John of Patmos

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"John the Divine" and "John the Revelator" redirect here. For other uses of John the Divine, see John the Divine (disambiguation). For other uses of John the Revelator, see John the Revelator (disambiguation). For other people called Saint John, see Saint John (disambiguation).
John of Patmos
Johannes op Patmos Jeroen Bosch.jpg
St. John on Patmos by Hieronymous Bosch, circa 1489
Seer, Theologian, Eagle of Patmos, and Prophet
Died Patmos (?)
Major work(s) Book of Revelation
A series of articles on
John in the Bible
Johannine literature
Gospel of John · First Epistle of John · Second Epistle of John · Third Epistle of John · Revelation
John the Apostle · John the Evangelist · John of Patmos  · John the Presbyter · Disciple whom Jesus loved
Twelve Apostles · The Early Church
Related literature
Apocryphon of John · Acts of John · Logos · Signs Gospel

John of Patmos (also called John the Revelator, John the Divine, or John the Theologian) is the name given to the author of the Book of Revelation, the apocalyptic text forming the final chapter of the New Testament. The text of Revelation states that the author is called John and that he lives on the Greek island of Patmos, where by some, he is considered to be in exile as a result of anti-Christian persecution under the Roman emperor Domitian.[1][2]

Traditionally, the John who authored Revelation is considered to be John the Apostle, author of all the Johannine works, that is the Gospel of John, the first, second, and third epistles of John, as well as Revelation. Some modern scholars disregard Holy Tradition and claim that the Book of Revelation was written by a separate, otherwise unknown, author, to whom they give the name John of Patmos.[3][4]

Book of Revelation[edit]

The author of the Book of Revelation identifies himself as "John".[5] Traditionally, this named author is believed to be the same person as both John the Apostle and John the Evangelist.[5] The early 2nd century writer, Justin Martyr, was the first to equate the author of Revelation with John the Apostle.[6] However, some biblical scholars now contend that these were separate individuals.[7][8]

John the Presbyter, an obscure figure in the early church, has also been identified with the seer of the Book of Revelation by such authors as Eusebius of Caesarea and Jerome.[citation needed]

Island of Patmos[edit]

John is considered to be exiled to Patmos, undergoing a time of persecution under the Roman rule of Domitian. Revelation 1:9 states: "I, John, both your brother and companion in tribulation... was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ." Adela Yarbro Collins, a biblical scholar at Yale Divinity School, writes:

Early tradition says that John was banished to Patmos by the Roman authorities. This tradition is credible because banishment was a common punishment used during the Imperial period for a number of offenses. Among such offenses were the practices of magic and astrology. Prophecy was viewed by the Romans as belonging to the same category, whether Pagan, Jewish, or Christian. Prophecy with political implications, like that expressed by John in the book of Revelation, would have been perceived as a threat to Roman political power and order. Three of the islands in the Sporades were places where political offenders were banished. (Pliny Natural History 4.69–70; Tacitus Annals 4.30)[9]

Use in popular culture[edit]

John was popularized in the song "John the Revelator".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Souvay, Charles. "Patmos." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 11. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911. 12 Jan. 2009
  2. ^ Phillips, J. B. "Book 27 - Book of Revelation". 12 January 1962.  People, Places, Customs, Concepts, Journeys - the New Testament with integrated notes and maps 1962.
  3. ^ Stephen L Harris, Understanding the Bible, (Palo Alto: Mayfield, 1985), 355
  4. ^ Ehrman, Bart D. (2004). The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. New York: Oxford. p. 468. ISBN 0-19-515462-2. 
  5. ^ a b "Revelation, Book of." Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford dictionary of the Christian church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005
  6. ^ Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 81.4
  7. ^ Harris, Stephen L., Understanding the Bible. Palo Alto: Mayfield. 1985. p. 355
  8. ^ Ehrman, Bart D. (2004). The New Testament: A Historical Introduction to the Early Christian Writings. New York: Oxford. p. 468. ISBN 0-19-515462-2. 
  9. ^ Adela Collins. "Patmos". Harper's Bible Dictionary. Paul J. Achtemeier, gen. ed. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1985. p. 755.