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". Several texts bearing this title have been known to have existed, but none are widely believed to have been written by Paul.


Paul, the earliest known Christian author, wrote several letters (or epistles) in Greek to various churches. Many survived and are included in the New Testament, but others are known to have been lost. The Epistle to the Colossians, purportedly written by Paul, states "After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea." [ [http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Colossians%204:16;&version=31; Colossians 4:16] , NIV translation] Presumably, at the time that the Epistle to the Colossians was written, an epistle in Paul's name to the Laodicean Church was also read in the area.

Some scholars have suggested that this refers to the canonical "Epistle to the Ephesians", contending that it was a circular letter to be read to many churches in the Laodicean area. [See, for example: Theodore Beza, "Novum Testamentum, cum versione Latina veteri, et nova Theodori Bezæ"; James Ussher, "Annales Veteris et Novi Testamenti"; and modern scholars John Lightfoot, Fenton John Anthony Hort, and others.] Others dispute this view. [See, for instance: N. A. Dahl, "Theologische Zeitschrift 7" (1951); and W. G. Kummel, et al, "Introduction to the New Testament".]

It is unknown whether Laodiceans was written by Paul or by a someone else.

The Marcionist epistle to the Laodiceans

The early Christian Marcion believed that Paul was the only apostle who truly understood Jesus's message, and constructed a canon consisting of only one single Gospel (based on the Gospel of Luke) and some of the Pauline epistles. (These were also edited, in Marcion's canon, to remove passages that he did not agree with.) According to the Muratorian fragment, Marcion's canon contained a forgery entitled "Epistle to the Laodiceans" which was written to conform to his own point of view. [ [http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/muratorian.html The Muratorian fragment] ] It is not known what this letter might have contained. Some scholars suggest it may have been the Vulgate epistle described below [See, e.g. Adolf von Harnack] , while others believe it must have been more explicitly Marcionist in its outlook.Bart Ehrman, " [http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0195182499/ Lost Christianities: The Battles for Scripture and the Faiths We Never Knew] ", chapter 5. Oxford University Press, USA, July 27, 2005. ISBN 978-0195182491]

The Vulgate epistle to the Laodiceans

A letter entitled "Epistle to the Laodiceans", consisting of 20 short lines, is found in some editions of the Vulgate, known only in Latin. It is almost unanimously believed to be pseudepigraphical, being a pastiche of phrases taken from the genuine Pauline epistles. [M.R. James, [http://www.comparative-religion.com/christianity/apocrypha/new-testament-apocrypha/4/7.php Epistle to the Laodiceans] , translation and commentary] It contains almost no doctrine, teachings, or narrative not found elsewhere, and its exclusion from the Biblical canon has little effect.

The text was almost unanimously considered pseudepigraphal when Biblical canon was decided upon, and does not appear in any Greek copies of the Bible at all, nor is it known in Syriac or other versions. [ [http://reluctant-messenger.com/epistle-laodiceans.htm Paul's Epistle to the Laodiceans] from "The Reluctant Messenger"] Jerome wrote in the 4th century, "it is rejected by everyone." [Jerome, "Lives of Illustrious Men", Chapter 5.] However, it evidently gained a certain degree of respect. It appeared in over 100 surviving early Latin copies of the Bible. According to Biblia Sacra iuxta vulgatum versionem, there are Latin Vulgate manuscripts containing this epistle dating between the 6th and 12th century, including Latin manuscripts F (Codex Fuldensis), M, Q, B, D (Ardmachanus), C, and Lambda. The epistle also appeared in John Wycliffe's Bible and in all the early German translations before Martin Luther's, and was thus evidently considered scriptural by much of the western church for quite some time. [Catholic]

The apocryphal epistle is generally considered a transparent attempt to supply this supposed lost sacred document. Some scholars suggest that it was created to offset the popularity of the Marcionite epistle.

Jakob Lorber's Epistle to the Laodiceans

In 1884, Austrian mystic Jakob Lorber (1800–1864) published an "Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Laodiceans" [ [http://www.merkurpublishing.com/letter_of_saint_paul_to_the_laodiceans.htm Jakob Lorber: "Letter of St. Paul to the Assembly of the Laodiceans"] ] , which he claimed to have learned from an "inner voice" as with all his other writings. This epistle has no connection to the other texts mentioned above.


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • 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… …   Wikipedia

  • Epistle to the Colossians — Books of the New Testament …   Wikipedia

  • Epistle to the Ephesians —     Epistle to the Ephesians     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Epistle to the Ephesians     This article will be treated under the following heads:     ♦ I. Analysis of the Epistle;     ♦ II. Special Characteristics:     ♦ (1) Form:     (a)… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • The Lost Books of the Bible and the Forgotten Books of Eden — (A B Book Dist Inc, March 1994, ISBN 1 881316 63 7) is an anthology of ancient, apocryphal writings. The book was originally two books. The Lost Books of the Bible (Testament, 1998, ISBN 0 517 27795 6) was originally published in 1928, and was… …   Wikipedia

  • Authorship of the Pauline epistles — Saint Paul Writing His Epistles, 16th century painting. Most scholars think Paul actually dictated his letters to a secretary, for example Romans 16:22 cites a scribe named Tertius …   Wikipedia

  • Development of the New Testament canon — For the Jewish canon, see Development of the Jewish Bible canon. For the Old Testament canon, see Development of the Old Testament canon. Part of a series on …   Wikipedia

  • Laodicea on the Lycus — (Greek: polytonic|Λαοδίκεια πρός τοῦ Λύκου; Latin: Laodicea ad Lycum , also transliterated as Laodiceia or Laodikeia , earlier known as Diospolis and Rhoas) was the ancient metropolis of Phrygia Pacatiana (also attributed to Caria and Lydia),… …   Wikipedia

  • Canon of the New Testament — • The idea of a complete and clear cut canon of the New Testament existing from the beginning, that is from Apostolic times, has no foundation in history Catholic Encyclopedia. Kevin Knight. 2006. Canon of the New Testament      …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Development of the Old Testament canon — For the Jewish canon, see Development of the Jewish Bible canon. For the New Testament canon, see Development of the New Testament canon. Part of a series on …   Wikipedia

  • Books of the Latin Vulgate — These are the books of the Latin Vulgate along with the names and numbers given them in the Douay Rheims Bible and King James Bible. There are 76 books in the Clementine edition of the Latin Vulgate, 46 in the Old Testament, 27 in the New… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”