Although the text is gnostic, it is quite restrained, containing many Jewish-Christian themes, making many scholars think it to be one of the earlier texts, originally from the early or mid 2nd century. One of the most curious features of the second apocalypse of James is that this range of dating, of its original text, assigned to it by scholars, requires that it was written before the First Apocalypse of James.
There are a number of differences with the more canonical history that the text describes, for example, it names James' father Theudas rather than Joseph, who is presented as the biological father of James by the mid 2nd century Protevangelium of James. The wife of this Theudas is named Mary, but whether this Mary is the same woman as Mary, the mother of Jesus, or whether this wife of Theudas named Mary is supposed to be the biological mother of James is not clear from the text. The First Apocalypse of James, explicitly claims that James and Jesus are not biological brothers.
The text features a kiss between James and Jesus, on the lips, in a similar manner to the way in which Jesus is said to have kissed Mary Magdalene in other gnostic texts (which lent credence to the idea that early tradition considered Mary to be the Beloved Disciple).
The text ends with the rather gruesome death of James by stoning, possibly reflecting an early oral tradition of what became of James: