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Answering The Atheist
May 23, 2004 / Volume 4, Issue 21

THE ATHEIST'S COMPLAINT:
Who were the apostles? Which listing is correct?

From Mt 10:2-4 & Mk 3:16-18:
1. Simon (aka Peter)
2. Andrew
3. James (son of Zebedee)
4. John
5. Philip
6. Bartholomew
7. Thomas
8. Matthew
9. James (son of Alphaeus)
10. Lebbaeus (surname Thaddeus)
11. Simon (the Canaanite)
12. Judas (Iscariot)

From Lk 6:14-16; Ac 1:13:
1. Simon (aka Peter)
2. Andrew
3. James
4. John
5. Philip
6. Bartholomew
7. Thomas
8. Matthew
9. James (son of Alphaeus)
10. Judas (James' brother)
11. Simon (Zealotes)
12. Judas (Iscariot)

Is there a contradiction?

RESPONSE:
Eleven of the 12 names listed are found in both lists. Aside from descriptive variances (ie. # 11), the only possible contradiction is Lebbaeus (Thaddeus), listed in Matthew and Mark, and Judas, brother of James (literally, Judas of James'), listed by Luke.

Is it not conceivable that this Lebbaeus (Thaddeus) is one and the same as the Judas mentioned by Luke in his two lists, and John in the gospel of John (John 14:22)? Perhaps Matthew and Mark, wanting to completely distinguish him from Judas Iscariot used this alternate name by which he was known. Luke supplies a relation to distinguish him, and John uses the phrase "not Iscariot" to set him as distinct from Judas Iscariot. The fact that Matthew and Mark are presumably written before Luke and John may have part to do with their choice to use Lebbaeus (Thaddeus) rather than Judas.

Lebbaeus / Thaddeus / Judas was not the only disciple to be known by more than one name. As the questioner has revealed, Simon was also known as Peter, and likewise, he was called Cephas (John 1:42). Matthew was also known as Levi (Mark 2:14-15).

To declare a contradiction simply because there are multiple names used of a particular disciple is to make an issue of that which is not. There is no contradiction.

This article is a response to Skeptic's Annotated Bible