The Pilgrimage, Turkey, Part Twenty

By now you may be wondering—- o.k. we toured Ephesos, but where exactly did the temple of Artemis go? Glad you asked…. it’s long gone, after the earthquakes the spot where it sat turned into a mosquito filled marsh… and today there is exactly one column left standing, which we are viewing from high atop the hill where the Basilica of St. John is. But which John?

There is a real problem in figuring which John we are actually talking about, for whom the Basilica of St. John is named. It’s like asking who’s buried in Grant’s tomb, only a little more complicated. In my view it is John of Patmos who is buried there, who is NOT the same person as John son of Zebedee, one of the Twelve. In fact, I do not think John son of Zebedee ever went to Ephesus. We now have evidence that he was martyred early on, just like his brother James, and furthermore, just like Jesus said he would be (‘can you be baptized with the baptism I will be baptized with?’). THAT John did not live to a great old age and die in his sleep in Ephesus. John of Patmos is a different story. We know: 1) he was in exile on Patmos (see Rev. 1); 2) he had a relationship, a relationship in which he was an authority figure, to the church in Ephesus (Rev. 2, and other churches too); 3) we know it is probable that Revelation was written in the 90s. It thus seems likely he is the John who is buried on the hill overlooking the swamp that Artemis sank into. Furthermore, Papias is clear enough that there was John the Apostle whom he never met, and John the elder whom he did meet. John the elder is probably the same person as John of Patmos, hence he is responsible for: 1) 2-3 John, 2) the book of Revelation; and 3) he probably collected the memoirs of the Beloved Disciple (who was not named John at all) and edited them into what we know as the Gospel of John. Only John in this case was the collector, editor, and final arranger of this Gospel. Not the originator of the material in it, which goes back to an eyewitness. We can debate who this person is, but for my money John 11 tells us who he was—- Lazarus, ‘the one whom Jesus’ loved. That’s a story for another day.

Here is the entrance into the are where the Basilica of St. John is, which dates back only to the 6th century A.D.

And here is the entrance into the basilica itself…

The most important thing to see is the baptismal pool, which is rather unique, and shows that some sort of immersion was practiced in the 6th century or later as one form of baptism.

There are also some interesting columns and cornices, evidence of a Christian presence here…

Here is an interesting one, it appears to be a dedicatory stele for ‘Brother Anton’ mentioned at the bottom of the inscription. He seems to have been a scribe or manuscript copier of some sort, hence the scroll with the leather thong around it.

While there is no human presence here, there are plenty of other signs of kinds of life…..

It’s good to know this site is stork approved (and that means there must be babies somewhere nearby, not just baby storks…). These storks appear to be uber-patriotic too….

  • Marie Allen

    Interesting background about John. What is the evidence that John son of Zebedee was martyred early, soon after the martyrdom of his brother James?

  • BenW3

    There is a very early papyrus, discovered by a German scholar, that says so. This is not surprising since the Gospel tradition, even writing in the late first century, says that the two Zebedees will undergo the same baptism i.e. death as Jesus did.

  • GWQ

    Novel theory, and I’ve seen you write this before, but you apparently place your “very early papyrus”above the letter from Bishop Polycrates of Ephesus to Roman Bishop Victor and the church of Rome, written in the 2nd Century and quoted by historian Eusebius Pamphilius. It stated, “For in Asia [Minor, now Turkey] also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord’s coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus.”

    This is the apostle who leaned on the Lord’s breast at the Last Supper (John 13:23), and not John of Patmos. Were there three “Johns”? Quite possible, as there were three “Marys” at the foot of the Cross. (John 19:25). I’ve read the Lazarus theory before also. If so, he made a remarkable recovery from death to outrace Peter to the tomb! (John 20:4). I’ll put my money on John’s tomb in Ephesus, which is why Constantine built the huge basilica there in the 4th Century, surpassed by Justinian’s larger one in the 6th Century. Enjoy your time in Ephesus, but don’t overlook the Apostle John while there!

  • BenW3

    Hi. The papyrus found by Prof. Ober Weiss predates Eusebius c. And of course Eusebius didn’t like Revelation or 2 and 3 John. Papias on the other hand is clear about John of Patmos being in Ephesus. The Beloved Disciple is not likely to be John Zebedee. BW3

  • GWQ

    Thanks, Ben. Interesting topic, and lots has been written on the mystery of the “beloved disciple.” Clearly John of Patmos was in Ephesus (author of Revelation), but that does not disprove John of Zebedee as the author of the Gospel, nor that he was in Ephesus as well. If the apostle John (brother of James, son of Zebedee) was martyred in Jerusalem . . . where is his grave? Surely the Early Church would have marked it. And his martyrdom would have been mentioned in Acts of the Apostles. You’ve still got some work to do on your theory. Have a safe trip. I’ll be in Ephesus next month.

  • BenW3

    Actually I’m in Lexington. But I’ve already done the leg work on the BD in several books, including What Have They Done with Jesus? We do not know where John son of Zebedee was martyred. What we know is the church of the 2nd-4th centuries often made the mistake of mushing all the Johns together and all the Marys together (e.g. Mary of Bethany was said to be Mary Magdalene and the woman in Jn 7.53-8.11 as well!). This was a mistake just as blending together the BD and John Zebedee and John of Patmos was a mistake. There is absolutely no internal evidence in the Gospel of John that it was written by John Zebedee. None. Indeed, all the evidence points in another direction. There are none of the special Synoptic Zebedee stories in the 4th Gospel— not his calling by the sea, not his presence at the raising of Jairus’s daughter, not his presence on the Mt. of Transfiguration, not his asking for the box seats in the Kingdom, and I could go on. This is quite bizarre and inexplicable on the theory that John Zebedee wrote this book, since the 4th Gospel claims to be giving us some eyewitness testimony! The Zebedees don’t even get mentioned in the Fourth Gospel as the Zebedees until John 21, and then only in passing in Galilee on a fishing trip. John 11.1-3 is perfectly clear as to whom the person is ‘whom Jesus loves’. He is named as Lazarus, and it is only after that juncture in the Gospel that we have the phrase ‘the beloved disciple’. It occurs nowhere before then. Actually, you have some more work to do to explain the very character of a Gospel which focuses on unique miracles in Judea and omits all the Galilean miracles found in the Synoptics except the tandem of feeding the 5,000 and the walking on water. It also omits the many exorcisms Jesus performed in Galilee. This is because this Gospel is not written by an eyewitness of the Galilean ministry!