The picture then came into focus. The entire Old Testament is almost entirely bereft of any reference to the ten chapters of Genesis 2-11. These are the "mythological" chapters that tell of the garden of Eden, a woman made from a rib, a talking snake, magical trees, the flood of Noah, the rainbow covenant, and the tower of Babel. Their character is very different from the rest of Genesis, including its first chapter, and almost none of the authors of the Old Testament show any awareness of that material at all.
So then we wondered why, if the mythological chapters were missing from the Old Testament, they would be so prominent in the New. So we looked at the Apocrypha, the literature written between the closing of the Old Testament and the writing of the New. And we found many references to the content of the mythological chapters. Indeed, we found a whole retelling of the missing material in 4 Esdras:
This is an amazing discovery. I have studied the Bible for over two decades and never noticed the missing mythological chapters of Genesis. I have no idea how I could have overlooked something so obvious. I would be very interested to know what others think about this.
Impact on the Study of the New Testament:
This impacts the study of the New Testament because unlike the Old Testament, it relies strongly on the mythological chapters of Genesis. Paul based his gospel on Christ's rectification of Adam's sin:
Impact on the question of the Biblical Canon:
This then impacts the question of the canon. Protestants struggle mightily to find a foundation for their doctrine of "Sola Scriptura" (Scripture alone) because the doctrine cannot be established "from the Bible alone." It is therefore self-contradictory. The Bible does not list which books it should contain, so they must rely upon tradition rather than Scripture. They try evade this problem by asserting that the books of the Old Testament must pass certain tests. Even when I was a Christian this made little sense to me because I could see they were only making post-hoc arguments designed to imply their assumed conclusion. And besides, their "tests" could never establish the exact canon they accepted, since some books, like Esther, are not referenced in the NT at all.
My project now is to review the Apocrypha to see how strongly the NT depends upon it. I would very much appreciate any references to research already done in this area. I would be particularly interested in any research that discusses the fact that the missing references to the mythological chapters of Genesis.