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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

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James and John, the Sons of Zebedee
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JAMES (Heb. יָעֲקֹב, Gr. Ἰακώβ, Ἰάκωβος. The English name is analogous to the Portuguese and Gael. ).—The name does not occur in the OT except in the case of the patriarch, but had become common in NT times, and is borne by several persons mentioned in the Gospels. Passing over the father of Joseph the husband of the Virgin Mary, according to St. Matthew’s genealogy (Matthew 1:16 where the form is Ἰακώβ), we have—.1. James the father (Authorized Version ‘brother’) of Judas, Luke 6:16 (‘not Iscariot,’ John 14:22, the Thaddaeus of Mt. and Mk.). The Authorized Version translation is derived from the Latin of Beza, and is due to a confusion of this Judas with a quite different person, Judas (Jude) the ‘brother of James’ (Judges 1:1, Matthew 13:55). The older English versions have either ‘Judas of James’ (Wyclif = Vulgate Iudam Iacobi) or ‘Judas James’ sonne’ (Tindale, etc.). Further, St. Luke’s practice is to insert ἀδελφός when he means ‘brother’ (Luke 3:1; Luke 3:6; Luke 3:14, Acts 12:2). Nothing more is known of this James.

2. James the brother of John (Matthew 10:2, Mark 3:17, Luke 6:14, Acts 1:13), elder* [Note: The usual order is ‘James and John.’ St. Luke sometimes inverts it (8:51, 9:28, Acts 1:13), probably because of the early death of James and the subsequent prominence of John.] son of Zebedee, a well-to-do [Note: He had ‘Hired servants’ (Mark 1:20). his Wife Was one of those who ministered to Christ ‘of their substance’ (Mark 15:41, Luke 8:3).] Galilaean fisherman, most probably a native of Capernaum. The call of James to Apostleship is related in Matthew 4:21-22, Mark 1:19-20 and (perhaps) Luke 5:10. [Note: The question whether the Lukan narrative refers to the same incident as that related by Ml. is not easy to decide. Hammond, Trench, Wordsworth, and other commentators answer it in the affirmative; Alford, Greswell, etc., in the negative. Plummer (‘St. Luke’ in Internat. Crit. Com.) is doubtful. A. Wright regards it as a conflation of the Markan narrative with that found in John 21:1-6. The characteristic features of the Lukan account are: (1) there is no mention of Andrew or Zebedee; (2) St. Peter is the prominent figure; (3) there is no command to follow Christ; (4) the fisherman are washing (not casting or mending) their nets; (5) there is a miraculous draught of fishes.] The two sons of Zebedee appear to have been partners (κοινωνοί, μέτοχοι) with Peter in the fishing industry. Their mother’s name was Salome, who was probably a sister of the Virgin Mary (see art. Salome). The two brothers received from our Lord the name Boanerges (‘sons of thunder’), perhaps because of their impetuous zeal for their Master’s honour, shown by incidents like the wish to call down fire to consume certain Samaritans who refused Him a passage through their country (Luke 9:54; cf. Mark 9:38, Luke 9:49-50). James is specially mentioned as present at the healing of Peter’s wife’s mother (Mark 1:29), at the raising of Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:37), at the Transfiguration (Mark 9:2), at the Mount of Olives during the great ‘eschatological’ discourse (Mark 13:3), and at the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:33). On two of these occasions, the first and the fourth, Andrew is associated with the three; but on all the others, Peter, James, and John are alone with Christ. The special favour accorded to the two brothers (and perhaps their kinship to Jesus) probably prompted the ambitious request of Salome that they might sit as assessors to Him in His kingdom (Mark 10:35-40, Matthew 20:20-23). James was called upon to ‘drink the cup’ of suffering (Mark 10:38-39) first of all the Apostolic band, being beheaded by Herod Agrippa i. in a.d. 44 (Acts 12:2). An untrustworthy tradition represents him as preaching the gospel in Spain, of which country he is patron saint. Eusebius (Historia Ecclesiastica ii. 9) relates, on the authority of Clement of Alexandria, that, when he was tried for his life, his accuser was so greatly affected by his constancy that he declared himself a Christian, and died with him after obtaining his forgiveness and blessing. See, further, Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible ii. 541.

3. James the son of Alphaeus, one of the Twelve (Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:15, Acts 1:13). In each list he stands at the bead of the third group along with Simon Zelotes (with whom he is coupled by St. Luke), Judas of James (= Thaddaeus, with whom he is coupled by Mt. and Mk.), and Judas Iscariot. The Gospels tell us nothing more about him, but he was most likely a brother of Matthew, who also was a ‘son of Alphaeus’ (cf. Matthew 9:9 with Mark 2:14). He has been identified with (4) and (5); but the probabilities seem to the present writer to be against the former identification, while the latter is almost certainly wrong.

4. James ὁ μικρός§ [Note: Jerome’s rendering minor (Vulg. Maria Jacobi minoris), on which he founds an argument for the identificaton of this James with (3) and, (5), takes no account of the fact that the Greek is positive, not comparative.] (Mark 15:40; cf. Matthew 27:58, John 19:25). He is mentioned as the son of a Mary, probably the wife of Clopas, one of the four women, of whom the other three were Mary the Lord’s mother, Mary Magdalene, and Salome, present at the crucifixion. This Mary, with Mary Magdalene, remained to see where Jesus was buried. She had another son Joseph. Those who identify this James with (3) argue that Alphaeus (Ἁλφαῖος, חַלפי) and Clopas (Κλωπᾶς) are two forms of the same name (Meyer, Alford). Philologically this is improbable. The extant Syriac Versions render ‘Alphaeus’ by Chalpai, while ‘Clopas’ is rendered by Kleopha. Nor can it be said to be absolutely certain that ἧ τοῦ Κλωπᾶ of John 19:25 means the wife of Clopas. It may mean ‘daughter of Clopas.’ And it is unlikely that St. Mark would describe James the son of Alphaeus by a new designation, James ‘the Little’ (in stature).* [Note: μικρός may also mean ‘young’ (Deissmann, Bible Studies, Eng. tr. 144).] Moreover, it is hard to see why St. John, writing for readers acquainted with the Synoptic Gospels, should introduce into his Gospel the name Clopas if he meant Alphaeus. On the whole, therefore, we must conclude with Ewald (Hist. of Israel, vi. 305, note 4) that the identification is unlikely. [Note: Ewald, however, identifies Clopas with Cleopas (a Greek name), Luke 24:18.] Of this James we know nothing further.

5. James the Lord’s brother. He is mentioned by name twice in the Gospels (Matthew 13:55, Mark 6:3). He is the eldest of four brothers, James, Joseph, Judas, and Simon (Simon and Judas, Matthew 13:55). Other references to the Brethren of the Lord are found in Matthew 12:46-50, Mark 3:31-35, Luke 8:19-21, John 7:3-5. From these passages we learn that they thought Him mad, and opposed His work. St. John tells us plainly that His brethren did not believe in Him.

The following passages outside the Gospels have to do with this James: 1 Corinthians 15:7, Acts 1:13; Acts 12:17; Acts 12:15 (passim) Acts 21:18-25, Galatians 1:18-19; Galatians 2:1-10; Josephus Ant. xx. ix. 1; Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica ii. 1 (quotation from Clement of Alexandria), ii. 23 (quotation from Hegesippus), vii. 19; Jerome, de Vir. Illus. (quotation from the Gospel according to the Hebrews); Clementine Homilies (ad init.); Apostolic Constitutions, viii. 35. From these passages we learn that he was converted to a full acknowledgment of Christ (probably by the Resurrection), that the Lord appeared to him specially, that he became head of the Church of Jerusalem, and that he was put to death by the Jews either just before the siege (Hegesippus) or some ten years earlier (Josephus). He was surnamed the Just by his fellow-countrymen, and was greatly respected by all classes in Jerusalem.

The Epistle bearing his name, which is almost universally attributed to the brother of the Lord, is of the greatest interest to students of the Gospels. There is no Epistle which contains in a small compass so many allusions to the teaching of Christ subsequently contained in the Gospels as we have them. The following list includes all the more striking parallels: Matthew 5:3; Matthew 5:7; Matthew 5:9; Matthew 5:11; Matthew 5:22; Matthew 5:34-37 = James 2:5; James 2:13; James 3:18; James 1:2; James 1:19; James 5:12; Matthew 6:19; Matthew 6:24 = James 5:2; James 4:4; Matthew 7:1; Matthew 7:7-8; Matthew 7:12; Matthew 7:16; Matthew 7:24 = James 4:11-12; James 1:5; James 2:8; James 3:11-12; James 1:22 (all these are from the Sermon on the Mount). Cf. also Matthew 12:38 with James 3:1-2, Matthew 18:4 with James 4:6; Luke 6:24 = James 5:1; Luke 12:16-21 = James 4:14; Luke 8:15; Luke 21:19 (ὑπομονή, used by Lk. only in the Gospels) = James 1:3-4; James 5:11; John 3:3 = James 1:17; John 8:31-33 = James 1:25; John 13:17 = James 4:17. [Note: Fuller lists will be found in Mayor, Epistle of St. James (2nd ed.), lxxxv-lxxxviii; Salmon, Introduction to NT, 455 (5th ed.); Zahn, Einleitung, i. p. 87; Knowling, St. James, xxi-xxiii.] On these passages it may be remarked (1) that, while some of the parallels may be explained as coincidences, there remain others which even Renan (l’Antéchrist3 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] , p. 54) admits to be reminiscences of the words of Jesus; (2) that the evidence is cumulative, and includes correspondence in teaching (e.g. on riches, formalism, prayer) as well as in language; (3) that the most striking parallels are with the Gospel according to St. Matthew, and with the earlier parts of that, suggesting the possibility that James may at first have been a hearer of our Lord, and making it fairly certain that he was acquainted with the special Matthaean ‘source.’

A second point to be noticed is that the Epistle of James is clearly the work of one trained in the strict observance of the Law, while at the same time his obedience to it is the obedience of zealous love, as far removed as possible from the Pharisaic formalism denounced by our Lord (James 1:22-27; James 2:8-12; James 4:5-7; James 5:10-11). Both in his case and in that of St. Paul, although they developed on somewhat different lines, the Law was a παιδαγωγὸς εἰς Χριστόν. This view of the training of James, and consequently of our Lord his Brother, is confirmed by the Gospels. The names of the four brothers, James, Joseph, Simon (= Simeon), and Jude (= Judah), are those of patriarchs. The parents are careful to observe the Law in our Lord’s case (Luke 2:22-24; Luke 2:39; Luke 2:41-42).

The Western Church, in regarding James the Lord’s brother as identical with James the son of Alphaeus, seems to have been influenced by the authority of Jerome, who, in replying to Helvidius (circa 383 a.d.), urges that, as James the Lord’s brother is called an Apostle by St. Paul (Galatians 1:18-19), he must be identified with James the son of Alphaeus, since James the son of Zebedee was dead; and, further, that he was our Lord’s first cousin. (Jerome does not identify Alphaeus with Clopas). But it may be observed (1) that Jerome himself seems to have abandoned this view (Ep. cxx. ad Hedibiam); (2) that ἀδελφός never = ἀνεψιός in the NT; (3) that James the brother of the Lord is always distinguished from the Twelve (John 2:12, Acts 1:14; cf. Matthew 12:47-50); (4) that ‘His brethren did not believe in him’ (John 7:3; John 7:5); (5) that the word ἀπόστολος, on which Jerome relies, is not confined to the Twelve (Acts 14:4; Acts 14:14, 1 Corinthians 15:4-7).* [Note: In favour of their identification of (3), (4), and (5) it is sometimes urged that it is unlikely there would be lour persons, all named James, closely connected with our Lord. But it must be remembered (1) that the name was certain to be popular among patriotic Jews; (2) that ‘Jewish names in ordinary use at that time were very Few’ (Lightfoot, Galatians, p. 268). Twelve persons are mentioned in the NT as Bearing the name Siunon (Simeon), and nine that of Joseph (Joses).] [For a fuller discussion of the question see the article Brethren of the Lord].

Literature.—Besides the authorities quoted above, see articles in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (by J. B. Mayor), Encyc. Bibl. (by Orello Cone), Smith’s DB [Note: Dictionary of the Bible.] 2 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] (by Meyrick, with lull list of the views of British theologians); Herzog, PRE [Note: RE Real-Encyklopädie fur protest. Theologic und Kirche.] 3 [Note: designates the particular edition of the work referred] (by Sieffert, with Bibliography); Commentaries of Swete (on Mk.), Alford, Meyer (English translation, Edin. 1882), Plumptre (Cambridge Bible), von Soden (Hand-Commentar, Freiburg, 1890), Plummer (in Expositor’s Bible, 1891); W. Patrick, James the Lard’s Brother, 1906.

H. W. Fulford.

Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'James'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​hdn/​j/james.html. 1906-1918.
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