How did you choose which books to include?

In deciding to publish the 87 books of the את Cepher, we reached many conclusions; some of which were decisions to include writings that had not been included before, and some of which were decisions to exclude writings which in some cases, were included in some texts.

We began with the books traditionally retained in the Tanakh - which includes the Torah (Instruction), the Nevi’iym (Prophets), and the Ketuviym (Writings), and we retained them in the traditional order:

Under the Torah: Bere’shiyth (Genesis), Shemoth (Exodus), Vayiqra (Leviticus), Bemidbar (Numbers, Devariym (Deuteronomy).

Under the Nevi’iym: Yahusha (Joshua), Shofetiym (Judges), Shemu’el (1&2 Samuel), Melekiym (1&2 Kings), Yesha’yahu (Isaiah), Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah), Yechezq’el (Ezekiel).

Under the Trei Asar (the Twelve): Husha (Hosea), Yo'el (Joel), Amoc (Amos), Ovadyahu (Obadiah), Yonah (Jonah), Miykah (Micah), Nachum (Nahum), Chabaqquq (Habakkuk), Tsephanyahu (Zephaniah), Chaggai (Haggai), Zakaryahu (Zechariah), Mal’akiy (Malachi).

Under the Ketuviym: Tehilliym (Psalms), Mishlei (Proverbs), Iyov (Job), Shiyr HaShiriym (Song of Solomon), R'oth (Ruth), Qiynah (Lamentations), Qoheleth (Ecclesiastes), Ecter (Esther).

Under the Sheniy Heykal (second temple): Divrei Hayamiym (1&2 Chronicles), Daniy'el (Daniel), Ezra & Nechemyah (Nehemiah).

We then reviewed those writings commonly referred to as the New Testament in 27 books. However, we reconsidered the common order.  As a result, we placed the writings in the following order:

Under the Besorah (Synoptic Gospels): Mattithyahu (Matthew), Marqus (Mark), Luqas (Luke).

Under the Ma’asiym (Acts): Ma’asiym (Act).

Under the Cepheriym Talmidiym (Disciples Epistles): Ya`aqov (James), Kepha Ri’shon (1 Peter), Kepha Sheniy (2 Peter), Yahudah (Jude).                 

Under the Cepheriym Pa'al (Paul): Timotheus Ri’shon (1 Timothy), Titus, Tasloniqiym Ri’shon (1 Thessalonians), Tasloniqiym Sheniy (2 Thessalonians), Romaiym (Romans), Galatiym (Galatians),Timotheus Sheniy (2 Timothy), Qorintiym Ri’shon (1 Corinthians), Qorintiym Sheniy (2 Corinthians), Eph'siym (Ephesians), Philippiym (Philippians), Qolasiym (Colossians), Philemon, Ivriym (Hebrews).

Under the Cepheriym Yochanon (John): Besorah Yochanon (John), Yochanon Ri’shon (1 John), Yochanon Sheniy (2 John), Yochanon Sheliyshiy (3 John), Chazon (Revelation).

We then went on to supplement the Tanakh with the additional writings found in the Septuagint. We elected to include the books and fragments that are canonical for Roman Catholics and Orthodox but not for Protestants, including Yahudith (Judith), Toviyahu (Tobit), Makkabiym Ri'shon (1 Maccabees), Makkabiym Sheniy (2 Maccabees), Chokmah Shalomah (Wisdom of Solomon), Sirach (Ecclesiasticus), Baruch Ri'shon (1 Baruch), Cepher Yirmeyahu (Epistle of Jeremiah), and Hadaccah (Additions to Esther).  Our review also allowed us to include books and fragments that are canonical for the Orthodox but not for Roman Catholics:  Ezra Sheliyshiy (3 Ezra/1 Esdras), Makkabiym Sheliyshiy (3 Maccabees), and Tephillah Menashsheh (Prayer of Manasseh).  In addition, the apocalyptic Ezra Reviy'iy (4 Ezra/2 Esdras) was included in Slavonic Bibles and we elected to include it.  In addition, we also included Baruch Sheniy (2 Baruch), and Makkabiym Reviy'iy (4 Maccabees).  From Daniy'el (Daniel), we also included Shushanah (Susanna), Tephillah Azaryahu (Prayer of Azariah), and Ba'al v'Tanniyn (Bel and the Dragon).

Once we elected to add these books, our organizational plan required modification.  We elected to first segregate the scrolls – the Megillot – from the other writings, and then we separated the writings that were written following the removal of the house of Yahudah to Babel (Babylon).  We denoted those writings as Beyt Ha'Mikdash Ha'Sheniy (Second Temple).

Under the Megillot: Shiyr HaShiriym, Ro'th, Qiynah, Qoheleth, Ecter, Hadaccah, Yahudith.         

Under the Beyt Ha'Mikdash Ha'Sheniyl: Divrei Hayamiym Ri’shon, Divrei Hayamiym Sheniy, Tephillah Menashsheh, Daniye’l, Tephillah Azaryahu, Shushanah, Ba'al v'Tanniyn, Ezra v’Nechemyah, Ezra v’Nechemyah, Ezra Sheliyshiy, Ezra Reviy`iy, Makkabiym Ri’shon, Makkabiym Sheniy, Makkabiym Sheliyshiy, Makkabiym Reviy`iy.

Finally, we elected to include three books within our binding:  Yovheliym (Jubilees), Chanoch (Enoch), and Yashar (Jasher).  We included these books immediately following the Torah as the Cepheriym Sheniy.  Yovheliym has been widely accepted in the Coptic and Assyriac traditions.  Chanoch has stubbornly prevailed, only to be rediscovered in the caves of Qumran, and Yashar has a splendid intrinsic credibility.

Our first premise in organizing the B’rit Chadasha (New Testament) was to organize in terms of the timing of the actual writing, yielding where the primacy of the synoptic gospels were concerned.  We began with Mattithyahu, a disciple of Ha'Mashiach.  We followed with the gospel of Marqus, a companion of Pa'al, and of course the writings of the doctor, Luqas.  We retained the order of his writings, in order to set Ma’asiym (Acts of the Apostles) immediately after his gospel.

The Cepheriym Talmidiym (writings of the disciples) were set out giving priority to the disciples of Ha'Mashiach including Y'aqov, Kepha, and Yahudah. We moved Yochanon's writings to the end, because of his writing in Chazon, the generally accepted last book of the traditional bible.  The Besorah of Yochanon is distinctly different from the three synoptic gospels; therefore our election was to retain the writings together with Chazon, which arguably was the last writing of all the disciples.

As to the B’rit Chadashah, we also included an additional chapter in Ma’asiym; a Chapter 29.  This decision was based upon the Sonnini Manuscript, and we relied upon three witnesses to corroborate the claim that Pa'al survived Rome and traveled on to Spain, England and beyond. First, the statement from the Muratorian Fragment dated in the 5th century:

What (27) marvel is it then, if John so consistently (28) mentions these particular points also in his Epistles, (29) saying about himself, 'What we have seen with our eyes (30) and heard with our ears and our hands (31) have handled, these things we have written to you? (32) For in this way he professes [himself] to be not only an eye-witness and hearer, (33) but also a writer of all the marvelous deeds of the Lord, in their order. (34) Moreover, the acts of all the apostles (35) were written in one book. For “most excellent Theophilus” Luke compiled (36) the individual events that took place in his presence — (37) as he plainly shows by omitting the martyrdom of Peter (38) as well as the departure of Paul from the city [of Rome] (39) when he journeyed to Spain.

Second, other writings confirm that Pa'al intended to travel into Spain.  Consider his discussion in Romaiym 15:23-24:

But now having no more place in these parts, and having a great desire these many years to come unto you; 24 Whensoever I take my journey into Spain, I will come to you: for I trust to see you in my journey, and to be brought on my way thitherward by you, if first I be somewhat filled with your company.

Finally, the third witness is found in Ma'asiym 28, which, unlike the other scriptures of the New Testament, does not end with the resounding Amen.  This difficulty is cured with the addition of the 29th chapter.

Of the many books outside of the bindings of the את Cepher, there were four primary considerations that warranted the conclusion that such books would not be included in the collection: (1) primarily historical works; (2) antinomian works of the church fathers such as Origen and Marcion, (3) anti-Messianic works of the gnostic writers; (4) mystical works of early Judaism.

Three works were carefully reviewed for inclusion in the B’rit Chadashah: the Epistle of Barnabus (a later work); the Apocalypse of Peter; and the Epistle of Paul to the Laodiceans.  Laodiceans was excluded because of its pseudepigraphal origin in the hands of Marcion.  The Epistle of Barnabus was excluded as a disputed work, and authenticated by the works of Clement; an antinomian church father.  Barnabus was never included in the canonized works as its origin has been disputed since the second century.  The Apocalypse of Peter was of a similar nature.

The gnostic gospels, all of which begin with the assumption that Christ was in spirit only and not in the flesh, were excluded as anti-Messianic (antichrist) and unreliably pseudepigraphal.  This included the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Judas, etc.  Ultimately, we came to agree with the conclusion of the Roman church in the fifth century that the B’rit Chadashah was made up of only twenty-seven books.

Historical books such as the works of Yosef ben Mattityahu HaCohen, (Flavius Josephus) the Antiquities of the Jews and the Wars of the Jews were excluded, because they are primarily historical in character and because of the sheer volume of the work.  However, we have elected to publish the works of Josephus separately as Yocephus Antiquities and Yocephus Wars.

The Mishnahs are another set of books that were excluded, as was the Zohar.  Although there are reasons other than the size and volume of the work in question, the scope of these multi-volume sets render their inclusion a physical impossibility.

As to the mystical books of Judaism such as the Cepher Yetzirah and the Ascension of Isaiah, such were excluded for a more sophisticated reason.

Mattithyahu 13:34-35

Yahusha spoke all these things to the multitude in parables; and He did not speak to them without a parable: 35 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret (סָתַר cathar)[1] from the foundation (יָסַד yecod)[2]  of the world.[3] 

Ezra Reviy’iy 14:44-47

In forty days they wrote two hundred and four cepheriym. 45 And it came to pass, when the forty days were filled, that El Elyon spoke, saying, The first that you have written publish openly, that the worthy and unworthy may read it: 46 But keep the seventy last, that you may deliver them only to such as be wise among the people: 47 For in them is the spring of understanding, the fountain of wisdom, and the stream of knowledge.

As a consequence, the books of the early writers that fell outside of Talmudic adherence have been excluded from the את Cepher.


[1] סָתַר cathar - to hide (by covering), literally or figuratively:--be absent, keep close, conceal, hide (self), (keep) secret, X surely

[2] יָסַד yecod - a primitive root; to set (literally or figuratively); intensively, to found; reflexively, to sit down together, i.e. settle, consult:--appoint, take counsel, establish, (lay the, lay for a) found(-ation), instruct, lay, ordain, set, X sure.

[3] Psalm 78:2 I will open פָּתַח my mouth פֶּה in a parable מָשָׁל: I will utter נָבַע dark sayings חִידָה of old קֶדֶם: