|Events in the Life of Paul according to "Acts of the Apostles"|
The Pauline epistles, Epistles of Paul, or Letters of Paul, are the thirteen New 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 and, as part of the canon of the New Testament, they have also been, and continue to be, foundational to Christian theology and Christian ethics. The Epistle to the Hebrews, although it does not bear his name, was traditionally considered Pauline for a thousand years, but from the 16th century onwards opinion steadily moved against Pauline authorship and few scholars now ascribe it to Paul.
In the order they appear in the New Testament, the Pauline epistles are:
|Romans||Προς Ρωμαίους||Epistola ad Romanos||Rom||Ro|
|First Corinthians||Προς Κορινθίους Α||Epistola I ad Corinthios||1 Cor||1C|
|Second Corinthians||Προς Κορινθίους Β||Epistola II ad Corinthios||2 Cor||2C|
|Galatians||Προς Γαλάτας||Epistola ad Galatas||Gal||G|
|Ephesians||Προς Εφεσίους||Epistola ad Ephesios||Eph||E|
|Philippians||Προς Φιλιππησίους||Epistola ad Philippenses||Phil||Phi|
|Colossians||Προς Κολασσαείς||Epistola ad Colossenses||Col||C|
|First Thessalonians||Προς Θεσσαλονικείς Α||Epistola I ad Thessalonicenses||1 Thess||1Th|
|Second Thessalonians||Προς Θεσσαλονικείς Β||Epistola II ad Thessalonicenses||2 Thess||2Th|
|First Timothy||Προς Τιμόθεον Α||Epistola I ad Timotheum||1 Tim||1T|
|Second Timothy||Προς Τιμόθεον Β||Epistola II ad Timotheum||2 Tim||2T|
|Titus||Προς Τίτον||Epistola ad Titum||Tit||T|
|Philemon||Προς Φιλήμονα||Epistola ad Philemonem||Philem||P|
All of these epistles present Paul as the author. Some classifications do include Hebrews, being anonymous, as a Pauline epistle instead of listing it with the general epistles, but authorship of Hebrews (as Paul's) was disputed from the earliest.
Formerly in many manuscripts of the New Testament, the Epistle to the Hebrews was located between other Pauline epistles:
- between Rom and 1 Cor in mss: Papyrus 46 and in minuscules: 103, 455, 1961, 1964, 1977, 1994.
- between 2 Cor and Gal (minuscules 1930, 1978, and 2248)
- between Gal and Eph,
- between 2 Thessalonians and 1 Timothy. This order used manuscripts: Codex Sinaiticus, Codex Alexandrinus, Codex Vaticanus Graecus 1209, Codex Ephraemi, H, I, P, 0150, 0151, and about 60 minuscule codices (e.g. 218, 632).
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.
- Main article Authorship of the Pauline epistles.
Several of the letters are thought by most modern scholars to be pseudepigraphic, that is, not actually written by Paul the Apostle 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.
- First Thessalonians (ca. 51 AD)
- Philippians (ca. 52–54 AD)
- Philemon (ca. 52–54 AD)
- First Corinthians (ca. 53–54 AD)
- Galatians (ca. 55 AD)
- Second Corinthians (ca. 55–56 AD)
- Romans (ca. 55–58 AD)
The letters on which modern scholars are about evenly divided are:
Lost Pauline epistles
- The first Epistle to Corinth referenced at 1 Corinthians 5:9
- The third Epistle to Corinth called Severe Letter referenced at 2 Corinthians 2:4 and 2 Corinthians 7:8–9
- The earlier Epistle to the Ephesians referenced at Ephesians 3:3–4
- The Epistle to the Laodiceans referenced at Colossians 4:16
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 (canonical for a time in the Armenian Orthodox)
- Epistle to the Laodiceans (found in Codex Fuldensis)
- Epistle of the Corinthians to Paul (addressed to Paul, not written by him)
- Epistle to the Alexandrians
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 Peter and Paul
- Apocalypse of Paul
- Coptic Apocalypse of Paul
- Prayer of the Apostle Paul
- Epistle to Seneca the Younger
Some[who?] 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.
- The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, publ. Geoffrey Chapman, 1989, chapter 60, at p.920, col. 2 "That Paul is neither directly nor indirectly the author is now the view of scholars almost without exception. For details, see Kümmel, I[ntroduction to the] N[ew] T[estament, Nashville, 1975] 392-94, 401-3"
- Joseph Barber Lightfoot in his Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians writes: "At this point [Gal 6:11] the apostle takes the pen from his amanuensis, and the concluding paragraph is written with his own hand. From the time when letters began to be forged in his name (2 Thess 2:2; 3:17) it seems to have been his practice to close with a few words in his own handwriting, as a precaution against such forgeries... In the present case he writes a whole paragraph, summing up the main lessons of the epistle in terse, eager, disjointed sentences. He writes it, too, in large, bold characters (Gr. pelikois grammasin), that his handwriting may reflect the energy and determination of his soul."
- Though Hebrews was almost certainly not written by Paul, it has been a part of the Pauline corpus "from the beginning of extant MS production" (Wallace, Daniel B. Hebrews: Introduction, Argument, and Outline).
- Pheme Perkins, Reading the New Testament: An Introduction (Paulist Press, 1988), pp. 4–7.
- New Testament Letter Structure, from Catholic Resources by Felix Just, S.J.
- Also called A Prior Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians or Paul’s previous Corinthian letter., possibly Third Epistle to the Corinthians
- Apologetics Press – Are There Lost Books of the Bible?
- 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 28 (1966): 465–77. idem, “The Subscriptions in the Pauline Letters.” Journal of Biblical Literature 2 (1968): 27–41.
- Bauckham, Richard J. “Pseudo-Apostolic Letters.” Journal of Biblical Literature 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 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. 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.
- The Marcionite Prologues to the Pauline Epistles
- Chronological Order of Paul's Letters
- Chronology of Paul's Letters