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Who was the Elder John?

You may or may have not heard about a rather obscure individual whom Papias, a bishop in Hierapolis in the early second century CE, referred to as the “Elder John.” Who was the Elder John?

  • Was this figure the aged Apostle John, who would have been a much older man than his younger contemporary Papias?
  • What he the “disciple whom Jesus loved” in John’s Gospel, the evangelist who wrote John’s Gospel, the anonymous “elder” who delivered the epistles, or the seer whose visions are contained in the book of Revelation?
  • Was he an otherwise unknown authority figure in Asia Minor who, nevertheless, had a huge influence on how Christians have been reading the Gospels of Mark and Matthew for the last two millennia?

Check out my article “Would the Real Elder John Please Stand Up?” at the website Bible and Interpretation for an analysis of the scholarship on the Elder John, in both the ancient and the modern world. I make my own case about how the various prominent Christ followers named John were identified with each other in my book The Beloved Apostle? The Transformation of the Apostle John into the Fourth Evangelist.

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