John of Patmos

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John of Patmos
Antonio Palomino 003.JPG
Saint John the Evangelist on Patmos by Antonio Palomino, 17th century
Born6 AD
Pool of Bethesda, Jerusalem
Died~100 AD
Ephesus, Roman Empire (?)
Venerated inCatholic Church
Eastern Orthodox Church
Major worksBook of Revelation

John of Patmos (also called John the Revelator, John the Divine, John the Theologian, and possibly John the Apostle; Greek: Ἰωάννης ὁ Θεολόγος; Coptic: ⲓⲱⲁⲛⲛⲏⲥ) could be the author named as John in the Book of Revelation, the apocalyptic text forming the final book of the New Testament. The text of Revelation states that John was on Patmos, a Greek island where, by most biblical historians, he is considered to have been exiled as a result of anti-Christian persecution under the Roman emperor Domitian.[1][2]

Since the Roman era, Christians and historians have considered the Book of Revelation's writer to be the Apostle John (John the Evangelist), author of the Gospel of John. However, a minority of senior clerics and scholars, such as Eusebius (d. 339/340), recognize at least one further John as a companion of Jesus Christ, John the Presbyter "after an interval, placing him among others outside of the number of the apostles". Some Christian scholars since medieval times separate the disciple(s) from Revelation's writer, John of Patmos/the Divine.[3][4]

Book of Revelation[edit]

The author of the Book of Revelation identifies himself only as "John".[5] Traditionally, this is believed to be the same person as John the Apostle, one of the apostles of Jesus, to whom the Gospel of John was also attributed.[5] The early-2nd-century writer, Justin Martyr, was the first to equate the author of Revelation with John the Evangelist.[6] Early Church fathers such as Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian and Hippolytus believed John the apostle/the Evangelist wrote the book. Some early Christian writers such as Eusebius of Caesarea and Dionysius of Alexandria, noting some differences in language and theological outlook between this work and the Gospel, disputed about John's authorship. [7] The early Christian writer Papias appeared in his writings to distinguish between John the Evangelist and John the Elder,[8] and modern biblical scholars now contend that the latter was the author of Revelation, although tradition and early scholars hold the opposite position.

Island of Patmos[edit]

John is considered to have been exiled to Patmos during a time of persecution under the Roman rule of Domitian in the late 1st century. 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]

According to Tertullian (in The Prescription of Heretics) John was banished after being plunged into boiling oil in Rome and suffering nothing from it.[10]

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. ^ Ben Witherington, Revelation, (Cambridge University Press) page 2.
  8. ^ Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses (William B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2006)
  9. ^ Adela Collins. (1985). "Patmos" [In] Paul J. Achtemeier [Ed.]. (1985) Harper's Bible Dictionary. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row. p. 755.
  10. ^ Litfin, Bryan. After Acts: Exploring the Lives and Legends of the Apostles. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2015

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