BARTHOLOMEW (bar-thŏl'ŏ-mū, Gr. from Aram., son of Tolmai or Talmai, Gr. Bartholomaios). One of the twelve apostles. He is mentioned in all four of the lists of the apostles in the NT (
Apostle. The name is a patronymic meaning “son of Tolmai” and may not have been his only name. He is mentioned only in the lists of the twelve apostles and not in connection with any incident in or after the ministry of Jesus. Attempts have often been made to identify him with Nathanael, who is mentioned in John's gospel but not in the synoptics. There are a number of difficulties connected with this view. Eusebius reports that he took the Gospel to India.
BARTHOLOMEW bär thŏl’ ə mu (Βαρθολομαι̂ος, G978; Aram. בַּר תַּלְמַי, son of Talmai). One of Christ’s apostles, named in all four lists of the Twelve (
The name of Bartholomew occurs only in these lists of the Twelve, always in the second group of four. In the synoptics his name always stands next to that of Philip, who heads the second group in all the lists. In Acts the name of Thomas stands between Philip and Bartholomew.
Bartholomew may not have been the apostle’s complete name. As the first syllable indicates, the name prob. was a patronymic, Bar-Talmai, designating him simply as “the son of Talmai.” On this view it may be assumed that he had a personal name in addition. But it is possible that the name, while originally a patronymic, had become an independent proper name, like Barnabas. If he had no other name, we know nothing further about this apostle from the Scriptures.
A comparison of the lists of the Twelve in the synoptics with the story of the fourth gospel has led to the widely accepted view that Bartholomew is to be identified with Nathanael in the fourth gospel. Several observations support the identification. The synoptics never mention Nathanael, while the fourth gospel never speaks of Bartholomew. The juxtaposition of the names of Philip and Bartholomew in the lists of the Twelve suggests the close relationship between the two depicted in
Yet the identification is not proved. To assume the identification without question, as is often done, is to go beyond the evidence. Categorically to reject the identification is likewise unwarranted. Other proposed identifications for Bartholomew—Matthew, Matthias, the unnamed Emmaus disciple (
Tradition has been busy with the name of Bartholomew. Widely different fields of missionary labor have been assigned to him—India, Phrygia, and Armenia. Various apostles were named as his co-workers, and different forms of martyrdom were ascribed to him.
M. R. James, The Apocryphal NT (1924), 166-186; 467, 468; D. Browne, “Who Was Nathanael?” ExpT, XXXVIII (1927), 286; R. B. Y. Scott, “Who Was Nathanael?” ExpT XXXVIII (1927), 93, 94; W. P. Barker, Twelve Who Were Chosen (1957), 57-63; W. Barclay, The Master’s Men (1959), 102-113.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
One of the Twelve Apostles (
From the 9th century onward, Bartholomew has generally been identified with Nathanael, but this view has not been conclusively established.