Simon, Apostle, St.

views updated


One of the twelve chosen by Jesus. In the lists of the 12 apostles, Simon (Σίμων, a genuine Greek name, but used by the Jews as a Hellenized form of the Hebrew name šimōn, Simeon) is named in the 11th place in Mt 10.4 and Mk 3.18, in the 10th place in Lk 6.15 and Acts1.13. In the first two Gospels he is called "the Cananean" ( Κανανα[symbol omitted]ος), in Luke and Acts, "the zealot" ( ζηλωτής). These titles were apparently added for the purpose of distinguishing him from the chief Apostle Simon Peter. The word ζηλωτής is the Greek translation of the Aramaic word qanānai, which is merely transliterated in Mt 10.4; Mk 3.18 as Κανανα[symbol omitted]ος, both words meaning zealot. Some MSS in Mt 10.4 and Mk 3.18 have incorrectly Κανανίτης, which has been understood as meaning the man from Cana (so, e.g., by St. Jerome, Patrologia Latina 23:763; 26: 63), and therefore Simon was identified by some of the Church Fathers with the unnamed bridegroom of Jn 2.9. In any case, neither Κανανα[symbol omitted]ος nor Κανανίτης has anything to do with the word Canaanite. It is not certain why Simon was given this epithet; it was probably either because he had belonged to the Jewish party of the zealots before he became an Apostle, or because of his zeal for the Mosaic Law (cf. the use of the term in Acts 22.3; Gal 1.14).

Very little is known about this Apostle. Many would identify him with Simon the brother of Jesus (Mt 13.55; Mk 6.3), but this identification does not seem likely. The latter is the same as Simon son of Clopas who succeeded James, "the brother of the Lord," as bishop of Jerusalem (a.d. 62) and was crucified under Trajan c. a.d. 107; see Hegesippus as quoted by Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica 3:11; 32.12). According to later legends, particularly in the apocryphal Acts of Simon and Jude, Simon the Apostle preached in various parts of the Near East and was martyred by being sawed in two (a motif borrowed from the apocryphal Martyrdom of Isaiah). In iconography he is usually represented with a saw, the supposed instrument of his martyrdom, though sometimes with a book, probably in reference to his zeal for the law. In legend and in iconography he is generally associated with St. jude thaddeus.

Feast: Oct. 28 (Western Church); May 10 (Eastern Church).

Bibliography: j. blinzler, "Simon Zelotes," Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, ed. j. hofer and k. rahner (Freiburg 195765) 9:772773; "Simon, Bruder Jesu," ibid. 9:765; "Simon der Apostel, Simon der Herrenbruder, und Bischof Symeon von Jerusalem," Passauer Studien: Festschrift für Bischof Dr. Simon Konrad Landersdorfer, OSB (Passau 1953) 2555.

[j. a. lefranÇois]