Epistle to the Laodiceans

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English-language translations of
Epistle to the Laodiceans

Anonymous; attr. Paul of Tarsus

For centuries some Western Latin Bibles used to contain a small Epistle from Paul to the Laodiceans. The oldest known Bible copy of this epistle is in a Fulda manuscript written for Victor of Capua in 546. It is mentioned by various writers from the fourth century onwards, notably by Pope Gregory the Great, to whose influence may ultimately be due the frequent occurrence of it in Bibles written in England; for it is commoner in English Bibles than in others. John Wycliffe included Paul's letter to the Laodiceans in his Bible translation from the Latin to English. However this epistle is not without controversy because there is no evidence of a Greek text. 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 the Christian 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. Jerome, who wrote the Latin Vulgate translation, wrote in the 4th century, "it is rejected by everyone". 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 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 [to the Laodiceans].

Excerpted from Epistle to the Laodiceans on Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
English-language translations of Epistle to the Laodiceans include: