The Glossary of Terms

Bartholomew, Nathanael


Harper’s Bible Dictionary

edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)

You are strongly recommended to add to your library the excellent revised edition of Harper's Bible Dictionary titled, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition [book review], edited by Paul J. Achtemeier, with the Society of Biblical Literature (NY: Harper Collins, 1996). It is currently the best one-volume Bible dictionary in English, and it is available at Border's Books, Christian Science Reading Rooms,, or

Bartholomew, one of the twelve apostles about whom little is known. His name appears in all of the nt apostolic lists (Matt. 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13) but nowhere else in the nt. Because ‘Bartholomew’ follows ‘Philip’ in three of the lists (Matthew, Mark, and Luke), some scholars have identified him with the ‘Nathanael’ whom Philip brought to Jesus (John 1:45-51; Bartholomew is never mentioned in John, nor is Nathanael in Matthew, Mark, or Luke). This identification lacks conclusive evidence, however, and reflects harmonizing tendencies. Later Christian traditions identify Bartholomew as a missionary in India (Eusebius) and author of an apocryphal gospel (Jerome).


  1. A priest required by Ezra to put away his foreign wife (1 Esd. 9:22).
  2. An ancestor of Judith (Jth. 8:1).
  3. One of the chosen disciples of Jesus mentioned only in John’s Gospel; brought to Jesus by Philip (John 1:43-51; cf. 21:2). Described by Jesus as ‘an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile,’ Nathanael is characterized as resolute in his devotion and piety to God. Nathanael’s confession is exemplary: ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ Nathanael is also noted, however, for his earlier scornful question, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Because his name is absent from the apostolic lists in the other Gospels and Acts, many scholars have identified him with one or another of those listed, most commonly Bartholomew.

To explore the relationship between the names Bartholomew and Nathanael, as representing the same person, browse:


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Copyright 1996-2002 Robert Nguyen Cramer
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