James "brother of the Lord"


Some things:

  1. As a Catholic I believe he’s definitely not Mother Mary’s son. What he could have been is debatable. I believe Wikipedia gives an accurate account of all sides here:


  1. Is it Catholic dogma that he’s the same as the Apostle James the son of Alphaeus? Judging by the text I believe he’s James the son of Clopas, who isn’t the same as Alphaeus.

Incidentally, Levi/Matthew is the “son of Alphaeus” too. So maybe we have two sets of brothers among the Twelve.

  1. He was, by tradition, the first bishop of Jerusalem… but some use this against the notion of Petrine primacy.

The same Wikipedia page puts it well: "Roman Catholics believe the bishop of Jerusalem was not by that fact the head of the Christian church, since the leadership rested in Peter as the “Rock” and “Chief Shepherd” - paraphrased from The Dictionary of the Bible by John L. Mckenzie. (I have a copy - thick book, green cover)

So what if he presided over the Council of Jerusalem? One shouldn’t expect to see the highly developed Church organization of later centuries. Besides, couldn’t he have decided the matter as it was on his turf?


Greetings, Pons.
This has been discussed to death on previous threads. Hard to go more than a few pages without it coming up. Bottom line is we don’t know what the relation was between Jesus and James.
Peter was prime in all the lists of the apostles, but he seems to have been prime in a gentle and humble way. With Peter starting the spread of the gospel to the gentiles, it was good practice to have another apostle, not involved in the “discussion”, weigh in on the decision.


I believe i have heard some Catholics reason that Joseph might have been a widower who had sons from a previous marriage. It was not unusual in ancient Jewish society for older men to marry much younger women.

If this is true, Jame might have been Jesus’ stepbrother, for Mary would have been James’ stepmother and Joseph, of course, would have been Christ’s stepfather.


St. Jerome wrote about this issue back in 383 AD
The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary

The arguments really haven’t changed since then.

St. Jerome starts his letter by stating the following:

“I was requested by certain of the brethren not long ago to reply to a pamphlet written by one Helvidius. I have deferred doing so, not because it is a difficult matter to maintain the truth and refute an ignorant boor who has scarce known the first glimmer of learning, but because I was afraid my reply might make him appear worth defeating.”

To me this doesn’t sound like it was a closely debated subject in the early church, rather it was so far from the truth that was passed down from the apostles, that it wasn’t even worth commenting on.


I don’t see how this affects petrine primacy, since the primacy rested with Peter, not Jerusalem.

If Jerusalem had been the diocese of primacy, the Church would essentially have folded in A.D. 70. Petrine primacy in Rome was a great idea geopolitically.


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