Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal, Acronyms, Wikipedia.
epistle(ĭpĭs`əl), in the Bible, a letter of the New Testament. The Pauline Epistles (ascribed to St. Paul) are RomansRomans,
letter of the New Testament, written by St. Paul, probably from Corinth before his last trip to Jerusalem, c.A.D. 58. It is a treatise addressed to the Christian church at Rome, apparently to introduce himself and his teaching before his expected visit.
..... Click the link for more information. , First and Second CorinthiansCorinthians
, two letters of the New Testament. They were written to the church at Corinth by Paul whose stay in Corinth is recorded in the Acts of the Apostles. First Corinthians, written probably at Ephesus early in A.D. 55, is one of the longest and most important epistles.
..... Click the link for more information. , GalatiansGalatians
, letter of the New Testament. It is ascribed to St. Paul and addressed to ethnic Gauls living in central Asia Minor, or to inhabitants of the Roman province of Galatia in S Asia Minor. It may have been the earliest epistle (written c.A.D.
..... Click the link for more information. , EphesiansEphesians
, letter of the New Testament, written, according to tradition, by St. Paul to the Christians of Ephesus from his captivity at Rome (c.A.D. 60). There is ground for believing that the letter was intended as an encyclical.
..... Click the link for more information. , PhilippiansPhilippians
, letter of the New Testament, written by St. Paul from captivity probably in Rome (c.A.D. 60) to the Christians of Philippi (in Macedonia), the first European city that he evangelized.
..... Click the link for more information. , ColossiansColossians
, New Testament letter. It was written to the Christians of Colossae and Laodicea, ostensibly by Paul while he was in prison, presumably in Rome (c.A.D. 60). Its writing was provoked by the appearance of false teachers who taught some sort of gnostic doctrine
..... Click the link for more information. , First and Second ThessaloniansThessalonians
, two letters of the New Testament. First Thessalonians was written by St. Paul from Corinth, c.A.D. 51, and addressed to the newly founded church at Thessalonica (Thessaloníki). It opens with a reminiscence of the founding of the church there.
..... Click the link for more information. , First and Second TimothyTimothy,
two letters of the New Testament. With Titus they comprise the Pastoral Epistles, in which St. Paul addresses his coworkers as the guardians and transmitters of his teaching.
..... Click the link for more information. , TitusTitus,
letter of the New Testament. With First and Second Timothy, it comprises the Pastoral Epistles, purportedly written by St. Paul. Titus resembles First Timothy in detail; it consists of points regarding the regulation of church government, while stressing the need for the
..... Click the link for more information. , PhilemonPhilemon
, letter of the New Testament, written to a Colossian named Philemon by Paul, probably when the latter was a prisoner in Rome (c.A.D. 60). Onesimus, Philemon's fugitive slave, had found Paul and become a Christian.
..... Click the link for more information. , and HebrewsHebrews,
an anonymous New Testament homily with closing greetings normally associated with the letter genre, written before c.A.D. 96. It is addressed to Jewish Christians who were being pressured to renounce their confidence in Jesus.
..... Click the link for more information. . The Catholic, or General, Epistles are JamesJames,
letter of the New Testament, traditionally classified among the Catholic, or General, Epistles. The James of its ascription is traditionally identified with St. James the Less. However, the name is more likely a pseudonym.
..... Click the link for more information. ; First and Second PeterPeter,
two letters of the New Testament, classified among the Catholic (or General) Epistles. Each opens with a statement of authorship by the apostle St. Peter. First Peter, the longer book, is addressed from "Babylon" to the Christians of the churches of Asia Minor.
..... Click the link for more information. ; First, Second, and Third JohnJohn,
three letters of the New Testament. Traditionally, they are ascribed to John son of Zebedee, the disciple of Jesus. All three letters probably date to the end of the 1st cent. A.D., and may have been written as a corpus. First John is a homily.
..... Click the link for more information. ; and JudeJude,
epistle of the New Testament, the next to last book of the Bible. The Jude who wrote it has been identified since ancient times with St. Jude the apostle, but most modern scholars deny the identity and date the letter as late as A.D. 100.
..... Click the link for more information. . This classification is traditional. There is an Epistle of Jeremiah in BaruchBaruch,
early Jewish book included in the Septuagint, but not included in the Hebrew Bible and placed in the Apocrypha in the Authorized Version. It is named for a Jewish prince Baruch (fl. 600 B.C.), friend and editor of Jeremiah the prophet (see Jeremiah, book of the Bible).
..... Click the link for more information. . In traditional Christian liturgies, the Epistle is normally a portion of one of these letters read aloud.
letter in verse, a literary genre.
The epistle was first used in European poetry by Horace in the first century B.C. It continued to thrive in Latin poetry and in the new languages of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance and flourished in the age of classicism with Boileau, Voltaire, Pope, J. Gottsched, A. P. Sumarokov, and D. I. Fonvizin. In the romantic period, the epistle went out of style, although some were still written, such as “My Penates” by K. N. Batiushkov and “Letter to the Censor” by A. S. Pushkin. By the mid-19th century, the epistle as a genre ceased to exist.
Traditionally, the content of an epistle is predominantly moral-philosophical and didactic, but there were also numerous narrative, panegyric, satirical, and amorous epistles. The only element shared in common by epistles is an address to a specific person and, accordingly, themes such as petitions and good wishes. The term “epistle” is sometimes applied to open letters in prose with a particularly important publicistic, didactic, religious, or official content, including the Epistles of the New Testament, the epistle of Archpriest Avvakum, the epistles of Prince A. Kurbskii to Ivan the Terrible, and a presidential epistle, or letter, such as one addressed to the Congress in the USA.
M. L. GASPAROV