Pauline epistles

Pauline epistles

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The Pauline epistles, Epistles of Paul, or Letters of Paul, are the thirteen New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 books which have the name Paul (Παῦλος) as the first word, hence claiming authorship by Paul the Apostle. Among these letters are some of the earliest extant Christian documents. They provide an insight into the beliefs and controversies of early Christianity
Early Christianity
Early Christianity is generally considered as Christianity before 325. The New Testament's Book of Acts and Epistle to the Galatians records that the first Christian community was centered in Jerusalem and its leaders included James, Peter and John....

 and, as part of the canon
Biblical canon
A biblical canon, or canon of scripture, is a list of books considered to be authoritative as scripture by a particular religious community. The term itself was first coined by Christians, but the idea is found in Jewish sources. The internal wording of the text can also be specified, for example...

 of the New Testament, they have also been, and continue to be, foundational to Christian theology
Christian theology
- Divisions of Christian theology :There are many methods of categorizing different approaches to Christian theology. For a historical analysis, see the main article on the History of Christian theology.- Sub-disciplines :...

 and Christian ethics
Christian ethics
The first recorded meeting on the topic of Christian ethics, after Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, Great Commandment, and Great Commission , was the Council of Jerusalem , which is seen by most Christians as agreement that the New Covenant either abrogated or set aside at least some of the Old...

. The Epistle to the Hebrews
Epistle to the Hebrews
The Epistle to the Hebrews is one of the books in the New Testament. Its author is not known.The primary purpose of the Letter to the Hebrews is to exhort Christians to persevere in the face of persecution. The central thought of the entire Epistle is the doctrine of the Person of Christ and his...

 was also anciently attributed to Paul, but does not bear his name
Authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews
The authorship of the Epistle to the Hebrews is uncertain; most modern scholars generally agree that it was not written by Paul, and doubts have been raised about the true author since the third century AD...

.

The Pauline epistles are usually placed between the Book of Acts and the General epistles
General epistles
General epistles are books in the New Testament in the form of letters. They are termed "general" because for the most part their intended audience seems to be Christians in general rather than individual persons or congregations as is the case with the Pauline epistles...

. In minuscules 175
Minuscule 175
Minuscule 175 , δ 95 , is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment. Palaeographically it has been assigned to the 12th century...

, 325
Minuscule 325
Minuscule 325 , α 111 , is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment. Palaeographically it has been assigned to the 11th century.Formerly it was labelled by 30a, 36p, and 9r.It has marginalia....

, 336
Minuscule 336
Minuscule 336 , α 500 , is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on paper. Palaeographically it has been assigned to the 15th century.Formerly it was labelled by 45a, 52p, and 16r.- Description :...

, and 1424
Minuscule 1424
Minuscule 1424 , δ 30 is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, written on 337 parchment leaves . It has been dated paleographically to the 9th or 10th century).- Description :...

 the Pauline epistles are placed at the end of New Testament.

The order of epistles


In the order they appear in the New Testament, the Pauline epistles are:

























Name
Greek
Latin
Abbreviations
Full Min.

Romans
Epistle to the Romans
The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, often shortened to Romans, is the sixth book in the New Testament. Biblical scholars agree that it was composed by the Apostle Paul to explain that Salvation is offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ...


Προς Ρωμαίους
Epistula ad Romanos
Rom
Ro
First Corinthians
Προς Κορινθίους Α
Epistula I ad Corinthios
1 Cor
1C
Second Corinthians
Προς Κορινθίους Β
Epistula II ad Corinthios
2 Cor
2C
Galatians
Epistle to the Galatians
The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, often shortened to Galatians, is the ninth book of the New Testament. It is a letter from Paul of Tarsus to a number of Early Christian communities in the Roman province of Galatia in central Anatolia...


Προς Γαλάτας
Epistula ad Galatas
Gal
G
Ephesians
Προς Εφεσίους
Epistula ad Ephesios
Eph
E
Philippians
Προς Φιλιππησίους
Epistula ad Philippenses
Phil
Phi
Colossians
Προς Κολασσαείς
Epistula ad Colossenses
Col
C
First Thessalonians
Προς Θεσσαλονικείς Α
Epistula I ad Thessalonicenses
1 Thess
1Th
Second Thessalonians
Προς Θεσσαλονικείς Β
Epistula II ad Thessalonicenses
2 Thess
2Th
First Timothy
Προς Τιμόθεον Α
Epistula I ad Timotheum
1 Tim
1T
Second Timothy
Προς Τιμόθεον Β
Epistula II ad Timotheum
2 Tim
2T
Titus
Epistle to Titus
The Epistle of Paul to Titus, usually referred to simply as Titus, is one of the three Pastoral Epistles , traditionally attributed to Saint Paul, and is part of the New Testament...


Προς Τίτον
Epistula ad Titum
Tit
T
Philemon
Epistle to Philemon
Paul's Epistle to Philemon, usually referred to simply as Philemon, is a prison letter to Philemon from Paul of Tarsus. Philemon was a leader in the Colossian church. This letter, which is one of the books of the New Testament, deals with forgiveness.Philemon was a wealthy Christian of the house...


Προς Φιλήμονα
Epistula ad Philemonem
Philem
P


All of these epistles present Paul as the author. Some classifications do include Hebrews
Epistle to the Hebrews
The Epistle to the Hebrews is one of the books in the New Testament. Its author is not known.The primary purpose of the Letter to the Hebrews is to exhort Christians to persevere in the face of persecution. The central thought of the entire Epistle is the doctrine of the Person of Christ and his...

, being anonymous, as a Pauline epistle instead of listing it with the general epistles
General epistles
General epistles are books in the New Testament in the form of letters. They are termed "general" because for the most part their intended audience seems to be Christians in general rather than individual persons or congregations as is the case with the Pauline epistles...

, but authorship of Hebrews
Epistle to the Hebrews
The Epistle to the Hebrews is one of the books in the New Testament. Its author is not known.The primary purpose of the Letter to the Hebrews is to exhort Christians to persevere in the face of persecution. The central thought of the entire Epistle is the doctrine of the Person of Christ and his...

 (as Paul's) was disputed from the earliest.

Formerly in many manuscripts of the New Testament, the Epistle to the Hebrews
Epistle to the Hebrews
The Epistle to the Hebrews is one of the books in the New Testament. Its author is not known.The primary purpose of the Letter to the Hebrews is to exhort Christians to persevere in the face of persecution. The central thought of the entire Epistle is the doctrine of the Person of Christ and his...

 was located between other Pauline epistles:
  • between Rom and 1 Cor in mss: Papyrus 46 and in minuscules: 103
    Minuscule 103
    Minuscule 103 , ΟΘ28 , is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment leaves. Palaeographically it has been assigned to the 12th century...

    , 455
    Minuscule 455
    Minuscule 455 , ΟΘ 41 , is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on paper. Palaeographically it has been assigned to the 13th or 14th century.Formerly it was labelled by 85a and 95p....

    , 1961, 1964, 1977, 1994.
  • between 2 Cor and Gal (minuscules 1930, 1978, and 2248)
  • between Gal and Eph,
  • between 2 Thessalonians
    Second Epistle to the Thessalonians
    The Second Epistle of Paul to the Thessalonians, often referred to as Second Thessalonians and written 2 Thessalonians, is a book from the New Testament of the Christian Bible...

     and 1 Timothy
    First Epistle to Timothy
    The First Epistle of Paul to Timothy, usually referred to simply as First Timothy and often written 1 Timothy, is one of three letters in the New Testament of the Bible often grouped together as the Pastoral Epistles, the others being Second Timothy and Titus...

    . This order used manuscripts: Codex Sinaiticus
    Codex Sinaiticus
    Codex Sinaiticus is one of the four great uncial codices, an ancient, handwritten copy of the Greek Bible. It is an Alexandrian text-type manuscript written in the 4th century in uncial letters on parchment. Current scholarship considers the Codex Sinaiticus to be one of the best Greek texts of...

    , Codex Alexandrinus
    Codex Alexandrinus
    The Codex Alexandrinus is a 5th century manuscript of the Greek Bible,The Greek Bible in this context refers to the Bible used by Greek-speaking Christians who lived in Egypt and elsewhere during the early history of Christianity...

    , Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209, Codex Ephraemi, H
    Codex Coislinianus
    Codex Coislinianus designated by Hp or 015 , α 1022 , was named also as Codex Euthalianus. It is a Greek uncial manuscript of the Pauline epistles, dated palaeographically to the 6th century. The text is written stichometrically.It has marginalia...

    , I
    Codex Freerianus
    Codex Freerianus, designated by I or 016 , α 1041 , also called the Washington Manuscript of the Pauline Epistles, is a 5th century manuscript in an uncial hand on vellum in Greek....

    , P
    Codex Guelferbytanus A
    Codex Guelferbytanus A designated by Pe or 024 , ε 33 , is a Greek uncial manuscript of the Gospels, dated palaeographically to the 6th century. The manuscript is very lacunose.- Description :...

    , 0150
    Uncial 0150
    Uncial 0150 , is a Greek uncial manuscript of the New Testament. It is dated paleographically to the 9th century.- Description :...

    , 0151
    Uncial 0151
    Uncial 0151 , is a Greek uncial manuscript of the New Testament. It is dated paleographically to the 9th century.- Description :...

    , and about 60 minuscule codices (e.g. 218
    Minuscule 218
    Minuscule 218 , ε 233 , is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the Old Testament and New Testament, on parchment. It is one of the few manuscripts with the complete Greek Bible. Palaeographically it has been assigned to the 13th century...

    , 632
    Minuscule 632
    Minuscule 632 , α 201 , is a Greek minuscule manuscript of the New Testament, on parchment. Palaeographically it has been assigned to the 12th or 14th century. The manuscript is lacunose...

    ).

Now Hebrews is placed at the end. This order was used by the manuscripts:
Codex Bezae
Codex Bezae
The Codex Bezae Cantabrigensis, designated by siglum Dea or 05 , δ 5 , is a codex of the New Testament dating from the 5th century written in an uncial hand on vellum. It contains, in both Greek and Latin, most of the four Gospels and Acts, with a small fragment of the 3 John...

, Uncial 048
Codex Vaticanus 2061
Codex Vaticanus Graecus 2061, usually known as Uncial 048 , α1 , is a Greek uncial manuscript on parchment. It contains some parts of the New Testament, homilies of several authors, and Strabo's Geographica...

, E
Codex Laudianus
Codex Laudianus, designated by Ea or 08 , α 1001 , called Laudianus after the former owner, Archbishop William Laud. It is a diglot Latin — Greek uncial manuscript of the New Testament, palaeographically assigned to the 6th century...

, K
Codex Mosquensis I
Codex Mosquensis I designated by Kap or 018 , Απρ1 , is a Greek uncial manuscript of New Testament, palaeographically it has been assigned to the 9th century...

, L
Codex Regius (New Testament)
Codex Regius designated by siglum Le or 019 , ε 56 , is a Greek uncial manuscript of the New Testament, dated paleographically to the 8th century. The manuscript is lacunose. It has marginalia....

 and majority of minuscules.

Religious classification of the epistles


The Pauline epistles are also noteworthy for the personal relationships they mention. Paul greets many individuals by name, often giving details about the value of these friendships and the encouragement they gave him.

Authenticity of the epistles

Main article Authorship of the Pauline epistles
Authorship of the Pauline epistles
The Pauline epistles are the fourteen books in the New Testament traditionally attributed to Paul the Apostle, although many dispute the anonymous Epistle to the Hebrews as being a Pauline epistle....

.

Several of the letters are thought by most modern scholars to be pseudepigraphic
Pseudepigraphy
Pseudepigrapha are falsely attributed works, texts whose claimed authorship is unfounded; a work, simply, "whose real author attributed it to a figure of the past." The word "pseudepigrapha" is the plural of "pseudepigraphon" ; the Anglicized forms...

, that is, not actually written by Paul of Tarsus even if attributed to him within the letters themselves, or, arguably, even forgeries intended to justify certain later beliefs. Details of the arguments regarding this issue are addressed more specifically in the articles about each epistle.

These are the 7 letters (with consensus dates) considered genuine by most scholars (see main article Authorship of the Pauline epistles
Authorship of the Pauline epistles
The Pauline epistles are the fourteen books in the New Testament traditionally attributed to Paul the Apostle, although many dispute the anonymous Epistle to the Hebrews as being a Pauline epistle....

: section The undisputed epistles):
  • First Thessalonians (ca. 51 AD)
  • Philippians (ca. 52-54 AD)
  • Philemon
    Epistle to Philemon
    Paul's Epistle to Philemon, usually referred to simply as Philemon, is a prison letter to Philemon from Paul of Tarsus. Philemon was a leader in the Colossian church. This letter, which is one of the books of the New Testament, deals with forgiveness.Philemon was a wealthy Christian of the house...

     (ca. 52-54 AD)
  • First Corinthians (ca. 53-54 AD)
  • Galatians
    Epistle to the Galatians
    The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians, often shortened to Galatians, is the ninth book of the New Testament. It is a letter from Paul of Tarsus to a number of Early Christian communities in the Roman province of Galatia in central Anatolia...

     (ca. 55 AD)
  • Second Corinthians (ca. 55-56 AD)
  • Romans
    Epistle to the Romans
    The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, often shortened to Romans, is the sixth book in the New Testament. Biblical scholars agree that it was composed by the Apostle Paul to explain that Salvation is offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ...

     (ca. 55-58 AD)


The letters thought to be pseudepigraphic by the majority of modern scholars include:
  • Pastoral epistles
    Pastoral epistles
    The three pastoral epistles are books of the canonical New Testament: the First Epistle to Timothy the Second Epistle to Timothy , and the Epistle to Titus. They are presented as letters from Paul of Tarsus...

    • First Timothy
    • Second Timothy
    • Titus
      Epistle to Titus
      The Epistle of Paul to Titus, usually referred to simply as Titus, is one of the three Pastoral Epistles , traditionally attributed to Saint Paul, and is part of the New Testament...



The letters on which modern scholars are about evenly divided are:
  • Ephesians
  • Colossians
  • Second Thessalonians


An anonymous text that nearly all modern scholars agree was probably not written by Paul is:
  • Hebrews
    Epistle to the Hebrews
    The Epistle to the Hebrews is one of the books in the New Testament. Its author is not known.The primary purpose of the Letter to the Hebrews is to exhort Christians to persevere in the face of persecution. The central thought of the entire Epistle is the doctrine of the Person of Christ and his...


Lost Pauline epistles

  • The first Epistle to Corinth referenced at
  • The third Epistle to Corinth called Severe Letter
    Severe Letter
    The Severe Letter or Letter of Tears was a letter written to the Corinthians by the Apostle Paul. It is mentioned in 2 Corinthians 2:4: "For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more...

     
    referenced at and
  • The earlier Epistle to the Ephesians referenced at
  • The Epistle to the Laodiceans
    Epistle to the Laodiceans
    An Epistle to the Laodiceans, purportedly written by Paul of Tarsus to the Laodicean Church, is mentioned in the canonical Epistle to the Colossians...

    referenced at

Non-canonical Pauline epistles


Several non-canonical epistles claim or having been claimed to have been written by Paul. Most bible scholars reject their authenticity. They include
  • Third Epistle to the Corinthians
    Third Epistle to the Corinthians
    The Third Epistle to the Corinthians is believed to be a pseudepigraphical text under the name of Paul of Tarsus. It is also found in the Acts of Paul, and was framed as Paul's response to the Epistle of the Corinthians to Paul. The earliest extant copy is Bodmer Papyrus X.In the West it was not...

     (canonical for a time in the Armenian Orthodox
    Armenian Apostolic Church
    The Armenian Apostolic Church is the world's oldest National Church, is part of Oriental Orthodoxy, and is one of the most ancient Christian communities. Armenia was the first country to adopt Christianity as its official religion in 301 AD, in establishing this church...

    )
  • Epistle to the Laodiceans
    Epistle to the Laodiceans
    An Epistle to the Laodiceans, purportedly written by Paul of Tarsus to the Laodicean Church, is mentioned in the canonical Epistle to the Colossians...

     (found in Codex Fuldensis
    Codex Fuldensis
    The Codex Fuldensis, designated by F, is a New Testament manuscript based on the Latin Vulgate made between 541 and 546. The codex is considered the second most important witness to the Vulgate text; and is also the oldest complete manuscript witness to the order of the Diatessaron. It is an...

    )
  • Epistle of the Corinthians to Paul
    Epistle of the Corinthians to Paul
    The Epistle of the Corinthians to Paul is a work from the New Testament apocrypha, and originally formed part of the Acts of Paul, though it was later detached and circulated separately....

     (addressed to Paul, not written by him)
  • Epistle to the Alexandrians
    Epistle to the Alexandrians
    Nothing is known for certain of a pseudepigraphical Epistle to the Alexandrians — purportedly by Paul — that is mentioned in the Muratorian fragment, one of the earliest lists of the canonical texts of the New Testament; the anonymous author of the Muratorian canon considered spurious the letters...



Texts also exist which, while not strictly epistles, nevertheless claim to have been written by (or about) Paul. These include
  • Acts of Paul and Thecla
    Acts of Paul and Thecla
    The Acts of Paul and Thecla is an apocryphal story— Goodspeed called it a "religious romance"— of St Paul's influence on a young virgin named Thecla. It is one of the writings of the New Testament Apocrypha.- The text :...

  • Acts of Peter and Paul
    Acts of Peter and Paul
    The Acts of Peter and Paul is a late text from the New Testament apocrypha, thought to date from after the 4th century. An alternate version exists, known as the Passion of Peter and Paul, with variances in the introductory part of the text.-Synopsis:...

  • Apocalypse of Paul
    Apocalypse of Paul
    The Apocalypse of Paul is a 4th-century text of the New Testament apocrypha. There is an Ethiopic version of the Apocalypse which features the Virgin Mary in the place of Paul the Apostle, as the receiver of the vision, known as the Apocalypse of the Virgin...

  • Coptic Apocalypse of Paul
    Coptic Apocalypse of Paul
    The Coptic Apocalypse of Paul is one of the texts of the New Testament apocrypha found amongst the Nag Hammadi library. The text is not to be confused with the Apocalypse of Paul, which is unlikely to be related....

  • Prayer of the Apostle Paul
  • Epistle to Seneca the Younger
    Epistle to Seneca the Younger
    The Epistle to Seneca the Younger is a collection of correspondence claiming to be from Paul of Tarsus to Seneca the Younger. There are 8 epistles allegedly from Seneca, and 6 replies allegedly from Paul...



Some have also postulated the existence of a third epistle to the Thessalonians (second chronologically) forged in Paul's name, citing 2 Th 2:1-2, 3:17 as evidence; that hypothesis, though, has not gained mainstream acceptance.

Bibliographic Resources

  • Aland, Kurt. “The Problem of Anonymity and Pseudonymity in Christian Literature of the First Two Centuries.” Journal of Theological Studies 12 (1961): 39-49.
  • Bahr, Gordon J. “Paul and Letter Writing in the First Century.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly
    Catholic Biblical Quarterly
    The Catholic Biblical Quarterly is a refereed theological journal published by the Catholic Biblical Association of America....

    28 (1966): 465-77. idem, “The Subscriptions in the Pauline Letters.” Journal of Biblical Literature
    Journal of Biblical Literature
    The Journal of Biblical Literature is one of three theological journals published by the Society of Biblical Literature .First published in 1881, JBL is the flagship journal of the field...

    2 (1968): 27-41.
  • Bauckham, Richard J. “Pseudo-Apostolic Letters.” Journal of Biblical Literature
    Journal of Biblical Literature
    The Journal of Biblical Literature is one of three theological journals published by the Society of Biblical Literature .First published in 1881, JBL is the flagship journal of the field...

    107 (1988): 469-94.
  • Carson, D.A. “Pseudonymity and Pseudepigraphy.” Dictionary of New Testament Background. Eds. Craig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2000. 857-64.
  • Cousar, Charles B. The Letters of Paul. Interpreting Biblical Texts. Nashville: Abingdon, 1996.
  • Deissmann, G. Adolf. Bible Studies. Trans. Alexander Grieve. 1901. Peabody: Hendrickson, 1988.
  • Doty, William G. Letters in Primitive Christianity. Guides to Biblical Scholarship. New Testament. Ed. Dan O. Via, Jr. Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988.
  • Gamble, Harry Y. “Amanuensis.” Anchor Bible Dictionary. Vol. 1. Ed. David Noel Freedman. New York: Doubleday, 1992.
  • Haines-Eitzen, Kim. “‘Girls Trained in Beautiful Writing’: Female Scribes in Roman Antiquity and Early Christianity.” Journal of Early Christian Studies
    Journal of Early Christian Studies
    The Journal of Early Christian Studies is an academic journal founded in 1993 and is the official publication of the North American Patristics Society. It is devoted to the study of patristics, that is Christianity in the ancient period of roughly C.E. 100-700. The current editor is David Brakke of...

    6.4 (1998): 629-46.
  • Kim, Yung Suk. A Theological Introduction to Paul's Letters. Eugene, Oregon: Cascade Books, 2011.
  • Longenecker, Richard N. “Ancient Amanuenses and the Pauline Epistles.” New Dimensions in New Testament Study. Eds. Richard N. Longenecker and Merrill C. Tenney
    Merrill C. Tenney
    Merrill Chapin Tenney was an American professor of Old Testament and Greek and author of several books. He was the general editor of the Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary, and served on the original translation team for the New American Standard Bible-Background and education:Tenney was born in...

    . Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974. 281-97. idem, “On the Form, Function, and Authority of the New Testament Letters.” Scripture and Truth. Eds. D.A. Carson and John D. Woodbridge. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983. 101-14.
  • Murphy-O’Connor, Jerome. Paul the Letter-Writer: His World, His Options, His Skills. Collegeville, MN: Liturgical, 1995.
  • Richards, E. Randolph. The Secretary in the Letters of Paul. Tübingen: Mohr, 1991. idem, “The Codex and the Early Collection of Paul’s Letters.” Bulletin for Bulletin Research 8 (1998): 151-66. idem, Paul and First-Century Letter Writing: Secretaries, Composition, and Collection. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2004.
  • Robson, E. Iliff. “Composition and Dictation in New Testament Books.” Journal of Theological Studies 18 (1917): 288-301.
  • Stowers, Stanley K. Letter Writing in Greco-Roman Antiquity. Library of Early Christianity. Vol. 8. Ed. Wayne A. Meeks. Philadelphia: Westminster, 1989.
  • Wall, Robert W. “Introduction to Epistolary Literature.” New Interpreter’s Bible. Vol. 10. Ed. Leander E. Keck. Nashville: Abingdon, 2002. 369-91.

External links