James, Saint

or James the Great

born Galilee, Palestine
died AD 44, Jerusalem; feast day July 25

One of the 12 Apostles of Jesus.

He and his brother John (see St. John the Apostle) were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee and were among the first disciples to be called. As a member of the inner circle of disciples, he witnessed the major events in the ministry of Jesus, including the Transfiguration and the Agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was beheaded in AD 44 by order of Herod Agrippa. By tradition, his body was taken to Santiago de Compostela, Spain; his shrine there has long been a place of pilgrimage.

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apostle, son of Alphaeus
also called  James, Son Of Alphaeus, or James The Less  
flourished 1st century AD, ; Western feast day May 3; Eastern feast day October 9

      one of the Twelve Apostles.

      James may be he whose mother, Mary, is mentioned among the women at Jesus' crucifixion and tomb (Mark 15:40, 16:1; Matthew 27:56). He is not to be confused with the apostle St. James, son of Zebedee, or James, “the Lord's brother.” Depending upon the Bible consulted, he is probably the brother (Revised Standard and New English) or father (Authorized and Douay) of the apostle St. Judas (Jude). Nothing further is known of him, and a late legend of his martyrdom in Persia is spurious.

      In the Western church, his identity with James, “the Lord's brother,” was originally assumed in the feast of Saints Philip and James on May 1, the date of the dedication of the Church of the Holy Apostles, Rome, where supposed relics of these saints were brought about 560.

apostle, son of Zebedee
also called  James, Son Of Zebedee, or James The Great  
born , Galilee, Palestine
died AD 44, , Jerusalem; feast day July 25
 one of the Twelve Apostles, distinguished as being in Jesus' (Jesus Christ) innermost circle and the only apostle whose martyrdom is recorded in the New Testament (Acts 12:2).

      James and his younger brother, the apostle St. John, are designated Boanerges (from the Greek boanerges), or “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17), perhaps because of their characteristic fiery zeal (Mark 9:38, Luke 9:54). With Saints Peter and Andrew, James and John were the first four disciples whom Jesus called (Mark 1:16–19) and whose question (“Tell us, when will this [the end of time] be, and what will be the sign when these things are all to be accomplished?”) sparks Jesus' eschatological discourse in Mark 13.

      As a member of the inner circle, James witnessed the raising of Jairus' daughter (Mark 5:37, Luke 8:51), the Transfiguration (Mark 9:2), and Jesus' agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:33, Matthew 26:37). James and John asked Jesus to let them sit, one at his right and one at his left, in his future glory (Mark 10:35–40), a favour that Jesus said was not his to grant. James was beheaded by order of King Herod Agrippa I of Judaea; according to Spanish tradition, his body was taken to Santiago (Santiago de Compostela) de Compostela, where his shrine attracts pilgrims from all over the world.

apostle, the Lord’s brother
also called  James, The Lord's Brother  
died AD 62, , Jerusalem; Western feast day May 3

      a Christian apostle, according to St. Paul, although not one of the original Twelve Apostles. He was leader of the Jerusalem Christians, who with Saints Peter and John the Evangelist is one of “the pillars of the church.”

      Confusion has arisen over his identity because he has often been mistaken for St. James, son of Alphaeus. Exactly what the biblical Galatians 1:19 means by designating him “the Lord's brother” is also uncertain, although he is mentioned elsewhere in the Gospels as one of Jesus' (Jesus Christ) four brothers (Mark 6:3; Matthew 13:55). Hypotheses have been forwarded that James and Jesus were brothers (after Tertullian and Clement of Alexandria), stepbrothers (after Origen, among others), or cousins (after St. Jerome).

      James evidently was not a follower of Jesus during his public ministry. Paul attributes James's later conversion to the appearance of Christ resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:7). Three years after Paul's conversion, James was an important leader in the Jerusalem church (Galatians 1:18–19), where he assumed even more significance after King Herod Agrippa I of Judaea in about AD 44 beheaded the Apostle St. James, son of Zebedee, and after Peter fled from Jerusalem (Acts 12:1–17). He was the chief spokesman for the Jerusalem church at the Council of Jerusalem (Jerusalem, Council of) regarding Paul's mission to the Gentiles (Acts 15:13) and final visit to Jerusalem (Acts 21:18).

      Later tradition records that James was called “the Just” and was noted for his fulfillment of Jewish law. Though opposing those Jewish Christians who required that Gentile Christians submit to Jewish Law, including circumcision, he believed Jewish Christians should continue loyalty to Jewish practice and piety, as he did himself. His piety and zeal for the Law had become a basis for various legends; thus, later traditions emphasize James's piety and popularity with Jews and Jewish Christians. This popularity is evident in the Jews' anger when priestly authorities had James put to death, reputedly either by stoning (after Flavius Josephus, historian of the Jews) or by being thrown from a Temple tower (after the early Christian writer St. Hegesippus). The early church designates him the first bishop of Jerusalem, though the title is not used in the New Testament. The tradition that he was the author of The Letter of James, a New Testament book of moral instructions, is not supported by modern scholarship.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • James,Saint — I. James1, Saint Known as “the Great.” Died A.D. 44. One of the 12 Apostles. The son of Zebedee and brother of John, he preached in Spain and was martyred on his return to Judea.   II. James2, Saint Known as “the Less.” Died c. A.D. 62.… …   Universalium

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