Heidegger's Bible Handbook: John: The Life of John

2. Description of the person of John: Boanerges, ἐπισήθιος, one leaning on the breast, the Theologian, Pillar of the Church. His History after the ascension. His Captivity on Patmos. He verily died, at a great age, and, if you will give credit to Eusebius and others, at Ephesus.



John, יְהוֹחָנָן/Jehohanan in Hebrew, contracted to יוֹחָנָן/Johanan, which denotes one κεχαρισμένον, favored with grace, was a son of Alphæus, and brother of James the greater, Matthew 10:2, who was killed by Herod, Acts 12:2.Before his calling, he was a fisherman, just as his brother was also, Matthew 4:21.Called to the Apostolate, after an effect their ministry, thundering and lightening, as it were, he and his brother James were called Βοανεργές, ὅἐστιν, υἱοὶβροντῆς, Boanerges, which is, the sons of thunder, which denotes בְּנֵי רֶגֶשׁ, sons of thunder.Whence also by the ancients John is here and there called βροντόφωνος/thunder-voiced and βροντόπαις/thunder-child.Loved by Christ above the rest, he was leaningἐντῷκόλπῳτοῦἸησοῦ, ὃνἠγάπαὁἸησοῦς, on Jesus’ bosom (from which most sacred position, he drew his Divine wisdom), whom Jesus loved, John 13:23; 20:2.Therefore, he was a friend to Jesus of intimate acquaintance, which sort the Greeks call ἐπιστηθίους, reclining on the bosom.Hence, Jesus, being about to die, commended His mother to him, as to a son, John 19:26, 27.That, on account of the sublimity of the doctrine concerning Christ, as the λογῷ/Logos/Word of God the Father, he was also called the Θεολόγον/Theologian, the inscription of the Book of Revelation, concerning which more is to be said in its place, relates.Also, he is numbered by Saint Paul among the στύλους/pillars of the Church, together with James and Cephas, Galatians 2:9.He was chosen by the Lord as a witness and spectator both of His transfiguration, and of His pitiable agony on the Mount of Olives.After the resurrection of Christ, with Peter he learned in a peculiar manner, that He was verily raised from the dead, John 21:7, so that he might be in a special manner a suitable and altogether genuine witness of the resurrection.Mentioned after the ascension at Jerusalem with the other Apostles, Acts 1:13, having been shut up in prison, together with Peter he delivers a noble confession, Acts 4:19; having been sent from there to the Samaritans with Peter, he confirms the same, Acts 8:14; later he, with James and Cephas, extends the right hand of brotherhood to Paul, Galatians 2:9.Whether he lived a celibate life, as it seemed to Jerome, Ambrose, Epiphanius, and others, or rather was bound in marriage, which is gathered out of 1 Corinthians 9:5 by others, with Bonaventure himself going further, that he was the bridegroom in the marriage at Cana of Galilee;[1] we do not dispute.That he preached the Gospel in Asia, especially at Ephesus, Eusebius, Church History, book III, section 1, and others relate.That he, having been indicted before the governor of Asia because of the accusations of his enemies, cast into prison, sent to Rome, there condemned by Cæsar Domitian,[2] with his case not yet heard, to boiling oil, came forth from the same cleaner and more vigorous than he went in, Jerome testifies out of Tertullian in adversus Jovinianum, book I.That he, having been banished from there to the isle of Patmos, whether by Domitian, according to Eusebius, or by Nero,[3] or by Trajan,[4] according to Theophylact, Revelation 1:9, that is, having been condemned to the mines, as Victorinus[5] notes, and having been freed from that, lived for a long time in Asia, history testifies.That he was not going to taste death, until the Lord come again in judgment, some formerly gathered falsely and ineptly out of John 21:22, and thence they not only gave opportunity to the fable that John entered the grave alive, but also their audacities carried him as a vagabond into latter ages, so that one publicly passing himself off as John might persuade the rude public, that he is not able to die, who suffered the deserved punishment of his temerity, having been burned alive at Tolosa.In John 21:22, Christ, as Cyril also teaches, chapter 66, had in mind to say nothing other than that Peter was too curious, inquiring into the fates of others; that it did not pertain to him either to know, or to be concerned about, how long the Lord might will His beloved ones to live, since the Father put the times and opportunities in His own power.John certainly died, if we believe Eusebius, Church History, chapter III, section 1, chapter V, section 23, at Ephesus, by a non-violent death, in the sixty-eighth year after the passion of Christ, as Jerome has it, Catalogo Scriptorum Ecclesiasticorum, and book I adversus Jovinianum, or rather in the seventy-first year, as the Arabic Codex of Kirstenius records; since, as Irenæus testifies, Against Heresies, book II, chapter 39, book III, had extended his life all the way to the times of Trajan, and had completed the his ninety-ninth year of age, or, according to the same Arabic Codex, the one hundred and first, with disciples left behind as Bishops, Papias of Hierapolis, Polycarp of Smyrna,[6] and Ignatius of Antioch.[7]

[1] John 2:1-11. [2] Titus Flavius Domitianus (51-96 AD) was Roman Emperor from 81 to 96 AD. He was the younger brother and successor of Titus. He was a ruthless and efficient ruler, zealous for the observance of traditional Roman religion, and a persecutor of Jews and Christians. [3] Nero reigned from 54 to 68. [4] Trajan reigned from 98 to 117. [5] Gaius Marius Victorinus (fourth century) was a Roman rhetorician, who converted to Christianity late in life, possibly under the influence of Augustine. [6] Polycarp (died c. 167) was a disciple of the Apostle John and Bishop of Smyrna. [7] Ignatius (c. 40-c. 110) was Bishop of Antioch. He was arrested for the faith, and, as he was being transported through Asia Minor to Rome in order to be executed, wrote seven letters, encouraging the churches.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.

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