Why don't we have a consisitent list of the Twelve Apostles?


#1

One thing that’s notable for the Gospels is that the names of the Twelve apostles are not consistent between the various Gospels.

Here’s a list of names and their occurrences in the four canonical gospels:

5 are totally consistent (meaning they’re named all four Gospels)
Simon/Peter
Andrew (Peter’s brother in Matthew and Mark)
Philip
Thomas
Judas Iscariot

2 are probably consistent (meaning they’re named almost the same in all four Gospels)
James the son of Zebedee (Matthew, Mark); James (Luke)
John, the brother of James (Matthew, Mark); John (Luke)
“The sons of Zebedee” (John)

3 are in all three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke), but not John
Matthew (the tax collector in Matthew)
Bartholomew
James the son of Alphaeus
Simon the Zealot

1 is in only Matthew and Mark
Thaddaeus

1 is only in Luke and John
Judas the son of James (in Luke)
Judas (not Iscariot) (in John)

1 is only in John
Nathaniel

Lastly, the Gospel of John only names 8 apostles, though it refers to “the twelve” in John 6.

There is two more bits of interesting information from the Gospel of John. Namely, there are four people Jesus is said to love in it. “The disciple Jesus loved” is mentioned but not named. And Jesus is said to love the family of Bethany in John 11: Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. They are the only named individuals Jesus is said to have loved in that Gospel.

Is there a good explanation for the seeming inconsistency in the gospel lists of the apostles? John is certainly a more theologically-woven text, and its chronology doesn’t match that of the Synoptics, so it’s possible to read it as something other than literal history. However, there’s still not total consistency between Luke and the other Synoptics. Wikipedia notes that traditionally, Thaddeus and Judas are traditionally thought to have been the same person, “modern scholars” (again, according to Wikipedia) don’t agree.

Thoughts?


#2

=fnr;10579262]One thing that’s notable for the Gospels is that the names of the Twelve apostles are not consistent between the various Gospels.

Here’s a list of names and their occurrences in the four canonical gospels:

5 are totally consistent (meaning they’re named all four Gospels)
Simon/Peter
Andrew (Peter’s brother in Matthew and Mark)
Philip
Thomas
Judas Iscariot

2 are probably consistent (meaning they’re named almost the same in all four Gospels)
James the son of Zebedee (Matthew, Mark); James (Luke)
John, the brother of James (Matthew, Mark); John (Luke)
“The sons of Zebedee” (John)

3 are in all three Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke), but not John
Matthew (the tax collector in Matthew)
Bartholomew
James the son of Alphaeus
Simon the Zealot

1 is in only Matthew and Mark
Thaddaeus

1 is only in Luke and John
Judas the son of James (in Luke)
Judas (not Iscariot) (in John)

1 is only in John
Nathaniel

Lastly, the Gospel of John only names 8 apostles, though it refers to “the twelve” in John 6.

There is two more bits of interesting information from the Gospel of John. Namely, there are four people Jesus is said to love in it. “The disciple Jesus loved” is mentioned but not named. And Jesus is said to love the family of Bethany in John 11: Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. They are the only named individuals Jesus is said to have loved in that Gospel.

Is there a good explanation for the seeming inconsistency in the gospel lists of the apostles? John is certainly a more theologically-woven text, and its chronology doesn’t match that of the Synoptics, so it’s possible to read it as something other than literal history. However, there’s still not total consistency between Luke and the other Synoptics. Wikipedia notes that traditionally, Thaddeus and Judas are traditionally thought to have been the same person, “modern scholars” (again, according to Wikipedia) don’t agree.

Thoughts?

Because it those times and palce it uas quite common for morethan “one name.”:thumbsup:


#3

Exactly - Thomas was also called Didymus for starters.

There were excellent reasons for this - there were certain names which clearly were very common in NT times. With multiple Jameses, Johns and Simons (and even a few Jesuses) in the New Testament, most would have had to be distinguished by other names - be they place names such as Iscariot, family names such as Bartholomew or Barabbas, or other identifiers such as Zealot (indicating which political party he belonged to).

And the original first name is omitted in some Gospels for ease or out of laziness - and so somewhat forgotten. How many of us realise that Barabbas was actually JESUS Barabbas? No wonder he wasn’t simply called Jesus - how confusing that would have been!


#4

Without looking at John since he loves to mix things up. The synoptic Gospels are pretty consistent. With the exception of their titles, the only real discrepancy is Thaddeus who becomes Judas in Luke. Mark and Matthew probably used his second name so he would not be confused with Judas Iscariot.

Mark 3:16-19
Simon whom he gave the name Peter
James son of Zebedee
John the brother of James
Andrew
Philip
Bartholomew
Matthew
Thomas
James son of Alphaeus
Thaddaeus
Simon the Cananaean
Judas Iscariot

Matthew 10:2-4
Simon also known as Peter
Andrew brother of Peter
James son of Zebedee
John brother of James
Philip
Bartholomew
Thomas
Matthew (tax collector)
James son of Alphaeus
Thaddaeus
Simon the Cananaean
Judas Iscariot

Luke 6:14-16
Simon whom he named Peter
Andrew brother of Peter
James
John
Philip
Bartholomew
Matthew
Thomas
James son of Alphaeus
Simon who was called the Zealot
Judas son of James
Judas Iscariot

With that said, John is fairly consistent with the other Gospels. While he does not mention every apostle and he uses Judas to refer to Thaddaeus, the only major difference is the mention of Nathanael. Although, I am not completely sure Nathanael is called an apostle. The Gospel of John uses the word disciple more often, probably to convey to the reader that it wasn't just the twelve apostles that followed Jesus. There were the 70-72 disciples and the thousands of followers (5,000 men not including women and children) that would come out to see and hear Jesus.


#5

Greek and Hebrew naming conventions were different. The Hebrew system usually used the name of the father (Simon bar-Jonah). Using the name of the mother could indicate that the mother was of higher status than the father, or that the person was a bastard (Jesus bar-Miriam). However, the name could also be derived from the place of origin (Judas Iscariot). With some, we have an affiliation (Simon the Zealot). At different times, and for different purposes one or another name might be used. The inconsistency, then is that neither system corresponds to our English naming conventions.


#6

Hi FNR, good layout of the problem.

However, I think there are more consistencies than it first appears, as Mikeeh pointed out. The only real issue seems to lie with Matthew/Levi and Judas/Thaddeus.

Nathaniel is never mentioned as one of the Twelve by John, and there’s no real reason to think that he was considering that he is not mentioned in any other source text.

As for the “disciple Jesus loved”, I think he’s unnamed precisely because he is a type or representation of what all disciples should aim to be, that is, at the bosom of Christ, just as he is at the bosom of the Father. I do think, though, that there is good reason to believe that he is John the Son of Zebedee.

Here’s my reasoning:
(i) At the end of the Gospel, when the disciples are fishing on Lake Galilee we read that those who were there included: Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathaniel of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples (John 21:2). One of these seven is the “beloved disciple” (John 21:20).
(ii) Since he is not named in the Gospel or is otherwise in scenes with other disciples who are named, we can eliminate certain disciples from being the “beloved disciple”, namely, Simon Peter, Nathaniel and Thomas. This disciple is therefore either one of the sons of Zebedee or one of the two others.
(iii) Since we know the “beloved disciple” was at the Last Supper (John 13:23) and only the Twelve were at the Last Supper (from the Synoptics), we can probably rule out the unnamed “other two” disciples. Were they members of the Twelve, they would likely have been named.
(iv) This leaves us with the “beloved disciple” being either James or John, the sons of Zebedee. Well, why not James? At the end of John’s Gospel, we read: “This [the “beloved disciple”] is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true.” (John 21:24) Now, unless you want to date this Gospel very early, there is a problem as James was killed by Herod (Acts 12:2) in about AD 42, much too early for him to be either the inspirator or tradition behind, or writer of this Gospel, because it betrays a lot of theological depth and thought (which takes time).
(v) Therefore, by a process of elimination, I think we can fairly conclude - as many Church Fathers did - that the mind behind this Gospel and the “beloved disciple” is John, the son of Zebedee.

(Okay, okay, the real mind behind the Gospel is the Holy Spirit - “Behind every great man, is the Holy Spirit!”)


#7

Why would it say “James, son of Zebedee” but not “John, son of Zebedee”? Is this to mean they are not actually brothers from the same parents, but cousins or related in some other way?


#8

Well, the text says:

“James the son of Zeb’edee, and John his brother” (Matt 10:2 RSV), which may indicate different fathers, only that later we hear about their mother and it states that she is “the mother of the sons of Zebedee” (Matt 20:20 RSV; we also hear of her in Matt 27:56). Furthermore, later when Jesus goes to pray in Gethsemane, we read that he took “with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee” (Matt 26:37 RSV). Of course, this becomes blatantly obvious at the start of the Gospel where Matthew says that James and John are in the boat with their father Zebedee (Matt 4:21)! :smiley:


#9

[quote="1love, post:7, topic:321626"]
Why would it say "James, son of Zebedee" but not "John, son of Zebedee"? Is this to mean they are not actually brothers from the same parents, but cousins or related in some other way?

[/quote]

There were two James but only one John; so it was necessary to identify which James is being referred to.


#10

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