John, Saint, one of the Twelve Apostles, traditional author of the fourth Gospel, three letters, and the Book of Revelation (see John, Gospel according to Saint; John, letters; Revelation); it is highly unlikely, however, that all five works were written by the same author. In the Gospels he and his brother, St. James (the Greater), are identified as sons of Zebedee; Jesus called them Boanerges or Sons of Thunder. The two brothers, together with Peter, were the three apostles closest to Jesus; they witnessed the Transfiguration and accompanied Jesus to Gethsemane. John has been thought to have been the disciple "whom Jesus loved." Jesus, in his dying moments, committed Mary to John's care. He is mentioned occasionally in the Acts of the Apostles, and Paul refers to him in Galatians. According to 2d-century authorities John died at an advanced age at Ephesus (c.A.D. 100). However, many scholars believe that John the apostle and John of Ephesus were two different persons. He is variously called John the Evangelist, John the Divine, and the Beloved Disciple. His symbol as evangelist is an eagle.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.