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JAMES (Gr. Iakōbos). The English form of Jacob. The name occurs thirty-eight times in the NT, mostly in the Synoptic Gospels. Apart from no. 1. below, the identities of those bearing this name have been much debated. They may have been as many as four in number, though some scholars argue for two or three. Jerome, with somewhat tortuous and question-begging argument, contrives the conclusion that the four are really only one. Much fascinating speculation has grown up around the problem, but in the absence of clear biblical connection between one and another, it is convenient to list the occurrence of the name in the maximum number of categories (five) as follows:

James and John were given by Jesus the name “Boanerges” or “Sons of Thunder” (Mark.3.17), when they were rebuked by the Lord for impetuosity and for having totally misconceived the purpose of his coming. This may have been the result of a suggestion made by them that they should pray for the destruction of a Samaritan village, whose inhabitants had repulsed Jesus' messengers (Luke.9.54; cf. Mark.9.38; Luke.9.49-Luke.9.50).

Their presumption and ill-considered thinking were obvious also when James, after asking with his brother for a place of honor in the kingdom, was told that they would drink the cup their Master was to drink (Mark.10.35ff.; cf. Matt.20.20ff.). The two sons of Zebedee are also recorded as having been among those present when the risen Christ appeared to the disciples (John.21.1ff.), though it is curious to note that James’s name is nowhere mentioned in the Fourth Gospel.

We know nothing about James’s career after the Crucifixion until Jesus' prophecy was fulfilled when James was “put to death with the sword” by Herod Agrippa I about a.d. 44 (Acts.12.2). James thus became the first of the Twelve whose martyrdom was referred to in the NT.

The wife of Zebedee was Salome (Matt.27.56; cf. Mark.15.40) who appears to have been a sister of the Virgin Mary (cf. John.19.25). If this was so, James and John were cousins of Jesus and thus may have felt themselves in a privileged position.

An account attributed to Clement of Alexandria says that when James went on trial for his life, his steadfast testimony led to the conversion of his accuser, who was carried off with him to execution. A much less reliable tradition declares that he preached the gospel in Spain, of which country he is the patron saint.

2. James, the son of Alphaeus. Another of the apostles (Matt.10.3; Mark.3.18; Luke.6.15; Acts.1.13). Nothing is known for certain about him. Since Levi or Matthew is also described as “the son of Alphaeus” (Mark.2.14), he and James may have been brothers.

3. James “the younger,” the son of a Mary (Matt.27.56; Mark.15.40; Luke.24.10) who might have been the wife (or the daughter) of Clopas. Assuming that she was Clopas’s wife, some go on to conclude from a superficial word resemblance that Clopas and Alphaeus are two forms of the same name. This in turn has led on to a suggested identification of James, son of Mary, with no. 2. above.

The description “the younger” seems to have been given to distinguish him from the son of Zebedee. The word could also signify that he was smaller than his namesake (the Greek word can cover both interpretations). About this James we know nothing more.

4. James, the brother of Jesus. The only two references to him in the Gospels mention him with his brothers Joses, Simon, and Judas (Matt.13.55; Mark.6.3). This James may have been, after Jesus, the oldest of the brothers.

Some scholars have raised the question whether these were indeed full brothers of Jesus by Mary, for such a situation has created difficulty for those who hold the view that Mary remained a virgin, but there seems no good reason to challenge the fact from Scripture. Like the other brothers, James apparently did not accept Jesus’ authority during Jesus’ earthly life (John.7.5).

There is no specific mention of his conversion; he may have been included in the group to which Jesus appeared after the Resurrection (1Cor.15.7). He became head of the Jewish Christian church at Jerusalem (Acts.12.17; Acts.21.18; Gal.2.9). Although Jesus had always taught the relative subordination of family ties (Matt.12.48-Matt.12.50; Mark.3.33-Mark.3.35; Luke.8.21), it is hard to believe that James’s authority was not somehow strengthened because of his relationship to the Master.

This James was regarded as an apostle (Gal.1.19), although he was not one of the Twelve. Some suggest he was a replacement for the martyred son of Zebedee; others infer his apostleship by widening the scope of that term to embrace both the Twelve and “all the apostles” (see the two separate categories cited in 1Cor.15.5, 1Cor.15.7).

Tradition stated that James was appointed the first bishop of Jerusalem by the Lord himself and the apostles. What is certain is that he presided over the first Council of Jerusalem, called to consider the terms of admission of Gentiles into the Christian church, and he may have formulated the decree that met with the approval of all his colleagues and was circulated to the churches of Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia (Acts.15.19ff.).

James evidently regarded his own special ministry as being to the Jews, and his was a mediating role in the controversy that arose in the young church around the place of the law for those who had become Christians from both Gentile and Jewish origins. That he continued to have strong Jewish Christian sympathies is apparent from the request made to Paul when the latter visited Jerusalem for the last time (Acts.21.18ff.). This was also the last mention in Acts of James’s career. His name occurs again in the NT as the traditional author of the Letter of James, where he describes himself as “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Jas.1.1).

According to Hegesippus (c. a.d. 180), James’s faithful adherence to the Jewish law and his austere lifestyle led to the designation “the just.” It seems clear that he suffered martyrdom; Josephus places his death in the year 61 when there was a Jewish uprising after the death of Festus the procurator and before his successor had been appointed.

Jerome refers to a passage in the Gospel of the Hebrews (the fragments of which appear in various patristic writings) that recounts the appearance of the risen Christ to James. In contrast to 1Cor.15.7, this apocryphal work claims that this was the first appearance of the Lord after the Resurrection. The same writing is alleged to have noted James’s vow to eat no bread from the time of the Last Supper until he had seen the risen Lord. This raises questions, not least about the assumption that James was present at the Last Supper.

5.James, a relative of the apostle Judas. This Judas (not Judas Iscariot, John.14.22) is called Thaddaeus in Matthew and Mark. The elliptical text in two passages (“Judas of James”—Luke.6.16; Acts.1.13) has been interpreted in two ways: Judas was the brother (kjv) or the son (most other versions) of James.——JDD

Apostle, son of Zebedee, sometimes known as “James the Great.” This James was the brother of the Apostle John. He was called from his occupation as a fisherman to become one of the twelve apostles (Mark 1:19,20). It is possible that their mother, Salome, was a sister of Mary and that James was therefore a cousin of Jesus (cf. Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25). As he is normally mentioned first, he was probably older than his brother. In the lists of the apostles their names are associated with Peter and Andrew. Mark records that Jesus gave the brothers the nickname “Boanerges” (“Sons of Thunder,” Mark 3:17). Luke records their asking Jesus whether they should call down fire on a Samaritan village (Luke 9:51-56). Mark states that they themselves, and Matthew that their mother, asked that they be given places at the right and left hand of Jesus in His glory. The two brothers are associated with Peter in a sort of inner circle of Jesus' disciples at the home of Jairus (Mark 5:37, etc.), on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mark 9:2, etc), and in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:33, etc.). James is the only one of the apostles (apart from Judas) whose death is recorded in the NT. He was martyred by Herod Agrippa in a.d. 44 (Acts 12:1,2). There was apparently no attempt to replace him.

The Sea of Tiberias.

JAMES (̓Ιάκωβος, G2610, Hellenized form of ̓Ιακώβ, G2609, a variant form of the name Jacob). Four or five persons in the NT are so named, unless the same persons are known by a variety of designations.


The son of Zebedee.



James seems not to have been with Peter and Andrew in their pilgrimage to Judea, where they learned of the coming of the “Lamb of God” and received their first call to discipleship (John 1:35-51). Perhaps John was the other disciple of the Baptist who was with Andrew (v. 40). If so, James prob. stayed home to tend the business while three members of the company went to observe the great movement under John the Baptist and even attached themselves to him as his disciples. When, upon their return to Galilee, they recounted the events of Judea, James no doubt caught their faith and enthusiasm. At any rate, he was well prepared for the seemingly abrupt call later at the Sea of Galilee (Luke 5:2-11).


James was involved in two less complimentary episodes. Soon after the Transfiguration, when Jesus was passing through Samaria with the obvious intention of going to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51), James and John were deeply offended at the poor reception accorded Jesus by the populace (9:53). So recently having seen the transcendent glory of their Lord, they could not bear the humiliations to which He was subjected. They asked Jesus, “Lord, do you want us to bid fire come down from heaven and consume them?” (v. 54). Jesus rebuked them (v. 55). Perhaps this tendency to impetuosity and even fanaticism was in the mind of Jesus when He called them Boanerges, Sons of Thunder (Mark 3:17).

The other outburst of impetuosity was more selfish. On the occasion of Jesus’ last journey to Jerusalem (10:32), presuming on their intimacy with Jesus and possibly on their kinship, the two brothers made the request, “Grant us to sit, one on your right hand and one at your left, in your glory” (Mark 10:37). The appeal was supported by their mother, a follower of Jesus and faithful supporter of the group (Matt 20:20-28). Jesus rebuked the request (Mark 10:40) and restored peace (vv. 42-45).

On two other occasions, James’ presence is mentioned. He was one of the four on the Mount of Olives who asked the questions about the last things (Mark 13:3, 4). He was also present at the Sea of Galilee when the risen Lord appeared a third time to the disciples and when the miraculous draught of fishes was made (John 21:1-14). Of course, the presence of James was also assumed among the disciples at other times when the names were not listed.


James is the only one of the Twelve whose martyrdom is related in the NT. He was also the first martyr among the apostles. King Herod Agrippa I made James the first target in his attack upon the Church in a wider move of persecution which included the arrest of Peter (Acts 12:1-3). That James was prominent enough to be singled out for execution may indicate that Peter, James, and John still formed a special group among the leaders in the church at Jerusalem, as they had among the followers of Jesus, though the martyrdom is the only episode related of James in Acts. If James was not among the most prominent, he must certainly have been among the most feared and hated of the Christians. In his death James fulfilled the prophecy of Jesus that he too should drink of his Master’s cup (Mark 10:39).

Apocryphal accounts.

Later legends expand the narrative of the NT. Clement of Alexandria (Hypotyposis) and Eusebius (Euseb. Hist. III. 25) refer to The Acts of St. John, a heretical work of the 2nd cent., which gives an account of the call of James and of his presence at the Transfiguration. Fantastic details of the body of Jesus are given. Other accounts are recorded of missionary journeys of James to India, to the “Twelve Tribes” scattered abroad, and to Spain. Based on late legend (6th or 7th cent.), James was made the patron saint of Spain. Marvelous stories are told of his evangelizing and of the return of his body by angels after his martyrdom in Pal. The angels are said to have guided a ship without sail or rudder to Spain with the holy cargo that was prepared by a series of miracles for veneration. Though the early death of James robs the legends of even a minimal historical base, the son of Zebedee is known in Christian tradition as James the Great to distinguish him from James the Less (son of Alphaeus).

James the son of Alphaeus.

The only references to James the son of Alphaeus in the NT are mere inclusions of his name in the lists of the twelve apostles (Matt 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13), unless, as many suppose, he is the same person (discussed in the next section) as James the Younger. He heads the third group of four disciples in each of the lists of the Twelve, being coupled with Thaddaeus in Matthew and Mark, and with Simon the Zealot in Luke and Acts. As Matthew, or Levi, is also called the son of Alphaeus (cf. Matt 9:9; Mark 2:14), he may possibly be a brother of James. If this is true, however, it is remarkable that these brothers were not associated in any way in the gospels, as were Simon and Andrew and the sons of Zebedee. Legend says that James was of the house of Gad, was stoned by the Jews for preaching Christ, and was buried by the sanctuary in Jerusalem (Budge, Contendings of the Apostles, II, 50, 264-266).

James the younger.

Many believe that James the son of Alphaeus is designated by a number of names, including this one. If so, he is also James the Less, the son of Mary, and the brother of Joses or Joseph. In Mark, the Gr. word is simply the equivalent of “little” (Mark 15:40). It is rendered “less” or “younger.” It may refer to stature. Or, if he is compared with the son of Zebedee, he might be both younger (as RSV) and less renowned. His mother, Mary, is mentioned as present at the crucifixion (Matt 27:56; Mark 15:40) and at the discovery of the empty tomb (Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10). She is thought to be the same person as Mary the wife of Clopas (John 19:25). Most English VSS tr. this “wife of,” but the Arab. renders it “Mary the daughter of Clopas” (E. Bishop, “Mary [of] Clopas and Her Father,” ETh, 73/11 [1962], 339). On this basis, the common identification of James the son of Alphaeus with the son of Mary becomes more natural, though it is entirely possible that the same man bore both names, Alphaeus and Clopas. Literature refers to a Simon, son of Clopas (Budge, Contendings of the Apostles, II, 50) who has been identified with Simon the Zealot. If this were admissible, it would account for pairing James with Simon in Luke and Acts (as other brothers are listed among the Twelve). With so few explicit references in the NT, most of these identifications will likely continue to be conjectural, at best.

James, “the Lord’s brother.”


The relationship between Jesus and His “brothers” has been much discussed. The most natural interpretation of the word “brother” at the time of the writing of the NT and of other early Christian lit. is the literal one—that James and the others were children of Joseph and Mary after the birth of Jesus, Mary’s “firstborn.” This is called the Helvidian view, named for Helvidius. On this view, it appears that James was of a fairly large family. Four brothers of Jesus are named—James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas. Reference is made also to “all his sisters” (Matt 13:56). If there had been only two, the word would have been “both.” Therefore, Jesus must have had at least seven brothers and sisters—perhaps nine, if there happened to be as many girls as boys in the family. In the presence of such specific references to brothers and sisters for the sake of identification, it would seem remarkable to deny the designation and to hold that the speaker or writer had only a general relationship in mind in the use of the terms. This impression is strengthened by the seemingly normal use of the words “son” and “mother” (Matt 13:55, 56; Mark 6:3).

An early alternate view, the Epiphanian (named for its chief advocate, Epiphanius) became popular along with the reverence for Mary and the beginnings of the belief in her perpetual virginity. This idea, supported by Origen, Eusebius, Gregory of Nyassa, and Ambrose, was that these “brothers” were children of Joseph by a previous marriage. Since the canonical gospels furnished no evidence for this position, the apocryphal gospels attempted to supply the lack. The affirmation that Joseph was over eighty years old at the time of his second marriage lent plausibility to his acceptance of Mary’s perpetual virginity and gave sufficient time for a family that was no real kin of Jesus or Mary. It did, of course, introduce other complications, not the least of which is putting the “brethren” in the wrong generation to match the data of the gospels, Acts, and the epistles.

The third major view, the Hieronymian, was suggested by the youthful Jerome to refute Helvidius. He argued that the word “brothers” is a broad and general term that could as well mean “kindred” or “cousins.” Jerome claimed no traditional authority for his theory, but depended entirely upon critical and theological arguments. Though, as Lightfoot says, Jerome did not hold to his theory staunchly or consistently (Galatians, pp. 259, 260), it has been widely held and is the officially recognized view of the Roman Catholic Church. Elaborate but uncertain identifications have been made of relatives, friends, and followers of Jesus to support the Epiphanian and Hieronymian views or at least to provide alternatives to the natural meaning of brother.

The vigorous objections that have been raised against the Helvidian view do not stem from the NT accounts themselves, but from an asceticism that is foreign to both Jewish theology and the teaching of Jesus, and from the emerging doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary. On the basis of the gospel records themselves, some degree of departure from the ordinary meaning of words is required if one is to build a case against the view that Joseph’s abstinence was only “until she [Mary] had borne a son” (Matt 1:25) and that the result of their marriage was that after the first-born son (Luke 2:7) there were other births, of both brothers and sisters. Judging not only from the place of leadership that James assumed later in the Church, but also from the fact that his name occurs first in the list of the brothers of the Lord, he must have been the oldest of these children of Joseph and Mary and but little younger than Jesus Himself.


James and the other brothers were not in sympathy with the ministry and claims of Jesus. Though reared in a godly home and apparently responsive to the religion of the Jews, they did not believe in Jesus (John 7:5). At times they chided Him (vv. 2-4). Even the mother seems to have doubted His equilibrium on at least one occasion (Mark 3:21, 31ff.). When Jesus was rejected at Nazareth, he implied that opposition was even “among his own kin” and “in his own house” (Mark 6:4). Perhaps this same loneliness and sadness of personal experience is reflected in the warnings of Jesus that His followers must be prepared for the opposition of those nearest and dearest to them (Matt 10:34-37; Luke 14:26). However, the tension between James and Jesus seems not to have reflected longstanding dislike. It is likely that a warm friendship had existed, based on a real admiration for Jesus. Otherwise, would James have so quickly reacted from hostility to faith at the time of the Resurrection? There may have been some family resentment over the economic loss when Jesus left His employment to be a rabbi. Such claims as He made must have embarrassed and puzzled the brothers.

The conversion of James must have been a surprising and unexpected event to those who had known his attitude toward Jesus. However, as with Paul, the eruption of faith likely had antecedents that prepared for the crisis. The claims of Jesus may have caused earlier stirrings of conscience that James had ruthlessly suppressed. Even the hostility toward Jesus may have been a reflection of James’ own confusion and frustration. In any case, the matter was resolved by a special appearance of the risen Christ (1 Cor 15:7). Two results followed at once. James became a staunch believer, joined to the Jerusalem group. Secondly, having seen the risen Lord, he was recognized as a part of the select group of witnesses to the Resurrection, a fact without which he would likely never have risen to so great prominence in the Church (1 Cor 9:1; Acts 1:22). The place and circumstances of the appearance to James are unknown. The account in the gospel of the Hebrews is fanciful, late, and legendary (The Apocryphal New Testament, tr. by M. R. James, p. 3); but the crucial importance of the event is clear.


Tradition makes James the bishop of Jerusalem (Euseb. Hist. II. 1). It is not likely that he was ever so elected. But the personal character and high spiritual gifts of James, together with his kinship to the Lord, most certainly exerted an influence that soon became a vigorous leadership. As the apostles became involved in broader ministries and missions, James, who stayed in Jerusalem, became the practical leader. At any rate, no one disputes his prominence and influence. Paul, three years after his conversion, met James in Jerusalem (Gal 1:19). Peter, having escaped from prison, sent word to James and the brethren (Acts 12:17). At the council at Jerusalem, James’ opinion bore the most weight (15:12-21). On Paul’s last return to Jerusalem, it was James and the elders who received him (21:18). It was “certain...from James” who influenced Peter in Antioch (Gal 2:12). The epistle of James makes evident the authority and wide influence of its writer. Jude found “brother of James” sufficient identification for himself (Jude 1). This prominence, however, does not indicate office in a separate formal organization called the church. The believers still considered themselves loyal to their Jewish heritage and sought to win their countrymen to the faith. Neither James nor the others in Jerusalem had any thought that he was a bishop.

If James achieved leadership in Jerusalem, it is only natural that his influence would spread to the rest of Pal., whose life centered in Jerusalem. Beyond Pal., the prestige would be observed mostly among the Jewish Christians of the Gentile lands. Note Antioch, for instance, where a visit of emissaries from James sent Peter scurrying from the informal fellowship of the Gospel to a strict Jewish ceremonialism (Gal 2:11ff.).


Tradition supports the NT picture of James as a man of large influence, impressive character, and intense piety according to the finest Heb. ideals. Hegesippus says (Euseb. Hist. II. 23) that James was known as “The Just” and as “the bulwark of the people.” He lived a life of such holiness and piety that he was respected even by nonbelieving Jews. He never ceased to keep the Jewish law with rigor and care. In Hegesippus’ exaggerated account, James was both Nazarite and ascetic—“He was holy from his mother’s womb, wine and strong drink he drank not, nor did he eat flesh; no razor touched his head; he never anointed himself with oil; and he used not the bath.” His knees were said to be hard as a camel’s because he was so constant in prayer and entreaty to God for pardon for the people.

Though the extreme statements must be discounted, the basic picture agrees with what is known of James. He may have been stern and austere, but he was not narrow and mean. Note his insight and consideration during the council at Jerusalem (Acts 15:13-19). He may have been somewhat prosaic in temperament, but no one doubts his uprightness. The term, “The Just,” correctly reflects the consistency of his faithful conformity to the right way of life as he saw it. Along with his outstanding sincerity and zeal was also a costly fault. Though he admitted the legitimacy of Gentile Christianity, he was too steeped in tradition to follow the Spirit of God into the broad universal thrust of the Gospel in an adequate way. The nationalistic faith of James was outstripped by Paul’s more adequate grasp and proclamation. Worse than that, James found himself tied to a doomed and perishing sectionalism, though he had sniffed the air beyond.


See Epistle of James.


Josephus (Jos. Antiq. XX. 9. 1) relates that between the death of Festus and the arrival of the new governor, the high priest, Ananius, seized the opportunity to call the judicial council together. He charged James and others with violating the law. Details are not known, but the charges prob. involved Christian doctrine. Because of this James was stoned to death. Josephus reports that the unjust act was protested by pious non-Christian Jews who respected James for his faithfulness to Jewish observances. The high priest was relieved of his office.

Hegesippus (Euseb. Hist. II. 23) gives a much more elaborate account of the martyrdom, presumably with legendary embellishments. Misled by James’ careful keeping of the law, the Jewish authorities supposedly did not realize all that James believed. Having caused him to stand on the wing of the Temple to dissuade people from becoming Christians, the Jews were grieved and enraged to hear him give powerful testimony for Jesus. They responded by throwing him down and stoning him. A priest tried to stop the murder, but a fuller ran up and beat James to death with the club he used to beat clothes.

This much is true—James died about a.d. 62 for his faith.

James, the father of Judas.

All that is known of this James is that he is the father of the apostle Judas (not Iscariot), as recorded in Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13.


F. Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews (95), XX. 9, 1, 2; J. Lightfoot, The Epistle of Paul to the Galatians (1865), 252-291; A. Plummer, The General Epistles of St. James and St. Jude (1891), 25-41; C. Weizsäcker, The Apostolic Age of the Christian Church (1894), 196-198; G. Purves, Christianity in the Apostolic Age (1900), 130-150; J. Mayor, The Epistle of St. James (1913), i-lxv; M. James, The Apocryphal New Testament (1926), 3, 4; F. Filson, Pioneers of the Primitive Church (1940), 155-183; A. Ross, The Epistles of James and John (1954), 12-17; R. Tasker. The General Epistle of James (1957), 22-30; A. Smith, The Twelve Christ Chose (1958), 33-48, 109-118; W. Barclay, The Master’s Men (1959), 82-86, 100-104; E. Bishop, “Mary (of) Clopas and Her Father” ETh 73/11 (1962), 339.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

English form of Jacob, and the name of 3 New Testament men of note:

(1) The Son of Zebedee, one of the Twelve Apostles (ho tou Zebedaiou):

A) The Son of Zebedee:

I. In the New Testament.

1. Family Relations, etc.:

2. First Call:

The call to James to follow Christ (Mt 4:18-22; Mr 1:16-20; Lu 5:1-11) was given by Jesus as He was walking by the sea of Galilee (Mt 4:18). There He saw "James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they straightway left the boat and their father, and followed him" (Mt 4:21,22). The account of Luke varies in part from those of Matthew and Mark, and contains the additional detail of the miraculous draught of fishes, at which James and John also were amazed. This version of Luke is regarded by some as an amalgamation of the earlier accounts with Joh 21:1-8.

3. Probation and Ordination:

4. Apostleship:

5. Death:

James was the first martyr among the apostles, being slain by King Herod Agrippa I about 44 AD, shortly before Herod’s own death. The vehemence and fanaticism which were characteristic of James had made him to be feared and hated among the Jewish enemies of the Christians, and therefore when "Herod the king put forth his hands to afflict certain of the church .... he killed James the brother of John with the sword" (Ac 12:1,2). Thus did James fulfill the prophecy of our Lord that he too should drink of the cup of his Master (Mr 10:39).

II. In Apocryphal Literature.

According to the "Genealogies of the Twelve Apostles" (compare Budge, Contendings of the Apostles, II, 49), "Zebedee was of the house of Levi, and his wife of the house of Judah. Now, because the father of James loved him greatly he counted him among the family of his father Levi, and similarly because the mother of John loved him greatly, she counted him among the family of her father Judah. And they were surnamed `Children of Thunder,’ for they were of both the priestly house and of the royal house." The Ac of John, a heretical work of the 2nd century, referred to by Clement of Alexandria in his Hypotyposis and also by Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica, III, 25), gives an account of the call of James and his presence at the Transfiguration, similar in part to that of the Gospels, but giving fantastic details concerning the supernatural nature of Christ’s body, and how its appearances brought confusion to James and other disciples (compare Itennecke, Handbuch zu den neutestamentlichen Apokryphen, 423-59). The Ac of James in India (compare Budge, II, 295-303) tells of the missionary journey of James and Peter to India, of the appearance of Christ to them in the form of a beautiful young man, of their healing a blind man, and of their imprisonment, miraculous release, and their conversion of the people. According to the Martyrdom of James (Budge, II, 304-8), James preached to the 12 tribes scattered abroad, and persuaded them to give their first-fruits to the church instead of to Herod. The accounts of his trial and death are similar to that in Ac 12:1-2.

(1) James is the patron saint of Spain. The legend of his preaching there, of his death in Judea, of the transportation of his body under the guidance of angels to Iria and of the part that his miraculous appearances played in the history of Spain, is given in Mrs. Jameson’s Sacred and Legendary Art, I, 230-41.

(2) James the son of Alpheus (ho tou Alphaiou; for etymology, etc., of James, see above): One of the Twelve Apostles (Mt 10:3; Mr 3:18; Lu 6:15; Ac 1:13). By Matthew and Mark he is coupled with Thaddaeus, and by Luke and Ac with Simon Zelotes. As Matthew or Levi is also called the son of Alpheus (compare Mt 9:9; Mr 2:14), it is possible that he and James were brothers. According to the Genealogies of the Apostles (compare Budge, Contendings of the Apostles, II, 50), James was of the house of Gad. The Martyrdom of James, the son of Alpheus (compare Budge, ib, 264-66) records that James was stoned by the Jews for preaching Christ, and was "buried by the Sanctuary In Jerusalem."

This James is generally identified with James the Little or the Less, the brother of Joses and son of Mary (Mt 27:56; Mr 15:40). In Joh 19:25 this Mary is called the wife of Cleophas (the King James Version) or Clopas (Revised Version), who is thus in turn identified with Alpheus. There is evidence in apocryphal literature of a Simon, a son of Clopas, who was also one of the disciples (compare NATHANAEL). If this be the same as Simon Zelotes, it would explain why he and James (i.e. as being brothers) were coupled together in the apostolic lists of Luke and Acts. Some have applied the phrase "his mother’s sister" in Joh 19:25 to Mary the wife of Clopas, instead of to a separate person, and have thus attempted to identify James the son of Alpheus with James the brother of our Lord. For a further discussion of the problem, see Brethren of the Lord.

(3) James, "the Lord’s brother" (ho adelphos tou Kuriou):he Less, the brother of Joses and son of Mary (Mt 27:56; Mr 15:40). In Joh 19:25 this Mary is called the wife of Cleophas (the King James Version) or Clopas (Revised Version), who is thus in turn identified with Alpheus. There is evidence in apocryphal literature of a Simon, a son of Clopas, who was also one of the disciples (compare NATHANAEL). If this be the same as Simon Zelotes, it would explain why he and James (i.e. as being brothers) were coupled together in the apostolic lists of Luke and Acts. Some have applied the phrase "his mother’s sister" in Joh 19:25 to Mary the wife of Clopas, instead of to a separate person, and have thus attempted to identify James the son of Alpheus with James the brother of our Lord. For a further discussion of the problem, see Brethren of the Lord.

B) James, "The Lord’s Brother":

I. New Testament References.

1. In the Gospels:

This James is mentioned by name only twice in the Gospels, i.e. when, on the visit of Jesus to Nazareth, the countrymen of our Lord referred in contemptuous terms to His earthly kindred, in order to disparage His preaching (Mt 13:55; Mr 6:3). As James was one of "his brethren," he was probably among the group of Christ’s relatives who sought to interview Him during His tour through Galilee with the Twelve (Mt 12:46). By the same reasoning, he accompanied Jesus on His journey to Capernaum (Joh 2:12), and joined in attempting to persuade Him to depart from Galilee for Judea on the eve of the Feast of Tabernacles (Joh 7:3). At this feast James was present (Joh 7:10), but was at this time a non-believer in Jesus (compare Joh 7:5, "Even his brethren did not believe on him").

2. In the Epistles:

This James has been regarded as the author of the Epistle of James, "a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ"; compare JAMES, EPISTLE OF. Also, for details concerning his relationship to Christ, compare BRETHREN OF THE LORD.

II. References in Apocryphal Literature.

James figures in one of the miraculous events recorded in the Gnostic "Gospel of the Infancy, by Thomas the Israelite philosopher," being cured of a snake-bite by the infant Jesus (compare Hennecke, Handbuch zu den neutestamentlichen Apokryphen, 73). According to the Gospel of the Hebrews (compare ib, 11-21), James had also partaken of the cup of the Lord, and refused to eat till he had seen the risen Lord. Christ acknowledged this tribute by appearing to James first. In the Ac of Peter (compare Budge, Contendings of the Apostles, II, 475), it is stated that "three days after the ascension of our Lord into heaven, James, whom our Lord called his `brother in the flesh,’ consecrated the Offering and we all drew nigh to partake thereof: and when ten days had passed after the ascension of our Lord, we all assembled in the holy fortress of Zion, and we stood up to say the prayer of sanctification, and we made supplication unto God and besought Him with humility, and James also entreated Him concerning the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Offering." The Preaching of James the Just (compare Budge, II, 78-81) tells of the appointment of James to the bishopric of Jerusalem, of his preaching, healing of the sick and casting out of devils there. This is confirmed by the evidence of Clement of Alexandria (Euseb., HE, II, 1). In the Martyrdom of James the Just (compare Budge, II, 82-89), it is stated that J., "the youngest of the sons of Joseph," alienated, by his preaching, Piobsata from her husband Ananus, the governor of Jerusalem. Ananus therefore inflamed the Jews against James, and they hurled him down from off the pinnacle of the temple. Hegesippus, quoted by Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica, II, 23), and Josephus (Ant., XX, ix, 1), testify to the general truth of this. It is thus probable that James was martyred about 62 or 63 AD.

Besides the epistle which bears his name, James was also the reputed author of the Protevangelium Jacobi, a work which originated in the 2nd century and received later additions (compare Henn, NA, 47-63; also JOSEPH, HUSBAND OF MARY).