Epistle to Laodiceans
LAODICEANS, EPISTLE TO. Writing to the Colossians, Paul mentions a letter “from Laodicea,” which he instructs them to have read in their church (
A Lat. Epistle to the Laodiceans is found in many MSS, the oldest being the Codex Fuldensis, written for Victor of Capua in the 6th cent. Its existence even earlier is proved by the warnings of the Fathers, esp. Jerome (vir. ill. 5), but despite these warnings it was widely disseminated in the W. This was due at least in part to the influence of Gregory the Great, who, although he limited the canonical epistles to fourteen, states nevertheless that Paul wrote fifteen, and was thus understood to affirm its authenticity. That it was read in the E in the 8th cent. is shown by the warning issued by the Second Council of Nicaea (a.d. 787).
Despite the arguments of Harnack, the Marcionite origin of this document remains uncertain. In fact, it contains nothing specifically Marcionite or calculated to promote the interests of the sect. Nor can one be sure of its identity with the letter mentioned in the Muratorian Canon. Its date can therefore be placed only approximately, between the 2nd and 4th centuries. In ancient MSS the letter is extant only in Lat., although it was to be tr. into western vernaculars, notably Eng., but its use in the E and the evidence of the Gr. Fathers suggest that a Gr. VS was once current. Lightfoot notes that it “has not the run of a Latin original,” but contains frequent Grecisms, and differs widely both from the Old Lat. and from the Vul. VS of the Pauline letters, although it is largely a cento of passages from Paul. Accordingly he argues for a Gr. original, and offers a retranslation into Gr. Another Gr. VS is given in Elias Hutter’s Polyglot
Tr. in ANT 478f.; tr. with full discussion in NTA p. II. 128ff. See also Lightfoot, Colossians (1875) 240ff., (1890) 272ff.; Harnack, Die apokryphen Briefe des Paulus an die Laodicener und Korinther (1905, 21931); Enslin, IDB III. 71f.