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John the Evangelist

Saint John the Evangelist
Evangelist, Apostle
Born c. AD 15
Died c. AD 100[1]
Honored in
Coptic Orthodox
Roman Catholic Church
Eastern Catholic Churches
Eastern Orthodox Church
Anglican Communion
Aglipayan Church
Feast December 27 (Western Christianity); May 8 and September 26 (Repose) (Eastern Orthodox Church)
Attributes Eagle, Scrolls
Major work(s) Gospel of John
Epistles of John
Revelation (?)

John the Evangelist (also John the Theologian or John the Divine; Greek: Εὐαγγελιστής Ἰωάννης), is the purported author of the Gospel of John, and presumably other Johannine works in the New Testament – the three Epistles of John and, according to some, the Book of Revelation. The authorship of these works is much debated (and has been since about the year 200 AD,[2][3] see Authorship of the Johannine works), and it is not even agreed that the so-called "Gospel of John" was written by an individual named "John" (Ἰωάννης or יוחנן). Nevertheless, the notion of "John the Evangelist" exists, and is usually thought of as the same as the Apostle John.


  • The Evangelist 1
  • Feast day 2
  • In art 3
  • Gallery of art 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7

The Evangelist

The word "evangelist" here means "writer of a gospel", from the Greek word for gospel, ευαγγελιον (or in Latin, evangelium).

The Gospel of John refers to an otherwise unnamed "disciple whom Jesus loved", who "bore witness to and wrote" the Gospel's message.[4] The composer of the Gospel of John seemed interested in maintaining the internal anonymity of the author's identity, though interpreting the Gospel in the light of the Synoptic Gospels and considering that the author names (and therefore is not claiming to be) both Peter and James, it has generally been accepted that the author either was the Apostle John or was pretending to be.[5]

Christian tradition says that John the Evangelist was the Apostle John. The Apostle John was a historical figure, one of the "pillars" of the Jerusalem church after Jesus' death.[6] He was one of Christ's original twelve apostles and is thought to be the only one to live into old age and not be killed for his faith. John is associated with Ephesus, where he is said to have lived and been buried. Some believe that he was exiled (around 95 AD) to Patmos, where he wrote the Book of Revelation. However, this is a matter of debate, with some attributing the authorship of Revelation to another man, called John of Patmos, or to John the Presbyter.

Orthodox Roman Catholic scholarship, most Protestant Churches, and the entire Eastern Orthodox Church attribute all of the Johannine literature to the same individual, the "Holy Apostle and Evangelist, John the Theologian", whom it identifies with the "Beloved Disciple" in the Gospel of John.

Feast day

The feast day of Saint John in the Roman Catholic Church, which calls him "Saint John, Apostle and Evangelist", and in the Anglican Communion and Lutheran Calendars, which call him "John, Apostle and Evangelist", is on 27 December. In the Tridentine Calendar he was commemorated also on each of the following days up to and including 3 January, the Octave of the 27 December feast. This Octave was abolished by Pope Pius XII in 1955.[7] The traditional liturgical color is white.

In art

The Four Evangelists by Jacob Jordaens. John the Evangelist is depicted as a young man.

John the Evangelist is usually depicted as a young man. Christian art usually represents St. John with an eagle, symbolizing the heights to which he rises in the first chapter of his Gospel. The chalice as symbolic of St John, which, according to some authorities, was not adopted until the 13th century, is sometimes interpreted with reference to the Last Supper.

It is also connected to the legend according to which St. John was handed a cup of poisoned wine, from which, at his blessing, the poison rose in the shape of a serpent. Perhaps the most natural explanation is to be found in the words of Christ to John and James "My chalice indeed you shall drink" ( Matthew 20:23).

St. John the Evangelist
by Zampieri (1621–29)

The painting Saint John the Evangelist by Domenico Zampieri was auctioned in London in December 2009, for an estimated US$16.5 million.[8][9] it sold for £9,225,250.[10] It is a painting by the Italian Baroque painter Zampieri, and it was on display in the National Gallery, London, on loan from a private collection.[11][12][13][14][15] John the Evangelist is depicted as a young man accompanied by his traditional symbol the eagle and two putti. His gaze is directed upwards towards God as he receives the inspiration for his gospel, emphasised by the strong chiaroscuro light bearing down upon him. This was typical of the artist's style, continuing in the manner of late Raphael and his own master Annibale Carracci.

The composition is said to have been inspired by classical sculpture, with some commentators pointing specifically to The Laocoon.[16] This is also evident in Domenichino's other large-scale treatments of the subject such as Madonna and Child with the Saints John the Evangelist and Petronius and the pendentive in the church of Sant'Andrea della Valle. The painting also includes an example of the artist's landscape painting, an aspect of his work that was particularly influential on the likes of Claude Lorrain and Nicolas Poussin. This element of the work was originally more compressed into the right-hand section of the canvas, the architecture taking precedence. However, Domenichino reconsidered this layout and over painted an extension of the landscape onto the wall. Other alterations are also visible in the books, the hand of the right putto and the larger hill of the landscape.

Gallery of art

Statue of John the Evangelist outside St. John's Seminary, Boston

See also


  1. ^ Saint  
  2. ^ Eusebius of Caesarea, Ecclesiastical History Book vi. Chapter xxv.
  3. ^ Van den Biesen, Christian. "Apocalypse." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 1. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1907. 6 Feb. 2013
  4. ^ Theissen, Gerd and Annette Merz. The historical Jesus: a comprehensive guide. Fortress Press. 1998. translated from German (1996 edition). Chapter 2. Christian sources about Jesus.
  5. ^ Theissen, Gerd and Annette Merz. The historical Jesus: a comprehensive guide. Fortress Press. 1998. translated from German (1996 edition)
  6. ^ Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. "John" p. 302-310
  7. ^ General Roman Calendar of Pope Pius XII
  8. ^ Glyndebourne family to sell Old Master for £10 million, London Evening Standard, 9 September 2009
  9. ^ "St John the Evangelist – Drawings, Prints and Painting from Hermitage Museum". Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  10. ^ "Incompatible Browser". Facebook. Retrieved 2010-02-28. 
  11. ^ Glyndebourne family to sell Old Master for £10 million, London Evening Standard, 9 Sept 2009
  12. ^ 'Saved' Domenichino painting loaned to National Gallery, Guardian, 18 May 2010
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ Christie's

External links

  • The Life and Miracles of St. John the Evangelist and Apostle
  • "Saint John the Apostle." Encyclopædia Britannica Online.
  • St. John the Evangelist at the Christian Iconography web site
  • Caxton's translations of the Golden Legend's two chapters on St. John: Of St. John the Evangelist and The History of St. John Port Latin
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