Saint James

James, Saint, in the Bible, the "brother" of Jesus. The Gospels make several references to the brothers of Jesus, and St. Paul speaks of "James the Lord's brother." While Protestants generally regard James as a child of Mary and Joseph conceived after the birth of Jesus, Catholic and Orthodox belief in the perpetual virginity of Mary precludes a blood relationship between Jesus and James, leading those churches to posit that James was a stepbrother (assuming a previous marriage for Joseph) or a cousin. The latter hypothesis, which is favored by the Roman Catholic Church, identifies James with St, James the Less.

The James whom Paul calls "the Lord's brother" witnessed the Resurrection and became a leader of the church in Jerusalem, by tradition the first bishop there. He apparently opposed the imposition of Jewish Law on gentile Christians but believed that Jewish Christians should continue to observe it. He is probably the James of the epistle of that name. Some scholars believe that he wrote it himself, others that it was written at a later date under his name. The Jewish historian Josephus records that James was stoned to death at the instigation of the priests c.A.D. 62.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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