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Many of you have heard and seen those who want to persuade you to believe that we are missing books from the New Testament. If you haven’t looked into these arguments before, they can be pretty tough on those who hear them. “How do we know if we have the right books?” What if a book was left out by accident?” “Did the ‘winners’ of the early Church simply throw out the books they didn’t want?” I’ve tried to answer some of these questions here. But for this post I want to focus on what some of these so-called missing books have in them.
I’m going to list four different books that little doubt some would claim should have been in the New Testament. Under each book I’ll give one quote or examples that come from that book. It’s very important to note that none of these books come from the first century like the other 27 books that are in our New Testaments.
Gospel of Thomas
One of the most famous of all non-canonical books is the “Gospel of Thomas.” This book, like I said above, was not written in the first century like the other New Testament books. It claims to be a collection of 114 sayings of Jesus. It has a number of strange sayings in it. The most famous says
Simon Peter said to them, “Make Mary leave us, for females don’t deserve life.” Jesus said, “Look I will guide her to make her male, so that she too may become a living spirit resembling you males. For every female who makes herself male will enter the domain of Heaven.”
Does this sound like the teaching of the Bible? I will let you decide on that right now!
The Gospel of the Nativity of Mary
This shortish “gospel” (all of these are short or fragments) speaks of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Again, it has strange things mentioned in it, though not as strange as what was just seen in the “Gospel of Thomas.”
This book tells of how Mary was visited often by angels, was well known at one point in her life, and how it was decided that Joseph was to become her husband through the miraculous. One quote of the book says
…she herself had made to the Lord a vow of virginity, which she would never violate by any intercourse with man.
Though Roman Catholics would disagree, this statement appears to go against the assumed teaching of the New Testament. Mary was certainly a virgin when she gave birth to Jesus. However, the Bible speaks about Jesus’ brothers and sisters. It seems pretty clear that after the virgin birth, that Joseph and Mary had a normal married relationship. With that said, this statement from “The Gospel of the Nativity of Mary” appears to contradict the rest of Scripture.
The Infancy Gospel of Thomas
This is a strange one! Would you like to know what Jesus was like as a child? This “gospel” attempts to give you an account. This so-called “infancy gospel” is one of the strangest documents I’ve ever read. It talks about a boy accidentally hitting young Jesus and Jesus killing him. It tells of a boy that fell from a roof and died. The parents of the child thought that Jesus killed him. However, Jesus jumps down off the roof, raises the boy from the dead, and asks him if he had killed him, to which the boy says that he didn’t. There are a number of other stories that claim to tell what Jesus was like when he was young. It goes without saying that this is nothing like the four Gospels we have in our New Testament.
The Gospel of Peter
What about the “Gospel of Peter”? Should this book be in our New Testament? Here is the most famous passage from the work
When therefore those soldiers saw it, they awakened the centurion and the elders; for they too were hard by keeping guard. And, as they declared what things they had seen, again they see three men come forth from the tomb, and two of them supporting one, and a cross following them: and of the two the head reached unto the heaven, but the head of him that was led by them overpassed the heavens. And they heard a voice from the heavens, saying, “Thou hast preached to them that sleep.” And a response was heard from the cross, “Yea.”
After the resurrection, this work says, when the two angels come out of the tomb, they are so tall that their heads go into the heavens. Jesus’ head, it is claimed, is over the heavens. But then the cross speaks. It isn’t that someone speaks for the cross, but the cross itself speaks.
What are the differences between these Gospels and our canonical books? There’s many important differences that others have listed. Our books are all from the first century. These are not. Our Gospels, for example, are written by eyewitnesses, or at least by those who depended upon eyewitnesses. These are not. Our books come with apostolic authority. These do not. Our books have teachings in them that line up with the rest of the Bible’s teaching. These do not.
There’s a reason our 27 books of the New Testament are in the Canon, and these others are not. There is a difference between New Testament books and other books, and this difference can be seen in the books themselves.