JAMES (English equivalent for Ιάκωβος = "Jacobus"; Italian, Giacomo):
By: Kaufmann Kohler
Name of three persons prominent in New Testament history.
- 1. Son of Zebedee (Aramaic, "Ya'ḳob bar Zabdai"); with his brother John one of the first disciples of Jesus. Like their father, both were fishermen of Galilee (Matt. iv. 21; Mark i. 19; Luke v. 10); their mother, apparently Salome, is mentioned among the women watching at the grave of Jesus (Matt. xxvii. 56; Mark xv. 40); she was possibly sister to Mary, the mother of Jesus (John xix. 25). James and his brother John are mentioned immediately after Peter and Andrew in the list of the Twelve Apostles (Matt. x. 2-4; Luke vi, 14-16); Mark iii. 17 has preserved the story that when calling them to the apostleship Jesus surnamed them "Bene Ra'ash" or "Bene Rogez" (Job xxxvii. 2) (the text has "Boanerges, which is, The sons of thunder"). This by-name was probably expressive of their impetuous nature (comp. Luke ix. 55 and Mark x. 37). James and his brother John together with Peter were the inseparable followers of Jesus (Mark v. 37, ix. 2, xiii.3, xiv. 33), and after the death of their master they with the other apostles remained in the city of Jerusalem "steadfast in prayer" (Acts i. 14). James was the first one of the apostles to suffer a martyr's death (Acts xii. 2). What action of James and the other disciples provoked the wrath of Herod Agrippa is not stated. Legend added new features to the martyrdom (Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl." ii. 9); and Spain, whose patron saint James became, surrounded his life with miraculous incidents.
- 2. Son of Alphæus (Aramaic, "Ḥalfai" or "Ḥolpai" = "Cleophas"; see John xix. 25; Eusebius, "Hist. Eccl." iii. 11, iv. 22), an apostle mentioned in the list of the twelve (Matt. x. 2-4; Mark iii. 16-19; Luke vi. 14-16; Acts i. 13). Probably he was the brother of "Levi the son of Alphæus" (Mark ii. 14), better known as Matthew (Matt. ix. 9); nothing else is known of him. He is often identified with James the Little ("ha-Ḳaṭan," Mark xv. 40; A. V., incorrectly, "the less," John xix. 25; but see No. 3, below). According to Hegesippus (see Eusebius, l.c.), James was a cousin, and his father an uncle, of Jesus.
- 3. Brother of Jesus; also called James the Just. James is mentioned as the first among the brothers of Jesus, the others being Joses, Simon, and Judas (Matt. xiii. 55; Mark vi. 3), all of whom were, according to Luke ii. 7, younger than Jesus. Neither James nor any of the other brothers believed in the miraculous powers of Jesus (John vii. 5; Matt. xii. 47 et seq.; Mark iii. 31). But after the crucifixion James, the brother of Jesus, is said by Paul to have seen the risen Jesus in a vision after Peter, the twelve, and the five hundred had seen him (I Cor. xv. 7); and when Paul went to Jerusalem to defend his claim to the assumed apostleship to the heathen, James was the head of the Church (Gal. i. 19; ii. 9, 12; Acts xii. 17, xv. 13, xxi. 18). According to Clement of Rome, quoted by Eusebius ("Hist. Eccl." ii. 1), James, surnamed "the Just" on account of his great virtue, was the first bishop of the Church elected at Jerusalem. About his martyrdom Clement writes that" he was cast from a wing of the Temple and beaten to death with a fuller's club." Somewhat differently Josephus writes: "The younger Anan, a high priest belonging to the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, had James, the brother of Jesus, the so-called 'Christ,' together with some of his companions, brought before the Sanhedrin on the charge of having broken the Law, and had them delivered over to be stoned. This act of Anan caused indignation among the citizens best known for their fairness and loyalty" ("Ant." xx. 9, § 1). Hegesippus, quoted by Eusebius (l.c. ii. 23), gives the following description of James:"James, the brother of the Lord, succeeded to the government of the Church in conjunction with the Apostles. He was holy from his mother's womb; he drank no wine nor did he eat flesh. No razor came upon his head, nor did he anoint himself with oil or use any [warm] bath. He alone was permitted to enter the Holy Place, for he wore not woolen, but linen garments; he was in the habit of entering alone into the Temple, and was frequently found upon his knees praying for forgiveness for the people, so that his knees became hard as those of a camel. . . . Because of his exceeding great justice ["Ẓaddiḳut"] he was called 'the Just' ["Ya'aḳob Ḳobal 'Am" = "Jacob, the bulwark of the people"] and 'Ẓaddiḳ Yesod 'Olam' [= "the righteous are the foundation of the world "; Prov. x. 25, Hebr.]. Now, when some of the seven sects which existed among the people [the Sadducees] asked him: 'What is the gate of salvation?' ["sha'ar ha-yeshu'ah"; comp. Lev. R. xxx.; Ps. cxviii. 20; for which some copyist wrote "sha'ar Yeshua'" = "the gate of Jesus "] he replied that it was the Messiah. James's words were understood to refer to Jesus, and led many to believe in him. . . . The Scribes and the Pharisees, fearing lest the people would all be led over to the belief in Jesus, asked James to place himself upon a wing of the Temple and address the people assembled there on account of the Passover, and persuade them not to be led astray."Whereupon James said: 'Why do ye ask me concerning Jesus the Son of Man? He sitteth in heaven at the right hand of great Power, and is about to come upon the clouds of heaven.' And when many cried 'Hosannah to the Son of David,' the Scribes and Pharisees cast him down and stoned him. And James before dying said: 'Lord, God, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do' [the words ascribed to Jesus; Luke xxiii. 34]. And one of the Rechabites cried out: 'Cease! What do ye? The just one prayeth for you.' Then one of the crowd, a fuller, took the club with which he beat out clothes and struck the just man on the head. Thus he suffered martyrdom; they buried him on the spot by the Temple where his monument still remains. Immediately after this, Vespasian besieged them."
It is difficult to say whether this legendary record contains any actual facts or not. The Essene character of James "the Little," or "the Just," seems to rest on authentic tradition. According to Epiphanius ("Hæres." lxxviii. 14), he wore a golden plate on his forehead (comp. Meg. iv. 8, where this is characterized as "the way of the Gnostics" ["derek minut" or "ḥizonim"]), and no sandals. Another evidence of his Essene piety manifests itself in the following: "When, during a drought, he stretched forth his hands in prayer, rain immediately came" (comp. Ta'an. 23a et seq.).
It is possible that the last words ascribed to Jesus were original with James the Just. The idea that Mary, the mother of Jesus, should afterward have borne other children became obnoxious to the ascetics of the Church, and consequently either the brotherhood of James was explained to have been on the father's side only (so Clement, in Eusebius, l.c. ii. 1; "Clementine Recognitions," xi. 35), or Mary, the mother of James the Little and of Joses, was differentiated from Mary, the mother of Jesus (Matt. xxvii. 56; Mark xv. 40, 47; Luke xxiv. 10; but comp. John xix. 25). This, again, gave rise to a number of different versions in the early literature of the Church, many claiming that James the Little was identical with the son of Alphæus, the cousin of Jesus, and was as such called brother (see Lightfoot on Colossians, 10th ed., pp. 260-267, London, 1896).