Who are the 70 disciples in Luke 10, and the growth of tradition


Eusebius wrote in his Church History, Book I, Chapter 12 that, there is no complete list of the 70 disciples who were sent out in the gospels. He names five of the 70, the other 65 are simply unknown. Fifthy years later, Epiphanius creates the first complete list of the 70 disciples. Many other lists have been made up over time by church fathers, councils, etc., In the 600’s the Chronicon Paschale, made up a list. If you search “seventy disciples” at newadvent.org/utility/search.htm?safe=active&cx=000299817191393086628%3Aifmbhlr-8x0&q=seventy+disciples&sa=Search&cof=FORID%3A9#922 you will see that the CE identifies many people as belonging to the seventy disciples of Luke 10.

Chapter 12. The Disciples of our Saviour.

  1. The names of the apostles of our Saviour are known to every one from the Gospels. But there exists no catalogue of the seventy disciples. Barnabas, indeed, is said to have been one of them, of whom the Acts of the Apostles makes mention in various places, and especially Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians.


The Catholic Encyclopedia admits,

They are commonly identified with the seventy-two (seventy, according to the received Greek text, although several Greek manuscripts mention seventy-two, as does the Vulgate) referred to (Luke 10:1) as having been chosen by Jesus. The names of these disciples are given in several lists (Chronicon Paschale, and Pseudo-Dorotheus in Migne, P.G., XCII, 521-524; 543-545; 1061-1065); but these lists are unfortunately worthless. Eusebius positively asserts that no such roll existed in his time, and mentions among the disciples only Barnabas, Sosthenes, Cephas, Matthias, Thaddeus and James “the Lord’s brother” (His. Eccl., I, xii).


Source: “Names for the Nameless in the New Testament a study in the growth of christian tradition”, a chapter in New Testament Studies Philological, Versonional and Patristic by Bruce M. Metzger ( 1980 ). This book is online here, if you want to see how “tradition” has grown over time on this topic of the “names for the nameless in the NT”.


If you could attach names to them would you be any further forward? They would still only be just names.


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