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Were John son of Zebedee and the Beloved Disciple the same person?

It’s commonly thought that John the son of Zebedee was the author of the Gospel of John, the figure spoken of in that Gospel as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” The two are never explicitly identified, however, and there are reasons for questioning this identification.

Here are eight points to consider:

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The Early Christians and the Dating of Revelation: Are We Too Late?

Sources do not support a Domitianic Dating

Four factors have contributed to the consensus opinion that early sources dated John’s apocalyptic vision late in Domitian’s reign:

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John and the Bishops of the Asian Churches

John’s ministry in Asia Minor and the Dating of John’s Gospel and Revelation

According to a number of ancient writers, John founded the bishoprics in the churches of the province of Asia.

What was the historical situation of these ordinations, according to early Christian tradition, and what can it tell us about when early sources placed the writing of the Gospel and Revelation of John?


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The Confusion of Patmos and Cyprus

Cyprus as the location of John’s exile in some medieval sources

According to a medieval Greek prologue to the Gospels, John wrote his Gospel “in Patmos of Cyprus.”[1] Of course, Patmos is quite a distance from the much larger island of Cyprus (see map below).

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Polycarp, Smyrna, and the Date of Revelation

Was the church of Smyrna founded too late for an early dating of Revelation?

Some claim that according to Polycarp, the Christians at Smyrna (one of the seven churches of Asia addressed in Revelation) had not known the Lord at the time of Paul’s ministry, which ended with his death (c. 66).[1]

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The Martyrdom of Antipas and the Dating of Revelation

What does tradition tell us about when the martyr Antipas died?

The book of Revelation, in its letter to the church at Pergamom in Asia, speaks of a faithful martyr named Antipas (2:13).

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John Mark? You have got to be kidding me!

My research into the thesis that the early Christians identified John/Mark with John the Evangelist

I remember as a graduate student talking about my undergraduate research. There was interest until I mentioned that I had examined the potential identification of the Beloved Disciple/John the Evangelist with the John also called Mark.

Immediately the mood changed. Words didn’t need to be spoken; the incredulous look and change in demeanor said it all. The conversation was brought to an abrupt end.

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