Simon the Canaean
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(Simon Kananaios; kanna'i, "the Jealous (or Zealous) One"):
One of the Twelve Apostles. This Simon was also named "the Canaanite" (Matthew 10:4; Mark 3:18 the King James Version) or "the Cananean" (Matthew 10:4; Mark 3:18 the Revised Version (British and American)) or "Zelotes" (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13 the King James Version) or "the Zealot" (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13 the Revised Version (British and American)).
According to the "Gospel of the Ebionites" or" Gospel of the Twelve Apostles" (of the 2nd century and mentioned by Origen) Simon received his call to the apostleship along with Andrew and Peter, the sons of Zebedee, Thaddaeus and Judas Iscariot at the Sea of Tiberias (compare Matthew 4:18-22; see also Hennecke, Neutestamentliche Apokryphen, 24-27).
Although Simon, like the majority of the apostles, was probably a Galilean, the designation "Cananaean" is regarded as of political rather than of geographical significance (compare Luke's rendering). The Zealots were a faction, headed by Judas of Galilee, who "in the days of the enrollment" (compare Acts 5:37; Luke 2:1,2) bitterly opposed the threatened increase of taxation at the census of Quirinius, and would have hastened by the sword the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy.
Simon has been identified with Simon the brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3; Matthew 13:55), but there also are reasons in favor of identifying him with Nathanael.
Thus (1) all the arguments adduced in favor of the Bartholomew-Nathanael identification (see NATHANAEL) can equally be applied to that of Simon-Nathanael, except the second. But the second is of no account, since the Philip-Bartholomew connection in the Synoptists occurs merely in the apostolic lists, while in John it is narrative. Further, in the Synoptists, Philip is connected in the narrative, not with Bartholomew but with Andrew.
(2) The identity is definitely stated in the Genealogies of the Twelve Apostles (see NATHANAEL). Further, the "Preaching of Simon, son of Cleopas" (compare Budge, II, 70) has the heading "The preaching of the blessed Simon, the son of Cleopas, who was surnamed Judas, which is interpreted Nathanael, who became bishop of Jerusalem after James the brother of our Lord." Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica, III, xi, 32; IV, xxii) also refers to a Simon who succeeded James as bishop of Jerusalem and suffered martyrdom under Trajan; and Hegesippus, whom Eusebius professes to quote, calls this Simon a son of Cleopas.
(3) The invitation of Philip to Nathanael (compare John 1:45) was one which would naturally be addressed to a follower of the Zealots, who based their cause on the fulfillment of Messianic prophecy.
(4) As Alpheus, the father of James, is generally regarded as the same as Clopas or Cleopas (see JAMES), this identification of the above Simon Nathanael, son of Cleopas, with Simon Zelotes would shed light on the reason of the juxtaposition of James son of Alpheus and Simon Zelotes in the apostolic lists of Luke and Acts, i.e. they were brothers.