Epistle to the Laodiceans

1.0 The Development of the Canon of the New Testament: Epistle to the Laodiceans1)http://www.ntcanon.org/Epistle_to_the_Laodiceans.shtml

(close of the 3rd century CE)

At the close of the Epistle to the Colossians this request is made of its recipients:

When this epistle has been read among you, have it read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you read the epistle from Laodicea. (Col. 4:16)

This tantalizing reference, though somewhat ambiguous as to who wrote whom (see [Lightfoot] for a discussion), offers a tempting invitation to some unknown author to provide the text of an Epistle of Paul to the Laodiceans, who were the neighbors of the congregation at Colossae.

The epistle discussed below is probably not the one mentioned in the Muratorian Canon, see pp. 42-44 v. 2 of [Schneemelcher] for discussion of this unsettled matter. Composed perhaps at the close of the 3rd century, by the 4th century Jerome reports that ‘some read the Epistle to the Laodiceans, but it is rejected by everyone’ (De viris ill. 5). Of all the spurious pieces produced in the early Church, this is one of the most feeble. It is mystifying how it could have commanded so much respect in the Western Church for period of 1000 years. Comprising only 20 verses, the epistle is a pedestrian patchwork of phrases and sentences plagiarized from the genuine Pauline Epistles, particularly Philippians. After the author has expressed his joy at the faith and virtue of the Laodiceans, he warns them against heretics, and exhorts them to remain faithful to Christian doctrines and the Christian pattern of life. The epistle purports to have been written from prison.

There is no evidence of a Greek text. The epistle appears in more than 100 manuscripts of the Latin Vulgate (including the oldest, the celebrated codex Fuldensis, 546 CE), as well as in manuscripts of early Albigensian, Bohemian, English, and Flemish versions. At the close of the 10th century Aelfric, a monk in Dorset, wrote a treatise in Anglo-Saxon on the Old and New Testaments, in which he states that the apostle Paul wrote 15 Epistles. In his enumeration of them he place Laodiceans after Philemon. About 1165 CE John of Salisbury, writing about the canon to Henry count of Champagne (Epist. 209), acknowledges that ‘it is the common, indeed almost universal, opinion that there are only 14 Epistles of Paul … But the 15th is that which is written to the church of the Laodiceans’.

The Epistle to the Laodiceans is included in all 18 German Bibles printed prior to Luther’s translation, beginning with the first German Bible, issued by Johann Mental at Strassburg in 1488. In these the Pauline Epistles, with the Epistle to the Hebrews, immediately follow the Gospels, with Laodiceans standing between Galatians and Ephesians. In the first Czech (Bohemian) Bible, published at Prague in 1488 and reprinted several times in the 16th and 17th centuries, Laodiceans follows Colossians and precedes I Thessalonians. Thus, as Bishop Lightfoot phrased it:

… for more than nine centuries this forged epistle hovered about the doors of the sacred Canon, without either finding admission or being peremptorily excluded. ([Lightfoot] p. 297)

It was not until the Council of Florence (1439-43) that the See of Rome delivered for the first time a categorical opinion on the Scriptural canon. In the list of 27 books of the New Testament there are 14 Pauline Epistles, that to the Hebrews being last, with the book of Acts coming immediately before the Revelation of John. The Epistle to the Laodiceans is not even mentioned.

Epistle to the Laodiceans

1. Paul, an apostle not of men and not through man, but through Jesus Christ, to the brethren who are in Laodicea: 2. Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3. I thank Christ in all my prayer that you are steadfast in him and persevering in his works, in expectation of the promise for the day of judgment. 4. And may you not be deceived by the vain talk of some people who tell (you) tales that they may lead you away from the truth of the gospel which is proclaimed by me. 5. And now may God grant that those who come from me for the furtherance of the truth of the gospel (…) may be able to serve and to do good works for the well-being of eternal life. 6. And now my bonds are manifest, which I suffer in Christ, on account of which I am glad and rejoice. 7. This ministers to me unto eternal salvation, which (itself) is effected through your prayers and by the help of the Holy Spirit, whether it be through life or through death. 8. For my life is in Christ and to die is joy (to me). 9. An this will his mercy work in you, that you may have the same love and be of one mind. 10. Therefore, beloved, as you have heard my presence, so hold fast and do in the fear of God, and eternal life will be your portion. 11. For it is God who works in you. 12. And do without hesitation what you do. 13. And for the rest, beloved, rejoice in Christ and beware of those who are out for sordid gain. 14. May all your requests be manifest before God, and be yea steadfast in the mind of Christ. 15. And what is pure, true, proper, just and lovely, do. 16. And what you have heard and received, hold in your heart and peace will be with you. [17. Salute all the brethren with the holy kiss.] 18. The Saints salute you. 19. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. 20. And see that this epistle is read to the Colossians and that of the Colossians among you. (translation from pp. 43-44 v 2. of [Schneemelcher])

And from the Vulgate:

Epistula ad Laodicaeos

1:1 Paulus apostolus non ab hominibus neque per hominem sed per Iesum Christum, fratribus qui sunt Laodiciae. 1:2 gratia vobis et pax a Deo Patre et Domino Iesu Christo. 1:3 gratias ago Christo per omnem orationem meam, quod permanentes estis in eo et perseverantes in operibus eius, promissum expectantes in diem iudicii. 1:4 neque destituant vos quorundam vaniloquia insinuantium, ut vos evertant a veritate evangelii quod a me praedicatur. 1:5 et nunc faciet Deus, ut qui sunt ex me ad profectum veritatis evangelii deservientes et facientes benignitatem operum quae salutis vitae aeternae 1:6 et nunc palam sunt vincula mea quae patior in Christo; quibus laetor et gaudeo. 1:7 et hoc mihi est ad salutem perpetuam; quod ipsum factum orationibus vestris et administrantem Spiritum Sanctum, sive per vitam sive per mortem. 1:8 est enim mihi vere vita in Christo et mori gaudium. 1:9 et in ipsum in vobis faciet misericordiam suam, ut eandem dilectionem habeatis et sitis unianimes. 1:10 ergo, dilectissimi, ut audistis praesentia mei, ita retinete et facite in timore Dei, et erit vobis vita in aeternum; 1:11 est enim Deus qui operatur in vos. 1:12 et facite sine retractu quaecumque facitis. 1:13 et quod est, dilectissimi, gaudete in Christo. et praecavete sordidos in lucro. 1:14 omnes sint petitiones vestrae palam apud Deum. et estote firmi in sensu Christi. 1:15 et quae integra et vera et pudica et iusta et amabilia facite. 1:16 et quae audistis et accepistis, in corde retinete, et erit vobis pax. 1:17 salutate omnes fratres in osculo sancto. 1:18 salutant vos sancti. 1:19 gratia Domini Iesu cum spiritu vestro. 1:20 et facite legi Colosensium vobis. (from The World)

2.0 Epistle to the Laodiceans2)http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/laodiceans.html

Text

Information on the Epistle to the Laodiceans

Wilhelm Schneemelcher writes of the references to a text of this name, “in the Muratori Canon (cf. vol. I, p. 36) two Marcionite forgeries, an epistle to the Laodiceans and one to the Alexandrians, are mentioned and rejected. Apart from the suggestion that these books were ‘forged in Paul’s name for the sect of Marcion’ (lines 64f.), the passage provides no sort of clue to any closer identification of this epistle. Tertullian reports (adv. Marc. V 11 and 17) that the heretics, i.e. the Marcionites, regarded Ephesians as the Epistle to the Laodiceans and that Marcionite himself had made this change in the title. This note is confirmed to some extent by Epiphanius of Salamis (Haer. 42.9.4 and 42.12.3), who, it is true, gives no clear information as to whether the source which he copies here (Hippolytus) recognised Ephesians as the Epistle to the Laodiceans or whether in addition to Ephesians an Epistle to the Laodiceans also stood in the Marcionite canon. Filastrius (Haer. LXXXIX), who briefly mentions the Epistle to the Laodiceans in the context of his discussion of Hebrews, likewise goes no farther. Other references (assembled in Pink, op. cit.) also contribute little to our knowledge of the Epistle to the Laodiceans. The so-called Speculum (ps.-Augustine, de Divinis Scripturis, 5th century or 6th century) is unambiguous: here verse 4 of the Epistle to the Laodiceans preserved in Latin is quoted (CSEL 12, 516); Gregory the Great must also be reckoned among the positive witnesses for this epistle handed down in Latin (Moralia 35.20.48; PL 76, 778C).” (New Testament Apocrypha, vol. 2, p. 42)

Schneemelcher writes concerning the date of the text, “The dating of the Epistle to the Laodiceans is difficult for the reason that it depends on the question of the identity of this apocryphon with the one mentioned in the Muratori Canon, and this again is closely connected with the problem of its Marcionite derivation. Either the Muratori Canon means the Epistle to the Ephesians, the name of which was changed by Marcion into the Epistle to the Laodiceans (so Tertullian) – that, however, is unlikely, since Ephesians is mentioned in the Muratori Canon – or it had actually in view a separate Epistle to the Laodiceans, and then it must be the Latin Epistle to the Laodiceans that has come down to us, if we are not to assume several pseudo-Pauline letters to Laodicea. Certainly the Latin Epistle to the Laodiceans shows no sort of Marcionite character such as ought to be expected according to the statement of the Muratori Canon.” (New Testament Apocrypha, vol. 2, p. 43)

Schneemelcher reviews some arguments made by Harnack and Quispel to attempt to show the Marcionite character of the text known to us from Latin copies as the Epistle to the Laodiceans, “it may be said that the Marcionite origin of the Latin Epistle to the Laodiceans is an hypothesis that can neither be proved nor sustained. It is rather a clumsy forgery, the purpose of which is to have in the Pauline corpus the Epistle to the Laodiceans mentioned in Col. 4:16. Whether the Epistle to the Laodiceans mentioned in the Muratori Canon is identical with this apocryphon remains unsettled. With that possibility of an accurate dating also falls out. As the time of composition there comes into question the period between the 2nd century and the 4th.” (New Testament Apocrypha, vol. 2, p. 44)

3.0 Topic3)

Ut diam ponderum patrioque eam, illum atomorum pro et. Et reque atomorum definitiones quo. Ubique copiosae imperdiet ne nam, in est vocibus vivendum euripidis, labore pertinacia ea nec. Ei pro natum detracto. Habemus offendit has cu. Aeterno insolens nam te, usu nonumy quaestio in. Sea ei illum summo constituto, pri ut lorem sonet altera, nihil corpora epicurei et vis.

Nisl debet veritus duo at. Dicam semper vel et, choro utinam te vim, id pri laudem dissentiunt mediocritatem. Ad modo latine impedit duo, porro virtute mea ne. Tota nihil prompta pro in, mea et putant impetus scripserit. Qui at option feugiat, qui in delicata recteque. Te duo docendi consequuntur, in natum evertitur voluptatibus quo.

4.0 Topic3)

Ut diam ponderum patrioque eam, illum atomorum pro et. Et reque atomorum definitiones quo. Ubique copiosae imperdiet ne nam, in est vocibus vivendum euripidis, labore pertinacia ea nec. Ei pro natum detracto. Habemus offendit has cu. Aeterno insolens nam te, usu nonumy quaestio in. Sea ei illum summo constituto, pri ut lorem sonet altera, nihil corpora epicurei et vis.

Nisl debet veritus duo at. Dicam semper vel et, choro utinam te vim, id pri laudem dissentiunt mediocritatem. Ad modo latine impedit duo, porro virtute mea ne. Tota nihil prompta pro in, mea et putant impetus scripserit. Qui at option feugiat, qui in delicata recteque. Te duo docendi consequuntur, in natum evertitur voluptatibus quo.

 

 


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Related: Non Canonical Text

Apocryphal New Testament Writings List


Related: Early Christian Writings

References   [ + ]

1. http://www.ntcanon.org/Epistle_to_the_Laodiceans.shtml
2. http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/laodiceans.html

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