What the New
Testament says about John
identifies John the son of Zebedee with "the disciple whom Jesus loved"
and the eyewitness "who testifies to these things" in the Gospel of
today, however, question whether John the son of Zebedee is the author
of the Gospel of John according to our modern sense of authorship. So
it may be better to say that the Gospel preserves the memories of John
the Son of Zebedee while receiving its final form from one or more of
writings ascribed to John, such as the letters and the Book of Revelations,
may also come from the Johannine school.
What later Christian
tradition says about John
as the year 135 A.D., the Christian writer Justin who visited Ephesus
says that John, the son of Zebedee, resided in that city. Indeed, recent
excavations beneath the ruins of the early church of St.John at Ephesus
have uncovered a grave that may be his.
of the apostles inspired as many stories as John did. In early Christian
and medieval times, stories teaching a moral lesson from his his later
life and ministry abound. The following are from the Golden Legend and
are immortalized in many works of medieval art.
Oil and Exile
is said that the Emperor Domitian, hearing that John had founded so
many churches in Asia Minor, decided to kill him. So he ordered him
brought as a prisoner to Rome and thrown into a vat of boiling oil
that was set up near the Porta Latina, a gateway to the city. The
apostle was unharmed by the boiling oil, and the emperor then decided
to send him into a lonely exile on the Island of Patmos. There John
wrote the Book of Revelations. When the emperor died, the Roman Senate
revoked his decrees and John was free to return to Ephesus, where
he was greeted by crowds of people with the same words that welcomed
Jesus to Jerusalem: "Blessed is he is comes in the name of the Lord."
right: Velasquez imagines John on Patmos, transcribing a vision
Raising of the Dead
he entered the city he met a funeral procession carrying the body
of a woman named Drusiana, who had cared for the orphans and needy
of Ephesus. She was John's friend and had prayed for his return. The
apostle ordered them to stop and opened the top of the woman's coffin.
"Drusiana, my Master Jesus Christ raises you to life. Return to your
home again," John said. And she returned to her home and prepared
a feast for the apostle. right: a detail from Giotto's "Raising
Philosopher and the Diamonds
next day, as John was walking in the town square, he saw a crowd listening
to a famous philosopher whose name was Crato. The philospher had just
commanded two young disciples who were very rich to exchange everything
they had for a few valuable diamonds. Then before the crowd, he had
the young men smash the diamonds into small pieces to show how meaningless
said to the philosopher this was wrong to do. Jesus taught not to
condemn riches, but to give them to the poor. "Go, sell what you have,
and give to the poor," he had said to the rich young man. Gathering
the fragments of the diamonds, John restored them to their original
form. The two young men then followed him and gave their riches to
those in need.
for a soaring eagle
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