The Twelve Disciples
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The Twelve Disciples, Take One
We all know the twelve disciples. This table shows the names of those disciples we have from the gospels, as commonly used in English. At various points, the synoptics provides lists. The gospel of John has no list per se. The gospels disagree in two cases, those of Bartholemew and Thaddaeus. The disagreements are easily reconciled. The real issue is why so many disciples are little more than names. Early Christians produced a large literature to try to fill in the historical gaps. None of those books made it into the New Testament.
|Mark 3:13-19||Matthew 10:1-4||Luke 6:12-16||Acts 1:13||John (no specific list)|
|Simon, “called Peter”||Simon, “also called Peter”||Simon, “whom he named Peter”||Peter||Simon Peter|
|John, “the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges”||John, “the brother of James”||John||John||Son of Zebedee|
|James, “son of Zebedee, whom he named Boanerges”||James, “son of Zebedee”||James||James||Son of Zebedee|
|Andrew||Andrew, “Peter’s brother”||Andrew, “Peter’s brother”||Andrew||Andrew|
|Matthew||Matthew, “the tax collector”||Matthew||Matthew||—|
|Thomas||Thomas||Thomas||Thomas||Thomas, “called Didymus”|
|James, “son of Alphaeus”||James, “son of Alphaeus”||James, “son of Alphaeus”||James, “son of Alphaeus”||—|
|Thaddaeus||Thaddaeus||Judas, “son of James”||Judas, “son of James”||Judas, “not Iscariot”|
|Simon, “the Cananaean”||Simon, “the Cananaean”||Simon, “the Zealot”||Simon, “the Zealot”||—|
|Judas Iscariot||Judas Iscariot||Judas Iscariot||—||Judas, “son of Simon Iscariot”|
The Twelve Disciples, Take Two
Only the three members of the inner circle, shown in yellow below, get any significant air-time in the gospels. Andrew, Thomas and Phillip are strictly bit-players, Judas Iscariot only gets billing as a villain, and the rest are nonentities. The final column shows the number of times each apostle is mentioned in the gospels and the book of Acts.
|Name in English translations of Mark||Hebrew and Greek Names||Notes||Mentions|
|Simon, called Peter||Hb: Shimon, Gk: Simon and Petros||Inner circle||168|
|John, son of Zebedee||Hb: Yohanan, Gk: Ioannes||Inner circle. Almost certainly the
Beloved disciple. Traditional author of the gospel and letters. In the west, held to be the author of Revelation.
|James, son of Zebedee||Hb: Yakov, Gk: Iakobos||Inner circle. James the Greater.||15|
|Andrew||Hb: —, Gk: Andreas||Bit-player. Tag-teams with Philip.||12|
|Philip||Hb: —, Gk: Philippos||Bit-player. Tag-teams with Andrew.||15|
|Bartholomew||Hb: bar-Talmai, Gk: Bartholomaios||Nonentity. Associated with Philip.||4|
|Matthew||Hb: Matityahu, Gk: Matthaios||Traditional author of the gospel. Identified with Levi. Otherwise a nonentity.||5|
|Thomas||Hb: Teom, Gk: Didymus||Bit-player||11|
|James, son of Alphaeus||Hb: Yakov, Gk: Iakobos||James the Lesser. Nonentity.||4|
|Thaddaeus||Hb: Yehudah, Gk: Thaddaios||Nonentity||6|
|Simon, the Cananaean||Hb: Shimon, Gk: Simon||Nonentity||4|
|Judas Iscariot||Hb: Yehudah, Gk: —||Bit-player villain||16|