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Our PatriarchYacov the Just, or a variation of James, brother of the Jesus (Latin: Iacobus from Hebrew: יעקב, Ya'akov and Greek: Ἰάκωβος, Iákōbos, can also be Anglicized as "Jacob"), was "a brother of Jesus", according to the Christian Testament. He was an early leader of the Jerusalem Church of the Apostolic Age. Traditionally, it is believed he was martyred in AD 62 or 69 by being stoned to death by the Romans on order of High Priest Ananus ben Ananus.

Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians teach that James, along with others named in the Christian Testament as "brothers" of Jesus, were the biological children of Mary, mother of Jesus.  


Eusebius records that Clement of Alexandria related, "This James, whom the people of old called the Just because of his outstanding virtue, was the first, as the record tells us, to be elected to the episcopal throne of the Jerusalem church." Other epithets are "James the brother of the Lord, surnamed the Just, and "James the Righteous".

He is sometimes referred to in Eastern Christianity as "James Adelphotheos" (Ancient Greek: Ἰάκωβος ὁ Ἀδελφόθεος), meaning "James the Brother of  Jesus". The oldest surviving Christian liturgy, the Liturgy of St James, uses this epithet. Leader of the Jerusalem Church.

The Jerusalem Church on the Mount Zion

The Jerusalem Church was an early Christian community located in Jerusalem, of which James and Peter were leaders. According to a universal tradition the first bishop was the Apostle James the Less, the "brother of the Jesus". His predominant place and residence in the city are implied by Galatians 1:19. Eusebius says he was appointed bishop by Peter, James (the Greater), and John (II, i).

According to Eusebius, the Jerusalem church escaped to Pella during the siege of Jerusalem by the future Emperor Titus in 70 AD and afterwards returned, having a further series of Jewish bishops until the Bar Kokhba revolt in 130 AD. Following the second destruction of Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the city as Aelia Capitolina, subsequent bishops were Orthodox Greeks.


James the Just was "from an early date, with Peter, a leader of the Church at Jerusalem and from the time when Peter left Jerusalem after Herod Agrippa's attempt to kill him, James appears as the principal authority who presided at the Council of Jerusalem.

The Pauline epistles and the later chapters of the Acts of the Apostles portray James as an important figure in the Jewish Christian community of Jerusalem. When Paul arrives in Jerusalem to deliver the money he raised for the faithful there, it is to James that he speaks, and it is James who insists that Paul ritually cleanse himself at Herod's Temple to prove his faith and deny rumors of teaching rebellion against the Torah (Acts 21:18). This was a charge of antinomianism. In Paul's account of his visit to Jerusalem in Galatians 1:18-19, he states that he stayed with Cephas (better known as Peter) and James, the brother of the Jesus, was the only other apostle he met.

Paul describes James as being one of the persons to whom the risen Jesus showed himself,  Corinthians 15:3–8). In Galatians 2:9, Paul mentions James with Cephas and John the Apostle as the three "pillars" of the Church. Paul describes these pillars as the ones who will minister to the "circumcised" (in general Jews and Jewish Proselytes) in Jerusalem, while Paul and his fellows will minister to the "uncircumcised" (in general Gentiles) (Galatians 2:12), after a debate in response to concerns of the Christians of Antioch. The Antioch community was concerned over whether Gentile Christians need be circumcised to be saved, and sent Paul and Barnabas to confer with the Jerusalem church. James played a prominent role in the formulation of the council's decision. James was the last named figure to speak, after Peter, Paul, and Barnabas; he delivered what he called his "decision" (Acts 15:13-21). The original sense is closer to "opinion". James supported them all in being against the requirement and suggested prohibitions about eating blood as well as meat sacrificed to idols and fornication. This became the ruling of the council, agreed upon by all the apostles and elders and sent to the other churches by letter.

Modern interpretation

The Encyclopædia Britannica relates that "James the Jesus brother was a Christian apostle, according to Paul, although not one of the original Twelve Apostles. According to Protestant theologian Philip Schaff, James seems to have taken the place of James the son of Zebedee, after his martyrdom, around 44 AD.

Modern historians of the early Christian churches tend to place James in the tradition of Jewish Christianity; whereas Paul emphasized faith over observance of Mosaic Law, James is thought to have espoused the opposite position.

According to Schaff, James was the local head of the oldest church and the leader of the most conservative portion of Jewish Christianity. Scholar James D. G. Dunn has proposed that Peter was the "bridge-man" between the two other "prominent leading figures", Paul and James the Just.


Apart from a handful of references in the synoptic Gospels, the main sources for the life of James the Just are the Pauline epistles, the Acts of the ApostlesJosephusEusebius and Jerome, who also quote the early Christian chronicler Hegesippus and Epiphanius.There is no mention of James in the Gospel of John or the early portions of the Acts of the Apostles. The Synoptics mention his name, but provide no further information.

In the extant lists of Pseudo-Hippolytus of Rome. Dorotheus of  Tyre, the Chronicon Paschale, and Dimitry of Rostov, he is the first of the Seventy Apostles though some sources, such as the Catholic Encyclopedia, state that "these lists are unfortunately worthless".


See also: Josephus on Jesus § "James, the brother of Jesus" passage

According to Josephus, in his work Antiquities of the Jews (Book 20, Chapter 9, 1), refers to the stoning of "James the brother of Jesus" by order of Ananus ben Ananus, a Herodian-era High Priest.

Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Jews, as we have already observed; when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or, some of his companions]; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned.

The James referred to in this passage is most likely the James to whom the Epistle of James has been attributed. The translations of Josephus' writing into other languages have at times included passages that are not found in the Greek texts, raising the possibility of interpolation, but this passage on James is found in all manuscripts, including the Greek texts.

The context of the passage is the period following the death of Porcius Festus, and the journey to Alexandria by Lucceius Albinus, the new Roman Procurator of Judea, who held that position from 62 CE to 64 CE. Because Albinus' journey to Alexandria had to have concluded no later than the summer of 62 CE, the date of James' death can be assigned with some certainty to around that year. The 2nd century chronicler Hegesippus also left an account of the death of James, and while the details he provides diverge from those of Josephus, the two accounts share similar elements.

Modern scholarship has almost universally acknowledged the authenticity of the reference to "the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James" (τὸν ἀδελφὸν Ἰησοῦ τοῦ λεγομένου Χριστοῦ, Ἰάκωβος ὄνομα αὐτῷ) and has rejected its being the result of later Christian interpolation. Moreover, in comparison with Hegesippus' account of James' death, most scholars consider Josephus' to be the more historically reliable. Some scholars have noted Josephus is more sympathetic to James than his brother.

Christian Testament

The Christian Testament mentions several people named James. The Pauline epistles, from about the sixth decade of the 1st century, have two passages mentioning a James. The Acts of the Apostles, written sometime between 60 and 150 AD, also describes the period before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. It has three mentions of a James. The Gospels, with disputed datings ranging from about 50 to as late as 130 AD, describe the period of Jesus's ministry, around 30-33 AD. It mentions at least two different people named James. The author of the Epistle of Jude notes that he is a brother of James in that epistle's opening paragraph.

Epistle of James

Main article: Epistle of James § Authorship

The Epistle of James has been traditionally attributed to James the Just since but, according to Dan McCartney, it is now common for scholars to disagree on its authorship.

Pauline epistles

Paul mentions meeting James "the Lord's brother" (τὸν ἀδελφὸν τοῦ κυρίου) and later calls him one of the pillars (στύλοι) in the Epistle to the Galatians Galatians 1:18-2:10:

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother. (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!) Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. ...Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. ...Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

A "James" is mentioned in Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians1 Corinthians 15:7, as one to whom Jesus appeared after his resurrection:

For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to the [child] untimely born, he appeared to me also.

In the preceding verse, the same Greek word "adelphos" (brother) is used, but not in a blood-relation sense:

Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. (1 Corinthians 15:6)

Acts of the Apostles

There is a James mentioned in Acts, which the Catholic Encyclopedia identifies with James, the brother of Jesus: "but he [Peter], beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go show these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place. (Acts 12:17)

When Peter, having miraculously escaped from prison, must flee Jerusalem due to Herod Agrippa's persecution, he asks for James to be informed (Acts 12:17).

James is also an authority in the early church at the Council of Jerusalem (James is quoting Amos 9:11–12):

And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. (Acts 15:13–21)

James is presented as a principal author of the Apostolic Decree of Acts 15.

After this, there is only one more mention of James in Acts, meeting with Paul shortly before Paul's arrest: "And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. (Acts 21:17–18)


The Synoptic Gospels, similarly to the Epistle to the Galatians, recognize a core group of three disciples (Peter, John and James) having the same names as those given by Paul. In the list of the disciples found in the Gospels, two disciples whose names are James, the son of Alphaeus and James, son of Zebedee are mentioned in the list of the twelve disciples: (Matthew 10:1–4)

And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and BartholomewThomas, and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and ThaddaeusSimon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.

The Gospel of Mark and the Gospel of Matthew also mention a James as Jesus's brother: "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. The Gospel of John never mentions anyone called James, but mentions Jesus's unnamed "brothers" as being present with Mary when Jesus attended the wedding at Cana (John 2:12), and later that his brothers did not believe in him (John 7:5).

Church Fathers

Fragment X of Papias (writing in the second century) refers to "James the bishop and apostle

Hegesippus (2nd century), in the fifth book of his Commentaries, mentions that James was made a bishop of Jerusalem but he does not mention by whom: "After the apostles, James the brother of the Lord surnamed the Just was made head of the Church at Jerusalem.

Hegesippus (c.110–c.180), wrote five books (now lost except for some quotations by Eusebius) of Commentaries on the Acts of the Church. In describing James's ascetic lifestyle, Eusebius's Ecclesiastical History (Book II, 23) quotes Hegesippus' account of James from the fifth book of Commentaries on the Acts of the Church:

James, the Lord's brother, succeeds to the government of the Church, in conjunction with the apostles. He has been universally called the Just, from the days of the Lord down to the present time. For many bore the name of James; but this one was holy from his mother's womb. He drank no wine or other intoxicating liquor, nor did he eat flesh; no razor came upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil, nor make use of the bath. He alone was permitted to enter the holy place: for he did not wear any woollen garment, but fine linen only. He alone, I say, was wont to go into the temple: and he used to be found kneeling on his knees, begging forgiveness for the people-so that the skin of his knees became horny like that of a camel's, by reason of his constantly bending the knee in adoration to God, and begging forgiveness for the people.

Clement of Alexandria (late 2nd century) wrote in the sixth book of his Hypotyposes that James the Just was chosen as a bishop of Jerusalem by PeterJames (the Greater) and John:

"For they say that Peter and James and John after the ascension of our Saviour, as if also preferred by our Lord, strove not after honor, but chose James the Just bishop of Jerusalem.

Clement, in the seventh book of the same work, relates also the following concerning him:

"The Lord after his resurrection imparted knowledge (gnōsin) to James the Just and to John and Peter, and they imparted it to the rest of the apostles, and the rest of the apostles to the seventy, of whom Barnabas was one.

According to Eusebius (3rd/4th century) James was named a bishop of Jerusalem by the apostles: "James, the brother of the Lord, to whom the episcopal seat at Jerusalem had been entrusted by the apostles Jerome wrote the same: "James... after our Lord's passion... ordained by the apostles bishop of Jerusalem..." and that James "ruled the church of Jerusalem thirty years

Epiphanius (4th century), bishop of Salamis, wrote in his work The Panarion (AD 374–375) that "James, the brother of the Lord died in virginity at the age of ninety-six

According to Jerome (4th century), James, the Lord's brother, was an apostle, too; Jerome quotes Scriptures as a proof in his work "The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary", writing the following:

Notice, moreover, that the Lord's brother is an apostle, since Paul says «Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and tarried with him fifteen days. But other of the Apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.» (Galatians 1:18-19) And in the same Epistle «And when they perceived the grace that was given unto me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars,» (Galatians 2:9)[60]

Early Christian apocrypha

Some apocryphal gospels testify to the reverence Jewish followers of Jesus had for James. The Gospel of the Hebrews confirms the account of Paul in 1 Corinthians regarding the risen Jesus's appearance to James. Jerome (5th century) quotes the non-canonical Gospel of the Hebrews:

'Now the Lord, after he had given his grave clothes to the servant of the priest, appeared to James, for James had sworn that he would not eat bread from that hour in which he had drunk the Lord's cup until he should see him risen from the dead.' And a little further on the Lord says, 'bring a table and bread.' And immediately it is added, 'He took bread and blessed and broke and gave it to James the Just and said to him, "My brother, eat your bread, for the Son of Man is risen from the dead."' And so he ruled the church of Jerusalem thirty years, that is, until the seventh year of Nero.

The Gospel of  Thomas confirms the account of Paul in 1 Corinthians regarding the risen Jesus's appearance to James. The Gospel of Thomas relates that the disciples asked Jesus, after his resurrection and before his Ascension, "We are aware that you will depart from us. Who will be our leader?" Jesus said to them, "No matter where you come [from] it is to James the Just that you shall go, for whose sake heaven and earth have come to exist. Epiphanius (Panarion 29.4) describes James as a Nazirite.

The pseudepigraphical First Apocalypse of James associated with James's name mentions that James and Jesus are not biological brothers, with a rather fragmentary account of the departure (possibly meaning martyrdom) of James appended to the bottom of the manuscript.

The pseudepigraphical Second Apocalypse of James names James's father Theudas rather than Joseph, who is presented as the biological father of James.

The Apocryphon of James, the sole copy of which was found in the Nag Hammadi library and which may have been written in Egypt in the 3rd century recounts a post-resurrection appearance of the risen Christ to James and Peter that James is said to have recorded in Hebrew.

The Gospel of James (or "Infancy Gospel of James"), a work of the 2nd century, also presents itself as written by James – so that his authorship would lend authority.

In a 4th-century letter pseudographically ascribed to the 1st century Clement of Rome, James was called the "bishop of bishops, who rules Jerusalem, the Holy Church of the Hebrews, and all the Churches everywhere.

Relationship to Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Jesus's brothers – James as well as JudeSimon and Joses – are named in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3 and mentioned elsewhere. James's name always appears first in lists, which suggests he was the eldest among them. In Jewish Antiquities (20.9.1), Josephus describes James as "the brother of Jesus who is called Christ".

Interpretation of the phrase "brother of the Lord" and similar phrases is divided between those who believe that Mary had additional children after Jesus (e.g., historian Charles Freeman) and those who hold the perpetual virginity of Mary (CatholicsEastern Orthodox, and some Protestants, such as many Anglicans and some Lutherans). The only Catholic doctrine which has been defined regarding the "brothers of the Lord" is that they are not biological children of Mary;[7] thus, Catholics do not consider them as siblings of Jesus.

Near-contemporary sources[which?] insist that James was a "perpetual virgin" from the womb, a term which according to Robert Eisenman was later converted to his mother, Mary.

Younger half-brother, son of Mary and Joseph

Some writers, such as R.V. Tasker and D. Hill, interpret the Matthew 1:25 statement that Joseph "knew her not until she had brought forth her firstborn son" as meaning that Joseph and Mary did have normal marital relations after Jesus's birth, and that James, JosesJude, and Simon, were the natural sons of Mary and Joseph and, thus, half brothers of Jesus. Others, such as K. Beyer, point out that the Greek ἕως οὗ ('until') after a negative "often has no implication at all about what happened after the limit of the 'until' was reached". Raymond E. Brown also argues that "the immediate context favors a lack of future implication here, for Matthew is concerned only with stressing Mary's virginity before the child's birth

In addition, Mary, Joseph, and Jesus's brothers or siblings are often described together, without reference to any other relatives (Matthew 12:46–49, Mark 3:31–34, Mark 6:3, Luke 8:19–21, John 2:12, Acts 1:14), and Jesus's brothers are described without allusion to others (John 7:2–5, 1 Corinthians 9:5. For example, Matthew 13:55–56 says, "Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Jude? Aren't all his sisters with us?" and John 7:5 says, "Even his own brothers did not believe in him."

Clement of Alexandria (c. 150 – c. 215), Tertullian (c. 160 – c. 220), and Helvidius (c. 380) were among the theologians who thought that Mary had children other than Jesus.[80][81] Jerome asserts in his tract The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary, as an answer to Helvidius, that the term "first-born" was used to refer to any offspring that opened the womb, rather than definitely implying other children. Luke's reporting of the visit of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus to the Temple of Jerusalem when Jesus was 12 years old makes no reference to any of Jesus's half-brothers.

The modern scholar Robert Eisenman is of the belief that Luke, as a close follower of Pauline Gentile Christianity, sought to minimise the importance of Jesus's family by whatever means possible, editing James and Jesus's brothers out of the Gospel record. Karl Keating argues that Mary and Joseph rushed without hesitation straight back to Jerusalem, when they realized Jesus was lost, which they would surely have thought twice about doing if there were other children (Jesus's siblings) to look after.

Older stepbrother, son of Joseph by an earlier marriage

The Gospel of James (a 2nd-century apocryphal gospel also called the Protoevangelium of James or the Infancy Gospel of James) says that Mary was betrothed to Joseph and that he already had children. In this case, James was one of Joseph's children from his previous marriage and, therefore, Jesus's stepbrother.

The bishop of Salamis, Epiphanius, wrote too in his work The Panarion (AD 374–375) that "...James (brother of Jesus) was Joseph's son by Joseph's first wife, not by Mary... He adds that Joseph became the father of James and his three brothers (Joses, Simeon, Judah) and two sisters (a Salome and a Mary or a Salome and an Anna) with James being the elder sibling. James and his siblings were not children of Mary but were Joseph's children from a previous marriage. After Joseph's first wife died, many years later when he was eighty, "he took Mary (mother of Jesus)". According to Epiphanius the Scriptures call them "brothers of the Lord" to confound their opponents.

One argument supporting this view is that it would have been against Jewish custom for Jesus to give his mother to the care of John (who is not at all suspected to be a blood relative of Jesus) if Mary had other living sons. This is because the eldest son would take responsibility for his mother after the death of her husband; any other sons of Mary should have taken on this responsibility if they existed, therefore arguing against a direct natural brother relationship.

Also, Aramaic and Hebrew tended to use circumlocutions to point out blood relationships; it is asserted that just calling some people "brothers of Jesus" would not have necessarily implied the same mother. Rather, something like "sons of the mother of Jesus" would have been used to indicate a common mother. Scholars and theologians who assert this point out that Jesus was called "the son of Mary" rather than "a son of Mary" in his hometown (Mark 6:3).

Cousin, son of a sister of Mary

James, along with the others named "brothers" of Jesus, are said by others to have been Jesus's cousins. This is justified by the fact that cousins were also called "brothers" and "sisters" in Jesus's native language, Aramaic, which, like Biblical Hebrew, does not contain a word for 'cousin'.[89] Furthermore, the Greek words adelphos and adelphe were not restricted to the meaning of a literal brother or sister in the Bible, nor were their plurals. Unlike some other New Testament authors, apostle Paul had a perfect command of Greek, a language which has a specific word for 'cousin' and another for 'brother' calling James "the brother of our Lord" (Galatians 1:19).

Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 275 – c. 339) reports the tradition that James the Just was the son of Joseph's brother Clopas and therefore was of the "brothers" (which he interprets as "cousin") of Jesus described in the New Testament. This is echoed by Jerome (c. 342 – c. 419) in De Viris Illustribus ("On Illustrious Men") – James is said to be the son of another Mary, wife of Clopas and the "sister" of Mary, the mother of Jesus – in the following manner:

James, who is called the brother of the Lord, surnamed the Just, the son of Joseph by another wife, as some think, but, as appears to me, the son of Mary, sister of the mother of our Lord of whom John makes mention in his book...

Jerome refers to the scene of the crucifixion in John 19:25, where three women named Mary – Mary, the mother of Jesus, Mary of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene – are said to be witnesses. John also mentions the "sister" of the mother of Jesus, often identified with Mary of Clopas due to grammar. Mary "of Clopas" is often interpreted as Mary, "wife of Clopas". Mary of Nazareth and Mary of Clopas also need not be literally sisters, in light of the usage of the said words in Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic.

Mary of Clopas is suggested to be the same as "Mary, the mother of James the younger and Joses", "Mary the mother of James and Joseph" and the "other Mary" in Jesus's crucifixion and post-resurrection accounts in the Synoptic Gospels. Proponents of this identification argue that the writers of the Synoptics would have called this Mary, simply, "the mother of Jesus" if she was indeed meant to be the mother of Jesus, given the importance of her son's crucifixion and resurrection: they also note that the mother of James and Joses is called "Maria", whereas the mother of Jesus is "Mariam" or "Marias" in Greek. These proponents find it unlikely that Mary would be referred to by her natural children other than Jesus at such a significant time (James happens to be the brother of one Joses, as spelled in Mark, or Joseph, as in Matthew).

Jerome's opinion suggests an identification of James the Just with the Apostle James, son of Alphaeus; Clopas and Alphaeus are thought to be different Greek renderings of the same Aramaic name Khalphai. Despite this, some biblical scholars tend to distinguish them; this is also not Catholic dogma, though a traditional teaching.

Since this Clopas is, according to Eusebius, Joseph of Nazareth's brother (see above) and Mary of Clopas is said to be Mary of Nazareth's sister, James could be related to Jesus by blood and law.

Younger half-brother, son of Mary and a second husband

A variant on this is presented by James Tabor, who argues that after the early and childless death of Joseph, Mary married Clopas, whom he accepts as a younger brother of Joseph, according to the Levirate law. According to this view, Clopas fathered James and the later siblings, but not Jesus.

John Dominic Crossan suggested that James was probably Jesus's older brother.

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