Apostolic letters

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New Testament
Acts of the Apostles
Paul's letters
Catholic letters

The Apostolic Letters are 19 doctrinal and admonition letters from the New Testament that belong to the early Christian literature of letters. Various apostles are named as senders . They are aimed at Christian communities or at individual Christians. The Apostolic Letters are divided into two collections of texts that were originally transmitted separately.

The first collection is the Corpus Paulinum, consisting of 13 letters from Paul and the letter to the Hebrews . The authorship of some Pauline letters is controversial today, ie they could have been written by Paul’s students with reference to Paul, cf. Pseudepigraphy in the Bible . The letter to the Hebrews has been handed down anonymously and in the tradition it was mistakenly counted among the letters of Paul and thus included in the biblical canon . The pastoral letters are a separate group of Paul's letters.

The second collection consists of the seven Catholic letters which, together with the Acts of the Apostles, were part of the Corpus Apostolicum. Catholic (Greek καθολικός kathikós "general") has no denominational meaning here. They are called Catholic because they are not addressed to individual recipients, but to Christianity in general. In general, all Catholic letters are considered pseudepigraphs in today's biblical studies.

The term epistle refers to readings of sections of the apostolic letters in worship. In the liturgy, the term was expanded to include text readings from other books of the New Testament, such as the Acts of the Apostles and the Revelation of John , with the exception of the Gospels.

Several letters written by the apostles are believed to have been lost; B. Paul's "tearful letter" to the Corinthians ( 1 Cor 5,9  EU ) and a letter to the Laodicensians ( Col 4,15  EU ).

To be distinguished from these letters of the Bible is an apocryphal script under the name Epistula Apostolorum , which has none of the apostles known from the Bible as author.