NORMAN — Considering the Old Testament refers to texts that are not present, such as the book of the Covenant and those of Nathan, Jasher, Gad and Shemaiah, does that mean it is incomplete?
The Rev. Betty Hanna-Witherspoon, Ebenezer AME Church, Kansas City, Mo.:
African Methodists respond “no.” We say “no” because these books that are referred to in the historical writings do not keep us from reaching the ultimate purpose of the Holy Scriptures.
The purpose of scripture, African Methodists believe, is to bring us to an understanding of God’s work in the lives of human beings and the universe so that we might better understand how to interact with God. For African Methodists, the scriptures provide an opportunity to come to know God so that eventually we can elect to enter into a relationship with God in Jesus the Christ.
God’s work in the history of the Jewish people is foundational for African Methodists’ interpretation of Jesus’ entry into the history of human beings.
These books, referred to in the question and by the compilers of Hebrew history, are not considered central to Hebrew history by the compilers themselves (see for example 1 Chronicles 29:29 and 2 Chronicles 12:15).
While it would be interesting to read all the texts that were used to compile the history found in the Hebrew texts, these books are not required to come to saving knowledge of Jesus the Christ, and therefore, the Old Testament is complete.
Our fifth Article of Religion states it this way: “The Holy Scriptures containeth all things necessary to salvation.”
God does not err
Rabbi Mark H. Levin, Congregation Beth Torah, Kansas City: Orthodox believers consider the Bible to be direct, divine revelation, the literal word of God. By definition, it cannot be incomplete.
Scripture perfectly reflects God’s will. Whatever God included, whatever the grammar, whatever apparent errors there may seem to be from a historical or linguistic perspective, the Bible is absolutely complete. It’s the job of the believer to discover God’s meaning and intention. If God excluded some things and included others, there must be a reason. God does not err.