Epistles of Paul and Seneca

Epistulae Senecae ad Paulum et Pauli ad Senecam

Standard abbreviation: Ep. Paul Sen.

Other titles: Letters of Paul and Seneca, Correspondence between Paul and Seneca

Clavis numbers: CANT 306

Category: Epistles

Related literature: Acts of Paul, Martyrdom of the Blessed Paul the Apostle by (Pseudo-)Linus

Compiled by Chance Bonar, graduate student, Yale Divinity School (chance.bonar@yale.edu or chancebonar@gmail.com)

Citing this resource (using Chicago Manual of Style): Bonar, Chance. “Epistles of Paul and Seneca.” e-Clavis: Christian Apocrypha. Accessed DAY MONTH YEAR. http://www.nasscal.com/e-clavis-christian-apocrypha/epistles-of-paul-and-seneca/.

Posted January 2017.


The Correspondence between Seneca and Paul, variously named, consists of fourteen letters supposedly sent between the two influential first-century figures. Eight letters are pseudonymously sent from the Stoic philosopher Seneca to Paul, and six from Paul to Seneca. These letters are first attested externally by Jerome (De Viris Illustribus 12), yet also mentioned by Augustine (Epistle 153) and Pseudo-Linus in the Martyrdom of the Blessed Paul the Apostles 1. Based on these attestations, most scholars suggest a fourth-century dating for the correspondence. The temporal unity of this correspondence, however, is still under question, since letter 11 utilizes a different style of Latin (cf. Barlow) and letters 13 and 14 are also considered later than the majority of the correspondence (cf. Elliott). Concerning the manuscript tradition, the correspondence is attested in Latin as early as the ninth century and continues throughout the late medieval period. The letters were well-known in the medieval world and were deemed authentic until the Renaissance period, as they were often transmitted along with genuine works of Seneca. The correspondence seems to urge its Latin reader(s) to follow Seneca’s lead and appreciate the contents of Paul’s letters––thereby recognizing the value, if not superiority, of Christianity in the Greco-Roman landscape. Pseudo-Seneca also mentions  in letter 12 the Great Fire of Rome under Nero (64 CE) and the subsequent censure of Christians; however, Pseudo-Seneca subtly reverses the blame onto Roman imperial aristocracy. Elsewhere in letters 1 and 3, Pseudo-Seneca makes clear that he is reading Paul’s letters in book-form, as if they are a published volume. The author of the correspondence intends to give the impression that Paul’s letters were collected, bound, and published within a decade or so of their initial delivery to his congregations, perhaps strengthening Paul’s central, authoritative status among fourth-century canon debates.

Named historical figures and characters: Castor, Pollux, Paul (apostle), Seneca, Lucilius, Sallust, Jesus, Nero, Gaius Caesar, Messala, Vatienus, Apronianus, Capito, Frugi, Bassus, Lurco, Sabinus.

Geographical locations: Rome.



3.1 Manuscripts and Editions

3.1.2 Latin

Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Vat. lat. 251 (11th cent.)

B Bruxellensis 2839-2843 (9th cent.)

C Bernensis 225 (11th cent.)

D Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Reg. lat. 1636 (12th cent.)

E Einsidlensis 262 (11th cent.)

F Argentoratensis C. VI. 5 (9th/10th cent.)

G Andegavensis 284 (11th cent.)

Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Reg. lat. 119 (12th cent.)

J Argentoratensis C. VI. 17 (11th cent.)

K Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana, Reg. lat. 147 (12th cent.)

L Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, C. 90 Inf. (11th cent.)

M Monacensis lat. 14.436 (10th-11th cent.)

N Monacensis lat. 18.467 (12th cent.)

O Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, lat. 8539 (11th cent.)

P Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, lat. 2772 (9th cent.)

Q Paris, Bibliothèque nationale de France, lat. 12.295 (12th cent.)

R Remensis 434 (9th cent.)

S Sangallensis 197 (9th-10th cent.)

T Metensis 500 (10th cent.)

U Turicensis C. 129 (9th cent.)

Vatican, Biblioteca Apostolica, Reg. lat. 1424 (10th cent.)

W Guelferbytanus Gud. Lat. 335 (11th cent.)

Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, 969 (9th cent.)

Vienna, Österreichische Nationalbibliothek, 751 (9th cent.)

Z Metensis 300 (11th cent.)

λ Milan, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, C. 72 Inf. (11th cent.)

μ Florence, Biblioteca Laurenziana, Plut. 45 cod. 26 (12th cent.)

ν Riccardianus 391 (14th cent.)

ξ Oxford, Bodleian Library, 292 (14th cent.)

Additional Manuscripts:

Karlsruhe, Badische Landesbibliothek, K 506, fols. 18r–20v (12th/13th cent.)

Barlow, Claude W. Epistolae Senecae ad Paulum et Pauli ad Senecam quae vocantur. Papers and Monographs of the American Academy in Rome 10. Rome, 1938. (Barlow provides the numeration of the epistles. The majority of the MS sigla [A-Z] are assigned and used in the edition by Barlow. Barlow gives helpful information on MSS history and textual families.)

Erasmus. Pages 679–82 in L. Annaei Senecae Opera. Basil, 15292 (15151). (Editio princeps).

Fabricius, Johann Albert. Codex Apocryphus Novi Testamenti. Vol. 2. Hamburg: Schiller, 1719 (17031), pp. 880–904.

Haase, F. Pages 476–81 in L. Annaei Senecae Opera quae supersunt. Vol. 3. Leipzig, 1853; 1872, repr. 1883, 1895, and Supplementum 1902. Utilizes MSS L and F.

Palagi, Laura Bocciolini. Epistolario Apocrifo de Seneca e San Paulo. Firenze: Nardini Editore: Centro Internazionale del Libro, 1985. (Some sigla [μ, ν, ξ] and MSS are assigned and used in the edition by Palagi, as well as Barlow’s other sigla and MSS.)

Sénèque et saint Paul. Lettres. Translated by Paul Aizpurua. Paris: Le Promeneur, 2000.

Westerburg, E. Pages 42–50 in Der Ursprung der Sage dass Seneca Christ gewesen sei. Berlin, 1881.

3.2 Modern Translations

3.3.1 English

Berry, Paul. Correspondence Between Paul and Seneca, A.D. 61-65. Ancient Near Eastern Texts and Studies 12. Lewiston, NY-Queenston, Ont.-Lampeter, UK: Mellen, 1999.

Ehrman, Bart D. Pages 160–64 of Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It into the New Testament. Oxford: Oxford University, 2003.

Elliott, J. K. The Apocryphal New Testament: A Collection of Apocryphal Christian Literature in an English Translation. Oxford: Clarendon, 1993. (Translation pp. 547–54 based on Barlow’s Latin and epistolary numeration.)

James, M.R. “The Correspondence of Paul and Seneca.” Pages 480–84 in The Apocryphal New Testament, edited by M.R. James. Oxford: Oxford University, 1926.

Jones, Jeremiah. Six Epistles of St. Paul to Seneca, and Eight of Seneca to Paul. London, 1827.

Wake, William and Nathaniel Lardner. “The Epistles of Paul the Apostle to Seneca, with Seneca’s to Paul.” Pages 107–13 in The Apocryphal New Testament. Edited by W. Wake and N. Lardner. London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent, & Co., 1970 [repr.].

3.3.2 French

Amann, É. “Correspondance entre Sénèque et saint Paul.” DBSup. 1. Cols. 520–22.

Migne, Jacques-Paul. Dictionnaire des Aocryphes, ou collection de tous les livres apocryphes. 2 vols.  Paris: 1856. 2:cols. 922–30, 1318–19.

Kappler, René. “Correspondance de Paul et Sénèque.” Pages 1579–94 in Écrits apocryphes chrétiens. Bibliothèque de la Pléiade 442. Edited by F. Bovon and P. Geoltrain. Paris: Gallimard, 1997.

Vouaux, Lōn. Pages 332–69 in Les Actes de Paul et ses lettres apocryphes: introduction, textes, traduction et commentaire. Paris: Letouzey et Ané, 1913.

3.3.3 German

Kurfess, Alfons. “Der apokryphe Briefweschel zwischen Seneca und Paulus.” Pages 84–89 in Neutestamentliche Apokryphen in deutscher Übersetzung, Bd. 2.  Edited by Edgar Hennecke and Wilhelm Schneemelcher. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1959. English translation: “The Apocryphal Correspondence Between Seneca and Paul.” Pages 133–41 in New Testament Apocrypha, Vol. 2. Edited by Edgar Hennecke and Wilhelm Schneemelcher. Translated by R. McL. Wilson. 3rd ed. London: Luttersworth Press, 1963.

3.3.4 Italian

Erbetta, Mario. Gli apocrifi del Nuovo Testamento. 3 vols. Italy: Marietti, 1975–1981 (vol. 3 pp. 85–92).

Moraldi, Luigi. Apocrifi del Nuovo Testamento. 2 vols. Classici delle religioni, Sezione quarta, La religione cattolica 24. Turin: Unione Tipografico-Editrice Torinese, 1971 (vol. 2, pp. 1730–32, 1735–36, 1749–55).

Palagi, Laura Boccioloini. Il carteggio apocrifo di Seneca e San Paulo: Introduzione, testo, commento. Accademia Toscana di Scienze e Lettere La Colombaria 46. Florence, 1978.

3.3 General Works

Arnaud, E. “Sénèque le philosophe.” RTQR (1902): 64–75.

Aubertin, Charles. Étude critique sur les rapports supposés entre Sénèque et St. Paul. Paris: Librairie Classique d’Eugene Belin, 1857.

Aubertin, Charles. Sénèque et St. Paul: Étude sur les rapports supposés entre le philosophie et l’apôtre. Paris: Dieier, 1872.

Bardenhewer, Otto. “Die Briefwechsel zwischen Paulus und Seneca.” GAL: 606–10.

Baur, Frederick C. “Seneka und Paulus: Das Verhältnis des Soitzimus zum Christentum nach des Schriften Senecas.” ZWT 1 (1858): 161–246, 441–70.

Bauer, J. B. Die neutestamentlichen Apokryphen. Die Welt der Bibel 21. Düsseldrof, 1968 (pp. 90–93).

Baumgarten, M. Lucius Annäus Seneca und das Christentum in der tiefgesunkenen antiken Weltzeit. Rostock: Nachgelassenes Werk, 1895.

Berry, Paul. The Encounter Between Seneca and Christianity. Lewiston: Edwin Mellen, 2002.

Boissier, L. “Sénèque et St. Paul.” La religion romaine d’Auguste aux Antonins. Pages 52–104 of Vol. 2. Paris, 1884.

Bräutigam, Ludwig. “Seneca und das Christentum.” Ethische Kultur 4 (1896): 90.

Codara, Antonio. “Seneca filosofo e San Paulo.” Rivista italiana di filosofia 12 (1897): 149–81, 341–64; (1898): 26–41, 179–90.

Deiszner, Kurt. Paulus und Seneca. Gütersloh, 1917.

Döpp, Siegmar and Wilhelm Geerlings. Page 462 of Dictionary of Early Christian Literature. Translated by Matthew O’Connell. New York: Crossroad, 1998.

Ehrman, Bart D. Forgery and Counterforgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics. New York: Oxford University, 2013.

Farel, P. “Pour Sénèque.” RTQR 10 (1901): 342–57.

Fleury, A. St. Paul et Sénèque : Recherches sur les rapports de philosophie avec l’apôtre et sur l’infiltration du christianisme naissant à travere le paganisme. 2 vols. Paris, 1853.

Franceschini, E. “Un ignoto codice delle ‘Epistolae Senecae et Pauli.’” Mélanges Joseph de Ghellinck. Pages 149–70 of Vol. 1. Museum Lessianum––Section Historique 13. Gembioux, 1951.

Friedländer, L. “Der Philosoph Seneca.” HZ 85 (1900): 193–249.

Fürst, Alfons. “Pseudepigraphie und Apostolizität im apokryphen Briefwechsel zwischen Seneca und Paulus.” JAC 41 (1998): 77–117.

Harnack, Adolf von. “Der Briefweschel zwischen Seneca und Paulus.” Geschichte der altchristlichen Literatur bis Eusebius, 2 vols., 1893-1897 (reprint: Leipzig 1958); vol. 2.2, pp. 458f.

Haussleiter, J. “Literatur zu der Frage ‘Seneca und das Christentum.’” Jahresbericht über die Fortschritte der klassischen Altertumsurssenschaft 281 (1943): 1943.

Herrmann, L. Sénèque et les premiere chrétiens. Collection Latomus 167. Brussels, 1979.

Kraus, F.X. “Der Briefwechsel Pauli mit Seneca: Ein Beitrag zur Apokryphenliteratur.” TQ 49 (1867): 603–24.

Kreyher, J. L. Annaeus Seneca und siene Beziehungen zum Urchristentum. Berlin : 1887.

Kurfess, Alfons. “Der Brand Roms und die Christenverfolgung im Jahre 64 n. Chr.” Mnemosyne 3.6 (1938): 261–72.

Kurfess, Alfons. “Zu dem apokryphen Briefweschel zwischen dem Philosophen Seneca und dem Apostel Paulus.”Aevum 26 (1952): 42–48.

Kurfess, Alfons. “Zu Pseudo-Paulus ad Senecam.” ZNW 35 (1936): 307.

Kurfess, Alfons. “Zum apokryphen Briefweschel zwischen Seneca und Paulus.” ThG1 29 (1937): 317–22.

Kurfess, Alfons. “Zum apokryphen Briefweschel zwischen Seneca und Paulus.” TQ 119 (1938): 318–31.

Kurfess, Alfons. “Zum apokryphen Briefweschel zwischen Seneca und Paulus.” ZRGG 2 (1949/50): 67–70.

Labriolle, P. de. Le réaction païenne. Paris: 1934

Leclercq, H. “Sénèque et S. Paul.” DACL 15. Cols. 1193–98.

Liénard, E. “Alcuin et les Epistolae Senecae et Pauli.” RBPH 20 (1941): 589–98.

Liénard, E. “Sur la correspondance apocryphe de Sénèque et de Saint Paul.” RBPH 11 (1932): 5–23.

Lightfoot, Joseph B. Pages 268–331 in St. Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians. London: Macmillian and Co., 1873.

Lightfoot, Joseph B. Pages 317–22 in Dissertations on the Apostolic Age. London: Macmillian and Co., 1892.

Malherbe, Abraham. “‘Seneca’ on Paul as Letter Writer.” Pages 414–21 in The Future of Early Christianity: Essays in honor of Helmut Koester. Edited by Birger A. Pearson. Minneapolis: Fortress, 1991.

Mitchell, David. Legacy: The Apocryphal Correspondence between Seneca and Paul. Xlibris, 2010.

Moreschini, Claudio and Enrico Norelli, eds. Early Christian Greek and Latin Literature: A Literary History. 2 vols. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2005.

Pascal, C. “La falsa corrispondenza fra Seneca e S. Paolo.” Rivista de filologia e d’instruzione  classica 35 (1907): 33–42.

Pascal, C. “La falsa corrispondenza tra Seneca e Paolo.” Pages 123–40 of Letteratura latina medievale. Catania, 1909.

Pink, K. “Die pseudo-paulinischen Brief II.” Bib 6.2 (1925): 179–200.

Ramelli, Ilaria. “L’epistolario apocrifo Seneca-san Paolo: alcune asservazioni.” VetChr 34.2 (1997): 299–310.

Ramelli, Ilaria. “A Pseudepigraphon Inside a Pseudepigraphon?: The Seneca-Paul Correspondence and the Letters Added Afterwards.” JSP 23.4 (2014): 259–89.

Reynolds, Leighton D. The Medieval Tradition of Seneca’s Letters. Leiden: Brill, 1965.

Ribbeck, W. L. Annäus Seneca der Philosoph und sein Verhältnis zu Epikur, Plato und dem Christentum. Hannover, 1887.

Rubin, S. Die Ethik Senecas in ihrem Verhältnis zur älteren und mittleren Stoa. Münich, 1901.

Schanz, M. Geschichte der römischen Literatur. Pages 414–17 of Vol. 2. Münich, 1898–1920.

Schreiner, T. Seneca im Gegensatz zu Paulus: Ein Vergleich ihrer Welt- und Lebensanschauung. Diss. Tübingen, 1936.

Schröter, Jens. “Der Briefwechsel Paulus-Seneca.” Pages 563-565 in Paulus Handbuch. Edited by Friedrich W. Horn. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2013.

Sevenster, Jan N. Paul and Seneca. NovTSup 4. Leiden: Brill, 1961.

Sledd, Andrew. “St Paul and Seneca.” Methodist Review 49.2 (1900): 203–19.

Starowieyski, Marek. “St. Paul dans les apocryphes.” StPatr 65 (2013): 253–62.

Vouaux, L. “Correspondance entre Sénèque et de Saint Paul.” Pages 332–69 in Les Actes de Paul et ses Lettres apocryphes. Paris, 1913.

Westerburg, E. Der Ursprung der Sage, dass Seneca Christ gewesen sei: Eine Kritische Untersuchung nebst einer Rezension des apokryphen Briefweschels des Apostels Paulus mit Seneca. Berlin, 1881.

Wilson, R.McL. “Paul and Seneca, Letters of.” ZPEB 4: 623.

Zahn, T. “Der Briefswechsel zwischen Seneca und Paulus.” Geschichte des Neutestamentlichen Kanons. 2 vols. Erlangen – Leipzig 1888–1892 (vol. 2, pp. 612–21).