St John the Evangelist (Biographical details)

St John the Evangelist (biblical figure; saint/martyr; Male; fl. 1stC)

Also known as

St John the Evangelist; St John; John the Divine; St John Evangelist; John the Apostle; Evangelist; Apostle; St John the Theologian; St John Theologos; Boanerges; John; John the Evangelist; St John of Patmos


Christian saint, apostle and New Testament figure; son of Zebedee (q.v.) and brother of St James the Greater (q.v.); presumed author of the fourth gospel and, by tradition, the Apocalypse (i.e. Revelations). Early Christian art usually represents St. John with an eagle, symbolizing the heights to which he rises in the first chapter of his Gospel. The chalice as symbolic of St. John, which, according to some authorities, was not adopted until the thirteenth century, is sometimes interpreted with reference to the Last Supper, again as connected with the legend according to which St. John was handed a cup of poisoned wine, from which, at his blessing, the poison rose in the shape of a serpent. Perhaps the most natural explanation is to be found in the words of Christ to John and James "My chalice indeed you shall drink" (Matthew 20:23). He often appears in scenes representing the Lamentation and the Crucifixion.
Later accounts relate that St John had to endure the persecutions - he is said to have been cast in a cauldron of boiling oil at the Latin Gate (Rome) - but that he emerged unharmed from the tortures; he is believed to have died in Ephesus under the reign of Trajan (q.v.), c.100 A. D., which makes him the only Apostle to have died of natural cause.