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James the Just

Saint James the Just (Hebrew: יעקב or Jacob) (Greek Iάκωβος), (died 62AD), also known as James of Jerusalem, James Adelphotheos, James, the Brother of the Lord, was an important figure in Early Christianity. He is also generally identified by Roman Catholics with James, son of Alphaeus and James the Less. According to Christian tradition, he was the first Bishop of Jerusalem, the author of the Epistle of James in the New Testament, and the first of the Seventy of Luke 10:1–20. Paul of Tarsus in Galatians 2:9 (KJV) characterized James as such: "…James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars…" He is described in the New Testament as a "brother of the Lord" and in the Liturgy of St James as "the brother of God" (Adelphotheos).

Name

James was called "the Just" because of his ascetic practices, which involved taking Nazarite vows. The name also helps distinguish him from other important figures in early Christianity, such as James, son of Zebedee.

Identified with James, son of Alphaeus, he is sometimes referred in Eastern Christianity to as "James Adelphotheos", i.e. "James the Brother of God" (Greek : Iάκωβος ο Αδελφόθεος ), based on New Testament descriptions, though different interpretations of his precise relationship to Jesus developed based on Christian beliefs about Mary, the mother of Jesus, who was designated Theotokos by the 431 Council of Ephesus. Although, beliefs and opinions aside, he may simply have been literally Jesus's brother, i.e. a child of Mary and Joseph.

The English name "James" comes from the same root as the name "Jacob": the Hebrew name "Ya'akov" (יעקב). Ya'akov was first translated into Greek as "Ιakobos" (Iάκωβος), then Latinized as "Jacobus", which became Jacomus, and later James.

Life

The canonical writings of the New Testament, as well as other written sources from the early church, provide some insights into James' life and his role in the early church. The Synoptics mention his name, but nothing else about him, whereas the Gospel of John and early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles do not even mention James.

The Acts of the Apostles, in later chapters, provides evidence that James was an important figure in the Christian community of Jerusalem.

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

When the Christians of Antioch are concerned over whether Gentile Christians need be circumcised to be saved, and they send Paul and Barnabas to confer with the Jerusalem church there, James plays a prominent role in the formulation of the council's decision (Acts 15:13ff). James is the last named figure to speak, after Peter, Paul and Barnabas; he delivers what he calls his "judgment" (NIV)— the original sense is closer to "opinion". He supports them all in being against the requirement (Peter had cited his earlier revelation from God regarding Gentiles), and suggests prohibitions about eating blood as well as meat sacrificed to idols. This becomes the ruling of the Council, agreed upon by all the apostles and elders, and sent to the other churches by letter.

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 21:18ff) (a charge of antinomianism).

Paul further describes James as being one of the persons the risen Christ showed himself to (1 Corinthians 15:3–8); then later in 1 Corinthians, mentions James in a way that suggests James had been married (9:5); and in Galatians, Paul lists James with Cephas (better known as Peter) and John as the three "pillars" of the Church, and 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). (2:9, 2:12). These terms (circumcised/uncircumcised) are generally interpreted to mean Jews and Greeks, who were predominant; however, this is an oversimplification as 1st century Iudaea Province also had some Jews who no longer circumcised, and some Greeks (called Proselytes or Judaizers) and others such as Egyptians, Ethiopians, and Arabs who did.

Tradition, supported by inferences in Scripture, holds that James led the Jerusalem group as its first bishop or patriarch. This is not necessarily a point against the primacy of Peter in the early Church, and subsequently Roman Catholicism. Though James and not Peter was the first bishop of that group, Roman Catholics believe the bishop of Jerusalem was not by that fact the head of the Christian church, since the leadership rested in Peter as the "Rock" and "Chief Shepherd". John Chrysostom opined: "If anyone should say, 'Why then was it James who received the See of Jerusalem?' I should reply that he [Christ] made Peter the teacher not of that See, but of the world. It has been suggested that Peter entrusted the Jerusalem community to James when he was forced to leave Jerusalem. According to the Church historian Eusebius, Clement of Alexandria in the late second century stated the following concerning the appointment of James to the Jerusalem episcopacy:

"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.

In describing James' ascetic lifestyle, Saint Jerome, De Viris Illustribus, quotes Hegesippus' account of James from the fifth book of Hegesippus' lost Commentaries:

"After the apostles, James the brother of the Lord surnamed the Just was made head of the Church at Jerusalem. Many indeed are called James. This one was holy from his mother's womb. He drank neither wine nor strong drink, ate no flesh, never shaved or anointed himself with ointment or bathed. He alone had the privilege of entering the Holy of Holies, since indeed he did not use woolen vestments but linen and went alone into the temple and prayed in behalf of the people, insomuch that his knees were reputed to have acquired the hardness of camels' knees.

Since it was unlawful for any but the high priest of the temple to enter the Holy of Holies once a year on Yom Kippur, Jerome's quotation from Hegesippus indicates that James was considered a high priest. The Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions suggest this.

Death

According to a passage in Josephus's Jewish Antiquities, (xx.9) "the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James" met his death after the death of the procurator Porcius Festus, yet before Lucceius Albinus took office (Antiquities 20,9) — which has thus been dated to 62. The High Priest Ananus ben Ananus took advantage of this lack of imperial oversight to assemble a Sanhedrin who condemned James "on the charge of breaking the law," then had him executed by stoning. Josephus reports that Ananus' act was widely viewed as little more than judicial murder, and offended a number of "those who were considered the most fair-minded people in the City, and strict in their observance of the Law," who went as far as meeting Albinus as he entered the province to petition him about the matter. In response, King Agrippa replaced Ananus with Jesus, the son of Damneus.

Though the passage in general is almost universally accepted as original to Josephus, some challenge the identification of the James whom Ananus had executed with James the Just, considering the words, "who was called Christ," a later interpolation. (See Josephus on Jesus.)

Eusebius, while quoting Josephus' account, also records otherwise lost passages from Hegesippus (see links below), and Clement of Alexandria (Historia Ecclesiae, 2.23). Hegesippus' account varies somewhat from what Josephus reports, and may have been an attempt to reconcile the various accounts by combining them. According to Hegesippus, the scribes and Pharisees came to James for help in putting down Christian beliefs. The record says:

They came, therefore, in a body to James, and said: "We entreat thee, restrain the people: for they are gone astray in their opinions about Jesus, as if he were the Christ. We entreat thee to persuade all who have come hither for the day of the passover, concerning Jesus. For we all listen to thy persuasion; since we, as well as all the people, bear thee testimony that thou art just, and showest partiality to none. Do thou, therefore, persuade the people not to entertain erroneous opinions concerning Jesus: for all the people, and we also, listen to thy persuasion. Take thy stand, then, upon the summit of the temple, that from that elevated spot thou mayest be clearly seen, and thy words may be plainly audible to all the people. For, in order to attend the passover, all the tribes have congregated hither, and some of the Gentiles also.

To the scribes' and Pharisees' dismay, James boldly testified that Christ "Himself sitteth in heaven, at the right hand of the Great Power, and shall come on the clouds of heaven." The scribes and pharisees then said to themselves, "We have not done well in procuring this testimony to Jesus. But let us go up and throw him down, that they may be afraid, and not believe him."



Accordingly, the scribes and Pharisees
…threw down the just man… [and] began to stone him: for he was not killed by the fall; but he turned, and kneeled down, and said: "I beseech Thee, Lord God our Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."

And, while they were thus stoning him to death, one of the priests, the sons of Rechab, the son of Rechabim, to whom testimony is borne by Jeremiah the prophet, began to cry aloud, saying: "Cease, what do ye? The just man is praying for us." But one among them, one of the fullers, took the staff with which he was accustomed to wring out the garments he dyed, and hurled it at the head of the just man.

And so he suffered martyrdom; and they buried him on the spot, and the pillar erected to his memory still remains, close by the temple. This man was a true witness to both Jews and Greeks that Jesus is the Christ. | Fragments from the Acts of the Church; Concerning the Martyrdom of James, the Brother of the Lord, from Book 5.

Vespasian's siege and capture of Jerusalem delayed the selection of Simeon of Jerusalem to succeed James.

Josephus' account of James' death is more credible because the Acts of Apostles doesn't mention anything about James after the year 60. Josephus, however, does not mention in his writings how James was buried, which makes it hard for scholars to determine what happened to James after his death.

Robert Eisenman argues that the popularity of James and the illegality of his death may have triggered the First Jewish-Roman War from 66 to 73 C.E.

Influence

The Epistle of James has been traditionally attributed to James the Just. A number of modern Biblical scholars, such as Raymond E. Brown, while admitting the Greek of this epistle is too fluent for someone whose mother tongue is Aramaic, argue that it expresses a number of his ideas, as rewritten either by a scribe or by a follower of James the Just. Other scholars, such as Luke Timothy Johnson and James Adamson, argue that the historical James could have had such fluency in Greek, and could conceivably have authored the Epistle himself.

Modern historians of the early Christian churches tend to place James in the tradition of Jewish Christianity; where Paul emphasized faith over observance of Mosaic Law, which he considered a burden, an antinomian disposition, James is thought to have espoused the opposite position which is derogatively called Judaizing. One corpus commonly cited as proof of this are the Recognitions and Homilies of Clement (also known as the Clementine literature), versions of a novel that has been dated to as early as the 2nd century, where James appears as a saintly figure who is assaulted by an unnamed enemy some modern critics think may be Paul. Scholar James D. G. Dunn has proposed that Peter was the bridge-man (i.e. the pontifex maximus) between the two other "prominent leading figures": Paul and James the Just.

Robert Eisenman and James Tabor have set forth a thesis that James and the Nazorean Jews were marginalized by Paul and the Gentile Christians who followed him, a thesis that has been widely criticized for his recreation of the hostile skirmishes between Judaism and Pauline Christianity, relating his reconstruction to "proto-Christian" elements of the Essenes, as represented in the Dead Sea scrolls. Some of the criticism deconstructs as Pauline apologetics, but Eisenman is equally harsh on the Nazorean Jews at Jerusalem, whom he portrays as a nationalistic, priestly and xenophobic sect of ultra-legal pietists.

Some scholars, such as Ben Witherington, believe that the conflict between these two positions has been overemphasized and that the two actually held quite similar beliefs.

Some apocryphal gospels testify to the reverence Jewish followers of Jesus (like the Ebionites) had for James. The Gospel of the Hebrews fragment 21 relates the risen Jesus' appearance to James. The Gospel of Thomas (one of the works included in the Nag Hammadi library), saying 12, relates that the disciples asked Jesus, "We are aware that you will depart from us. Who will be our leader?" Jesus said to him, "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."

Fragment X of Papias refers to "James the bishop and apostle". Epiphanius' Panarion 29.4 describes James as a Nazirite.

The pseudepigraphical First Apocalypse of James associated with James's name mentions many details, some of which may reflect early traditions: he is said to have authority over the twelve Apostles and the early church; this work also adds, somewhat puzzlingly, that James left Jerusalem and fled to Pella before the Roman siege of that city in 70 CE. (Ben Witherington suggests what is meant by this was that James' bones were taken by the early Christians who had fled Jerusalem).

The Protevangelion of James (or "Infancy Gospel of James"), a work of the 2nd century, also presents itself as written by James — a sign that his authorship would lend authority — and so do several tractates in the codices found at Nag Hammadi.

Relationship to Jesus

Jesus' "brothers" — James as well as Jude, Simon and Joses — are mentioned in Matthew 13:55, Mark 6:3 and by Paul in Galatians 1:19. Since James' name always appears first in lists, this suggests he was the eldest among them. Even in the passage in Josephus' Jewish Antiquities (20.9.1) the Jewish historian describes James as "the brother of Jesus who is called Christ,".

Paul refers to James, at that time the only prominent Christian James in Jerusalem, as an Apostle, hence his identification by some with James, son of Alphaeus. In Galatians 1:18–19, Paul, recounting his conversion, recalls "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."

While Christians believe that Jesus was, as the Son of God, born of a virgin, the relationship of James the Just to Jesus has been rendered difficult by the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox belief in the Perpetual Virginity of Mary, the belief that Mary's virginity continued even after Jesus' birth.

Stepbrother

The most commonly held belief by Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholics alike is that James was the stepbrother of Jesus. The Protevangelium of James assumes the Greek nature of Jewish practices during this period in history and says that Mary was betrothed to an older relative in order to preserve her virginity (he could not have had sex with her, it would have been incest; that Joseph already had children - James was already a boy when Jesus was born. The Protevangelium of James is one of the earliest documents (150 AD) and although it was not included in scripture, its traditional testimony was accepted by the early church.

Full brother

It is believed by some that the Jews living in Jerusalem in Christ's time still adhered to the Mosaic Law, which advised married couples to be fruitful and have many children and that this would indicate, assuming Mary and Joseph were devout Jews, that they would have had more children after Mary gave birth to Jesus, thus making James a full brother of Jesus assuming Jesus was the biological son of Joseph, and not miraculously incarnated.

Half-brother

For proponents of the doctrine of Jesus' virgin birth, the claim that James may have been a full brother of Jesus is unacceptable; at most James and the other brethren of Jesus would have been co-uterine half-brothers. This is the view of most Protestants, who believe Mary and Joseph lived as a sexually active married couple after the birth of Jesus, as they believe is stated in Matthew 1:25.

A variant on this is presented by James Tabor, 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, who whilst legally adopted by Joseph, is presumed to be the product of an earlier pre-marital coupling, possibly with Panthera.

Crossan suggested that he was probably Jesus' older brother.

Other relationships

Those who assert that James and his brethren are not full or half-siblings of Jesus (the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox and some Protestant churches) point out that 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).

Spiritual brother

According to the apocryphal First Apocalypse of James, James is not the earthly brother of Jesus, but a spiritual brother.

Cousin

James could also have been cousin to Jesus, along with the other named "brethren". This is justified by the claim that cousins were also called "brothers" and "sisters" in Jesus' postulated native language, Aramaic; it and Hebrew do not contain a word for "cousin". Furthermore, the Greek words adelphos and adelphe were not restricted to their literal meaning of a full brother or sister in the Bible; nor were their plurals. This use is still common in Greece and other Balkan cultures. This assumes that the Middle Eastern authors' usage of Greek reflects their way of speaking. The tradition of considering cousins as brothers or sisters is still evident in most Eastern cultures; in some languages the term "cousin" does not even exist.

Eusebius of Caesarea (c. 275 – 339) reports the tradition that James the Just was the son of Joseph's brother Clopas, and therefore was of the "brethren" (which he interprets as "cousin") of Jesus described in the New Testament.

This is echoed by Jerome (c. 342 – 419) in De Viris Illustribus ("On Illustrious Men") - James is said to be the son of another Mary - the 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 Marys - 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' crucifixion and post-resurrection accounts in the Synoptic Gospels. Proponents of this identification argue that the writers of the Synoptics would just have called this Mary 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. These proponents find it odd that Mary would be referred to by her biological 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 Aramaic name Halpai. Despite this, some biblical scholars tend to distinguish them; this is also not Roman Catholic dogma, though a traditional teaching.

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

This view of James-as-cousin gained prominence in the Roman Catholic Church, displacing the "stepbrother" view to an extent. Roman Catholics may choose for themselves whether James was a stepbrother or cousin of Jesus, since either could be true.

Vaguely related

Also, Jesus and James could be related in some other way, not strictly "cousins", following the non-literal application of the term adelphos and the Aramaic term for "brother". Being close blood relatives, James and his kin could have been treated as brothers to Jesus anyway.

The ossuary

In the November 2002 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review, André Lemaire of the Sorbonne University in Paris, published the report that an ossuary bearing the inscription Ya`aqov bar Yosef akhui Yeshua` ("James son of Joseph brother of Jesus") had been identified belonging to a collector, who quickly turned out to be Oded Golan. If authentic it would have been the first archaeological proof that Jesus existed aside from the manuscript tradition. There is no mention of Jesus' and James' mother. The ossuary was exhibited at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada, late that year; however, on June 18 2003, the Israeli Antiquities Authority published a report concluding that the inscription is a modern forgery based on their analysis of the patina. Specifically, it appears that the inscription was added recently and made to look old by addition of a chalk solution. Oded Golan has since been arrested and his forgery equipment and partially completed forgeries have been recovered. On December 29 2004, Golan was indicted in an Israeli court along with three other men — Robert Deutsch, an inscriptions expert who teaches at Haifa University; collector Shlomo Cohen; and antiquities dealer Faiz al-Amaleh. They are accused of being part of a forgery ring that had been operating for more than 20 years. Golan denies the charges against him.

In summary Myllykoski wrote "The authenticity and significance of the ossuary has been defended by Shanks (2003), while many scholars — relying on convincing evidence, to say the least — strongly suspect that it is a modern forgery."

Notes

External links

Bibliography

  • Raymond E. Brown. An Introduction to the New Testament. New York: Doubleday, 1997. ISBN 0-385-24767-2
  • Robert Eisenman. James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls. New York: VikingPenguin, 1997. ISBN 0-670-86932-5
  • John Painter. Just James. Columbia: University of South Carolina, 1997 ISBN 1-57003-174-6
  • Hershel Shanks and Ben Witherington, The Brother of Jesus. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2003. ISBN 0-06-055660-9
  • Francis Watson. Paul, Judaism and the Gentiles. Cultural background.
  • Biblical Archaeology Review Articles in various issues in 2004 and 2005 concerning the ossuary.

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