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Simon the Canaanite

From Academic Kids

The apostle Simon the Canaanite (called Simon the Zealot in Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13; שמעון "Hearkening; listening", Standard Hebrew Šimʿon, Tiberian Hebrew Šimʿn) was one of the more obscure among the apostles of Jesus, of whom little is recorded aside from his name.

Simon, whom he named Peter, and Andrew his brother, and James and John, and Philip, and Bartholomew, and Matthew, and Thomas, and James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas [the son] of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. (Luke 6:12-16, RSV)

The name of Simon occurs in all the passages of the synoptic gospels and Acts that give a list of apostles. To distinguish him from Simon Peter he is called Kananaios, or Kananites (Matthew 10:4; Mark 3:18), and in Luke 6:15 and Acts 1:13 Zelotes, the "Zealot." Jerome and others wrongly assumed that Kana was his native place: in which case, however, he would have been Kanaios.

In later tradition, Simon is often associated with St. Jude. Perhaps because of this, one school of thought holds that they were the same man. The 2nd century Epistle of the Apostles (Epistula Apostolorum) [1] (http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/apostolorum.html), a polemic against gnostics, lists him among the apostles purported to be writing the letter (who include Thomas) as Judas Zelotes and certain Old Latin translations of the Gospel of Matthew substitute "Judas the Zealot" for Lebbaeus in Matthew 10:3. To some, this suggests that he may be identical with the "Judas not Iscariot" mentioned in John 14:22: "Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?"

As it has been suggested that Jude is identical with the apostle Thomas (see Jude Thomas), an identification of "Simon Zelotes" with Thomas is also possible. This is of course conjectural, as the supporting evidence in either case is slight. The New Testament records nothing more of Simon, aside from this multitude of pseudonyms.

In later tradition

Later traditions expand on an independent personality for "Simon" and speculate about his fate. One tradition states that he travelled in the Middle East and Africa; another says he visited Britain -- possibly Glastonbury -- and was martyred in modern-day Lincolnshire. Another, doubtless inspired by his title "the Zealot", states that he was involved in a Jewish revolt against the Romans, which was brutally suppressed. The most widespread tradition, however, is that he evangelized in Egypt before joining St. Jude in Persia, where both were martyred. This version is the one found in the Golden Legend.

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