St. James the Less is often confused with St. James the
Greater. However, St. James born to Mary, who was thought to be
a sister or close relative of Jesus' Mother Mary, was sometimes
referred to as Jesus' brother. Saint James the Less was also an
Apostle, who wrote the first Catholic Epistle. St. James is the
son of Alphaeus, which is also the name of the father of Matthew
the Evangelist found in the book of Mark in the Bible. It is possible
that St. James the Lesser is the brother of Matthew but other
than their fathers having the same name, there is no other connection
mentioned in the Bible.
Being a pillar of the early church, it is thought that
St. James the Less witnessed the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
He is also attributed to being a consult of St. Paul about the
Gospel. St. James the Less was considered to be the first Bishop
of Jerusalem and was martyred in the spring of 62 A.D. He was
thrown from the pinnacle of the Temple, stoned and beaten to death
by a club all the while praying for his attackers. The club subsequently
became the symbol used when depicting the life of St. James the
As the author of the Epistle, St. James addresses himself
as though he is talking to more than just Jewish Christians, and
felt it was his burden as a spiritual father to let others know
the difficulties and temptations that they face by being surrounded
with paganism, and his attempt to guide and direct Christians
in their faith.
There is still some confusion about the St. James the Less,
who is mentioned three times in the Bible, which was in direct
connection with his mother in the book of Mark, and James, son
of Alphaeus four times in the New Testament alongside that of
the twelve apostles. However, James, son of Zebedee is among the
twelve disciples and known as James the Greater. The conclusion
is that the identity of St. James the Less is accepted by the
early church leaders, while modern Biblical scholars are still
torn with his identity.
Another possibility is that Saint James the Less is James the
Just, who was thought to be the brother or relative of Jesus,
having served for 30 years as head of the Church of Jerusalem
and who was also killed in 62 A.D.
Life of Saint James the Lesser, was about teaching Christians
about the trials and tribulations that they will endure in an
age of paganism. His efforts eventually ended his life, but he
died in the name of the Lord.
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