Revelation 22:19 "And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book."
Deuteronomy 4:2 "Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you."This pretty much sums it up. No one needs to take away or add to Holy Scripture. There have been many tries. The gnostic texts tried to add to, and the Jefferson Bible as well as the Third Reich German Bible tried to take away. Even the Mormons, the Seventh Day Adventists, and the Muslims have added to.
What we have as scripture is called canon - all the sacred books that have been accepted as genuine by our church fathers. Adherence to canon is called orthodoxy. It comes from canon because if canon is followed, the doctrines from it are generally accepted. I am an orthodox Christian. I see no need to change what the inspired saints of years past has accepted as true doctrine as long as it is scriptural. I accept the inspired Holy Bible as the very doctrine of God, and as divine truth.
Canon has been established as those books (codex or manuscripts) which are internally consistent and God focused. Only the book of Esther fails to mention God by name but God is alluded to within it. The Jews accepted it for that reason.
There are many codex out there. The book of Jubilees is a third century B.C. Ethiopian commentary on the book of Genesis, but few branches of the church accept it as canon even though it is coherent in respect to God, and internally consistent with what we call the bible. It's just not needed because it is redundant with Genesis. However, it is reliable commentary. In general, it merely explains Genesis for better understanding.
Many preachers say that no book other than the Holy Bible is needed. Although it is all that is required because it is the Word, perhaps other books are needed. Let's examine the difference between required and needed.
We've already looked at the amount of the scripture which has utility. It is the sixty-six books of the Bible. Scripture, as spoken of in the New Testament, is actually only what we call the Old Testament - the Pentateuch, the historical books, Psalms, the wisdom books, and the books of prophecy. There are thirty-nine Old Testament books in the Protestant bible, and forty-six in the Catholic. These writings are all Hebrew which foretell of the coming of the Messiah, as well as the history of the Jews. Doctrine within the Old Testament corresponds with both Judaism and Christianity. The Apocrapha was dropped by Protestants in the mid-1800s because they were considered deuterocanonical - not part of the Hebrew bible.
The New Testament evolved as the early church fathers examined extant scripture and weighed it for internal consistency to both the Old Testament and the gospels. If at odds with the teachings of Jesus from the gospels, it was excluded. There was much debate, and Christians believe it was God's plan that what we have now came about because it was God's will. Some skeptics blame the Catholic Church for not including the gnostic gospels which were written after the times of the apostles, but that was done by discernment and wisdom. Many of them are destructive to the nature of Jesus, and his mission, and thus, are not internally consistent.
Now for my point: Only canon, or what we call the Holy Bible is required because it is the very word of God written by divinely inspired men. However, sometimes other books are needed to explain what scripture means. Those books are called commentary. All preachers use commentary because there are others more wise than them. For instance, some writers speak Greek, Latin, and Hebrew. Knowledge of those languages helps understanding. Other writers know geography, history, and the culture of biblical times. They can put things in context.
Does the bible support commentary? Yes it does!
Acts 8:27 "And he (Philip) arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, 28 Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. 29 Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot. 30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. 32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: 33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. 34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? 35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus."Above we see that the educated eunuch was reading scripture (the Old Testament). He failed to understand what he was reading. Philip, at the direction of God, just happened to be there to explain it to him. Explaining scripture is called preaching, and preaching is commentary. The other book are the words of the preacher, Philip in this case.
Even preachers use the words of earlier preachers to explain scripture. In seminary, they have text books for understanding scripture - what they are reading in the bible. All preachers today are eunuchs of yesterday. They need those other books to understand scripture themselves!
One preacher implied, after I introduced my own book, that no book other than the bible is needed. He said that as I listened to him preach. It is common knowledge that some use other books, namely Matthew Henry's Commentary and others, which are certainly not canon. As this was said, I glanced over and there laid a book written by a contemporary author - the very one he used to teach from in bible study.
My book was written to provide commentary explaining what the Hebrew Bible has to do with Jesus. Commentary are the thoughts of whoever writes it. As such commentary is all opinion, but it has a basis. Reliable commentary is based on the very words of God without adding to and taking away. My book is reliable. Nothing in is extraneous to scripture, and indeed supports it. The words of preachers are themselves oral commentary, taken from notes of written commentary.
When we teach, preach, or write, as those who share their thoughts about God (commentary), we must be fair. If we use other books, we must allow others to have the same liberty. Using a different standard for others makes one lose credibility.
I will continue to study the writings of others, not to replace scripture, but to explain it as Philip did. I also will write my thoughts on what I have learned. What Matthew Henry writes nor what I write is scripture, but what I write may be as reliable as what Henry wrote. All books should be tested by scripture.