Nathaniel Bar-Tholomew was an apostle, one of the original twelve. He doesn't get much attention, though. No big speeches or monumental failures of faith. He's just one of the twelve, walking through the Holy Land, doing the apostle thing.
However, he does have one very quotable line. He was sitting under a fig tree, munching peacefully, when Philip calls him to meet this Nazarene that everyone's talking about. Quoth Nate, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" Of course he gets blown away by the Messiah when he meets him and signs up for the whole evangelical tour.
The accounts of Nathaniel's work after the crucifixion have him evangelizing everywhere: India, Mesopotamia, Persia, Armenia, even Egypt. In the fourth century, Eusebius wrote that Pantaneus went to India and found a copy of the Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew characters that had been left with them by Nathaniel. It was probably a Rig Veda written in sanskrit -- Pantaneus couldn't tell the difference and the locals were too polite to disabuse him of his error. [Well, that's my hypothesis and I'm sticking to it.]
In the pictures above, you'll see that Nathaniel made a good end of it. Or at least that the artists imagine he did. He was flayed alive and then beheaded. He is, contrary to all good taste, the patron saint of tanners. The sculpture pictured above is a common way of representing him: he has his own skin draped over him arm. One of his real arms, by the way, is kept in Canterbury Cathedral. Other parts of him are in Rome.
|courtesy of The Brick Testament, http://www.bricktestament.com/|