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THE APOCRYPHAL EPISTLES OF THE CORINTHIANS
TO ST. PAUL, AND OF ST. PAUL TO THE CO-
PRESERVED IN THE ARMENIAN CHURCH.
The genuineness of the two canonical Epistles to the Corinthians has never been doubted. But there are two other Epistles extant, one claiming to be from the Corinthians to St. Paul, the other from St. Paul to the Corinthians. They were discovered in an Armenian MS. in the possession of Gilbert North, first mentioned by John Gregory and Usher (see Fabricius, Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti, vol. ii. pp. 920, 921.), first published by Wilkins from an imperfect MS.; then by La Croze, with a dissertation and translation from a perfect MS. in the possession of Whiston; then by Whiston's two sons, William and George Whiston, with a Greek and Latin translation of their own, in an Appendix to their edition of Moses Chorenensis, 1736. The last and most complete translation is that made jointly by Lord Byron and Father Pasquale Aucher, of the Armenian monastery of St. Lazarus at Venice, from MSS. in that convent; and published in Moore's Life of Lord Byron, (vol. vi. 274, 275.)
In the Armenian Church they are regarded as canonical books, and are inserted after the Second Epistle to the Corinthians, under the title of “the Epistle of the Corinthians to St. Paul,” and the “ Third Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians.” 1
It has sometimes been imagined that the Epistle from the Corinthians is that alluded to in 1 Cor. vii. 1., and that the Epistle of St. Paul to the Corinthians is that alluded to in 1 Cor. v. 9. Not only, however, is their general style absolutely fatal to their genuineness; but all their details are incompatible with such an hypothesis, or even with the belief that any such reference could have fallen within the scope of the intention of the framers of these Epistles.
1 Curzon's Armenia, 225.
(1.) Even if it could be maintained that 1 Cor. v. 9. alluded to a separate Epistle, that Epistle must have been written, not in answer to the Corinthian Epistle of 1 Cor. vii. 1., but before it, the real answer to the Corinthian Epistle being the genuine First Epistle itself; whereas in his spurious correspondence the Corinthian letter precedes that of the Apostle.
(2.) The “ Epistle from the Corinthians” mentions no one topic which their letter (as alluded to in 1 Cor. vii.--xiv.) must have contained, neither marriage nor sacrificial feasts, nor the questions as to public assemblies or spiritual gifts, whilst, on the other hand, it complains of heresies, which, with the exception of the denial of the resurrection of the body, are not noticed at all in the First Epistle.
(3.) The “ Epistle of St. Paul,” in like manner, contains no allusion to the only topics which (on the hypothesis of its being that alluded to in 1 Cor. v. 9.) it must have contained, viz., the warning to avoid immoral brethren, the only passage of the kind being the warning in verse 31. to avoid heretics.
(4.) The bearers of the genuine Corinthian letter (as described in 1 Cor. xvi. 15.) are quite different from those named amongst the bearers of the spurious Epistle, with the exception of Stephanas (or, as he is there called, " Stephanus”). There is, moreover, not a single name identical with those mentioned either in the Acts or in the genuine Epistles ; the heresies mentioned belong to a later period than any writings of the New Testament; the answers of St. Paul are a feeble imitation of 1 Cor. xv., and his other expressions are in part copied from the Gospels and the Epistle to the Galatians, in part entirely unlike his own style.
The only points of coincidence between these spurious Epistles and the hypothesis of an early date are:
(1.) That Paul is described in the section which intervenes between the two Epistles as being in Phænicia, which would agree with his passage to Antioch (Acts, xviii. 22.) immediately after his first visit to Corinth.
(2.) That in the “ Epistle of St. Paul,” verse 2., their conversion is spoken of as recent.
(3.) That Corinth is described in the first verse of “ The Epistle of the Corinthians” as governed by Presbyters, as in Clem. Epist. ad Cor. i. 21. 44. 47. 54. 57.; Const. Apost. vii. 46.; Eus. H. E. iv. 22, 23.
(4.) That Paul is called simply “the brother," which agrees
i See Note on 1 Cor. v. 9.
indeed with a more primitive mode of address, but is hardly reconcilable with the relation of the Corinthian Church towards him, 1 Cor. iv. 15., ix. 2.
(5.) The conduct and language of St. Paul (in the intervening Section) is natural and in agreement with the Acts and Epistles. “ He grieved and said with tears, 'It had been better for me to have died before, and to be with the Lord.'”
It would not have been worth while to notice these details, but that it seemed important to call attention to the irreconcilable differences both of fact and style between two indisputably genuine Epistles of St. Paul on the one hand, and two indisputably spurious Epistles on the other hand :
First, as showing the impossibility of confounding the two together.
Secondly, as showing the ignorance and clumsiness with which forgers of later times compiled their imitations of the genuine Apostolic works.
[The following text is given from Moore's Life of Lord Byron, vol. vi. p. 269– 275., ed. Murray, 1834, collated with the Latin translation of the Whistons. The variations not noticed by Lord Byron are here inserted in brackets.]
THE EPISTLE OF THE CORINTHIANS TO ST. PAUL THE
1. STEPHEN?, and the elders with him, Dabnus, Eubulus, Theophilus, and Xinon, to Paul, our father and evangelist, and faithful master in Jesus Christ, health.3
2. Two men have come to Corinth, Simon by name, and Cleobus“, who vehemently disturb the faith of some with deceitful and corrupt words;
3. Of which words thou shouldst inform thyself 3 :
Some MSS. have the title thus : Epistle of Stephen the Elder to Paul the Apostle, from the Corinthians.
2 In the MSS. the marginal verses published by the Whistons are wanting.
3 In some MSS. we find, The elders Numenus (Whistons, Nemenu8], Eubulus, Theophilus, and Nomeson, to Paul their brother, health !
4 Others read, There came certain men, .. and Clobeus, who vehemently shake.
5 [Whistons, whose words thou oughtest to resist.] VOL. II.
4. For neither have we heard such words from thee, nor from the other apostles :
5. But we know only that what we have heard from thee and from them, that we have kept firmly.
6. But in this chiefly has our Lord had compassion, that, whilst thou art yet with us in the flesh, we are again about to hear from thee.
7. Therefore do thou write to us, or come thyself amongst us quickly.
8. We believe in the Lord, that, as it was revealed to Theonas, he hath delivered thee from the hands of the unrighteous.
9. But these are the sinful words of these impure men, for thus do they say and teach? :
10 That it behoves not to admit the prophets.
13 Neither do they affirm that man was altogether created by God :
14 Neither do they affirm that Jesus Christ was born in the flesh from the Virgin Mary :
15 Neither do they affirm that the world was the work of God, but of some one of the angels.
16 Therefore do thou make haste to come amongst us.
17 That this city of the Corinthians may remain without scandal.
18 And that the folly of these men may be made manifest by an open refutation.
refutation. Fare thee well.5
The deacons Thereptus and Tichus received and conveyed this Epistle to the city of the Philippians.?
When Paul received the Epistle, although he was then in chains on account of Stratonice®, the wife of Apofolanus", yet, as it were forgetting his bonds, he mourned over these words, and said, weeping: “ It were better for me to be dead, and with the Lord. For while I am in this body, and hear the wretched words of such false doctrine, behold, grief arises upon grief, and my trouble adds a weight to my chains; when I behold this calamity, and progress of the machinations of Satan, who searcheth to do wrong.
1 Some MSS. [and Whistons] have, We believe in the Lord, that his presence was made manifest ; and by this hath the Lord delivered us from the hands of the unrighteous.
: Whiston, But these are their erroneous words ; for thus do they say]. 3 Others read, To read the Prophets.
4 Some MSS. [and Whistons] have, Therefore, brother, do thou make haste.
5 Others read, Fare thee well in the Lord.
7 The Whistons have, To the city of Phænicia : but in all the MSS. we find, To the city of the Philippians.
8 Others read (and Whistons], On account of Onotice.
9 The Whistons have, Of Apollophanus : but in all the MSS. we read, Apofolanus.
And thus, with deep affliction, Paul composed his reply to the Epistle.'
EPISTLE OF PAUL TO THE CORINTHIANS.
1 Paul, in bonds for Jesus Christ, disturbed by so many errors, to his Corinthian brethren, health.
2 I nothing marvel that the preachers of evil have made this progress.
3 For because the Lord Jesus is about to fulfil his coming, verily on this account do certain men pervert and despise his words.
4 But I, verily, from the beginning, have taught you that only which I myself received from the former apostles, who always remained with the Lord Jesus Christ.
5. And I now say unto you, that the Lord Jesus Christ was born of the Virgin Mary, who was of the seed of David,
6 According to the annunciation of the Holy Ghost, sent to her by our Father from heaven;
7 That Jesus might be introduced into the world', and deliver ours flesh by his flesh, and that he might raise us up from the dead;
8 As in this also he himself became the example:
9 That it might be made manifest that man was created by the Father,
10 He has not remained in perdition unsought® ;
11 But he is sought for, that he might be revived by adoption.
1 In the text of this Epistle there are some other variations in the words, but the sense is the same.
2 Some MSS. have, Paul's Epistle from prison, for the instruction of the Corinthians.
3 Others (and Whistons] read, Disturbed by various compunctions. 4 Some MSS. [and Whistons] have, That Jesus might comfort the world. 5 Whistons, all flesh. 6 Others read, He has not remained indifferent.