His name is patronymic, meaning "son of Tolmai".

Sometimes he is identified with Nathaneal whom Phillip led to Christ. According to the historian Eusebius, when Pantainus of Alexandria visited India between 150 and 200 A. D., he found there the Gospel according to Matthew left behind by Bartholomew one of the Apostles. According to tradition, Bartholomew was flayed to death at Albanapolis in Armenia.