Young People's Bible Dictionary
by Barbara Smith (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1965)
James. The brother of Jesus. The brothers of Jesus did not support him during his lifetime, but they are listed among the believers after the resurrection. Mark 6:3; John 7:5; Acts 1:14. James held an important position in the church at Jerusalem, probably as head of the elders. Acts 12:17; 21:18; Gal. 1:19; 2:9,12.
James the son of Alphaeus. One of the Twelve disciples of Jesus. It is possible that Mary the mother of James, in Mark 15:40 and 16:1, was the mother of this disciple. Matt. 10:3.
James the son of Zebedee. One of Jesus' twelve disciples, a brother of John and a fisherman with Peter and Andrew. Matt. 4:21-22; Mark 9:2-10; 14:33; Luke 5:10; Acts 12:1-3.
Harper’s Bible Dictionary
edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)
You are strongly recommended to add to your library the excellent revised edition of Harper's Bible Dictionary titled, The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, Revised Edition, edited by Paul J. Achtemeier, with the Society of Biblical Literature (NY: Harper Collins, 1996). It is currently the best one-volume Bible dictionary in English, and it is available at Border's Books, Christian Science Reading Rooms, http://www.borders.com, or http://www.christianbook.com.
James, the English equivalent of the Greek Jacobus, apparently a common name in the first century.
1 James, the son of Zebedee (Matt. 4:21; 10:2; Mark 1:19; 3:17) and brother of John (Matt. 17:1; Mark 3:17; 5:37; Acts 12:2), with whom he was called by Jesus to be one of the Twelve (Matt. 4:21; Mark 1:19-20; Luke 5:10-11). Jesus nicknamed James and John ‘Boanerges,’ meaning ‘sons of thunder’ (Mark 3:17). The two are prominent in the various lists of the Twelve (Matt. 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13). With Peter, they were present when Jesus raised Jairus’s daughter (Mark 5:37; Luke 8:51), at the transfiguration (Matt. 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28), and in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:37; Mark 14:33). The brothers (or their mother) request special places beside Jesus at the time of the messianic kingdom (Matt. 20:20-23; Mark 10:35-40). They are clearly very close associates of Jesus. Acts 12:2 reports James’s martyrdom by decapitation at the command of Herod Agrippa I.
2 James, the son of Alphaeus. Identified in the apostolic lists as one of the Twelve (Matt. 10:3; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13), little else is known about him. He is sometimes identified with the ‘James the younger’ of Mark 15:40.
3 James, the brother of Jesus. The relationship of Jesus to ‘the brothers of the Lord’ (1 Cor. 9:5; cf. Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3; Acts 1:14; Gal. 1:19) is much debated. Possibilities include literal brothers (or half-brothers or stepbrothers) of Jesus, more distant relations of Jesus (e.g., cousins), or close friends and associates of Jesus. Though apparently not followers during Jesus’ ministry (Matt. 12:46-50; Mark 3:31-35; Luke 8:19-21; John 7:3-5), the brothers are reportedly with the Twelve and others after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension (Acts 1:14), and James is identified as one to whom Jesus appeared (1 Cor. 15:7). Eventually, James emerges as the recognized successor (along with the elders) to the leadership role originally exercised by Peter and the apostles (Acts 15 and following). Paul acknowledges James’s role of leadership (Gal. 2:1-12), and Acts 15 reports his persuasive defense of the Gentile mission. Both the Jewish historian Josephus and the Christian Hegesippus (according to the fourth century church historian Eusebius) report that James was put to death by the priestly authorities in Jerusalem a few years before the destruction of the Temple in a.d. 70.
4 James, the father (kjv: ‘brother’) of Judas (one of the Twelve; Luke 6:16), otherwise apparently not mentioned in the nt.
To explore all the members of Jesus' immediate family who are mentioned in the New Testament, browse:
Edited for BibleTexts.com by Robert Nguyen Cramer