We have found over the centuries a number of “other” writings from the time of the Bible by Jews and Christians. These writings were preserved and found a number of ways including: preserved in Syriac and Ethiopic by eastern churches, the Cairo Geniza find from the 19th century, and non-biblical writings preserved in the Dead Sea Scrolls.
The Bible itself mentions many lost books? What are they? How does Jewish literature from before and during New Testament times help us? Where can people get more information?
The definitive collection of “other” books up to the end of the first century CE (with some documents and some parts of documents actually as late as 400 CE) is contained in two volumes (in English) by James Charlesworth called The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha. Serious readers and students may want to follow Joseph Kelly’s One-Year Reading Plan in the Pseudepigrapha. You can find more tools, such as the Online Critical Pseudepigrapha on the right sidebar at MJPassages.com.
What are the lost books mentioned specifically in the Bible? James Charlesworth makes a rather complete list in his introduction:
The book of the War of the Lord (Num 21:14), the Book of the Just (Josh 10:13, 2 Sa, 1:18), the Book of the Acts of Solomon (1 Kgs 11:41), the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Israel (1 Kgs 14:19; 2 Chr 33:18; cf. 2 Chr 20:34), the Book of the Annals of the Kings of Judah (1 Kgs 14:29; 15:7), the Annals of Samuel the Seer (1 Chr 29:29), the History of Nathan the Prophet (2 Chr 9:29), the Annals of Shemaiah the Prophet and Iddo the Seer (2 Chr 12:15), the Annals of Jehu son of Hannai (2 Chr 20:34), an unknown and untitled writing of Isaiah (2 Chr 26:22), the Annals of Hozai (2 Chr 33:18), and an unknown lament for Josiah by Jeremiah (2 Chr 35:25).
Charlesworth notes that the Apocrypha also lists more lost books as do some writings in the Pseudepigrapha.
And then there are documents called the New Testament Pseudepigrapha, especially including gnostic gospels and much more.
Some of the writings in the collection we now call the Pseudepigrapha are directly cited or alluded to in the New Testament (famously, the book of Enoch is cited in Jude).
And we learn from these writings more about the ideas held by some Jewish people in those times. It is difficult to say how influential all of them were, though some must have held at least some popularity, such as Jubilees, Enoch, and Psalms of Solomon.
They broaden our understanding of the diverse Judaism leading up to Yeshua and the apostles.
The writings included in Charlesworth’s two volumes are not lost books, though they were for many years. The list of lost books mentioned in the Bible reminds us that much more was written than we now possess. It opens our imagination to wonder at how much we do not know about history, even the history we care most deeply about.