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Confessional Lutheran theology, hagiography, philosophy, music, culture, sports, education, and whatever else is on the fevered mind of Orycteropus Afer

23 October 2007
  + Saint James of Jerusalem +
23 October, New Testament

St. James the JustThe New Testament refers to this James as the brother of Jesus (Galatians 1:19). He led the Christian congregation in Jerusalem for many years, garnering the title "Bishop of Jerusalem" among many in Christendom. He is often credited with authorship of the Epistle of James, although the Epistle itself does not state this explicitly.

James is mentioned briefly in connection with Jesus' visit to Nazareth (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3). John 7:2-5 tells us that Jesus' brothers did not believe in Him and from this, as well as references in early Christian writers, we infer that James was not a disciple of the Lord until after the Resurrection. When Paul lists our Lord's resurrection appearances (1 Corinthians 15:3-8), he includes an appearance to James. Peter, about to leave Jerusalem after escaping from Herod, left a message for James and the Apostles (Acts 12:17). When a council met at Jerusalem to consider what rules Gentile Christians should be required to keep, James formulated the final consensus (Acts 15:13-21).

On his last recorded visit to Jerusalem, Paul visited James (others were present, but no other names are given) and spoke of his ministry to the Gentiles (Acts 21:18).

Outside the New Testament, the Jewish historian Josephus called James "the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ," and reported that even the Pharisees greatly respected his piety and strict observance of the Law but that his enemies took advantage of an interval between Roman governors in AD 62 to have him put to death. Numerous references in early Christian documents also show the esteem with which the early Church held him.

While debate continues, this particular James is likely the one called "James the Just" (or "the Righteous" by much of the Church. The source of this appellation seems to come from an early tradition that James took vows as a Nazarite and that his life, both in Judaism and after conversion to the Faith, was marked by deep piety.

For a bit more on James' possible blood relationship to Jesus, see the Ask the Pastor post the Names of Jesus' Brothers. An explanation in the hagiography for Saint Philip and Saint James, Apostles helps discern among the different New Testament people sharing this name.

Lection

Psalm 133
Acts 15:12-22a
James 1:1-12
Matthew 13:54-58

Collect

Heavenly Father, shepherd of Your people, You raised up James the Just, brother of our Lord, to lead and guide Your Church. Grant that we may follow his example of prayer and reconciliation and be strengthened by the witness of his death; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

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