WND Selling Bizarre “Bible” Containing “Lost” Chapter of Acts

An advert on the front page of WND:

Best-selling Bible of 2015 – $10 off today!

Clicking the link takes us to the “WND Superstore” page, where there are details of a book called the Cepher, supposedly “the most complete and accurate English translation and transliteration of sacred Scripture in the world today.”

By “most complete”, this means that it contains material that is not normally found in Jewish or Christian Bibles:

Includes all of the 74 previously canonized books, plus another 13 books considered to be inspired and/or historically significant such as Chanok (Enoch) & Yovheliym (Jubilees) from the Dead Sea Scrolls, as well as Yashar (Jasher), 2-4 Ezra (Esdras), 1-2 Baruk, and 1-4 Makkabiym (Maccabees) – all published in the chronological order of their writing.

Restores the 29th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles chronicling Paul’s journey to Spain.

Further background can be found on the book’s official website:

…Speaking of the book of Acts, unlike all other English Bibles, we have the completed text of this book, finishing with Chapter 29 (in reliance on the Suninni Manuscript and the Muratorian fragment).

The “Suninni Manuscript” is actually the “Sonnini Manuscript”, and it was forged in the nineteenth century to promote British-Israelism. Craig A. Evans has some details, drawing on Edgar Johnson Goodspeed’s 1979 book Strange New Gospels:

…Acts 29, supposedly translated by C. S. Sonnini, from a “Greek manuscript found in the Archives at Constantinople.” Publisher T. G. Cole tells us that the text was found “interleaved in a copy of Sonnini’s Travels in Turkey and Greece [sic] and purchased at the sale of the library and effects of the Right Hon, Sir John Newport, Bart., in Ireland (Goodspeed, 59). The alibi is clever, for Charles Sigisbert Sonnini (1751-1812) was a real person, who in fact published Voyage en Grèce et in Turquie, which appeared in English as Travels in Greece and Turkey. (1)

It was published as The Long Lost Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles: Containing the Account of Paul’s Journey in Spain and Britain : Also a Remarkable Prediction of Britain’s Glorious Inheritance. The English text of this spurious document can be found online quite easily. Here’s an extract (commentary added by some British-Israelite enthusiast):

1- And Paul, full of the blessings of Christ, and abounding in the spirit, departed out of Rome, determining to go into Spain, for he had a long time proposed to journey thitherward, and was minded also to go from thence to Britain.

2- For he had heard in Phoenicia that certain of the children of Israel, about the time of the Assyrian captivity, had escaped by sea to “The Isles afar off” as spoken be the Prophet [Esdra], and called by the Romans – Britain…

7- And they departed out of Spain, and Paul and his company finding a ship in Armorica sailing unto Britain, they were therein, and passing along the south Coast, they reached a port called Raphinus. (This is the Roman name for Sandwich, in Kent. In Saxon times there was, still standing in Sandwich, and old house called the “House of the Apostles: and tradition has it that Paul was one of the Apostles)…

9- And on the morrow he came and stood upon Mount Lud (Ludgate Hill and Broadway where St. Paul’s Cathedral stands in London, England) and the people thronged at the gate, and they believed the Word and testimony of Jesus.

This story of Paul travelling to Britain to preach to lost Israelites is so ludicrous as to be barely worth commenting on. There is no ancient document to support the suggestion that anyone in the first century believed in “children of Israel” travelling to Britain, and nothing to support the notion that such a story would have influenced where Paul decided to visit.

One wonders why the WND advert mentions the text’s reference to Spain (which at least has some support in early Christian tradition) but declines to refer to the British connection. Is it because they knew it would be too ridiculous to credit? Given this, it seems likely that the Book of Jasher in the same “Bible” is the eighteenth-century forgery known as Pseudo-Jasher.

The Cepher also includes various tinkerings with the text of actual Biblical books. Returning again to the fuller description:

For instance, every English Bible makes a huge error in the Song of Solomon concerning the gender of the speaker which, of course, completely destroys the text.

…Another glaring error is the genealogy set forth in Matthew 1 is that of Miryam (Mary), it is not the genealogy of her husband Joseph! Count the generations: 14, 14, and 14 – except in every English Bible the last set has 13. This error was easily corrected, once we realized that Joseph (Yoceph) was also the name of her father.

And so on. Pretty bold given that the Bible’s creator, Stephen Pidgeon, describes himself on Linkedin as having “Limited working proficiency” in Hebrew and makes no mention of Greek.

This eccentric document would be of little interest, were it not for the fact of WND‘s influence in promoting a fundamentalist form of Christianity within American conservatism. For instance, WND editor Joseph Farah is close to Jonathan Cahn, currently one of the most popular “End-Times” commentators within neo-Pentecostalism, and to Jim Bakker. But it seems to me that most Christians would regard the Cepher as a completely unacceptable corruption of the actual Bible. How can this be the “Best-selling Bible of 2015”?

According to the blurb:

The Cepher Publishing Group is an assembly of believers who have come together to bring the unabridged Word of the Heavenly Father to the world in printed form.  In the late 1990s, Stephen Pidgeon, the group’s founder, discovered that many books and other texts were missing from the Bible.

He was assisted by a certain Brad Huckins. Pidgeon is also the author of a “Hebrew Roots Daily Planner” – I previously blogged on the “Hebrew Roots” movement here.

Pidgeon, who resides in Washington State, also has other interests, such as opposing same-sex marriage and promoting Birtherism and other anti-Obama conspiracies. Equality Matters has a profile.

Footnote

(1) Footnote on page 80 of Craig A. Evans, “Morton Smith and the Secret Gospel of Mark: Exploring the Grounds for Doubt”, in Ancient Gospel Or Modern Forgery?: The Secret Gospel of Mark in Debate, ed. Tony Burke, 2013,

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