Saint Bartholomew the Apostle, one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, is listed sixth in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, and seventh in the book of Acts. His name, Bartholomaios, means “son of Talmai,” which indicates his Hebrew lineage.
There is a compelling theory that Bartholomew may be the same person as Nathaniel, mentioned in the Gospel of John. This theory is built upon several considerations:
Bartholomew is not a proper name but rather an identification of lineage.
Nathaniel appears in the Gospel of John but is absent from the synoptic Gospels where Bartholomew is named.
The Gospel narratives hint at a close relationship between Philip and Bartholomew/Nathaniel.
Nathaniel’s calling aligns with the pattern of apostolic callings.
He hailed from Galilee, like most of the apostles.
Nathaniel is present among apostles after Jesus’ resurrection.
However, it’s also possible that Nathaniel was simply another significant figure in the Gospel of John, much like Nicodemus.
Early ecclesiastical sources suggest Bartholomew evangelized in various regions, including India. The term “India” during ancient times had a broad meaning, possibly extending to areas like Arabia Felix. Other traditions suggest he preached in places ranging from Mesopotamia, Persia, and Egypt to the Black Sea shores.
The circumstances of Bartholomew’s death remain shrouded in mystery. Some say he was beheaded, while others claim he was flayed alive and crucified. This latter tradition has led to artistic representations of Bartholomew holding his skin, as seen in Michelangelo’s Last Judgment. It is believed that some of his relics may reside in the church of St. Bartholomew-in-the-Island in Rome. His feast day is celebrated on August 24th.
It’s worth noting that there existed an apocryphal gospel attributed to Bartholomew in early Christian history, although its contents are not widely recognized.