Discussing my research on the reception of John the Evangelist in ancient Christian sources.
The focus of my research has been on the question of the various identifications of John the Evangelist (e.g. with John the Elder, John/Mark, John the Evangelist) in Christian tradition, and the implications of these for understanding the patristic dating of John’s Gospel and Revelation.
Read an overview of my research here.
The Muratorian Canon’s non-Domitianic exile tradition
In part 1, I quoted a passage from Jerome in which he states that presbyters and bishops were the same, and that a time came when it was universally decreed in the church that one presbyter should preside over the others, in order to remove the seeds of schism. What was this “universal decree” that … Continue reading “Jerome on the Origin of Bishops (Part 3): The Decree”
“A Bishop and a Presbyter are the Same”
Dating of Johannine Works
The Antimarcionite Prologue (c. 200) claimed that John wrote Revelation before he wrote his Gospel:
Later the apostle John wrote the Apocalypse on the island of Patmos, and then the Gospel in Asia.Anti Marcionite Prologue to Luke
The Antimarcionite Prologue is not the only ancient source to make this claim. For information on the early dating of Revelation in patristic sources, see here.
Martyrdom of John the son of Zebedee
Papias (c. 110) related that John the son of Zebedee was martyred, a claim also found in many ancient church calendars.
For Papias, bishop of Hierapolis, who was his eyewitness, in the second volume of the Lord’s Reports alleged that he was killed by Jews. Having clearly fulfilled, with his brother, the prediction of Christ about them.Fragments
How widespread was the tradition of John’s martyrdom, and how can it be reconciled with the tradition of John’s natural death in old age? See here.
Was John the Evangelist a Priest?
and there was also John, who rested upon the Lord’s bosom, who was a priest who wore the sacerdotal plate, a witness and teacher; he sleeps in Ephesus.Polycrates of Ephesus, c. 190
What does it mean that John was a priest, and why does Polycrates silent concerning any identification of John the Evangelist with John the son of Zebedee, who was one of the twelve apostles? Were there two Johns? See here.
The Confusion of Patmos and Paphos (Cyprus)
A number of medieval Greek colophons claim that
John composed the Gospel named according to him after he returned to Ephesus from Paphos [in Cyprus]
Similar claims are found in Syriac and Latin sources. Why?
Alternative Johannine Chronologies in the Early Church
The Muratorian Canon (c. AD 180) makes the strange claim that Paul was John’s predecessor:
the blessed Apostle Paul, following the rule of his predecessor John, writes to no more than seven churches by name
John wrote to the seven churches when he wrote Revelation, and so this seems to imply that Revelation was written before Paul’s letters. What is the origin of this strange claim? See here.
John the Evangelist: of Aristocratic Birth?
[John] was known to the high priest (cf. John 18:15) on account of the nobility of his birth (propter generis nobilitatem), and he did not fear the plots of the Jews to such an extent that he led Peter into the reception area [of the high priest’s palace] (cf. John 18:15), and stood, alone of the apostles, before the cross, and received the Saviour’s mother into his own home (cf. John 19:25–27)Jerome, Epist. 127.5.
Fishermen were generally unlearned and uneducated folk (cf. Acts 4:13; John Chrysostom, Matt. 9:9; Cicero, On Duties 1.42). How was John of aristocratic birth and known to the high priest? For a possible answer, see here.
John Mark and the Beloved Disciple
Peter, bishop of Alexandria (fourth century) spoke of St. Mark as follows:
you evangelist of the only-begotten Saviour, you witness of his suffering.Peter of Alexandria, Acts of Peter
According to the Fourth Gospel, it was the Beloved Disciple that witness the suffering of the Lord at the cross. Was Mark confused with John? See here.