The Old Testament is Not Complete

Daniel H. Ludlow

Nephi, who was acquainted with the writings contained on the brass plates of Laban, was permitted to see the contents of the latter-day Old Testament, and he concluded that it did not contain as many promises and covenants as were contained on the brass plates. Thus it should not be surprising to hear of prophets whose writings appeared on the brass plates (such as Zenos, Zenock, Neum and Ezias—see 1 Nephi 19:10 and Helaman 8:19-20) but which are not found in our Old Testament.

Scholars of the Bible have long been aware that the Bible was not a complete book in and of itself. Concerning the incompleteness of the Bible, Elder Mark E. Petersen has said:

… the Bible itself admits that it is an incomplete record and does not contain all of God’s word. It mentions other books of scripture which are not within its covers and therefore are not available for study by anyone seeking the full truth of the gospel.

Moses spoke of the “Book of the Covenant,” which we do not have. He also mentions the “Book of the Wars of Israel,” which has never been found… .

The “Book of Jasher,” referred to by Joshua, is not in the Bible. The same is true of the “Book of the Acts of Solomon,” referred to in First Kings.

The books of Nathan and Gad, both of whom were prophets and seers, are missing… .

Ahijah and Iddo were prophets and seers likewise. Would their works not inspire modern people if they were available? But where are they? Can we say that our Bible is actually complete without them?

The “Book of Jehu” is mentioned in the Old Testament but is not included in it. Isaiah wrote a second book known as the “Acts of Uzziah,” but where is it? …

“ The Sayings of the Seers,” another book of sacred writings, is referred to in the Bible. Where is it now? …

Paul wrote letters, in addition to those we have in our Bible, and speaks of them. He wrote a third letter to the Corinthians, and at least another one to the Ephesians. Where are they? He also wrote an Epistle to the Laodiceans, but it is not in our possession. Is the Bible then complete? Does it contain all of God’s word?

Jude wrote another Epistle in addition to the one in the New Testament. He also mentions a volume of scripture known as the “Prophecies of Enoch” to which he evidently had access, but which we do not have today.

Then there is the matter of the Savior’s teachings. He lived an intensive and full life during the three years of his public ministry. He preached to multitudes repeatedly. He conversed with individuals almost constantly, and gave many intimate instructions to the Twelve.

Can anyone say that his three years of instruction are contained in the Bible? May they be read in the few hours it takes to peruse what he said in the four Gospels? Can three years of the Savior’s eloquent teachings be condensed into three hours of reading material? The Apostle John says twice in his Gospel that not a fraction of the Savior’s ministry is recorded.

Much as we love it, sincerely as we believe it, can we in all truth say that the Bible is complete, that it contains all of God’s word, or even the full text of the Savior’s instructions? (Conference Report, April 1964, pp. 18-19.)

A Companion To Your Study of The Book of Mormon