Lost Pauline Epistles

I have a hypothetical question, if one of these letters by Paul were to be found and authenticated by the church and scholars would it be added to the canon by the CC?

As I understand it, I do not think anymore books could be added to the Bible. Not only would it destroy Protestantism (Specifically because of Sola Scriptura, if a new book was added, then all denominations would have to restart) but also the Catholic faith since we believe that the Church holds the fullness of theological truths. Since one of the things the Catholic Church has is the complete Bible, if one of Paul’s books is found later, then for around 2000 years we were lieing to say we had the full truth.

No. I think the canon of the Bible is closed now. Besides, we already have the fullness of the deposit of faith given us by Christ in the teachings of the Church, which preceded the Bible by about four centuries. Remember, the Bible doesn’t include ALL the teachings of Christ. The Church does, however. Sacred Tradition (the oral teachings of the Apostles passed on), are what the New Testament came from. The New Testament is a subset of Sacred Tradition, if you want to put it in mathematical terms. :slight_smile:

I can’t remember where I read it, but it was being argued that some of Paul’s canonical writings make mention of other letters he wrote to some of the churches. Do we really think Paul only wrote the letters contained in the NT? I think it’s safe to assume that he wrote other letters – some longer, some shorter – and it’s also safe to assume that since these letters aren’t in the NT they aren’t canonical. Nowhere does the Church argue that everything every NT author wrote was scripture, and for whatever reason the Holy Spirit did not feel it necessary to preserve those writings in the canon.

Even if something were found today it wouldn’t be scripture and the Catholic Church wouldn’t have to make any decisions about whether to open the canon or not since the Catechism teaches that it is closed. Although, many Protestants seem to fine with the idea of an open canon that could be amended at some future point.


There are some letters Paul makes mention of (e.g. 1 Cor 5:9; Col 4:16) which either were uninspired (yet obviously of some worth) or are speaking of some other NT work. The key in your situation is that if they were found and were authentic, they would be put in the authentic but uninspired category (similar to an Early Church Father’s writing). The Canon is closed in so far as all the writings the Holy Spirit inspired have also been publicly preserved and read in the churches, culminating with them being formally gathered into one single 73 book volume. As Chad noted, there is no reason at all to think that everything an Apostle wrote or said was inspired.

If Luke of Macedon, the Physician author of the book of Luke and Acts of the Apostle, survived the Christian persecutions of Nero, it would be exciting to think he wrote a third book that would include the adventures of Paul and Peter in Rome, and the persecutions, and perhaps more. Acts ends somewhat abruptly, and possibly so because a third book was coming.

But, frankly, I am not holding my breath.

I hadn’t given it much thought untlil recently but I was interested in getting opinions of how the Church might respond if indeed it did occur. I’m not holding my breath either but I have been reading recently about the history of the NT canon and was wondering why if there was such a discovery it would or would not be added to the official church canon. Obviously if such a writing was not preserved very early on its usage in the church would have been minimal it seems.

Why do you think that such a writing would not also have been inspired? Why couldn’t some of the church father’s writings have been inspired as well but not canonized?

The rule is that any scripture must have been in general use by the Church since its writing. So, many books or letters could be found, but if they are unknown to the Church, they cannot be introduced later. This prevents the introduction of forgeries or fabrications. The canon is closed, as is the cafeteria.

The canon was closed at the council of Trent.

Usage or Catholicity to my understanding was a major criteria in the early church. Would it be possible that the church might acknowledge such a writing as inspired due to the apostolicity criteria that seemed to also be an important criteria in the early church for canonization but not canonical on grounds of its limited use in the early church? I doubt any such situation will arise anytime soon if ever but with the DSS findings anything is possible.

1.These letters were missing from the canon collection from the beginning suggests that, for some reason, the apostles–and ultimately God the Holy Spirit–did not see fit to preserve these documents.

2.The sovereignty of God in the production of the NT canon should be recognized. If he did not see fit to provide the letter for 2,000 years of Christian history, why would anyone suppose that a new letter should be added to the canon of Scripture now?

3.Finally, the above discussion assumed for argument’s sake that such a document could be verified, but in truth this is highly unlikely. If scholars cannot arrive at a consensus regarding the book of Ephesians, which is part of the existing NT canon, it is unlikely that they would come to a consensus regarding a “new” apostolic book.

I found these three thoughts on a recent google search.

Apparently, St. Paul’s Third Letter to the Corinthians has been found.

Exactly. And, we cannot discount the possibility of fraudulent documents being “discovered”. The evil one constantly seeks ways to destroy the Church.

I can envision protestant groups attempting to “canonize” a new NT over this, but we have the oral Tradition and the Magisterium in addition to scripture. As Jesus said “It is enough”.


Hi everyone- I want to share something with you.
I recently found what I think is the Prologue to Paul Epistles behind an old 1940s picture frame. I honestly don’t know the age, authenticity, origin or value. Quite frankly, I’m bewildered.
The leaf is an off-white/cream color paper with tiny fibers laced through it. Written in Latin. Print is legible with vivid color accents and shiny gold paint trim. Size is approx. 13.5" X 10". It’s in good condition because it was sealed in the frame. Your feedback is welcome. Here are three photos:

Oh, that was so funny! :rotfl:

So, why ***exactly ***are you laughing at my message? I don’t see anything “funny” about it. It’s a legitimate post.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.