After the death of Jesus, his core group of followers went on to spread the good news about the life, death, and resurrection of their leader. Known as the Disciples or the Apostles, this cluster of trusted followers essentially founded Christianity—an astonishing feat, given that most of them were poorly educated fishermen. But even if these unremarkable men were made remarkable through their encounter with Jesus, much of what we think we know about them comes to us from later tradition or efforts to smooth out the historical record. Here are some of the greatest myths about their stories.
1. There were twelve clearly identified Apostles.
In the Gospels the Apostles are collectively known as “the Twelve.” The fact that there were twelve disciples suggests that they are representatives of the twelve tribes of Israel. But even if it is symbolic, that symbolism translates to practical action: after Judas betrays Jesus and commits suicide, Peter persuades the assembly of Jesus followers to elect a new member of the Twelve by drawing lots. It’s important to have twelve.