Acts of Paul
The Acts of Paul is one of the major works and earliest pseudepigraphal (noncanonical) series from the New Testament also known as Apocryphal Acts, an approximate date given to the Acts of Paul is 160 CE. The Acts were first mentioned by Tertullian. Tertullian found it heretical because it encouraged women to preach and baptize. The Acts were considered orthodox by Hippolytus but were eventually regarded as heretical when the Manichaeans started using the texts. The author of the Acts of Paul is unknown and wrote out of respect for Paul in Asia Minor. The author does not show any dependency on the canonical Acts but uses oral traditions of Paul's missionary work.
The discovery of a Coptic version of the text demonstrated that the text was composed of
- the Acts of Paul and Thecla
- the Epistle of the Corinthians to Paul
- the Third Epistle to the Corinthians
- the Martyrdom of Paul – his death at the hand of Nero
All of these constituent parts were often considered worth treating as separate texts and frequently appeared independently, although scholars agree that they were originally part of the Acts of Paul. Besides the four main sections mentioned above, the remainder of the Acts exist only in fragments from the 3rd and 5th centuries:
The texts are a coherent whole and are generally thought to have been written by one author using oral traditions, rather than basing it on any of the other apocrypha or the orthodox canon. The main emphasis of the text is on Chastity and anti-Gnosticism. According to Tertullian, the author was a priest in Asia Minor. While the priest encouraged female ministry, he expressed doctrinal orthodoxy in regard to continence and Resurrection. Also, they mentioned the close relationship of sexual purity and salvation.
The Epistle of the Corinthians to Paul and the Third Epistle of the Corinthians both appear in some editions of the Armenian Bible.
Acts of Paul consists of the third letter to the Corinthians, an account of his martyrdom, and other narratives depicting his preaching and activity. There is a range of literature either about or purporting to be by Paul, including letters, narratives, prayers, and apocalypses. The pseudonymous Third Letter to the Corinthians claims to have been written from prison to correct the misinterpretations that his first and second letter had created. In his first letter to the Corinthians, he stated that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God" and this statement is not unrelated to the debates that ensued between the Gnostic and proto-orthodox Christians thereafter. A Christian concerned to emphasize that people would be physically resurrected rather than merely spiritually forged 3 Corinthians to counter what the Gnostics were saying, presumably because their argument was gaining much ground. The Acts of Paul also appear to be familiar with the traditional account about the martyrdom of Peter, in which, having been arrested and condemned to death, Peter asked to be crucified head-down because he wasn't worthy of having the same death as Jesus.
- Jones, Timothy Paul: Misquoting Truth, page 167. InterVarsity Press, 2007.
- Paul Vetter: Der apokryhe 3. Korintherbrief, Mechitharisten-Buchdruckerei Wien 1894. (Armenian text of 3. Kor.)
- Richard Adelbert Lipsius, Maximilian Bonnet (editors): Acta apostolorum apocrypha vol. 1 1891. pp. 104-117, 235-272. (Greek text)
- Oscar von Gebhardt (editor): Passio S. Theclae virginis; Die lateinischen Übersetzungen der Acta Pauli et Theclae nebst Fragmenten, Auszügen und Beilagen herausgegeben. In: Texte und Untersuchungen zur Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur, NF vol. 7 = vol. 22, Leipzig 1902. (Latin Texts, critical edition, German commentary on the versions)
- Carl Schmidt (editor): Acta Pauli aus der Heidelberger koptischen Papyrushandschrift Nr. 1, Herausgegeben von Carl Schmidt, Übersetzungen, Untersuchungen und Koptischer Text, Hinrichs, Leipzig 1904. (Coptic Text, German translation + commentary).
- Carl Schmidt: Acta Pauli, Übersetzung Untersuchungen und koptischer Text, zweite erweiterte Ausgabe ohne Tafeln, Hinrichs, Leipzig 1905, (1964 reprint). (Enhanced edition without the plates)
- Carl Schmidt (editor): Πράξεις Παύλου; Acta Pauli. Nach dem Papyrus der Hamburger Staats- und Universitäts-Bibliothek, unter Mitarbeit von Wilhelm Schubart. Veröffentlichungen aus der Hamburger Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek. Neue Folge der Veröffentlichungen aus der Hamburger Stadtbibliothek, Herausgegeben von Gustav Wahl, J. J. Augustin in Glückstadt und Hamburg 1936. (Greek text, German translation and commentary)
- Michel Testuz (editor): Correspondance apocryphe des Corinthiens et de l'apôtre Paul : manuscrit du IIIe siècle / publié par Michel Testuz. In: Papyrus Bodmer 10/12, Bibliotheca Bodmeriana, Cologny-Genève 1959. 1-45 (Greek Text of 3. Kor.)
- Eckhard Plümacher: Paulys Realencyclopädie der Classischen Altertumswissenschaft, Supplement, 1978, col. 24-30; 51; 59-61.
- Willy Rordorf: Lex orandi, lex credendi, 1993, p. 368-496.
- Jan N. Bremmer (editor.): The Apocryphal Acts of Paul and Thecla 1996.
- Wilhelm Schneemelcher (editor): Neutestamentliche Apokryphen in deutscher Übersetzung, Bd II Apostolisches, Apokalypsen und Verwandtes, 6. Aufl. Tübingen 1997. p. 193–243.
- Acta Pauli A website devoted to an international, scholarly discussion of the Acts of Paul.