Bible Review 14:5, October 1998

The Lost Books of the Bible

By Duane Christensen

Enigmatic references to unknown books are scattered throughout the Bible. We read of the Book of Jashar and the Book of the Wars of Yahweh, but we cannot read the books themselves, for no copies are known to exist. What is surprising, however, is not how many but how few references to such now-lost books we find in the Bible. After all, as the Bible itself says, “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). This was true even in ancient times.

Although there are more than 20 potential candidates for lost books of the Bible, in 54 references (see the second sidebar to this article), most scholars believe this list really boils down to fewer than a half dozen. For example, the works cited in 1 and 2 Kings as the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah (referred to 15 times) and the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel (referred to 18 times) may in fact be the same work, perhaps written in two columns, one for Israel and one for Judah.1 The Acts of Solomon (see 1 Kings 11:41) may be another name for this same work.2 The text was probably a single annal written by a priest of Jerusalem in the seventh century B.C.

Join the BAS Library!

Already a library member? Log in here.

Institution user? Log in with your IP address.