James of Jerusalem
Bishop + Martyr
23 October NT
From the Satucket Lectionary
He was for many years the leader of the Christian congregation in Jerusalem, and is generally supposed to be the author of the Epistle of James, although the Epistle itself does not state this explicitly.
James is mentioned briefly in connection with Jesus’ visit to Nazareth (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3).
We are told that Jesus’ brothers did not believe in Him (John 7:2-5), and from this, and from references in early Christian writers, it is inferred that James was not a disciple of the Lord until after the Resurrection.
Paul, listing appearances of the Risen Lord (1 Cor 15:3-8), includes an appearance to James.
Peter, about to leave Jerusalem after escaping from Herod, leaves a message for James and the Apostles (Acts 12:17). When a council meets at Jerusalem to consider what rules Gentile Christians should be required to keep, James formulates the final consensus (Acts 15:13-21).
Paul speaks of going to Jerusalem three years after his conversion and conferring there with Peter and James (Gal. 1:18-19), and speaks again of a later visit (perhaps the one described in Acts 15) on which Peter, James, and John, “the pillars,” placed their stamp of approval on the mission to the Gentiles (Gal. 2:9).
A few verses later (Gal. 2:11-14), he says that messengers from James coming to Antioch discouraged Jewish Christians there from eating with Gentile Christians. (If this refers to the same event as Acts 15:1-2, then Paul takes a step back chronologically in his narration at Gal. 2:11, which is not improbable, since he is dictating and mentioning arguments and events that count as evidence for his side as they occur to him.)
On his last recorded visit to Jerusalem, Paul visits James (others are present, but no other names are given) and speaks of his ministry to the Gentiles (Acts 21:18).
Outside the New Testament, James is mentioned by the Jewish historian Josephus, who calls him “the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ,” and reports that he was much respected even by the Pharisees for his piety and strict observance of the Law, but that his enemies took advantage of an interval between Roman governors in 62 AD to have him put to death. His death is also reported by the second-century Christian writer Hegesippus.
Numerous references in early Christian documents show the esteem in which he was held in the early Church.
There appear to be at least three persons named James mentioned in the New Testament, and possibly as many as eight. For an attempt to sort them out, see the BIO of Philip and James at 1 May.
by James Kiefer