I was starting to wonder if John the elder could be both the pillar John mentioned in Gal. 2:9 and John the son of Zebedee, and I see that Culpepper argues for this in John, the Son of Zebedee: The Life of a Legend, summarizing on page 51:
In sum, the synoptic tradition portrays John as one of the leaders of the disciples called by Jesus ... one chosen to be among the disciples closest to Jesus during his ministry and to be a "pillar of the church" in the years that followed.
https://books.google.com/books?id=-6O2U ... ar&f=false
This seems like the least complicated "John" idea that I'm aware of. I've never given much thought about John the son of Zebedee before, yet somehow I assumed he was fictional. But now that I'm coming around to the idea that the disciple Philip could be real (considering that Papias is said to have known his daughters, for example), maybe John the son of Zebedee was real too, and then he became the pillar John who is mentioned by Paul, and then he later lived in Asia (like Philip and his daughters are said to have done).
And I would reckon, given the similarities between the letters of James and Paul and 1 (and 2 and 3) John, that this could be the John who wrote the latter (which is why Papias, who lived in Asia, was aware of them -or at least 1 John).
I would venture to guess that this is not the John who wrote Revelation or the John who wrote the gospel of John. So in this scenario, there would be three Christian Johns: John the son of Zebedee who became the pillar John and then moved to Asia and wrote 1 (and 2 and 3) John; the John who wrote Revelation; and the John who wrote the gospel of John. And I wonder if the latter is pretending to be John the son of Zebedee.
I'm curious to see how this scenario lines up with Papias and Polycrates.
This is more or less where my thoughts were taking me again after pondering Ben's thread, only now I'm not liking the idea that John the son of Zebedee was the pillar John of Gal. 2:9, and that is because Papias appears to distinguish John the disciple (who I assume is John the son of Zebedee) from the presbyter John that he had heard from (presumably in Asia) in EH 3.39.4:
If, then, any one came, who had been a follower of the elders, I questioned him in regard to the words of the elders — what Andrew or what Peter said, or what was said by Philip, or by Thomas, or by James, or by John, or by Matthew, or by any other of the disciples of the Lord, and what things Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say. For I did not think that what was to be gotten from the books would profit me as much as what came from the living and abiding voice.
That these are different Johns, and that Papias did not hear anything from the first one, seems clear from what Eusebius says (and cites) before this in EH 3.39.1-3 and 7:
There are extant five books of Papias, which bear the title Expositions of Oracles of the Lord. Irenæus makes mention of these as the only works written by him, in the following words: “These things are attested by Papias, an ancient man who was a hearer of John and a companion of Polycarp, in his fourth book. For five books have been written by him.” These are the words of Irenæus.
But Papias himself in the preface to his discourses by no means declares that he was himself a hearer and eye-witness of the holy apostles, but he shows by the words which he uses that he received the doctrines of the faith from those who were their friends.
He says: But I shall not hesitate also to put down for you along with my interpretations whatsoever things I have at any time learned carefully from the elders and carefully remembered, guaranteeing their truth. For I did not, like the multitude, take pleasure in those that speak much, but in those that teach the truth; not in those that relate strange commandments, but in those that deliver the commandments given by the Lord to faith, and springing from the truth itself.
And Papias, of whom we are now speaking, confesses that he received the words of the apostles from those that followed them, but says that he was himself a hearer of Aristion and the presbyter John. At least he mentions them frequently by name, and gives their traditions in his writings.
So there are two Johns here, one that Papias didn't know (presumably John the son of Zebedee) and one that he did (presumably in Asia) who is called "the presbyter." And in Ben's thread I mentioned that if I had to choose which John wrote Revelation I would pick the presbyter John (which is what Eusebius supposes), but now I'm not so sure. Here is what Eusebius says in EH 3.39.5:
This shows that the statement of those is true, who say that there were two persons in Asia that bore the same name, and that there were two tombs in Ephesus, each of which, even to the present day, is called John's. It is important to notice this. For it is probable that it was the second, if one is not willing to admit that it was the first that saw the Revelation, which is ascribed by name to John.
It seems unlikely to me that there were two Johns with tombs in Ephesus, but I gather this is Eusebius' take of what Polycrates says in EH 3.31.3 (and Papias' two Johns above):
For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the last day, at the coming of the Lord, when he shall come with glory from heaven and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who sleeps in Hierapolis, and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and moreover John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and being a priest wore the sacerdotal plate. He also sleeps at Ephesus.
Something fishy seems to be going on here, but since I can't figure it out yet I'm going to go ahead and post this and sort it out later. And in the meantime, if anyone wants to put any links to other John-related threads, feel free. I'm just starting this new one in order to take a fresh look at everything.