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Q: Martyrship of the Apostles ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   7 Comments )
Subject: Martyrship of the Apostles
Category: Relationships and Society > Religion
Asked by: yoche-ga
List Price: $20.50
Posted: 18 Sep 2004 10:37 PDT
Expires: 18 Oct 2004 10:37 PDT
Question ID: 402936

As a personal venture, I have been studying the authenticty of the
Bible.  Right now I am trying to find historical documents/references
other than the Bible that attest to the martyrdom of the Apostles.  I
have found many sites that list the method that were used agianst the
Apostles, but I haven't discovered where they get their information
from or what documents support it.  I know that many took from Foxe's
Book of Martyrs.  It also appears that many of the sites that list the
deaths seem to contradict.

My questions are:

1. Is there accurate(semi-accurate) historical, non-Biblical evidence
that supports the martyrship of the apostles?
2. Is there evidence that supports that the Apostles were real people?

All comments and information are more than welcomed and, in fact,
would be GREATLY appreciated.

Thank you,


Just to get started, I found the following information at



The history of the deaths of the Apostles and the evangelists is not
well known.  Then it is the intention here to describe how each one
died with some other information added too.

1. Peter, who was the son of John, from the town of Bethsaida in the
province of Galilee, and brother of Andrew the Apostle, and was an
Apostle, was crucified head-down-ward by the Romans.

2. James, who was known as the brother of the Lord, the son of Joseph
and Mary, the author of the Epistle James, known as James the Just,
not an Apostle but an evangelist, the brother of Jude the one who
wrote the Epistle of Jude, and was bishop of Jerusalem, was killed
because he did not deny the Lord. For Ananias the high priest tried to
force James to deny the Lord, but when he would not, he was cast down
from a pinnacle of the temple that caused his legs to be broken. Being
half dead, James lifted up his hands to heaven, and said "Lord forgive
them, for they know not what they do." At this instance, the Jews
stoned him, but this was stopped and to finish the task of killing
him, he was struck by a club and died. This was done by the Jews.

3. Matthew (who was called Levi, was an apostle, the son of Alphaeus
and brother of James the less and also brother of Thaddæus) after
preaching Æthiopia and all Egypt, Hircanus, their king sent forth men
to run him through with a spear, and so he was killed by a spear.

4. Paul (formerly called Saul, an Apostle outside of the number of
twelve Apostles, being of the tribe of Benjamin, and the town of
Giscalis in Judea) was beheaded at Rome by the Romans for the sake of

5. Luke (a Gentile, physician, and an evangelist) was crucified on an
olive-tree rather than a cross.

6. Mark (the disciple and interpreter of Peter, an evangelist, and
first to proclaim gospel in Egypt) was dragged throughout the city of
Alexandria two days, causing so much of his flesh to be raked off that
the blood was flowing from every place from his body. With his flesh
being torn to pieces like rags and having much of his flesh to be
raked off, he died. Afterward, they burned what was left of his body.

7. John (the Apostle whom Jesus most loved, the son of Zebedee, a
cousin of Jesus, and brother of James the elder) died in his bed at an
old age having worn out his body.

8. James (the son of Zebedee, the Apostle, the brother of John, known
as James the elder, a cousin of Jesus, and was one of the inner-ring
of the Apostles, the other two being Peter and John) was killed by the
sword of Herod after the Lord's passion.

9. Andrew (an Apostle and brother to Peter) preached to the Scythians,
Sogdians, Sacæ, and the city which is called Sebastopolis. He was
crucified by Ægeas, the governor of the Edessences. But his cross that
he was crucified on was not like Christ's. For Andrew was crucified on
a cross that resembled a X rather than a T. His crucifixion was not
done by nailing him to the cross, but the authorities used cords to
hold him unto the cross, which caused him to linger and suffer more
than normal.

10. Thomas (an Apostle) preached to the Parthians, Medes, Persians,
Carmanians, Hyrcanians, Bactrians, and Magians. He was killed in
Calamina (a city of India) by means of a dart.

11. James (the son of Alphaeus, an Apostle, brother to Matthew and
brother to Thaddæus, and known as James the less) was stoned to death
by the Jews very near the Temple in Jerusalem.

12. Simon Zelotes (an Apostle) after preaching in Maurtania, and in
the country of Africa and in Britain was crucified.

13. Philip (an Apostle) after preaching to the barbarous nations was
not only stoned but also was like Peter crucified head-downward in
Hierapolis, a city of Phrygia. His daughters also were killed with him
in the same manner.

14. Judas Iscariot (an Apostle) died by his own hand.

15. Matthias (an Apostle) after he had preached to the Jews was stoned
and beheaded.

16. Bartholomew (son of Thalmai, an Apostle, known of also as
Nathanael) was beaten down with staves then crucified and then

17. Thaddæus (also known as Jude and Lebbaeus, an Apostle, and a
brother of James the less and Matthew) preached to the Edessenes, and
to all Mesopotamia and was killed under Abgarus, king of the Edessenes
in Berytus.

18. Jude (an evangelist, the author of the Epistle of Jude, brother of
Jesus, and brother of James the Just who was the bishop of Jerusalem)
died by an unknown means.

All these men died in the first century. The exact date and year is in
question about most of these men's deaths.
Subject: Re: Martyrship of the Apostles
Answered By: digsalot-ga on 20 Sep 2004 07:26 PDT
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hello there

You have received a number of 'answers' and speculations in the
comments section.  Your question asks about "historical
documents/references other than the Bible that attest to the martyrdom
of the Apostles."

Well, there aren't any.

First of all, there are none that even attest to the fact these men
even lived, let alone how they died.

This first section comes from another discussion I had in here, so
there is no use to rewrite it.  I will just throw quotes around it and
refer you to the question it comes from.  the question itself deals
with 'proof of Jesus' but much of the same material applies.

You will need to read previous comments to the question listed to
understand the "Sun God" connection.

"Now then, there are many characters in the New Testament, but perhaps
the most blatantly obvious fictions are the Twelve Disciples. Of
course, if Jesus was a sun-god (and who else is born on the winter
solstice and worshiped on Sunday? - see above in my last post), he
would have needed twelve accomplices, one for every month of the year,
or one for every sign of the zodiac through which the sun?s chariot
journeys.  Mithras also had the twelve.  It is also not surprising
that most of the disciples are mere names ? not always even the same
names from gospel to gospel. Moreover, it appears that some
evangelists had trouble coming up with enough names for all twelve ?
although the authors of the gospels of Mark and Luke were able by
combining three separate stories about disciples or apostles, to come
up with thirteen names. - ??

Matthew and Luke are known to have copied the narrative framework of
Mark?s gospel, and it is interesting to note that their lists of
disciples (or apostles) do not match Mark?s exactly. The simple
Thaddæus of Mark is Lebbæus in Matthew. Attempts at harmonizing this
discrepancy resulted in later manuscripts of Matthew listing
Lebbæus-Thaddæus  - - a change that was transported back to later
manuscripts of Mark as well. This kind of "cereating harmony" arises
most often when legend or fiction is involved. This is reinforced by
the fact that both Lebbæus and Thaddæus are missing in Luke, who
instead has a mysterious Judas the brother of James. And of course
Lebbæus, Thaddæus, Judas the brother of James, and James all four are
missing in the gospel of John. To make up the defect, John gives Jesus
a disciple named Nathanael, a character unknown in the other gospels.

And things get even more confusing.

Here we go - The gospel of John makes no mention of any disciple named
John ? even though a John helps make up the count of twelve - -  or
thirteen - - in the other three official gospels

But then again, John?s gospel has no Bartholomew either  - -  nor does
it have a Matthew, James the son of Alphæus, nor Simon the Canaanite.
Nor has he any Simon Zelotes, Levi the son of Alphæus, nor any Levi or
Matthew the publican (tax gatherer). It is a bit startling to discover
that the gospels that do have a Levi and a Matthew appear to have one
too many disciples ? thirteen.

Here, the confusion deepens.  The disciples were supposed to have been
Jesus? students, the men (or women also, in the Gospel of Thomas and
in some other gospels) who lived with Jesus and learned the master?s
secrets. Apostles, on the other hand, were individuals ? allegedly
appointed by the living or resurrected Jesus ? who had to assume the
role of missionaries for the new faith.

This confusion of disciples and apostles that we find in the gospels
can tell us something of the political necessities behind the various
gospels and time of their writing. Although the New Testament doesn?t
tell us very much about history directly, it does tell us quite a bit
indirectly about the circumstances in which its parts were written and
the men who wrote it. What do the stories of apostles and disciples
tell us about the creators of these characters? Why were the so-called
Twelve Apostles (or Disciples) invented, - -  if they never existed as
real men.

The answer to this questions is found in early church politics.  As I
mentioned in my last post, I believe that Christianity emerged out of
a variety of Jewish and pagan mystery cults. There came a time of
fierce competition among these organizations. One group of Jewish
proto-Christians claimed that their church was the only authentic one
because it was supposed to have been founded by men (apostles) who had
had visions of the risen Christ. To this, the Pauline (Gentile)
churches could reply, ?We?re authentic too: our founder, Paul, also
had visions of Christ and Christ told him what?s what.?

The Jewish church could only outstrip its rivals by adding some more
details to the history of its foundation. Guess what?  It so happened
that the apostles who founded it not only had had visions of the risen
Christ, they had eaten meals with him and studied with him before he
died. That made their church much more authoritative than churches
whose founders had only had visions. Thus, the invention of twelve
apostles led to the invention of the twelve disciples. Probably, one
of the Jewish churches was led by twelve officials called apostles
(perhaps equivalent to the ?pillars? mentioned in Galatians 2:9) ? one
for each of the by now imaginary tribes of Israel. (ten of them were
missing)  The tribes in turn, as you may know, were associated with
the twelve signs of the zodiac. Back to that sun god thing again.  The
twelve governing apostles were descended, it was claimed, from the
original twelve apostles, at least eleven of whom had also been
disciples. Now 'that' was some claim to authority.

Now despite all that confusion, the Twelve clearly serve a zodiacal
function in the gospels, and the sun-god nature of Jesus becomes clear
as crystal when one examines the early history of the Christian
church. (Excavations beneath the vatican have revealed a mosaic
depiction of Christ as the sun-god Helios ? with solar chariot,
horses, and all!) The core narrative of the gospel of Mark is played
out in twelve months (suggestively solar), and some scholars have
thought that the original version of the gospel of Mark had a
twelve-part structure sort of the Christian equivalent of the Twelve
Labors of Hercules (another savior godlet). In later works, however,
the time of Jesus? ministry is increased ? to as much as three years
in the late gospel of John. In any case, the purposes and beliefs of
the various churches that controlled the rewriting of the gospels
changed from time to time, and so what might originally have been
clear patterns became obscured as more material was inserted into the
sacred texts and as some material most surely was expunged."  - Quoted
from me in a previous question

Now we need to address some of the material provided you in the comments.

We can begin with "Evidence That Demands A Verdict" - by Josh McDowell

To begin with we can establish that Josh McDowell is obviously
intelligent and a well educated man. He is educated enough to fill his
book with enough half-truths to get his readers interested, providing
they do not already know the sources he uses.

He quotes such sources as Flavius Josephus, even though he is probably
aware that no serious student or theologian considers the passages he
quotes as anything other than early Christian forgeries. (by going
back to the comments discussion in the question I linked with above,
you will find much more about these early so called, non-Biblical
evidences.  None of them are trustworthy as the proof of anything. 
Josh McDowell uses most all of them as references in his books. 
(there is a second one out now, you know)

His book is only a literary essay with no tangible proofs. He relies
heavily on the quotes of other Christian authors to support his case
and he blatantly ignores any evidence that is contrary to his point. 
There are so many inaccuracies in Josh McDowell's book that it would
take another publication of the same size to cover and explain them
all.  Perhaps even two, since he has the second book.

If fact, I will save you some time and quote from the discussion at
the question listed a summary of the non-Biblical sources used by
Christian apologists to proove their claim.  Sources dealing with the
death of the Apostles are even more spurious and far, far fewer, in
fact non-existant outside the Bible.

"The list of ancient authors posted above need some explanation lest
somebody believe they actually do prove a historical Jesus.

Pliny the Younger (62?-c.113) was Governor of Bithynia, and ancient
land located in Northwest Turkey. His letter was written around Around
111 or 112 CE. and deals with his handling of Christians in his

It is a given by historians (most historians without a particular
religious agenda that is), that everything Pliny claims to know about
Christians is attributed to Christian sources such as the recanters
who reported what Christians did, and the two deaconesses that he
tortured to find out what the religion was about.

"Christian historian Robert Wilken concludes, Pliny's "knowledge of
the new movement must have been slight and largely second-hand." And
France writes, "for our purposes, looking for evidence about Jesus,
[Pliny's letter] has nothing specific to offer. ... Pliny seems to
have discovered nothing about him as a historical figure."Thus,
Pliny's letter cannot be used as independent confirmation of the
historicity of Jesus.

Cornelius Tacitus was a Roman historian who lived from 55 to 120 CE
and wrote a book Annals, circa 112 CE. His material was derived from
Christian material circulating in the early 2nd century. Material
derived from other material cannot be construed as non-biblical
evidence for the life of Christ. It is only evidence that a "story"
existed. In fact, he probably obtained his information from Pliny the
Younger. Tacitus was an intimate friend and correspondent of the
younger Pliny and was therefore probably acquainted with the problems
Pliny encountered with the Christians during his governorship of
Bithynia. Tacitus was also governing in Asia in the very same years as
Pliny's encounters with Christians making communication between them
on the event very likely

Suetonius was the author of The Lives of the Caesars circa 120 CE. He
wrote "Since the Jews constantly made disturbances at the instigation
of Chrestus, [Emperor Claudius in 49 CE] expelled them from Rome."
This passage is often used to support the historicity of Jesus.  It
assumes that Jesus' title was misspelled. However, there is an
enormous doubt that it was a misspelling. Christ is a title, but
Chrestus was in fact a common Greek name. It is likely that the
reference is to a Jewish agitator in Rome by that name.

There were about 40 historians who wrote during the first two
centuries. and with the exception of the above spurious accounts,
including those forged in "Antiquities of the Jews," none stated that
Jesus existed in the 1st century.

The Talmud states that Jesus lived in the 2nd century BCE. However,
this passage itself dates from the early 2nd century CE. The authors
undoubetedly based their writings as a reaction to some of the dozens
of Christian gospels circulating by that time. Once again material
based on other material which was already a literary construct of

Second, the Talmud can only provide independent confirmation of
Jesus's existence if it relied on independent sources. Given our
ignorance of the sources for the Talmud as well as its late date, it
simply can't be used as independent confirmation of the historicity of

Bar-Serapion's letter does refer to Jesus, but it is worthless as a
witness to the historicity of Jesus because Bar-Serapion gained his
information from Christians, the date of the letter is unknown, and
the letter contains historical errors.

And to include Tertullian on the list as an independent source is
ludicrus. Tertullian was a theologian, of course he would write what
supported the cause. Definitely a non-starter as an independent source
for anything relating to this discussion.

As for Thallus, we know almost nothing about him or his works. We
don't even know if he wrote only one book or several. The only
information we have about him, even his name, comes entirely from
Christian apologetic sources beginning in the late 2nd century.
Scholars since the 18th century have even invented facts about him,
and some of these groundless notions--like the idea that he was a
Samaritan--are repeated even today. Claims are also made, mainly but
not exclusively by modern Christian apologists, which make Thallus
into the earliest literary witness to the gospel tradition. that is
easy enough to do when there is not much more than a vacuum to work

As for what Thallus wrote about, we are told by Eusebius, (the forger
of parts of "Antiquity of the Jews" remember!) - To confuse matters
further, the late forger of a work in the name of Justin Martyr claims
Thallus among those who mentioned Moses and the antiquity of the Jews
in the context of Athenian history. This last can be dismissed,
however, since the forged text is almost a word-for-word adulteration
of a quote from Julius Africanus.

Christian apologists like to use the works of Phlegon as evidence,
especially of the Passion. Phlegon merely recorded a great earthquake
in Bithynia, which is on the coast of the Black Sea, more than 500
miles away from Jerusalem--so there is no way this quake would have
been felt near the crucifixion--and a magnificent noontime eclipse,
whose location is not clear. If the eclipse was also in Bithynia, as
the Phlegon quote implies but does not entail, it also could not have
been seen in Jerusalem, any more than partially, since the track of a
total eclipse spans only 100 miles and runs from west to east
(Jerusalem is due south).

As for such a quake in Jerusalem at the time of the passion, the
geologic evidence does not support it nor is there any mention of such
an event outside of just one gospel." - Quote from me in that previous

Once again, these are the same sources used by Josh McDowell, and most
all of the others who try to claim non-Biblical evidence for Jesus and
the Apostles.

So regardless of what answer you may wanted to have received to your questions:

1. Is there accurate(semi-accurate) historical, non-Biblical evidence
that supports the martyrship of the apostles?

2. Is there evidence that supports that the Apostles were real people?

The answer to both is - "no"

yoche-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars
This was the answer I was expecting.  You brought up very interesting
theories on early Churches reasoning in creating 'fictional'

Subject: Re: Martyrship of the Apostles
From: kriswrite-ga on 18 Sep 2004 18:00 PDT
Here's a place to start: "Secular Historians Outside The Bible That
Record Jesus Christ And Christianity:"

It deals mostly with Jesus, but also with James and a few others.

Subject: Re: Martyrship of the Apostles
From: pugwashjw-ga on 18 Sep 2004 19:07 PDT
Question 2. The discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls, written/produced in
the first and second centuries and hidden away, have confirmed what
the modern Bible states in relation to people mentioned in the Bible.
This can be regarded as an outside source. Because of their preaching
on earth, during their lifetime, about the sacrifice made by Jesus for
us, the Apostles will be included in the arrangement, by God, stated
at Revelation 7;4 and 14;1. Verse 4 about having to be virgins is not
literal but means to be pure of heart. Some religious organizations
have taken it literally and applied it to their own clergy, with
resultant problems. The Apostle Peter [ Cephas] was married [ First
corinthians 9;5. His mother in law lived in his home, which he shared
with his brother Andrew. Simon was married as well. [Mark 1;29-31] The
whole point of the bible is to appreciate what God and his son Jesus
have done for us and will in future, do for us, and not get bogged
down in unimportant details. Doesn`t matter how the Apostles died,
they have secured for themselves places alongside Jesus as Kings and
Priests. [Revelation 20;4]..."and they came to life and ruled as Kings
and with the Christ for a thousand years".
Subject: Re: Martyrship of the Apostles
From: yoche-ga on 18 Sep 2004 22:59 PDT
kriswrite-ga  -  Thank you for the link.  The entire site is filled
with very useful information, particularly the one you provided. 
Reading through the records and documents gives a good understanding
of the persecution of the early Christians and a sense of the reality
of Christ.

pugwashjw-ga  -  You have a good point.  But, I believe that the the
martyrship of the Apostles is important to underline how dedicated
their belief in the Messiah was.
Subject: Re: Martyrship of the Apostles
From: slakemoth-ga on 19 Sep 2004 17:13 PDT
While not one of the apostles, below is a link to the "eyewitness to
history" website, and an account titled "Death of a Martyr, 203 AD".
It is the account of a young woman put to death in the city of
Carthage, for her religious beliefs (Christian).
Subject: Re: Martyrship of the Apostles
From: kriswrite-ga on 20 Sep 2004 06:23 PDT
Yoche, if you like that link, you will probably also find this book very useful:

 Evidence That Demands A Verdict,

It points to many "outside sources" that support the Bible.

Subject: Re: Martyrship of the Apostles
From: unka_randy-ga on 23 Sep 2004 09:50 PDT
I have unfortunately found myself in the same predicament as you, but
my search has been more directed at the birth of Christianity and the
fallacies of the bible.
The information I have found is generally from the same periods. The
Dead Sea Scrolls is an excellent source for information about the time
of the bibles events took place. But another source is something
called the Mohammed Scrolls. This was also found in 1947 by a young
boy in a cave in Egypt, he took the Scrolls home to just put up in his
home as a decoration. Apparently this young boy was quite the little
troublemaker and was supposed to be questioned by the local Police the
following day. Instead of the Police thinking he stole the Scrolls he
took them to the local religious representatives for safekeeping. They
knew exactly what they had and turned them over to the proper
authorities. In 1951 the Univ. of Cambridge for their possession paid
the family quite handsomely for the Scrolls.
Another good source I have found is a book called ?The Hiram Key?. The
two men that wrote the book seemed to have delved for years into this
subject with a substantially larger budget than most could use. This
has, by far, been the most information I have found in one source.
The only words of encouragement I can offer you are to keep searching.
The knowledge you gain will be something that stays with you for a
long time. Good luck on your journey?
Subject: Re: Martyrship of the Apostles
From: pugwashjw-ga on 25 Sep 2004 00:57 PDT
Hi Yoche. I`ve looked up "Martyr" in the dictionary, and it says " One
who suffers punishment or the sacrifice of his life for ADHERENCE TO
PRINCIPLES OR BELIEFS". Yes, some of the Apostles and also some
disciples, one being Paul, were executed for what they believed. Thus
they were Martyrs for their belief. But HOW they died still makes no
difference. Only WHY they died. The Apostle John, who wrote
Revelation, lived to a ripe old age and apparently died of old age.
And his reward will be the same as the martyred ones...Revelation
14;1-5. Patriarchs such a Abraham are not included in this special
class, because he died before Jesus instituted the "new" covenant.
Abrahams covenant was between himself and God, direct, and he,
Abraham, will receive a simple resurrection.
As for poor old DIGS, who apparently has no faith in the Bible, and
therefore no faith in a better future promised by Jesus, does he get a
mention in the Bible. Sadly, yes. [ now this is not my opinion of 
whether Digs is right or not, because I am restricted from doing so by
a companion scripture][ Proverbs 9;7,8..He that is correcting the
ridiculer is taking to himself dishonour, and he that is giving a
reproof to someone wicked- a defect in him. .8.Do NOT reprove a
ridiculer, that he may not hate you. Give a reproof to a wise person
and he will love you]
9;12." If you have become wise, you have become wise in your own
behalf; and if you have ridiculed, you will bear it, just you alone.
Proverbs 13;1, 14;6, 15;12,

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