing from secular history. The contents of these books are known only by the fact that they are cited or quoted. Upon further examination, however, it appears that some of them actually may exist in another form.
Some scholars argue that a large number of these citations probably refer to the same composition. For example, the references found in 1 and 2 Kings to the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah, the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel, and the Acts of Solomon, possibly denote a single work (Christensen, 14:29). It is a common practice, even in modern society, to refer to one thing by several different names. For example, a person may refer to Josephus’ work, Wars of the Jews, as “Josephus,” “Josephus’ Wars,” “Jewish Wars,” “Wars of the Jews,” “Josephus’ Jewish Wars,” etc.All of which designate the same composition. In similar fashion, the many works cited throughout Kings and Chronicles very possibly refer to different sections of a single work.
If there was a single original (one referred to by several names), it was likely a highly detailed record of the reigns of the kings in Israel and Judah. As a king lived and died, the records of his reign were added to this work by a scribe, prophet, historian, record keeper, or even by the administration of the next king, making it a composite work of many writers. The various names for this single account might have designated certain sections that made up the composite work. The differences between Kings’ and Chronicles’ naming and citing of the sections of the original, can be understood by the differences that exist among modern citation styles.
The style of citation, list of works cited, and information provided vary widely, for example, among such modern-day guides as the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, The Chicago Manual of Style, and Kate Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. Nevertheless, each one of these provides sufficient information to refer the reader to the original source. Similarly, the writer of Kings’ style of citation, and the writer of Chronicles’ style of citation, both mentioned the original, but did so in a different manner. Nevertheless, both provided the reader with enough information to locate the section referenced in the source.
The idea of a composite source makes sense when applied to Jewish oral tradition. The Talmud a collection of Hebrew oral law and legal decisions (the Mishna), along with transcribed scholarly discussions and commentary on the Mishna (the Gemara) holds that Jeremiah wrote Kings, and that Ezra wrote Chronicles (Rodkinson, 1918, V:45). [NOTE: There is no internal evidence for Jeremiah’s authorship of Kings, but 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 and Ezra 1:1-4 are almost identical, which supports Talmudic tradition of Ezra’s authorship of Chronicles.] One theory regarding the citation of lost books is that they were source material for the writers of Kings and Chronicles. Jeremiah possibly edited and/or condensed the original source (by inspiration of the Holy Spirit) into the book of Kings, sometime before or during the Babylonian exile. This new, inspired book of Kings provided a summary of the histories of Israel and Judah for the captives to carry with them a much smaller, lighter book than the original detailed work. After returning from the Babylonian exile, Ezra composed another history of the Hebrew nation Chronicles. According to this theory, he used the same original work as Jeremiah for his primary source, but referred to the sections by different names than the ones used by Jeremiah. To this, he added parts of Samuel, Isaiah, possibly Lamentations, and some non-extant works. Like Jeremiah’s compilation, Ezra did this by inspiration. While the original source no longer exists, a condensed form of it survived through the inspired writings.
However, it also is possible that the original work to which Jeremiah and Ezra referred was not a source for their books, but was an uninspired composition of historical significance to which the reader could look for additional information. Under this theory, Jeremiah and Ezra received everything for the composition of their respective works, but also were inspired to include a reference for “extra information.” God did not require every single detail to be preserved in the biblical accounts of the history of the Jewish people, so He revealed what the authors of Kings and Chronicles needed to know, while guiding them to insert a for more information, please see… in the text.
Both of these theories allow for verbal inspiration. The first theory suggests that God inspired Jeremiah and Ezra to look at the single historical work as a source, and then He guided them via the Holy Spirit to include exactly what He wanted from that source into Scripture. According to the second theory, God revealed to Jeremiah and Ezra the necessary history, and then guided them to place a citation in the biblical text in order to refer the contemporary reader to a then-extant historical book. Some of the “lost books” are references to sections of this source, and others are different names for books that are not lost, but currently reside within the canon of Scripture.