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 (the Torah, the Nevi’iym, and the Ketuviym), and we retained them in the traditional order:

Under the Torah: Bere’shiyth, Shemot, Vayiqra, Bemidbar, Devariym.

Under the Nevi’iym: Yahusha, Shofetiym, Shemu’el, Melekiym, Yesha’yahu, Yirmeyahu, Yechezq’el.

Under the Trei Asar (the twelve): Husha, Yoel, Amoc, Ovadyahu, Yonah, Miykhah, Nachum, Chabaqquq, Tsephanyahu, Chaggay, Zakaryahu, Mal’akiy.

Under the Ketuviym: Tehilliym, Mishlei, Iyov, Shiyr HaShiriym, Ruth, Qiynah, Qoheleth, Divrei Hayamiym.

Under the Sheniy Heykal (second temple): Ecter, Daniye’l, Ezra & Nechemyah.

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, Marcus, Lucas.

Under the Ma’aseh (Acts): Ma’aseh.

Under the Cepheriym Talmidiym (Disciples letters): Ya`aqov, Kepha Ri’shon, Kepha Sheniy, Yahudah.                   

Under the Cepheriym Sha’ul: Timotheus Ri’shon, Titus, Tasloniqiym Ri’shon, Tasloniqiym Sheniy, Romaiym, Galatiym,Timotheus Sheniy.

Under the Cepheriym Sha’ul (pseudepigraphal): Qorintiym Ri’shon, Qorintiym Sheniy, Eph'siym, Philippiym, Qolasiym, Philemon, Ivriym

Under the Cepheriym Yahuchanon: Besorah Yahuchanon, Yahuchanon Ri’shon, Yahuchanon Sheniy, Yahuchanon Sheliyshiy, Chizayon.

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 Judith, Tobit, 1 and 2 Maccabees, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach (also known as Ecclesiasticus), Baruch, the Epistle of Jeremiah, and the additions to Esther and Daniel.  Our review also allowed us to include books and fragments that are canonical for the Orthodox but not for Roman Catholics:  1 Esdras, 3 Maccabees, and the Prayer of Manasseh.  In addition, the apocalyptic 2 Esdras (perhaps more happily termed 3 Esdras, or even 4 Esdras) was included in Slavonic Bibles and we elected to include it.  In addition, we also included 2 Baruch, and 3 and 4 Macabees.  From Daniel, we also included Shushanah, the Prayer of Azariah, and 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 Babylon.  We denoted those writings as Sheniy Heykal (second temple).

Under the Megillot: Shiyr HaShiriym, Ruth, Qiynah, Qoheleth, Ecter, Additions to Ecter, Yahudith, Divrei Hayamiym Ri’shon, Divrei Hayamiym Sheniy.         

Under the Sheniy HeykalDaniye’l, Tephillah Azaryahu, Shushanah, Ba’al and the Dragon, 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: the cepher of Chanok, the cepher of Yovheliym, and the cepher of Yashar.  We included these books immediately following the Torah as the Sheniy Cepheriym.  Yovheliym has been widely accepted in the Coptic and Assyriac traditions.  Chanok 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 HaMashiach.  We followed with the gospel of Marcus, a companion of Sha’ul, and of course the writings of the doctor, Lucas.  We retained the order of his writings, in order to set Ma’aseh (Acts) immediately after his gospel.

The writings of the disciples were set out giving priority to the disciples of HaMashiach, including Ya’aqov (James), Kepha (Peter) and Yahudah (Jude).  We moved Yahuchanon to the end, because of his writing in Chizayon (Revelation), the generally accepted last book of the traditional bible.  The Besorah of Yahuchanon is distinctly different from the three synoptic gospels; therefore our election was to retain the writings together with Chizayon, which arguably was the last writing of all the disciples.

The writings of Sha’ul are in an order we believe best reflects the order and priority of the writing.  First, we segregated the letters actually written by Sha’ul from those written in his name (pseudepigraphal).  Those letters actually written by Sha’ul were then ordered according to the history of its locations as described in Ma’aseh (Acts).  There is a bit of a debate as to which came first, Romaiym or Galatiym, as the history sets them in the same time and space.  We elected to place Romaiym first.

As for the pseudepigraphal letters of Sha’ul, we have taken a fairly rigid position that the first cepher to the Qorintiym was written from Philippi by Stephanas, Fortunatus, Achaicus, and Timotheus; the second cepher to the Qorintiym was written from Philippi, a city of Macedonia, by Titus and Lucas; the cepher Eph’siym was written from Rome by Tychicus; the cepher Philippiym was written from Rome by Epaphroditus; the cepher to the Qolasiym was written from Rome by Tychicus and Onesimus; the cepher Philemon was written from Rome to Philemon by Onesimus a servant, and the cepher Ivriym was written to the Ivriym from Italy by Timotheus.  We ordered these consistent with the journeys of Sha’ul.

As to the B’rit Chadashah, we also included an additional chapter in Ma’aseh; a chapter 29.  This decision was based upon the Sonnini Manuscript, and we relied upon three witnesses to corroborate the claim that Sha’ul 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 Sha’ul intended to travel into Spain.  Consider his discussion in Romaiym 15:

Sha’ul, 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 Acts 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 Sha’ul 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.

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

34 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

44 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 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: