Category:John (subject)

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John son of Zebedee (1st century CE) was, according to Christian tradition, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus of Nazareth and one of the leaders of the early Church as well as one of the four evangelists.

  • This page is edited by James E. West, Quartz Hill School of Theology, United States of America.

< Childhood of John -- Call of the First Disciples -- Raising of Jairus' Daughter -- Transfiguration of Jesus -- Last Supper -- Arrest of Jesus -- Crucifixion of Jesus -- Burial of Jesus -- Resurrection of Jesus -- Torture of John -- John on Patmos -- John at Ephesus -- Death of John -- Relics of John >


John, son of Zebedee and brother of James Zebedee, mentioned in the Synoptic Gospels as one of the earliest disciples of Jesus, one of the Twelve, and his role is singled out in a few episodes of the Ministry of Jesus.

John in the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke

Mark's mention of John the son of Zebedee is mimicked by Matthew and Luke, since, by all accounts and according to most scholars, Mark was the earliest of the Gospels written and Matthew and Luke made use of Mark and Q and added their own special material. The Synoptics, however, offer few details beyond the fact that John is the brother of James and that both are the sons of Zebedee. In Mark 3:17 Jesus calls James and John the 'sons of thunder' (Boanerges). This is a Hebrew or Aramaic phrase 'beney regesh' which the Gospel of Mark's author translates 'sons of thunder'. It is used in other contexts describing the striking of a house by lightning. But this solution is disputed. The phrase may also stem from 'beney ragaz' which means 'sons of wrath' or hot-tempered.

Act of the Apostles

In the Acts of the Apostles John is always mentioned in connection with Peter, except in Acts 12:2 where the death of James is discussed. In the mind of the author James, Peter, and John are apparently the most important of the Apostles as they are constantly referred to as taking the lead in many apostolic actions. Whether or not this was historically the case or is simply an example of the author's particular theological interest, we cannot now know. Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that John is always mentioned in tandem with Peter while Peter is not always mentioned in tandem with John.

Galatians 2:9

This Pauline text is the only evidence outside of the Gospels and Acts for the existence of and importance of 'John' in the New Testament. Since he is here linked with James we are doubtless meant to assume that Paul has in mind Peter, and James and John the sons of Zebedee. Paul, however, offers no further information. Hence, the reference to John in Galatians is supplementary and confirmatory, but that's all.

John the son of Zebedee

... is traditionally identified with the Beloved Disciple of the Fourth Gospel and the John of Patmos of the book of Revelation. However, there is no reliable corroboration of these notions from extra-biblical sources and even the Bible itself never identifies either the Beloved Disciple nor the author of the Fourth Gospel. John of Patmos, the author of Revelation, also may, or may not be the son of Zebedee. Since our sources are not very specific about the patrimony of this author, suppositions concerning any putative connection to John son of Zebedee are speculative and nothing more. Therefore, it is unsafe to equate the author of Revelation with John the son of Zebedee, or the author of the Gospel of John or the Johannine epistles. More likely, it seems, is the belief that the Gospel and the Epistles and the Revelation all flow from a 'Johannine School' of theology. R. Alan Culpepepper is perhaps the best known representative of this line of thought.

From the late second century comes the tradition that John miraculously escaped martyrdom and lived to old age in Ephesus. More than that cannot be known or asserted from available sources.

John, in ancient sources

John, in the arts

The iconography of John developed into a narrative cycle, that went beyond the "biblical" data, including episodes from his old age. The same legendary elements are present in the novels and movies devoted to John the evangelist in modern times.

One characteristically 'devotional' modern representation of the Apostle is found in The Gospel of John (2003 Saville), film. Per usual, the 'biography' of John follows traditional lines.

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Pages in category "John (subject)"

The following 40 pages are in this category, out of 40 total.