Israeli American Dr Miriam Adelson has made US headlines for suggesting that the Hebrew Bible could do with a “Book of Trump”.
“Would it be too much to pray for a day when the Bible gets a ‘Book of Trump’?” she asked, in an article published in the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Israel Hayom newspaper – both of which she co-owns with her husband, American business magnate, investor and Republican Party mega-donor Sheldon Adelson.
Dr Adelson’s reasons for suggesting the Jewish biblical canon be expanded to include a Book of Trump essentially boil down to her view that US President Donald Trump has done an exceptionally splendid job of nurturing the US-Israel relationship.
“In nuptial terms, our countries celebrated their ‘golden anniversary’ more than 20 years ago. We are now at platinum – a miracle of preciousness, radiance and endurance. And the man who most deserves credit for this is President Donald J. Trump,” she writes.
Trump has, in Adelson’s view, ushered in a “time of miracles for Israel, for the United States, and for the whole world” by making a series of pro-Israel decisions – including formally recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US Embassy there; declaring the Golan Heights to be Israeli territory; and withdrawing the United States from a nuclear deal with Iran.
“Would it be too much to pray for a day when the Bible gets a ‘Book of Trump,’ much like it has a ‘Book of Esther’ celebrating the deliverance of the Jews from ancient Persia?” – Miriam Adelson
What should follow, she says, is “sweeping support among US Jews” for the President. But “this has not been the case,” she admits, describing the reality as “an oddity that will long be pondered by historians.”
And here’s where the Book of Trump bit comes in.
“Scholars of the Bible will no doubt note the heroes, sages and prophets of antiquity who were similarly spurned by the very people they came to raise up,” Adelson writes.
“Would it be too much to pray for a day when the Bible gets a ‘Book of Trump,’ much like it has a ‘Book of Esther’ celebrating the deliverance of the Jews from ancient Persia?
“Until that is decided, let us, at least, sit back and marvel at this time of miracles for Israel, for the United States, and for the whole world.”
Let’s be clear, there are many, many Jews and Christians (and people of other faiths and people of no faith) who would take serious issue with Dr Adelson’s assessment of President Trump’s contribution to the complexities of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. But putting politics aside, her suggestion raises the interesting question of whether it is actually possible to just add extra books into the Bible.
Eternity asked author and Ridley College Academic Dean and Theology Lecturer Dr Mike Bird whether it’s possible for someone to just add in an extra book of the Bible these days.
“The canon of the Christian churches are a bit fuzzy around the edges. Catholics have the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Apocrypha; the Greek Orthodox use the Greek Septuagint and New Testament and call it the anagignoskomena, which has a few variations on the apocryphal books (like no 4 Ezra); the Ethiopian Orthodox church has a few extra books on the books like 1 Enoch; and vanilla Protestants have the Old and New Testaments. Also, some ancient biblical manuscripts include early Christian writings like the Shepherd of Hermas or 1 Clement as a kind of appendix to the Bible,” Dr Bird responded.
“Such a suggestion is both blasphemous and in poor taste.” – Michael Bird
“So, like I said, some fuzzy edges. But at the end of the day, everyone agrees on the NT and the OT as canonical and authoritative for faith and the ratification of the church’s list of sacred books belongs firmly in antiquity. Since then no one has really thought about adding any more since those councils. It would be interesting if someone dug up Colossae and found another epistle of Paul or Peter, there would be some debate over whether it is authentic and whether it could be included in the Bible,but it would be unlikely to be added in my opinion because such things require unanimity and consensus across the breadth of all church bodies.”
And in case anyone was uncertain about where Dr Bird really stood on the issue of a potential Book of Trump, he added, “I’m even less inclined to think that a Book of Trump about Donald Trump as new kind of Cyrus could be added to the Bible. Such a suggestion is both blasphemous and in poor taste, and no church outside of America, from Azerbaijan to Zimbabwe, would accept it.”