Why is the Book of Jubilee excluded from the Bible?
The Book of Jubilees, sometimes called the “Lesser Genesis,” was written in the 2nd century BC and records an account of the biblical history of the world from the creation to Moses. The book divides history into periods or “jubilees” of 49 years. Generally, the Book of Jubilees follows the account of creation as recorded in the Book of Genesis, but provides interesting details such as names of Adam’s daughters.
The only complete version of the Book of Jubilees is written in Ethiopian, though most scholars believe that it was originally written in Hebrew. There are some fragments existing today in Greek and Latin, but nowhere near a complete book in either language.
The reason for the book was the author’s preoccupation with advocating a solar calendar based on days and months rather than on the Jewish, lunar-based calendar. In fact, the book was written exactly for that purpose — to push the author’s idea that the solar-based calendar more accurately represents the 49 years and provided for a better understanding of prophecy. If that is true, then the Book of Jubilees may well have merely been an attempt to show how the solar calendar better fits in the biblical account of time and prophecy.
As for whether the Book of Jubilees should be in the Bible, we must first recognize the fact that God is the One at work in the Scriptures, and if He wanted the Book of Jubilees as a part of Scripture, no man (or Satan) could have prevented it. Hundreds and hundreds of years of Christian (and Jewish) scholars have labored to ensure that the Holy Scriptures remain true and untainted. Part of the problem with the Book of Jubilees is that so little remains of original writings that there is no way to determine if the book as it now exists is the same book that was originally written. This is one huge reason that the Book of Jubileesfails the standards of the canon of Scripture.
The word “canon” comes from the rule of law that was used to determine if a book measured up to a standard. It is important to note that the writings of Scripture were canonical at the moment they were written. Scripture was Scripture when the pen touched the parchment. This is very important because Christianity does not start by defining God, or Jesus Christ, or salvation. The basis of Christianity is found in the authority of Scripture. If we cannot identify what Scripture is, then we cannot properly distinguish any theological truth from error.
The measure or standard used to determine which books should be classified as Scripture surround a key verse to understanding the process and purpose, and perhaps the timing of the giving of Scripture. “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 3
Since our faith is defined by Scripture, Jude is essentially saying that Scripture was given once for the benefit of all Christians. There are no hidden or lost manuscripts yet to be found, there are no secret books only familiar to a select few, and there are no people alive who have special revelation requiring us to trek up a Himalayan mountain in order to be enlightened? We can be confident that God has not left us without a witness. The same supernatural power God used to produce His Word has also been used to preserve it.