The NT and Presbyter Johns

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: The NT and Presbyter Johns

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Nov 20, 2019 9:16 pm

There is another aspect to all of this: the death of John of Zebedee.

That a John lived a long life in Asia (until the time of Trajan) is reported by Irenaeus and others, and those testimonies are fairly well known:

Irenaeus, Against Heresies 2.22.5: 5 Now, that the first stage of early life embraces thirty years, and that this extends onwards to the fortieth year, every one will admit; but from the fortieth and fiftieth year a man begins to decline towards old age, which our Lord possessed while He still fulfilled the office of a Teacher, even as the Gospel and all the elders testify, those who were conversant in Asia with John, the disciple of the Lord [Ἰωάννῃ τῷ τοῦ κυρίου μαθητῇ], that John conveyed to them that information. And he remained among them up to the times of Trajan [παρέμεινεν γὰρ αὐτοῖς μέχρι τῶν Τραϊανοῦ χρόνων]. Some of them, moreover, saw not only John, but the other apostles [alios apostolos] also, and heard the very same account from them, and bear testimony as to the statement. Whom then should we rather believe? Whether such men as these, or Ptolemy, who never saw the apostles, and who never even in his dreams attained to the slightest trace of an apostle?

Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.3.4: 4 .... There is also a very powerful Epistle of Polycarp written to the Philippians, from which those who choose to do so, and are anxious about their salvation, can learn the character of his faith, and the preaching of the truth. Then, again, the Church in Ephesus, founded by Paul, and having John remaining among them permanently until the times of Trajan [Ἰωάννου δὲ παραμείναντος αὐτοῖς μέχρι τῶν Τραϊανοῦ χρόνων], is a true witness of the tradition of the apostles.

Acts of John 115: 115 And having sealed himself in every part, he stood and said, "You are with me, O Lord Jesus Christ," and laid himself down in the trench where he had strown his garments; and, having said unto us, "Peace be with you, brethren," he gave up his spirit rejoicing. / 115 Καὶ σφραγισάμενος ἑαυτὸν ὅλον ἑστὼς καὶ εἰρηκὼς· «Σὺ μετ' ἐμοῦ κύριε Ἰησοῦ Χριστέ,» κατεκλίθη ἐν τῷ σκάμματι ἔνθα τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτοῦ ὑπέστρωσεν· καὶ εἰπὼν ἡμῖν· «Εἰρήνη μεθ' ὑμῶν, ἀδελφοί,» παρέδωκε τὸ πνεῦμα χαίρων.

M. R. James, The Apocryphal New Testament, page 270: The less good Greek manuscripts and some versions are not content with this simple ending. The Latin says that after the prayer a great light appeared over the apostle for the space of an hour, so bright that no one could look at it. (Then he laid himself down and gave up the ghost.) We who were there rejoiced, some of us, and some mourned.... And forthwith manna issuing from the tomb was seen of all, which manna that place produceth even unto this day...." But perhaps the best conclusion is that of one Greek manuscript: "We brought a linen cloth and spread it upon him, and went into the city. And on the day following we went forth and found not his body, for it was translated by the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, unto whom be glory...." Another says: "On the morrow we dug in the place, and him we found not, but only his sandals, and the earth moving..., and after that we remembered that which was spoken by the Lord unto Peter...." Augustine (On John xxi) reports the belief that in his time the earth over the grave was seen to move as if stirred by John's breathing.

Eusebius, History of the Church 3.31.2-3: 2 The time of John's death has also been given in a general way, but his burial place is indicated by an epistle of Polycrates (who was bishop of the parish of Ephesus), addressed to Victor, bishop of Rome. In this epistle he mentions him together with the apostle Philip and his daughters in the following words: 3 "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." So much concerning their death. / 2 Τοῦ δὲ Ἰωάννου τὰ μὲν τοῦ χρόνου ἤδη πως εἴρηται, τὸ δέ γε τοῦ σκηνώματος αὐτοῦ χωρίον ἐξ ἐπιστολῆς Πολυκράτους τῆς δ' ἐν Ἐφέσῳ παροικίας ἐπίσκοπος οὗτος ἦν ἐπιδείκνυται, ἣν Οὐίκτορι Ῥωμαίων ἐπισκόπῳ γράφων, ὁμοῦ τε αὐτοῦ καὶ Φιλίππου μνημονεύει τοῦ ἀποστόλου τῶν τε τούτου θυγατέρων ὧδέ πως· 3 «Καὶ γὰρ κατὰ τὴν Ἀσίαν μεγάλα στοιχεῖα κεκοίμηται· ἅτινα ἀναστήσεται τῇ ἐσχάτῃ ἡμέρᾳ τῆς παρουσίας τοῦ κυρίου, ἐν ᾗ ἔρχεται μετὰ δόξης ἐξ οὐρανοῦ καὶ ἀναζητήσει πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους, Φίλιππον τῶν δώδεκα ἀποστόλων, ὃς κεκοίμηται ἐν Ἱεραπόλει καὶ δύο θυγατέρες αὐτοῦ γεγηρακυῖαι παρθένοι καὶ ἡ ἑτέρα αὐτοῦ θυγάτηρ ἐν ἁγίῳ πνεύματι πολιτευσαμένη ἐν Ἐφέσῳ ἀναπαύεται· ἔτι δὲ καὶ Ἰωάννης, ὁ ἐπὶ τὸ στῆθος τοῦ κυρίου ἀναπεσών, ὃς ἐγενήθη ἱερεὺς τὸ πέταλον πεφορεκὼς καὶ μάρτυς καὶ διδάσκαλος, οὗτος ἐν Ἐφέσῳ κεκοίμηται.» Ταῦτα καὶ περὶ τῆς τῶνδε τελευτῆς.

Eusebius, History of the Church 5.24.1-8: 1 But the bishops of Asia, led by Polycrates, decided to hold to the old custom handed down to them. He himself, in a letter which he addressed to Victor and the church of Rome, set forth in the following words the tradition which had come down to him: 2 "We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord's coming, 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 fell asleep 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. 3 He fell asleep at Ephesus. 4 And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. 5 Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead? 6 All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. 7 I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said, 'We ought to obey God rather than man' (= Acts 5.29)." 8 He then writes of all the bishops who were present with him and thought as he did. His words are as follows: "I could mention the bishops who were present, whom I summoned at your desire; whose names, should I write them, would constitute a great multitude. And they, beholding my littleness, gave their consent to the letter, knowing that I did not bear my gray hairs in vain, but had always governed my life by the Lord Jesus." / 1 Τῶν δὲ ἐπὶ τῆς Ἀσίας ἐπισκόπων τὸ πάλαι πρότερον αὐτοῖς παραδοθὲν διαφυλάττειν ἔθος χρῆναι διισχυριζομένων ἡγεῖτο Πολυκράτης· ὃς καὶ αὐτὸς ἐν ᾗ πρὸς Βίκτορα καὶ τὴν Ῥωμαίων ἐκκλησίαν διετυπώσατο γραφῇ τὴν εἰς αὐτὸν ἐλθοῦσαν παράδοσιν ἐκτίθεται διὰ τούτων· 2 «Ἡμεῖς οὖν ἀρᾳδιούργητον ἄγομεν τὴν ἡμέραν, μήτε προστιθέντες μήτε ἀφαιρούμενοι. Καὶ γὰρ κατὰ τὴν Ἀσίαν μεγάλα στοιχεῖα κεκοίμηται· ἅτινα ἀναστήσεται τῇ ἡμέρᾳ τῆς παρουσίας τοῦ κυρίου, ἐν ᾗ ἔρχεται μετὰ δόξης ἐξ οὐρανῶν καὶ ἀναζητήσει πάντας τοὺς ἁγίους, Φίλιππον τῶν δώδεκα ἀποστόλων, ὃς κεκοίμηται ἐν Ἱεραπόλει καὶ δύο θυγατέρες αὐτοῦ γεγηρακυῖαι παρθένοι καὶ ἡ ἑτέρα αὐτοῦ θυγάτηρ ἐν ἁγίῳ πνεύματι πολιτευσαμένη ἐν Ἐφέσῳ ἀναπαύεται· 3 ἔτι δὲ καὶ Ἰωάννης ὁ ἐπὶ τὸ στῆθος τοῦ κυρίου ἀναπεσών, ὃς ἐγενήθη ἱερεὺς τὸ πέταλον πεφορεκὼς καὶ μάρτυς καὶ διδάσκαλος· οὗτος ἐν Ἐφέσῳ κεκοίμηται, 4 ἔτι δὲ καὶ Πολύκαρπος ἐν Σμύρνῃ, καὶ ἐπίσκοπος καὶ μάρτυς· καὶ Θρασέας, καὶ ἐπίσκοπος καὶ μάρτυς ἀπὸ Εὐμενείας, ὃς ἐν Σμύρνῃ κεκοίμηται. 5 Τί δὲ δεῖ λέγειν Σάγαριν ἐπίσκοπον καὶ μάρτυρα, ὃς ἐν Λαοδικείᾳ κεκοίμηται, ἔτι δὲ καὶ Παπίριον τὸν μακάριον καὶ Μελίτωνα τὸν εὐνοῦχον, τὸν ἐν ἁγίῳ πνεύματι πάντα πολιτευσάμενον, ὃς κεῖται ἐν Σάρδεσιν περιμένων τὴν ἀπὸ τῶν οὐρανῶν ἐπισκοπὴν ἐν ᾗ ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναστήσεται; 6 Οὗτοι πάντες ἐτήρησαν τὴν ἡμέραν τῆς τεσσαρεσκαιδεκάτης τοῦ πάσχα κατὰ τὸ εὐαγγέλιον, μηδὲν παρεκβαίνοντες, ἀλλὰ κατὰ τὸν κανόνα τῆς πίστεως ἀκολουθοῦντες· «Ἔτι δὲ κἀγὼ ὁ μικρότερος πάντων ὑμῶν Πολυκράτης, κατὰ παράδοσιν τῶν συγγενῶν μου, οἷς καὶ παρηκολούθησά τισιν αὐτῶν. Ἑπτὰ μὲν ἦσαν συγγενεῖς μου ἐπίσκοποι, ἐγὼ δὲ ὄγδοος· καὶ πάντοτε τὴν ἡμέραν ἤγαγον οἱ συγγενεῖς μου ὅταν ὁ λαὸς ἤρνυεν τὴν ζύμην. 7 Ἐγὼ οὖν, ἀδελφοί, ἑξήκοντα πέντε ἔτη ἔχων ἐν κυρίῳ καὶ συμβεβληκὼς τοῖς ἀπὸ τῆς οἰκουμένης ἀδελφοῖς καὶ πᾶσαν ἁγίαν γραφὴν διεληλυθώς, οὐ πτύρομαι ἐπὶ τοῖς καταπλησσομένοις· οἱ γὰρ ἐμοῦ μείζονες εἰρήκασι « Πειθαρχεῖν δεῖ θεῷ μᾶλλον ἢ ἀνθρώποις.» 8 Τούτοις ἐπιφέρει περὶ τῶν γράφοντι συμπαρόντων αὐτῷ καὶ ὁμοδοξούντων ἐπισκόπων ταῦτα λέγων· «Ἐδυνάμην δὲ τῶν ἐπισκόπων τῶν συμπαρόντων μνημονεῦσαι, οὓς ὑμεῖς ἠξιώσατε μετακληθῆναι ὑπ´ ἐμοῦ καὶ μετεκαλεσάμην· ὧν τὰ ὀνόματα ἐὰν γράφω, πολλὰ πλήθη εἰσίν· οἳ δὲ εἰδότες τὸν μικρόν μου ἄνθρωπον συνηυδόκησαν τῇ ἐπιστολῇ, εἰδότες ὅτι εἰκῇ πολιὰς οὐκ ἤνεγκα, ἀλλ´ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ πάντοτε πεπολίτευμαι.»

There is also the suggestion (mentioned by MacDonald) that James and John were called the Sons of Thunder precisely because James died young (as represented by the mortal Castor, son of Zeus) while the other lived a very long life (as represented by the immortal Pollux, son of Zeus).

But what about the other important passage in the gospel of Mark?

Mark 10.35-40: 35 James and John, the two sons of Zebedee, come up to Jesus, saying, “Teacher, we want You to do for us whatever we ask of You.” 36 And He said to them, “What do you want Me to do for you?” 37 They said to Him, “Grant that we may sit, one on Your right and one on Your left, in Your glory.” 38 But Jesus said to them, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or to be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized?” 39 They said to Him, “We are able.” And Jesus said to them, “The cup that I drink you shall drink; and you shall be baptized with the baptism with which I am baptized. 40 But to sit on My right or on My left, this is not Mine to give; but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.” / 35 Καὶ προσπορεύονται αὐτῷ Ἰάκωβος καὶ Ἰωάννης οἱ υἱοὶ Ζεβεδαίου λέγοντες αὐτῷ· διδάσκαλε, θέλομεν ἵνα ὃ ἐὰν αἰτήσωμέν σε ποιήσῃς ἡμῖν. 36 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· τί θέλετέ [με] ποιήσω ὑμῖν; 37 οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτῷ· δὸς ἡμῖν ἵνα εἷς σου ἐκ δεξιῶν καὶ εἷς ἐξ ἀριστερῶν καθίσωμεν ἐν τῇ δόξῃ σου. 38 ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· οὐκ οἴδατε τί αἰτεῖσθε. δύνασθε πιεῖν τὸ ποτήριον ὃ ἐγὼ πίνω ἢ τὸ βάπτισμα ὃ ἐγὼ βαπτίζομαι βαπτισθῆναι; 39 οἱ δὲ εἶπαν αὐτῷ· δυνάμεθα. ὁ δὲ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· τὸ ποτήριον ὃ ἐγὼ πίνω πίεσθε καὶ τὸ βάπτισμα ὃ ἐγὼ βαπτίζομαι βαπτισθήσεσθε, 40 τὸ δὲ καθίσαι ἐκ δεξιῶν μου ἢ ἐξ εὐωνύμων οὐκ ἔστιν ἐμὸν δοῦναι, ἀλλ᾽ οἷς ἡτοίμασται.

Did Mark report John's martyrdom while John was still alive? I tend to doubt it. Rather, Mark "knew" that both of the sons of Zebedee had died as martyrs. Other sources agree that John died a martyr.

First, there is possibly one (negative) argument to be made from silence. Heracleon, as quoted by Clement of Alexandria in Miscellanies 4.9, writes that "Matthew, Philip, Thomas, Levis, and many others" (Ματθαῖος, Φίλιππος, Θωμᾶς, Λευῒς καὶ ἄλλοι πολλοί) have made "the confession through the voice" (τὴν διὰ τῆς φωνῆς ὁμολογίαν) — that is, they died in ordinary ways rather than as martyrs. That as prominent a disciple as John of Zebedee is not listed in this context may indicate knowledge of his martyrdom.

As for other (positive) arguments, there are the martyrologies:

Syrian Martyrology of Edessa (the names of our Lords the Confessors and Victors, and their days on which they gained [their] crowns), December 26-28: 26, according to the reckoning of the Greeks. The first confessor at Jerusalem, Stephen the Apostle, the chief of the confessors. 27, John and Jacob (James), the Apostles, at Jerusalem. 28, in the city of Rome, Paul the Apostle, and Simon Cephas (Peter), the chief of the Apostles of our Lord. [Link.]

Vincent Henry Stanton, The Gospels as Historical Documents, page 115: In the Armenian Calendar the entry for Dec. 28 (the festivals of the Sons of Zebedee and of Peter and Paul have here been inverted) is "The festival of the holy sons of thunder, James and John."

Hieronymian Calendar, December 27 (apud Vincent Henry Stanton, page 115): Adsumptio S. Johannis Evangelistae apud Ephesum et ordinatio episcopatus S. Jacobi fratris Domini qui ab apostolis primus ex Judaeis Hierosolymis episcopus est ordinatus. / Assumption of Saint John the Evangelist at Ephesus and the ordination of the episcopate of Saint James/Jacob the brother of the Lord who was the first bishop ordained from among the apostles from the Jews of Jerusalem.

Robert Eisler, The Enigma of the Fourth Gospel, page 62: The famous Missal of Bobbio reflecting the pre-Carolingian ritual of the Church of Paris — where Syrians had occupied not only the bishop's seat, but all the most influential ecclesiastical offices under the Merovingian kings — offers, after the mass for Christmas Day (No. 6), as No. 7 the mass for St. Stephen, as No. 8 the mass in memory of the massacre of the Innocent Children, and as No. 9 Missa Jacobi el Johannis. The gospel lessons for the day are Matt. xx. 20-23: accessit mater filiorum Zebedaei... containing Jesus' prophecy of the martyrdom of the two brothers, followed by Acts xii. 1-3: Misit Herodes rex manus ut affligeret quosdam de ecclesia... the account of how this prophecy was fulfilled in the case of St. James.

Martyrology of Carmona, December 27 & June 24 (apud Eisler, page 61): VI K(alendas Io)annis apostole XII. .... VIII Kal(endas) Julias S(an)c(ti) Joanni(s) B(aptistae).

Carthaginian Calendar, December 27: VI. Kal. Jan. sancti Johannis Baptistae, et Jacobi Apostoli, quem Herodes occidit. / December 27, of Saint John the Baptist and James/Jacob the Apostle, whom Herod murdered. [Link. That John the Baptist is a mistake for John of Zebedee in the Carthaginian Calendar is supported by the presence of John the Baptist's usual feast day elsewhere on this same calendar.]

Carthaginian Calendar, June 24: VIII. Kal. Jul. sancti Johannis Baptistae.... / June 24, of Saint John the Baptist....

Eusebius, History of the Church 2.9.1-4: 1 "Now about that time" — it is clear that he means the time of Claudius — "Herod the King stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the Church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword" (= Acts 12.1-2). 2 And concerning this James, Clement, in the seventh book of his Hypotyposes, relates a story which is worthy of mention, telling it as he received it from those who had lived before him. He says that the one who led James to the judgment seat, when he saw him bearing his testimony, was moved, and confessed that he was himself also a Christian. 3 They were both therefore, he says, led away together; and on the way he begged James to forgive him. And he, after considering a little, said, "Peace be with you," and kissed him. And thus they were both beheaded at the same time. 4 And then, as the divine Scripture says (= Acts 12.3-17), Herod, upon the death of James, seeing that the deed pleased the Jews, attacked Peter also and committed him to prison, and would have slain him if he had not, by the divine appearance of an angel who came to him by night, been wonderfully released from his bonds, and thus liberated for the service of the Gospel. Such was the providence of God in respect to Peter. / 1 «Κατ´ ἐκεῖνον δὲ τὸν καιρόν,» δῆλον δ´ ὅτι τὸν ἐπὶ Κλαυδίου, «ἐπέβαλεν Ἡρῴδης ὁ βασιλεὺς τὰς χεῖρας κακῶσαί τινας τῶν ἀπὸ τῆς ἐκκλησίας, ἀνεῖλεν δὲ Ἰάκωβον τὸν ἀδελφὸν Ἰωάννου μαχαίρᾳ.» <2> περὶ τούτου δ´ ὁ Κλήμης τοῦ Ἰακώβου καὶ ἱστορίαν μνήμης ἀξίαν ἐν τῇ τῶν Ὑποτυπώσεων ἑβδόμῃ παρατίθεται ὡς ἂν ἐκ παραδόσεως τῶν πρὸ αὐτοῦ, φάσκων ὅτι δὴ ὁ εἰσαγαγὼν αὐτὸν εἰς δικαστήριον, μαρτυρήσαντα αὐτὸν ἰδὼν κινηθείς, ὡμολόγησεν εἶναι καὶ αὐτὸς ἑαυτὸν Χριστιανόν. <3> «Συναπήχθησαν οὖν ἄμφω,» φησίν, «καὶ κατὰ τὴν ὁδὸν ἠξίωσεν ἀφεθῆναι αὐτῷ ὑπὸ τοῦ Ἰακώβου· ὁ δὲ ὀλίγον σκεψάμενος, εἰρήνη σοι, εἶπεν καὶ κατεφίλησεν αὐτόν. Καὶ οὕτως ἀμφό τεροι ὁμοῦ ἐκαρατομήθησαν.» <4> τότε δῆτα, ὥς φησιν ἡ θεία γραφή, ἰδὼν Ἡρῴδης ἐπὶ τῇ τοῦ Ἰακώβου ἀναιρέσει πρὸς ἡδονῆς γεγονὸς τὸ πραχθὲν τοῖς Ἰουδαίοις, ἐπιτίθεται καὶ Πέτρῳ, δεσμοῖς τε αὐτὸν παραδούς, ὅσον οὔπω καὶ τὸν κατ´ αὐτοῦ φόνον ἐνήργησεν ἄν, εἰ μὴ διὰ θείας ἐπιφανείας, ἐπιστάντος αὐτῷ νύκτωρ ἀγγέλου, παραδό ξως τῶν εἱργμῶν ἀπαλλαγείς, ἐπὶ τὴν τοῦ κηρύγματος ἀφεῖται διακονίαν. Καὶ τὰ μὲν κατὰ Πέτρον οὕτως εἶχεν οἰκονομίας. [Could this legend have originally been a way to explain the presence of another man (= John!) killed alongside James?]

And is it possible that the beheading of John the baptist by Herod Antipas may actually be a garbled transmission of the death of John of Zebedee by beheading (along with and like his brother James) by Herod Agrippa? John the baptist's entire death in Matthew 14.1-12 = Mark 6.14-29 (= Luke 9.7-9) seems to me to be based on the beheading of Vashti in Jewish midrash.

As for the two tombs in Ephesus, they may have both been for the same John:

Alan Culpepper, John, the Son of Zebedee: The Life of a Legend, pages 148-149: The presence of two tombs of John in Ephesus has been explained in various ways. .... Robert Eisler conjectures that the second tomb of John, referred to by Dionysius of Alexandria, was the original tomb of the Ephesian John before his remains were transferred to the catacombs under the Square Church. The moving of the saint's remains, Eisler suggests [on pages 125-126 of The Enigma of the Fourth Gospel], may have spurred the development of the legend which reports that "on the morning after [John's inhumation], all came with prayers to lift his body so that it should be put to rest in the big church. But when we opened the grave we found nothing." September 26 was celebrated as the date of the martyrdom of John and others in a world-renowned religious feast at Justinian's Basilica of St. John until its destruction by the Seljuk Turks in A.D. 1090. Eisler supposes, therefore, that the remains of all these martyrs may have been collected in the catacombs beneath the square church. Local Christians may have continued to worship at the original tomb. In more recent times, until the expulsion of the Greek inhabitants from the area in 1920, Greek Christians decorated with wreaths and lamps a simple arcosol-tomb cut into the rock a little east of the ancient stadium, identifying it as the grave of St. John. If Eisler's theory of the movement of the remains from a simple tomb to the catacombs is correct, the remains were moved before Dionysius wrote in A.D. 262. Whether or not the Square Church had been built by this date, its location would have been connected with John's tomb by this time. Legends concerning the tomb of John include reports of manna or miraculous dust rising from the tomb, which had healing powers. Recounting a legend of apparently separate origins, Augustine says that the ground rose and fell over the tomb as though the apostle were sleeping.

And of course there is this late report about Papias:

Philip of Side, quotation of the Ecclesiastical History, codex Baroccianus 142 (de Boor 4.6), Bihlmeyer & Schneemelcher fragment 11.1-2: 1 Papias, bishop of Hierapolis, hearer of the theologian John and friend of Polycarp, wrote five books about the sayings of the Lord. In these, in a list that he made of the apostles, after Peter and John, Philip and Thomas and Matthew, he indicated that Aristion and another John, whom he also called an elder, were disciples of the Lord. Papias was also mistaken about the future millennium; Irenaeus got his ideas from him. 2 In his second book Papias says that John the theologian and his brother James were killed by Jews. And this Papias we have been discussing related a story that he evidently received from the daughters of Philip, that when Barsabbas, also called Justus, was put to the test by unbelievers, he drank snake poison but was preserved unharmed by the name of Christ. And he tells other amazing stories — especially one about Manaim's mother, who was raised from the dead. And he relates that those who were raised from the dead by Christ lived until the time of Hadrian. / 1 Παπίας Ἱεραπόλεως ἐπίσκοπος, ἀκουστὴς τοῦ θεολόγου Ἰωάννου γενόμενος, Πολυκάρπου δὲ ἑταῖρος, πέντε λόγους κυριακῶν λογίων ἔγραψεν. ἐν οἷς ἀπαρίθμησιν ἀποστόλων ποιούμενος μετὰ Πέτρον καὶ Ἰωάννην, Φίλιππον καὶ Θωμᾶν καὶ Ματθαῖον εἰς μαθητὰς τοῦ κυρίου ἀνέγραψεν Ἀριστίωνα καὶ Ἰωάννην ἕτερον, ὃν καὶ πρεσβύτερον ἐκάλεσεν. ὥς τινας οἴεσθαι, ὅτι <τούτου> τοῦ Ἰωάννου εἰσὶν αἱ δύο ἐπιστολαὶ αἱ μικραὶ καὶ καθολικαί, αἱ ἐξ ὀνόματος Ἰωάννου φερόμεναι, διὰ τὸ τοὺς ἀρχαίους τὴν πρώτην μόνην ἐγκρίνειν. τινὲς δὲ καὶ τὴν Ἀποκάλυψιν τούτου πλανηθέντες ἐνόμισαν. καὶ Παπίας δὲ περὶ τὴν χιλιονταετηρίδα σφάλλεται, ἐξ οὗ καὶ ὁ Εἰρηναῖος. 2 Παπίας ἐν τῷ δευτέρῳ λόγῳ λέγει, ὅτι Ἰωάννης ὁ θεολόγος καὶ Ἰάκωβος ὁ ἀδελφὸς αὐτοῦ ὑπὸ Ἰουδαίων ἀνῃρέθησαν. Παπίας ὁ εἰρημένος ἱστόρησεν ὡς παραλαβὼν ἀπὸ τῶν θυγατέρων Φιλίππου, ὅτι Βαρσαβᾶς, ὁ καὶ Ἰοῦστος δοκιμαζόμενος, ὑπὸ τῶν ἀπίστων ἰὸν ἐχίδνης πιὼν ἐν ὀνόματι τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἀπαθὴς διεφυλάχθη. ἱστορεῖ δὲ καὶ ἄλλα θαύματα καὶ μάλιστα τὸ κατὰ τὴν μητέρα Μαναΐμου τὴν ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναστᾶσαν· περί <τε> τῶν ὑπὸ τοῦ Χριστοῦ ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναστάντων, ὅτι ἕως Ἀδριανοῦ ἔζων.

Or did Philip misread Origen and then attribute it to Papias by mistake?

Origen, Commentary on Matthew 16.6: 6 And the sons of Zebedee have, <according to these things, as it seems to me, both> drunk <the> cup and been baptized with the baptism, since Herod slew "James the <brother> of John with a sword," and the king of the Romans (as the tradition teaches) condemned John, who was martyred on account of the word of truth on the island of Patmos. / πεπώκασι δὲ <κατὰ ταῦτα, ὡς ἐμοὶ δοκεῖν, καὶ τὸ> ποτήριον καὶ τὸ βάπτισμα ἐβαπτίσθησαν οἱ τοῦ Ζεβεδαίου υἱοί, ἐπείπερ Ἡρώδης μὲν ἀπέκτεινεν «Ἰάκωβον τὸν <ἀδελφὸν> Ἰωάννου μαχαίρᾳ», ὁ δὲ Ῥωμαίων βασιλεὺς (ὡς ἡ παράδοσις διδάσκει) κατεδίκασε τὸν Ἰωάννην μαρτυροῦντα διὰ τὸν τῆς ἀληθείας λόγον εἰς Πάτμον τὴν νῆσον.

This suggestion has been made, but I am not sure.

At any rate, some sources say that John lived a long life before dying (among which some of these former even assert that he died peacefully), while others say that he died a martyr, like his brother James, and apparently, according to some of these latter, on the same day (as suggested by the feast days).
John2 wrote:
Wed Nov 20, 2019 8:41 pm
the minority view is that the gospel was written with knowledge of the epistles. I currently hold pretty firmly with the minority view.
Ah. Well, I'm still thinking that Papias' presbyter John and Polycrates' Asian John could be the same person....
This is certainly possible. Both are associated with Asia.
...(and that they could also be the pillar John), but even if they aren't, do you think either of them could have a) written all or some of the Johannine epistles; and b) that these epistles and/or the fame of either of these Johns could have inspired the author of the gospel of John to pretend be one of them (and/or could have inspired whoever called that gospel John)?
I suspect that the Johannine epistles were written by the Elder John mentioned by Papias. This would explain their titles (as epistles "of John") and the internal authorship claim of 2 and 3 John as having been written by someone who could be referred to simply as "the Elder."

I think that the gospel of John came later, and in multiple layers. (Evidence for this gospel being layered is abundant.) Whoever added the appendix (= John 21) also added the beloved disciple to a gospel which previously lacked him. This beloved disciple may well have been intended to be the Elder John, since we find the author of the gospel of John correcting or critiquing Matthew and Mark quite a lot; I suggest that the editors (lurking behind the plural "we") were following John the Elder's lead, who, according to Papias, was not above correcting or critiquing the gospels of Matthew and Mark.

Before the beloved disciple was added to the text, the most beloved individual in the gospel was Lazarus. Calling this upstart disciple "beloved" was a way of replacing Lazarus with the beloved disciple, so far as intimacy with Jesus is concerned.

Even if John the Elder is the beloved disciple (and I may be wrong about that), I doubt he was ever a follower of Jesus. He may have met Jesus, or someone he thought was Jesus, as a very young man, or even as a child, in Palestine, thus explaining this weird tradition:

Pseudo-Hilary, Tractate on John 1a: 1a John the most holy evangelist was the younger among all the apostles. When the apostles discussed which of them was greater, the Lord held him, saying: "Whoever is not converted as this child," and the rest. It is he himself who reclined upon the breast of the Lord. It is he himself whom Jesus esteemed more than the rest, to whom also he transmitted his mother Mary, and whom he transmitted as son to Mary. / 1a Iohannes sanctissimus evangelista inter omnes apostolos iunior fuit. hunc, cum disquirerent apostoli quisnam eorum maior esset, tenuit Dominus dicens: «Quicumque non fuerit conversus sicut puer hic,» et cetera. ipse est qui super pectus Domini recumbebat. ipse est quem prae ceteris diligebat Iesus, cui et Mariam matrem, et ipsum Mariae filium tradidit.

Because so precious little is said about John the Pillar, I am not sure which other John he may or may not be; nor am I sure where he may fit in.

YMMV.
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Re: The NT and Presbyter Johns

Post by John2 » Thu Nov 21, 2019 2:09 pm

Geez, Ben, thanks for all that ("Benformation" mode! :) ).

I'm going to have to process the second half of it, but regarding the first half, I'm inclined to think that Irenaeus (and others after him) confused Polycrates' and Papias' John (who I think could be the same person and the pillar John) with John of Zebedee (hence the two-long-lived-Johns buried in Ephesus tradition). In other words, I think he's actually talking about the guy that Papias knew (even if that guy wasn't the pillar John).

And I'm starting to think Polycrates is an early link in the chain of confusion (and perhaps of the idea -rightly or wrongly- that John of Zebedee was the Beloved Disciple, given that he says that his John "reclined upon the bosom of the Lord").

But I feel fairly confident that Papias is not confused (since he lived in Asia and pre-dates Polycrates and Irenaeus -I date him c. 100 CE- and claims to have actually heard from the presbyter John) and that there was thus only one Asian John (the presbyter, whoever he may have been). If there were two Asian Johns who lived to the time of Trajan, why did Papias have to ask other (older) people about one of them instead of seeking him out directly like he did the other one?
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Re: The NT and Presbyter Johns

Post by John2 » Thu Nov 21, 2019 3:11 pm

Ooh, the second half of Ben's post is awesome too. Regarding Philip of Side, I'm guessing that he is not misreading Papias when he writes:

... he [Papias] indicated that Aristion and another John, whom he also called an elder, were disciples of the Lord ... In his second book Papias says that John the theologian and his brother James were killed by Jews.

This would explain why Papias had to ask other people about John of Zebedee, because he wasn't alive in Papias' time (nor, presumably, was he in Asia).


And I can agree with everything you wrote here:

I suspect that the Johannine epistles were written by the Elder John mentioned by Papias. This would explain their titles (as epistles "of John") and the internal authorship claim of 2 and 3 John as having been written by someone who could be referred to simply as "the Elder."

I think that the gospel of John came later, and in multiple layers. (Evidence for this gospel being layered is abundant.) Whoever added the appendix (= John 21) also added the beloved disciple to a gospel which previously lacked him. This beloved disciple may well have been intended to be the Elder John, since we find the author of the gospel of John correcting or critiquing Matthew and Mark quite a lot; I suggest that the editors (lurking behind the plural "we") were following John the Elder's lead, who, according to Papias, was not above correcting or critiquing the gospels of Matthew and Mark.



Now, regarding John the Elder being the pillar John, for one thing, Jewish Christian leaders were called elders (in Acts and the Didache), so there's that. And if Polycrates' Asian John is Papias' presbyter John, then it would explain why both he and Papias describe him as a "witness" and a "disciple of the Lord." And the way that Polycrates depicts him as being priest-like is similar to how the pillar James is depicted (and which I suspect is a misunderstanding of their Naziritism, i.e., their long hair, or nezer, was confused with the nezer worn by the high priest).

So Polycrates' and Papias' John (assuming they are the same person) was called what Jewish Christian leaders were called (an elder) and was arguably a Nazirite like the pillar James. And that Polycrates and Papias call him a "witness" and "disciple" of Jesus puts him in the time of Jesus, and Papias distinguishes him from John of Zebedee. And as the author of 1 John says:

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it ...
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Re: The NT and Presbyter Johns

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Nov 21, 2019 6:39 pm

Eisler argues for an emendation of Acts 12.2:

Robert Eisler, The Enigma of the Fourth Gospel, pages 73-74:

In view of the considerable body of evidence collected in the previous chapters deeply rooted in the liturgical practice of the Christian Churches all around the Mediterranean and corroborated by an independent Jewish tradition it would seem paradoxical that the current text of Acts xii.2 should mention the execution of James the son of Zebedee by order of Herod Agrippa, but not the martyrdom of James's twin brother John.

As a matter of fact, no less a master of textual criticism than Eduard Schwartz, the latest editor of Eusebius, long ago maintained the thesis considered as a possibility already by Wellhausen that the present text of Acts xii.2 must have been censored at a very early period.

There are several arguments against the integrity of the present text to be added to Eduard Schwartz's general considerations.

First of all, it is quite unusual and irregular that James the son of Zebedee should be introduced, not with his proper name and father's name, but as 'the brother of John', especially if there was no reason for mentioning his brother in this context.

The case is quite different from Mark v.37 'and he suffered no man to follow him save Peter and James and John the brother of James', where the other brother has been mentioned immediately before; or from John i.40 ff. '...one of the two... was Andrew, Simon Peter's brother. He first findeth his own brother Simon...', where the name of the father of the two is purposely omitted so as to be revealed by Jesus who 'when He beheld him, said: 'Thou art Simon the son of Jona' ....

....

Secondly, Origen quotes this line in a still more paradoxical form: 'he killed James of John with the sword' — as if John were James's father and not his brother, and as if James were called 'James the son of John' and not 'James the son of Zebedee'.

The simplest explanation for these otherwise inexplicable irregularities would seem to be that the original ran:

ἐπέβαλεν Ἡρῴδης ὁ βασιλεὺς τὰς χεῖρας κακῶσαί τινας τῆς ἐκκλησίας ἐν τῇ Ἰουδαίᾳ, καὶ ἀνεῖλεν <Ἰωάννην καὶ> Ἰάκωβον τὸν ἀδελφὸν Ἰωάννου.

'Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church in Judaea, and he killed <John and> James the brother of John with the sword.'

This seems to have been corrected by expurgating the two words <Ἰωάννην καὶ> 'John and'. Most probably one or more paragraphs have been deleted between Acts xii.1 and 2, since it is really too grotesque to omit every explanation of Herod Agrippa's action and thus to suggest to the reader that a Roman vassal king could or would just murder anybody ad lib. without rhyme or reason.

A careless corrector must have deleted in some copies not only the words 'John and' <Ἰωάννην καὶ>, but also τὸν ἀδελφὸν, 'the brother', the apposition to 'James' — a very likely error of a reviser wanting to obliterate the mention of the one brother in this clause and intending, probably, to substitute the correct patronymic 'son of Zebedee' for the deleted words. A mistake of this kind would produce the particularly absurd reading quoted by Origen.

The text at issue, with Eisler's suggestion in angle brackets, runs as follows:

Acts 12.1-2: 1 Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. 2 And he had <John and> James the brother of John put to death with a sword. / 1 Κατ᾽ ἐκεῖνον δὲ τὸν καιρὸν ἐπέβαλεν Ἡρῴδης ὁ βασιλεὺς τὰς χεῖρας κακῶσαί τινας τῶν ἀπὸ τῆς ἐκκλησίας. 2 ἀνεῖλεν δὲ <Ἰωάννην καὶ> Ἰάκωβον τὸν ἀδελφὸν Ἰωάννου μαχαίρῃ.

Eusebius makes it more natural:

Eusebius, History of the Church 3.5.2: 2 For the Jews after the ascension of our Savior, in addition to their crime against him, had been devising as many plots as they could against his apostles. First Stephen was stoned to death by them, and after him James, the son of Zebedee and the brother of John, was beheaded, and finally James, the first that had obtained the episcopal seat in Jerusalem after the ascension of our Savior, died in the manner already described. But the rest of the apostles, who had been incessantly plotted against with a view to their destruction, and had been driven out of the land of Judea, went unto all nations to preach the Gospel, relying upon the power of Christ, who had said to them, Go and make disciples of all the nations in my name. / 2 Μετά γε μὴν τὴν τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν ἀνάληψιν Ἰουδαίων πρὸς τῷ κατ' αὐτοῦ τολμήματι ἤδη καὶ κατὰ τῶν ἀποστόλων αὐτοῦ πλείστας ὅσας ἐπιβουλὰς μεμηχανημένων, πρώτου τε Στεφάνου λίθοις ὑπ' αὐτῶν ἀνῃρημένου, εἶτα δὲ μετ' αὐτὸν Ἰακώβου, ὃς ἦν Ζεβεδαίου μὲν παῖς, ἀδελφὸς δὲ Ἰωάννου, τὴν κεφαλὴν ἀποτμηθέντος, ἐπὶ πᾶσί τε Ἰακώβου, τοῦ τὸν αὐτόθι τῆς ἐπισκοπῆς θρόνον πρώτου μετὰ τὴν τοῦ σωτῆρος ἡμῶν ἀνάληψιν κεκληρωμένου, τὸν προδηλωθέντα τρόπον μεταλλάξαντος, τῶν τε λοιπῶν ἀποστόλων μυρία εἰς θάνατον ἐπιβεβουλευμένων καὶ τῆς μὲν Ἰουδαίας γῆς ἀπεληλαμένων, ἐπὶ δὲ τῇ τοῦ κηρύγματος διδασκαλίᾳ τὴν εἰς σύμπαντα τὰ ἔθνη στειλαμένων πορείαν σὺν δυνάμει τοῦ Χριστοῦ, φήσαντος αὐτοῖς· «πορευθέντες μαθητεύσατε πάντα τὰ ἔθνη ἐν τῷ ὀνόματί μου.»

I have little to no opinion on this emendation right now. Just putting it out there.
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Re: The NT and Presbyter Johns

Post by John2 » Fri Nov 22, 2019 2:41 pm

Ben,

I've never seen that idea before and it's interesting to think about. And even though it would be convenient for me (re: Papias) and can't be proven and I tend to be a "take things as they are" guy, I think it would make sense given what Jesus says in Mk. 10:35-39:

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Jesus and declared, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask” ... “You do not know what you are asking,” Jesus replied. “Can you drink the cup I will drink, or be baptized with the baptism I will undergo?

We can,” the brothers answered.

You will drink the cup that I drink,” Jesus said, “and you will be baptized with the baptism that I undergo."



Given the later apparent confusion about this John and the presbyter John, I can see why someone might have been tempted to alter Acts 12:2, but if so, it came at the expense of making Jesus (and Papias) a liar, unless one supposes (in Jesus' case) that the presbyter John really was John of Zebedee and died a martyr in Asia in the time of Trajan, but then that seems too late to account for Mk. 10:35-39 (which I date c. 70 CE).

Whatever the case may be, as we have it Mark 10:35-39 (assuming it is c. 70 CE) is in keeping with Papias and Acts is not, and the idea that Acts 12:2 had previously included John seems like an elegant (if unprovable) solution.
Last edited by John2 on Fri Nov 22, 2019 2:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The NT and Presbyter Johns

Post by John2 » Fri Nov 22, 2019 2:47 pm

And by the way, I don't recall offhand if you or Eisler mention this, but unless I'm mistaken, it looks to me like John of Zebedee is not mentioned again in Acts after 12:2, only John Mark.
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Re: The NT and Presbyter Johns

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Nov 22, 2019 2:49 pm

John2 wrote:
Fri Nov 22, 2019 2:47 pm
And by the way, I don't recall offhand if you or Eisler mention this, but unless I'm mistaken, it looks to me like John of Zebedee is not mentioned again in Acts after 12:2, only John Mark.
That is correct. The only Johns mentioned after Acts 12.2 are John Mark and John the Baptist.
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Re: The NT and Presbyter Johns

Post by John2 » Fri Nov 22, 2019 3:01 pm

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Fri Nov 22, 2019 2:49 pm
John2 wrote:
Fri Nov 22, 2019 2:47 pm
And by the way, I don't recall offhand if you or Eisler mention this, but unless I'm mistaken, it looks to me like John of Zebedee is not mentioned again in Acts after 12:2, only John Mark.
That is correct. The only Johns mentioned after Acts 12.2 are John Mark and John the Baptist.

Well then, this is an emendation I can live with. It makes everything make more sense.
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Re: The NT and Presbyter Johns

Post by davidmartin » Fri Nov 22, 2019 3:54 pm

Zebedee could be another (baptismal?) name for John the Baptist
If Zebedee means 'the gift of God' the Samaritan woman at the well we have "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink', you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water"
And Dositheus also means 'gift' (Dosis). Maybe Christian origins in this led to some stories about him being about Jesus

James and John would then be disciples of this John (as was Simon and Andrew), and presbyter John is a third one

"Secondly, Origen quotes this line in a still more paradoxical form: 'he killed James of John with the sword' — as if John were James's father and not his brother, and as if James were called 'James the son of John' and not 'James the son of Zebedee'."
So if Zebedee and John the Baptist are the same person it would resolve this, would it not?

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Re: The NT and Presbyter Johns

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Nov 22, 2019 4:42 pm

davidmartin wrote:
Fri Nov 22, 2019 3:54 pm
Zebedee could be another (baptismal?) name for John the Baptist
If Zebedee means 'the gift of God' the Samaritan woman at the well we have "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink', you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water"
Well, "gift of Yahweh," or "gift of the Lord," to use the OG form.
"Secondly, Origen quotes this line in a still more paradoxical form: 'he killed James of John with the sword' — as if John were James's father and not his brother, and as if James were called 'James the son of John' and not 'James the son of Zebedee'."
So if Zebedee and John the Baptist are the same person it would resolve this, would it not?
How would John the Baptist being the same as John of Zebedee resolve Origen writing as if James is the son, instead of the brother, of John? I may be missing something.
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