The American Cyclopædia (1879)/John the Evangelist

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The American Cyclopædia
John the Evangelist
Edition of 1879. See also John the Evangelist on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

JOHN THE EVANGELIST, one of the apostles, son of the fisherman Zebedee and Salome, born in Bethsaida, on the lake of Galilee, died about A. D. 100. He followed the occupation of his parents, was probably a disciple of John the Baptist, and became when about 25 years old, with his brother James, a disciple of Jesus, whom he was one of the first constantly to accompany. It is believed that he was the youngest of the apostles, and the special attachment of the Saviour to him is expressed in his description of himself as “that disciple whom Jesus loved.” He was present at the transfiguration, assisted in preparing the last supper, at which he reclined on the bosom of his master, and was the only disciple who accompanied Jesus to the cross. While hanging on the cross the Saviour confided his mother to the care of St. John. After the ascension John remained for a while at Jerusalem, but from this time Scriptural history is silent concerning him. The traditions, however, agree that he afterward abode in Ephesus and Asia Minor. According to Jerome, he was arrested by command of the proconsul, and taken to Rome, where he was plunged into a vessel of boiling oil, but, as this did not harm him, he was banished in the year 95 to the island of Patmos. He was released after the death of Domitian, and died in the reign of Trajan, at a very advanced age. According to the same authority, he became toward the last so weak that he was obliged to be carried to the Christian assemblies, and when there could only say, “Love one another, my children.” His festival is celebrated by the Roman Catholic church on Dec. 27. He is usually painted with a cup from which a serpent is issuing, in allusion to poison which was believed to have been offered him in a glass, from which he expelled the venom in the form of a serpent by making the sign of the cross. — The New Testament contains a Gospel, three epistles, and the Apocalypse, or book of Revelation, bearing his name. His Gospel gives the speeches of Christ more fully than the synoptic Gospels, but historical facts appear less prominently in it than the doctrines which are implied and established by the facts. According to the fathers, it was written at Ephesus or at Patmos in the latter part of the 1st century. The work of Bretschneider, Probabilia de Evangelii et Epistolarum Johannis Apostoli Indole et Origine (Leipsic, 1820), is the earliest attempt of importance to raise doubts of the genuineness of the Gospel. The subject is discussed by Strauss (in his Leben Jesu), Baur, Schwegler, and others, from a rationalistic standpoint; while it has been defended by Tholuck (Glaubwürdigkeit der evangelischen Geschichte) and others of note. See, besides the authors just mentioned, Ebrard, Kritik der evangelischen Geschichte (Zürich, 1850); Meier, Commentar (Göttingen, 1856; new ed., 1865-'6); Ewald, Die Johanneischen Schriften (2 vols., Göttingen, 1861-'2); Bleek, Einleitung in das Neue Testament (Berlin, 1862); Davidson, “Introduction to the New Testament” (London, 1868); and Roffhack, Auslegung, &c. (Leipsic, 1871). — The first epistle was probably addressed to Christian congregations in Asia Minor, which had been under the charge of the apostle, and urges love, devotion, and moral strictness. It consists of separate thoughts and precepts, with little logical connection. The most important works on this epistle are the commentaries of Sebastian Schmid (Leipsic, 1687, and many later editions) and Neander (Berlin, 1851; English translation by Mrs. Conant, New York, 1852). The second epistle is addressed to a lady of rank, called “the elect lady,” supposed by some to refer to a Christian church. The third epistle is addressed to Gaius, who is commended for bis hospitality to the faithful, and contains, like the first, allusions to Gnostic errors. (For the book of Revelation, see Apocalypse.)