Here is an interesting one from Lee! Enjoy…anita
I’ve managed to come up with what I think is a real enigma concerning James of the Bible, a name given to several prominent NT people. My concern/interest was around the identity of James of the NT book bearing that name.
I had always understood that James (the book) was written by Jesus’ half-brother, James. One of the things that always bothered me a bit, though, was that the Bible names four brothers for Jesus [Mt 13:55 names James, Joseph, Simon and Judas], and points out that they were not followers of His [John 7:5].
Alphaeus is the father of Levi (later called Matthew) [Mk 2:14] and James (called James the Lesser or Younger) [Mk 3:18] both of whom were listed as Apostles. James, son of Alphaeus, is mentioned in Acts 1:13 as being in the Upper Room after Jesus’ Ascension where he is seen as praying devotedly with the other Apostles and awaiting the Pentecost. As an aside, verse 14 mentions in passing that Jesus’ mother, Mary, was there also along “…with His brothers.” So, apparently, the brothers, including the half-brother, James, had become converted to be believers of the Lord.
Where this starts to get interesting though is when you look at John 19:25, where three Marys are standing at the foot of Jesus’ cross. Mary Magdalene, Jesus’ mother Mary, and Mary, wife of Clopas or Cleopas. So the latter Mary is the sister of Jesus’ mother, according to this verse. Of course, I find this interesting to learn that two women in the same family had the same name. But, of greater note, is that the NIV Bible in its discussion of the history of the 12 Apostles, considers Alphaeus and Cleopas to be the same man. So this would make James the Lesser and Jesus cousins.
So it would seem reasonable to me that, since Matthew and John, both original Apostles, authored NT books, it would be somewhat consistent that James the Lesser also authored a book, the Epistle of James. So, I kept on researching to see what else I could find.
In an article written by Rev. Jim Cole-Rous for Global Christian Center (globalchristiancenter.com), the author concludes that James the Lesser is clearly the James who wrote the NT book of that name. In the NIV Bible article referenced above (“An Outline History of the 12 Apostles” p. 1277), the NIV explains, “According to tradition [James the Lesser] wrote the Epistle of James….,” but this same article allows that “…many conservative scholars dispute this.”
Apropos the statement just made above, however, the same NIV Bible has an introduction to the book of James that states, “The traditional view identifies the author of James the Epistle with James, the Lord’s brother.” Then, in Galatians 1:19, Paul goes to Jerusalem to meet with Peter and mentions that he saw only one other apostle, James, the Lord’s brother. So now this James also is considered to be an Apostle. Gal 2:9 signifies that Peter, John and James were considered to be “the pillars” of the fledgling church, according to Paul.
So, is any of this important or relevant to our walk with the Lord? No, not really. Not any more important than who the author of Hebrews is, or any other books of the Bible for which authorship is in question. But, I find that as I dig more deeply into topics such as the authorship of James, the people listed in various places in the Bible become much more real and alive to me! For instance, I never picked up on the fact that Matthew and James were brothers. Or that there were two Apostles named James; I always just glossed over these facts. And I never recognized that Mary had a sister, also called Mary (I knew she had a cousin, Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist). But clearly all of these folks were real people with lives and relationships, just like you and me. And these were the people who started the church of which we now are a part as believers in the story, the sacrifice, and the kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ.
By: Lee Pierce