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Encyclopedia > John the Presbyter
A series of articles on

"John" in the Bible

Johannine literature
Gospel of John
First Epistle of John
Second Epistle of John
Third Epistle of John
Authorship of literature
Johannine literature is the collection of New Testament works that are attached by tradition to the person of John the Evangelist. ... The Gospel of John is the fourth gospel in the canon of the New Testament, traditionally ascribed to John the Evangelist. ... The First Epistle of John is a book of the Bible New Testament, the fourth of the catholic or general epistles. ... The Second Epistle of John (normally just called 2nd John or 2 John) is a book of the Bible New Testament. ... The New Testament Third Epistle of John (often referred to as 3 John) is the 64th book of the Bible. ... Visions of John of Patmos, as depicted in the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. ... El Grecos rendition of John the Apostle shows the traditional author of the Johannine works as a young man. ...

John the Apostle
Disciple whom Jesus loved
John the Presbyter
John the Evangelist
John of Patmos ‹ The template below has been proposed for deletion. ... John the Apostle (Greek Ιωάννης, see names of John) was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. ... Jesus and the Beloved Disciple, polychromed and gilded wood, c 1320 The phrase the disciple whom Jesus loved or Beloved Disciple is used several times in the Gospel of John, but in none of the other accounts of Jesus. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Names of John. ... Saint John on Patmos by Hans Baldung Grien, 1511 Saint John of Patmos, by Jean Fouquet John of Patmos is the name given to the author of the Book of Revelation (or Book of the Apocalypse) in the New Testament. ...

Twelve Apostles
The Early Church
For other uses, see Twelve Apostles (disambiguation). ... The term Early Christianity here refers to Christianity of the period after the Death of Jesus in the early 30s and before the First Council of Nicaea in 325. ...

Related Literature
Homosexual Reading
Apocryphon of John
Egerton Gospel
Signs Gospel
Jesus and the Beloved Disciple, polychromed and gilded wood, c 1320[1]. A long-standing, heretical tradition has interpreted the story of Jesus and John the Apostle as an erotic romance and their love has been held up as an exemplar of same sex love that created a social and... The Secret Book of John (Apocryphon of John) is a 2nd century gnostic text of secret teachings, given a Christian context: the teaching of the savior, and the revelation of the mysteries and the things hidden in silence, even these things which he taught John, his disciple, are its opening... The Egerton Gospel (British Library Egerton Papyrus 2) refers to a group of fragments of a codex of a previously unknown gospel, found in Egypt and sold to the British Museum in 1934 and now dated to the very end of the 2nd century AD. It is one of the... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ... In Christology, the conception that Jesus Christ is the Logos (a Greek word meaning word, wisdom, or reason) has been important in establishing the doctrine of Jesus divinity, as well as that of the Trinity, as set forth in the Chalcedonian Creed. ...

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For the mythical king, see Presbyter John Prester John (also Presbyter John) was a legendary Christian ruler in Asia (some say his kingdom was in Northern Africa), combining the roles of patriarch and king. ...

John the Presbyter is an obscure figure in early Christian tradition, who is either distinguished from, or identified with, the Apostle John. John the Apostle (Greek Ιωάννης, see names of John) was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. ...



John appears in a fragment by Papias, a 2nd century bishop of Hierapolis, who published an "Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord" (Greek κυριακῶν λογίων ἐξηγήσιςKyriakôn logiôn exêgêsis) in five volumes. This work is lost but survives in fragments quoted by Irenaeus of Lyons (d. 202) and Eusebius of Caesarea (d. 339). Papias (working in the 1st half of the 2nd century) was one of the early leaders of the Christian church, canonized as a saint. ... The theatre Hierapolis (Arabic Manbij or Mumbij) is an ancient Syrian town occupying one of the finest sites in Northern Syria, in a fertile district about 16 miles southwest of the confluence of the Sajur and Euphrates. ... St. ... Eusebius of Caesarea Eusebius of Caesarea (c. ...

One of these fragments, quoted by Eusebius in his History of the Church (Book III, chapter 39), reads:

But I shall not be unwilling to put down, along with my interpretations, whatsoever instructions I received with care at any time from the elders, and stored up with care in my memory, assuring you at the same time of their truth. For I did not, like the multitude, take pleasure in those who spoke much, but in those who taught the truth; nor in those who related strange commandments, but in those who rehearsed the commandments given by the Lord to faith, and proceeding from truth itself. If, then, any one who had attended on the elders came, I asked minutely after their sayings,--what Andrew or 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 Lord's disciples: which things Aristion and the presbyter John, the disciples of the Lord, say. For I imagined that what was to be got from books was not so profitable to me as what came from the living and abiding voice. [1]


The interpretation of that text consists of two basic views: one view, first voiced by Eusebius of Caesarea, distinguishes between two Johns, the Apostle and the presbyter, while the other view, in line with most of Church tradition identifies only one John. Eusebius of Caesarea Eusebius of Caesarea (c. ... John the Apostle (Greek Ιωάννης, see names of John) was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus. ...


Eusebius, through whose quotation the above fragment survives, was the first to distinguish a Presbyter John from the Apostle John. Accordingly he introduced the quotation with the words: Eusebius of Caesarea Eusebius of Caesarea (c. ...

Moreover, Papias himself, in the introduction to his books, makes it manifest that he was not himself a hearer and eye-witness of the holy apostles; but he tells us that he received the truths of our religion from those who were aquainted with them [the apostles] in the following words. [2]

After quoting Papias, Eusebius continues:

It is worth while observing here that the name John is twice enumerated by him. The first one he mentions in connection with Peter and James and Matthew and the rest of the apostles, clearly meaning the evangelist; but the other John he mentions after an interval, and places him among others outside of the number of the apostles, putting Aristion before him, and he distinctly calls him a presbyter.
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.
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. These things we hope, have not been uselessly adduced by us.

The view of Eusebius was taken up by the Church Father Jerome in De viris illustribus (On famous men). In Chapter 9, which deals with the Apostle John and his writings, he ascribes to him both the Gospel and the First Epistle, and continues to say: “Saint Jerome” redirects here. ... Jerome De viris illustribus (On Illustrious Men) is a collection of short biographies of 135 authors, written in Latin, by the 4th century Illyrian author Jerome. ... The Gospel of John is the fourth gospel in the canon of the New Testament, traditionally ascribed to John the Evangelist. ... The First Epistle of John is a book of the Bible New Testament, the fourth of the catholic or general epistles. ...

The other two [Epistles] of which the first is "The elder to the elect lady and her children" and the other "The elder unto Gaius the beloved whom I love in truth," are said to be the work of John the presbyter to the memory of whom another sepulchre is shown at Ephesus to the present day, though some think that there are two memorials of this same John the evangelist.

In Chapter XVIII, discussing Papias, Jerome repeats the fragment quoted above and continues:

It appears through this catalogue of names that the John who is placed among the disciples is not the same as the elder John whom he places after Aristion in his enumeration. This we say moreover because of the opinion mentioned above, where we record that it is declared by many that the last two epistles of John are the work not of the apostle but of the presbyter.

Jerome's attribution of the Second and Third Epistle of John echoes the text of these books, in which the writer refers to himself ho presbyteros, which can be translated as "the presbyter, "the elder", "the ancient", "the old", the same word used by Papias. The Second Epistle of John (normally just called 2nd John or 2 John) is a book of the Bible New Testament. ... The New Testament Third Epistle of John (often referred to as 3 John) is the 64th book of the Bible. ...

The Decretum Gelasianum associated with Pope Gelasius I, though of later date, follows Jerome in accepting one letter of "John the apostle" and two letters of the "other John the elder". The so-called Decretum Gelasianum or Gelasian Decree was traditionally attributed to the prolific Pope Gelasius I, bishop of Rome 492 – 496. ... Gelasius I was Pope (492 - 496). ...

In modern times, the distinction was frequently revived, mainly - and quite in contrast to Eusebius' views - "to support the denial of the Apostolic origin of the Fourth Gospel" [3], whose "beauty and richness" some scholars had difficulty in ascribing to a "fisherman from Gallilee" [4]


Church tradition squarely attributes all the Johannine books of the New Testament to a single author, the Apostle John. The view expounded by Eusebius has not remained uncontested. The Catholic Encyclopedia, for instance, states that the distinction "has no historical basis" [5]. To support this view, it relates four main arguments: The Catholic Encyclopedia, also referred to today as the Old Catholic Encyclopedia, is an English-language encyclopedia published in 1913 by The Encyclopedia Press. ...

  • The testimony of Eusebius is disputed, as his statement that Papias "was not himself a hearer and eye-witness of the holy apostles" is contradicted by a passage in Eusebius' Chronicle which expressly calls the Apostle John the teacher of Papias.
  • Eusebius' interpretation might derive from his opposition to Chiliasm and the Book of Revelation. Distinguishing between two persons called John, Eusebius could downgrade that book as the work of the Presbyter instead of the Apostle and also undermine Papias' reputation as a pupil of an Apostle.
  • In the fragment, Papias uses the same words - presbyter (or elder) and disciples of the Lord - both in reference to the Apostles and to the second John. The double occurrence of John is explained by Papias' "peculiar relationship" to John, from which he had learned some things indirectly and others directly.
  • Before Eusebius there exists no statement about a second John in Asia. Especially noteworthy in this context is Irenaeus of Lyons, himself a pupil of Polycarp of Smyrna. In his book Adversus haeresies, which survives in a Latin version, Irenaeus mentions "Papias, the hearer of John, and a companion of Polycarp" (Book V, chapter xxxiii) [6], without indicating that this was another John than "John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast [and] did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia." (Book III, chapter i) [7]. In his Letter to Florinus, which survives as a fragment [8], Irenaeus speaks of "Polycarp having thus received [information] from the eye-witnesses of the Word of life" and of John as "that blessed and apostolical presbyter".

Millennialism (or chiliasm), from millennium, which literally means thousand years. Primarily a belief in some Christian denominations, literature and folk religion, that at some point in the future there will be a Golden Age, a Paradise on earth when universal peace will reign, when all people will dwell in prosperity... Visions of John of Patmos, as depicted in the Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry. ... St. ... Polycarp of Smyrna (69?-155?, 80?-166?, 81?-167?, 79?-165?, or 70?-156?) was a Christian bishop of Smyrna (now in Asiatic Turkey) in the second century. ...

Medieval legend

In the Middle Ages, a legend spoke of a mysterious "presbyter John", governing a realm somewhere in the East about to come to the help of the Christians in their struggle against Islam. See Prester John for details. The Middle Ages formed the middle period in a traditional schematic division of European history into three ages: the classical civilization of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, and modern times, beginning with the Renaissance. ... Islam (Arabic:  ) is a monotheistic religion based upon the teachings of Muhammad, a 7th century Arab religious and political figure. ... Preste enthroned on a map of East Africa in an atlas prepared for Queen Mary, 1558. ...

See Also

‹ The template below has been proposed for deletion. ...

External links

  Results from FactBites:
Gospel Of St John - LoveToKnow 1911 (6343 words)
John the Baptist testified concerning Him, the Logos-Light and Logos-Life incarnate; but this Logos alone, who is in the bosom of the Father, bath declared the very God.
John omits, at the last supper, its central point, the great historic act of the holy eucharist, carefully given by the Synoptists and St Paul, having provided a highly doctrinal equivalent in the discourse on the living bread, here spoken by Jesus in Capernaum over a year before the passion (vi.
If the dead man was John the presbyter - if this John had in youth just seen Jesus and the Zebedean, and in extreme old age had still seen and approved the Gospel - to attribute this Gospel to him, as is done here, would not violate the literary ethics of those times.
Epistles of Saint John (2716 words)
The argument from Polycarp's use of I John is strengthened by the fact that he was, according to Irenæus, the disciple of St. John.
Hence it is that Papias, in joining John with Aristion, speaks of John the Elder and not of Aristion the Elder; Aristion was not an elder or Apostle.
The reason for joining the Aristion with John at all is that they were both witnesses of the present to Papias, whereas all the Apostles were witnesses of the past generation.
  More results at FactBites »



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