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Does the Cepher Bible Contain Extra Hidden Scriptures?

In 2016, the Cepher Bible made waves by including controversial books and additions to books of the Bible. Are the translators correct that these books are important texts that church authorities hid from us?

Contributing Writer
Updated Apr 17, 2024
Does the Cepher Bible Contain Extra Hidden Scriptures?

In 2016, the Eth Cepher, better known to many as the Cepher Bible, appeared and promptly made waves by including controversial books—like Jasher—and additions to existing books—like Acts 29. You may wonder why most churches don’t contain these books.

The Eth Cepher is primarily the work of Dr. Stephen Pidgeon, who has a Doctorate in Jurisprudence and has self-published books on business management and the end times. Pidgeon repeatedly asserts that Protestants chose the 66 books to suppress the Gospel message and the entire Bible’s hidden Hebrew origins. He does not consider the Eth Cepher a “Bible” but rather a collection of all holy books he believes to be inspired.

So, what should we think about this project? Are any of the transliterator’s claims valid?

What Does “Eth Cepher” Mean?

Eth Cepher combine the Hebrew word cepher, for a book or scroll, with eth (or את in its original Hebrew), which combines the Hebrew words Aleph and Tav. The transliterators look down on using Greek for any part of the Bible because they claim it is not the New Testament’s original language.

According to the ﬡﬨ Cepher creator’s website, “Eth means divine.” Eth comes from translating Revelation 1:8 (Alpha and Omega) into Hebrew, into Aleph and Tav. In Hebrew, the first letter of the alphabet is Aleph, and the last is Tav. So, the transliterators combine to make eth to encompass all creation.

According to the authors, the Cepher is a transliteration, not a translation. Translation means looking at the texts in their original languages and phrasing things as accurately as possible. Transliteration means the text’s words using letters from a different alphabet (for example, Eth is a transliteration of the Hebrew את). In this case, the Cepher’s team looked at the King James Bible, rephrased certain parts of it, and sprinkled in some Hebrew where divine names are referenced. Pidgeon is the Eth Cepher’s principal transliterator. He has no other experience in Bible translation.

Pidgeon also disapproves of the use of the word “Bible” because he believes the first book called a “Bible” was the Bibliotheca (in ancient Greek, Βιβλιοθήκη), also known as the Bibliotheca of Pseudo-Apollodorus. In Gods and Heroes of the Greeks, Michael Simpson explains that the Bibliotheca was a collection of Greek myths in three books, composed in the first- or second-century AD, reportedly by a man called Apollodorus. In her article “The Text History of the Bibliotheca of Pseudo-Apollodorus,” Aubrey Diller reports that this collection is “the most valuable mythographical work that has come down from ancient times.”

Whether Pidgeon’s claim is correct or not, the argument is flawed. Logic experts call this the etymological fallacy, which mistakenly claims that a word’s original definition must continue to be its most accurate meaning today.

The Hebrew Roots Movement uses the Cepher, and Pidgeon considers himself a member of a Messianic Jewish community. However, the Eth Cepher is not well-known in the Messianic Jewish Community.

What “Extra Material” Does the Cepher Bible Contain?

Church history students will know that the early church discussed what books to include in the Bible, including alleged extra gospels and deuterocanonical books written between the Old and New Testaments. Some of these books became part of the Apocrypha, which Catholics hold to be divinely inspired.

The Cepher contains all of the books written in the intertestamental period, which are all useful as historical material. These books likely informed the culture that Jesus lived in, so reading them can provide some context on when he lived.

The Eth Cepher also includes various books that are not accepted by any major Christian streams. The book of Jasher is the most controversial of the included books. While the Book of Jasher is mentioned in some Old Testament works, it is generally considered one of the lost books of the Bible—meaning the book that exists today is a forgery. As mentioned earlier, it combines the canonical book of Acts with Acts 29, better known as the Sonini Manuscript, which is reportedly a lost chapter of Acts.

The Eth Cepher also adds to the text by attempting to recreate the original languages. This comes from the book’s desire to retain the divine name for God in its original form, even when it wasn’t there to begin within the text.

What Are the Positives of the Cepher Bible?

The Cepher Bible team’s heart is in the right place about increasing awareness of the intertestamental period. More Christians should study this period and consider how it informed the world Jesus lived in. These works help explain the religious landscape around Jesus' time. The desire to establish the context should be commended.

Some of the books included are helpful for other reasons. For example, the book of Enoch is also included—a text that the Book of Jude mentions.

However, there are various issues with the Eth Cepher’s material.

What Are the Problems with the Cepher Bible?

First, the Eth Cepher treats all intertestamental books as divinely inspired by God in the same way as the Bible’s 66 canonical books. The Jewish rabbis who collected these books didn’t take that view. Even Jerome, who Catholics cite to argue the Apocrypha are divinely inspired, saw these books as being on a different level than Scripture, church books to be read for clarification. Only after the Council of Trent did the Catholic church elevate these books to the same level as Scripture. Pidgeon also includes several deuterocanonical books that Jerome omits from the Apocrypha—3 and 4 Ezra.

This problem is even true when talking about deuterocanonical books that the Bible mentions. Jude mentions the Book of Enoch, and a copy of it was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls. However, it was placed in a separate area from the rest of the scrolls, indicating even the Qunram community didn’t see it as divinely inspired.

Second, the Eth Cepter may contain some helpful resources, but it also contains some well-documented forgeries. For example, it contains the alleged reported twenty-ninth chapter of Acts, which first appeared in print in the 1870s, allegedly from a conveniently missing manuscript from a Frenchman traveling in Turkey. The chapter features Paul traveling to Britain, where he talks to Druids, who prove themselves to be descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. Paul preached to them at Mt. Lud, which would later be the site of St. Paul’s Cathedral.

There is no evidence of the manuscript the English text is based on. Edward Godspeed wrote the best scholarly critique of Acts 29 in his book Strange New Gospels. He notes that the chapter includes references that fit the British census of 1861 and ideas that Piazzi Smyth was exploring in the 1860s, which means “it is probable that this curious chapter was written not long before its publication in 1871.”

Similar problems apply to the book of Jasher, which contains several inaccuracies that don’t align with the Genesis account. For example, Abraham left his home at 50, not 75. There were 15 plagues in Egypt, not ten. These discrepancies make it difficult to believe that this book is inspired.

Why Do Most Scholars Reject the Cepher Bible’s Approach to Biblical Languages?

When new translations of the Bible are undertaken, typically, people who have spent years or decades studying the original languages will come together and ascertain the best meaning of that particular text based on the body of manuscript evidence available. However, the Eth Cepher does not use the original languages like most translations do. Instead, it rephrases the KJV in ways that suit the transliterator’s agenda.

Sometimes, the difference affects the text in small details—for example, translating names for God differently than other scholars do.

The larger problem is that Pidgeon’s theory that the New Testament was written in Hebrew doesn’t fit the research. This becomes clear when we consider the intended audiences of Paul and the writers of the Gospels. Paul did not write to Jews in Corinth or Rome; they mostly rejected his teachings (Acts 28:28). So, his audience was primarily Greek-speaking Gentiles. Furthermore, verse and chapter numbers were not added to the Bible until the Textus Receptus was written in the 1500s.

Since there’s no evidence that the New Testament was originally all written in Hebrew, the Eth Cepher ends up creating names that it reports are going back to the original text. For example, Pigeon Hebreifies all the book titles—Philippians becomes Philippiym and so on. However, there is no evidence of the name “Philippiym'' appearing anywhere but in the author’s imagination. The New Testament books were written in Greek for Greco-Roman citizens. Pidgeon also presents a different version of the tetragrammaton, the four-letter name of God. He transliterates it as YAHUAH, as opposed to YAHWEH, which is how most scholars believe it is pronounced.

Additionally, Hebreifying the text does not add to its clarity. Since Hebrew is read from right to left, it makes things more confusing. It reverses the text’s order, which lessens its meaning for its original audience.

For example, Philippians was written to people who were Roman citizens or around the cult of the emperor for much of their lives. As such, they heard the refrain “Caesar is Lord” repeatedly. Paul plays on this phrase when he says in Philippians 2:11 that someday every tongue will confess, “Jesus is Lord.” Pidgeon reverses the order and says that “every tongue should confess that YAHUAH is YAHUSHA HAMASHIACH, to the glory of YAHUAH the Father.” That is, every tone will confess that the Lord, God the Father, is Jesus. This order doesn’t make sense for the original audience and presents other problems: it makes it sound like God the Father and God the Son are the same. The original makes it clear the text talks about Jesus’ divinity (he is lord), not merging members of the trinity together. Pidgeon’s approach softens and confuses one of the strongest cases for Jesus’ divinity.

How Do Conspiracy Theories Inform the Eth Cepher?

The largest problem with the Eth Cepher is that Pidgeon relies on a conspiracy theory of how the biblical canon was developed. Instead of looking at the history of why Martin Luther and other Reformers decided to omit the deuterocanonical books from the Bible, Pidgeon claims that Protestant Bibles today have fewer books because “someone at the Scottish rite Presbyterian Masonic temple said… if we give them too much scripture, they’ll start arguing.” The explanation mischaracterizes the Scottish Presbyterians who believed in God’s direct inspiration of the Word. It also relies on cliches about the Freemasons—a frequent scapegoat for conspiracy theories because members have to swear to secrecy, Freemason rites talk about access to secret knowledge, and many influential people (such as various founding fathers) have belonged to the group.

Pidgeon has been convinced of several conspiracy theories for at least a decade. Most famously, in 2009, he claimed that Barack Obama was not a natural-born United States citizen despite evidence to the contrary. In 2011, he self-published a book titled Behold! A Pale Green Horse! claiming that climate change is connected to end times plots to create a one-world order.

The conspiratorial worldview helps explain why Pidgeon asserts that church leaders have been trying to hide “the truth” (alleged Hebrew New Testament writings that don’t exist, biblical canon changes that have nothing to do with the Freemasons) from the public. The reality is that none of the material in the Eth Cepher has been “hidden.” All of it is easy to access, as the links throughout this article show.

Conspiratorial worldviews have become very popular, making us susceptible to narratives that don’t fit logic or direct evidence. In cases like the Eth Cepher, they lead us away from a healthy view of God: the “secret group keeping Scripture from us” minimizes God’s power to preserve his word in truth.

We must also consider that conspiracy theories do not fit a Christian worldview. They rely on the idea that a small group runs the entire show. As God shows us through his word time and again, it is the everyday people who change the world. Twelve Jewish peasants were an unlikely group to transform the world with, but that was who God chose, and he continues to choose normal people to be his witnesses daily. While conspiracy theories encourage paranoia about authority, Paul encourages us to pray for our leaders and to live peaceably with everyone. If anyone had a reason for resistance to an oppressive, controlling group, it was the first-century Christians, yet Paul’s method of protest was prayer.

What Can We Learn from the Cepher Bible?

The Eth Cepher teaches several things by bad example.

First, is it important to have conversations about what books were and weren’t included in the Bible. We need to know how the Old and New Testaments came to us in their current form. Second, studying history is important: when we don’t know church history, it’s easy to fall for conspiracy theories.

While we should study the deuterocanonical books, the Eth Cepher isn’t the only place to find them. Nearly all these books can be read for free online at places like BibleStudyTools.com. Since the Eth Cepher presents those books in an unnecessarily confusing way, it’s best to look elsewhere to start studying.

Photo Credit:©GettyImages/tovfla

Ben Reichert works with college students in New Zealand. He graduated from Iowa State in 2019 with degrees in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, and agronomy. He is passionate about church history, theology, and having people walk with Jesus. When not working or writing you can find him running or hiking in the beautiful New Zealand Bush.

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