No books have been removed from the Bible, but it took a long process to decide what books to include. When the Old Testament was translated from Hebrew into Greek in 70 B.C., the canon (official list of books) had not been fully decided. When the canon was closed by Jewish rabbis in A.D. 90, they did not include some books that had earlier been translated into Greek. Today, those books are called the Apocrypha. Bibles used by Roman Catholics and others include some Apocryphal books, because their translations go back to the Greek. When Martin Luther translated the Bible into German, he went back to the original Hebrew and ever since, Bibles used by Protestant Christians have usually not included any Apocryphal books.
For over 100 years, Christian church leaders worked to discern which writings should be included in the New Testament. Some, like St. Paul’s letters, were obvious. With others, like Jude or II Peter, the process took longer. Some great Christian writings, like the Letter of Clement, were not included in the New Testament, but are still well worth reading.
With both testaments, it is vital to understand that these books are not considered God’s inspired Word because they were included in the Bible. Rather, they were included in the Bible because Jewish and Christian leaders recognized that they were inspired by God. We trust that God guided the entire process, from the writing to the reading to the evaluation to the preservation of these books, in order to inspire us and all people who read the Bible.
Pastor Scott Grorud responds to a theological question each month in our newsletter series “Stump the Pastor.” Have a question that you think will stump the pastor? Email it to Pastor Scott.