James, son of Alphaeus

James, son of Alphaeus (Ἰάκωβος, Iakōbos in Greek; Hebrew: יעקב בן חלפי Ya'akov ben Halfay; Coptic: ⲓⲁⲕⲱⲃⲟⲥ ⲛⲧⲉ ⲁⲗⲫⲉⲟⲥ) was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, appearing under this name in all three of the Synoptic Gospels' lists of the apostles. He is often identified with James the Less (Greek Ἰάκωβος ὁ μίκρος Iakōbos ho mikros, Mark 15:40) and commonly known by that name in church tradition. He is also labelled "the minor", "the little", "the lesser", or "the younger", according to translation. He is distinct from James, son of Zebedee and in some interpretations also from James, brother of Jesus (James the Just).[2] He appears only four times in the New Testament, each time in a list of the twelve apostles.[3]

Saint James the Less
Rubens apostel jakobus mindere grt
St James the Minor by Pieter Paul Rubens
Bornc. 1st century BC
Galilee, Judaea, Roman Empire
Diedc. 62 AD
Jerusalem, Judaea, Roman Empire or Aegyptus (Egypt)
Venerated inRoman Catholic Church, Anglican Communion, Eastern Orthodox Church
Feast1 May (Anglican Communion),
May 3 (Roman Catholic Church),
9 October (Eastern Orthodox Church)
AttributesCarpenter's saw; fuller's club
PatronageApothecaries; druggists; dying people; Frascati, Italy; fullers; milliners; Monterotondo, Italy; pharmacists; Uruguay[1]


Possible identity with James the Less

James, son of Alphaeus is often identified with James the Less, who is only mentioned four times in the Bible, each time in connection with his mother. (Mark 15:40) refers to "Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses", while (Mark 16:1) and (Matthew 27:56) refer to "Mary the mother of James".

Since there was already another James (James, son of Zebedee) among the twelve apostles, equating James son of Alphaeus with "James the Less" made sense. (James son of Zebedee was sometimes called "James the Greater").

Jerome identifies James, son of Alpheus with James the Less writing in his work called The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary the following:

Do you intend the comparatively unknown James the Less, who is called in Scripture the son of Mary, not however of Mary the mother of our Lord, to be an apostle, or not? If he is an apostle, he must be the son of Alphæus and a believer in Jesus, "For neither did his brethren believe in him."

The only conclusion is that the Mary who is described as the mother of James the Less was the wife of Alphæus and sister of Mary the Lord's mother, the one who is called by John the Evangelist "Mary of Clopas".[4]

Papias of Hierapolis, who lived circa 70–163 AD, in the surviving fragments of his work Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord relates that Mary, wife of Alphaeus is mother of James the Less:

Mary, mother of James the Less and Joseph, wife of Alphaeus was the sister of Mary the mother of the Lord, whom John names of Cleophas, either from her father or from the family of the clan, or for some other reason.[5]

Therefore, James, son of Alphaeus would be the same as James the Less.

Modern Biblical scholars are divided on whether this identification is correct. John Paul Meier finds it unlikely.[6] Amongst evangelicals, the New Bible Dictionary supports the traditional identification,[7] while Don Carson[8] and Darrell Bock[9] both regard the identification as possible, but not certain.

Apostle James, son of Alpheus
Fresco of Saint James the Less in the Orthodox Church of Vladimir, Russia. 12th century.
Jacobus Minor San Giovanni in Laterano 2006-09-07
Statue of St. James in the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran by Angelo de Rossi.

Possible identification with James, the brother of Jesus

Jerome apparently voicing the general opinion of Early Church, maintains the doctrine of perpetual virginity of Mary.[10] He proposed that James, son of Alphaeus, was to be identified with "James, the brother of the Lord" (Gal.1:19) and that the term "brother" was to be understood as "cousin."[11][12] The view of Jerome, the "Hieronymian view," became widely accepted in the Roman Catholic Church,[13] while Eastern Catholics, Eastern Orthodox and Protestants tend to distinguish between the two. Geike (1884) states that Hausrath, Delitzsch, and Schenkel think James the brother of Jesus was the son of Clophas-Alphaeus.[14]

In two small but potentially important works ascribed by some to Hippolytus, On the Twelve Apostles of Christ and On the Seventy Apostles of Christ, he relates the following:

And James the son of Alphaeus, when preaching in Jerusalem was stoned to death by the Jews, and was buried there beside the temple.[15]

It is important to remember that James, the brother of Jesus had the same death; he was stoned to death by the Jews too. This testimony of "Hippolytus", if authentic, would increase the plausibility that James the son of Alphaeus is the same person as James the brother of Jesus.

These two works of "Hippolytus" are often neglected because the manuscripts were lost during most of the church age and then found in Greece in the 19th century. As most scholars consider them spurious, they are often ascribed to "Pseudo-Hippolytus". The two are included in an appendix to the works of Hippolytus in the voluminous collection of Early Church Fathers.[16]

According to the surviving fragments of the work Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord of Papias of Hierapolis Cleophas and Alphaeus are the same person, Mary wife of Cleophas or Alphaeus would be the mother of James, the brother of Jesus, and of Simon and Judas (Thaddeus), and of one Joseph.

(1) Mary the mother of the Lord; (2) Mary the wife of Cleophas or Alphaeus, who was the mother of James the bishop and apostle, and of Simon and Thaddeus, and of one Joseph; (3) Mary Salome, wife of Zebedee, mother of John the evangelist and James; (4) Mary Magdalene. These four are found in the Gospel...(Fragment X)[5]

Thus, James, the brother of the Lord would be the son of Alphaeus, who is the husband of Mary of Cleophas or Mary the wife of Alphaeus. However, the Anglican theologian J.B. Lightfoot maintains that the fragment in question is spurious.[17][18]

As reported by the Golden Legend, which is a collection of hagiographies, compiled by Jacobus de Varagine in the thirteenth century:

James the Apostle is said the Less, how well that was the elder of age than was St. James the More. He was called also the brother of our Lord, because I have resembled much well our Lord in body, in visage, and of manner. He was called James the Just for his right great holiness. He was also called James the son of Alpheus. He sang in Jerusalem the first mass that ever was there, and he was first bishop of Jerusalem.[19]

Possible brother of Matthew

Alphaeus is also the name of the father of the publican Levi mentioned in Mark 2:14. The publican appears as Matthew in Matthew 9:9, which has led some to conclude that James and Matthew might have been brothers.[20][21] The four times that James son of Alphaeus is mentioned directly in the Bible (each time in the list of the Apostles) the only family relationship stated is that his father is Alphaeus.[22] In two lists of the Apostles, the other James and John are listed as brothers and that their father is Zebedee.[23]

Gospel of Mark

Calling of James, Son of Alphaeus

Mark the Evangelist is the earliest known source in the Bible to mention "James, son of Alphaeus" as one of the twelve Apostles. Mark the Evangelist mentions a "James, son of Alphaeus" only once and this is in his list of the 12 Apostles Mark 3:16–19. At the beginning of Jesus' ministry he first calls Peter and his brother Andrew and asks them to follow him Mark 1:16–17. In the next verses it tells the story of how James the Greater and his brother John the Apostle came to follow Jesus Mark 1:19–20. After some healing by Jesus he meets Levi son of Alphaeus who was a tax collector and he then asks Levi (better known as Matthew) to follow him Mark 2:14Matthew 9:9. Peter, Andrew, James the Greater and John the Apostle are listed as Apostles Mark 3:16–19. Levi, son of Alphaeus is listed as an Apostle under the name of Matthew, but James alone is listed as the son of Alphaeus Mark 3:16–19.

Ambiguous Jameses

Overall Mark the Evangelist lists three different Jameses. "James, son of Alphaeus", James the Greater and James the brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3). On three separate occasions he writes about a James without clarifying which James he is referring to. There is a James at the transfiguration Mark 9:2, at the Mount of Olives Mark 13:3 and the Garden of Gethsemane Mark 14:33. Although this James is listed alongside John the Apostle a clear distinction isn't made about which Apostle James is being referred to, even when both Apostles are meant to be in a similar location. All twelve Apostles attend the Last Supper Mark 14:33 which immediately precedes Garden of Gethsemane. There is a reference to Mary mother of James the Younger and Joseph (Mark 15:40); however, Mark the Evangelist has already told us that James the brother of Jesus has a brother called Joseph Mark 6:3.

Gospel of Matthew

Calling of James, Son of Alphaeus

Peter, Andrew, James, son of Zebedee and his brother John were all called to follow Jesus Matthew 4:18–22. In a story that parallels the calling of Levi, son of Alphaeus,[24] Matthew is called to follow Jesus (Matthew 9:9–13). Matthew is never referred directly to as being the Son of Alphaeus in the Gospel of Matthew or any other book in the Bible,[25] but like Levi, Son of Alphaeus Mark 2:14. In Mark he is regarded as a tax collector Matthew 9:9. In the Gospel of Matthew the tax collector (Matthew) called to follow Jesus is listed as one of the twelve Apostles. James, son of Alphaeus is also listed as one of the 12 Apostles Matthew 10:3.

Ambiguous Jameses

Matthew doesn’t mention any James in his Gospel that isn’t identified without association to his family. There are 3 James that are mentioned by Matthew; James, Brother of Jesus, Joseph, Simon and Judas (Matthew 13:55), James son of Zebedee and brother of John (Matthew 10:2) and James, son of Alphaeus. At the Transfiguration it is specified that the James is brother of John (Matthew 13:55) and at the Garden of Gethsemane it is specified that it is the son of Zebedee (Matthew 26:37). It is not specified by Matthew that there was a James at the Mount of Olives; he mentions only disciples Matthew 24:3. Matthew also mentions a Mary the mother of James and Joseph who was at the crucifixion. This James is not given the epithet the younger Matthew 27:56.


A James was arrested along with some other Christians and was executed by King Herod Agrippa in persecution of the church. Acts 12:1,2 However, the James in Acts 12:1,2 has a brother called John. James, son of Zebedee has a brother called John (Matthew 4:21) and we are never explicitly told that James son of Alphaeus has a brother. Robert Eisenman [26] and Achille Camerlynck[27] both suggest that the death of James in Acts 12:1–2 is James, son of Zebedee and not James son of Alphaeus.

In Christian art, James the Less is depicted holding a fuller's club.[28] Tradition maintains that he was crucified at Ostrakine in Lower Egypt, where he was preaching the Gospel.[29]


  1. ^ Catholic Forum Patron Saints Index: James the Lesser Archived June 25, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Saint-James. Apostle, son of Alphaeus". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
  3. ^ Matthew 10:3, Mark 3:18, Luke 6:12–16 and Acts 1:13.
  4. ^ saint, Jerome. The Perpetual Virginity of Blessed Mary Fragment 15. newadvent.org. Retrieved 3 September 2015.
  5. ^ a b of Hierapolis, Papias. Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord. Fragment X. earlychristianwritings.com. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  6. ^ John Paul Meier, A Marginal Jew volume 3, p. 201. "There are no grounds for identifying James of Alphaeus – as church tradition has done – with James the Less."
  7. ^ New Bible Dictionary, 2nd Edition (IVP 1982), "James" entry (by P.H.Davids)
  8. ^ "The Expositor's Bible Commentary CDROM, commentary on Matthew (by Don Carson), commentary on Matthew 10:2–4
  9. ^ Luke, by Darrell Bock (Baker 1994), commentary on Luke 6:15
  10. ^ Cross, FL, ed. (2005), "Brethren of the Lord", The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, New York: Oxford University Press.
  11. ^ John Saward – Cradle of redeeming love: the theology of the Christmas mystery p18 2002 "St Jerome concludes that St James, son of Alphaeus, and St James, brother of the Lord, are one and the same person.169 But why is James, son of Alphaeus, called our Lord's 'brother'? St Jerome's answer is as follows. In Matthew 13:55 we hear of four 'brothers' of our Lord: James and Joseph, Simon and Jude. Later, in the Passion narrative, St Matthew mentions a Mary who is the mother of James and Joseph (cf Mt 27:56) "
  12. ^ The brother of Jesus: James the Just and his mission p17 Bruce Chilton, Jacob Neusner – 2001 "Given that James has been identified as the son of Alphaeus, Jerome indicates he cannot explain the connection of Mary the ... Chrysostom (347–407) was first to suggest that James the brother of the Lord is the son of Clopas though ..."
  13. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: St. James the Less".
  14. ^ John Cunningham Geikie The life and words of Christ Volume 1 1884 "Alphaeus, or Alpheus __, and Clopas are different ways of pronouncing in Greek the Hebrew name ___ (Chal'phai) ... Hausrath, Delitzsch, and Schenkel, think James the Just was the son of Clophas-Alphaeus."
  15. ^ of Rome, Pseudo-Hippolytus. "On the Twelve Apostles" and "On the Seventy Disciples". newadvent.org. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  16. ^ Ante-Nicean Fathers, ed. Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson and A. Cleaveland Coxe, vol. 5 (Peabody MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1999), 254–6
  17. ^ "The Brethren of the Lord by J.B. Lightfoot".
  18. ^ "Papias of Hierapolis".
  19. ^ Stracke, Richard. Golden Legend: Life of Saint James the Less. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  20. ^ John MacArthur, Jr., Daily Readings from The Life of Christ, page 50 (Moody Publishers, 2009).
  21. ^ Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: The Complete New Testament, page 848 (David C. Cook, 2007). ISBN 978-0-7814-4539-9
  22. ^ Matthew 10:2–3, Mark 3:16–19, Luke 6:11–16 and Acts 1:13.
  23. ^ Matthew 10:2–3, Mark 3:16–19
  24. ^ The Good News Bible Revised Edition 1994 indicate that Mark 2:13–17 and Matthew 9:9–13 are the same story
  25. ^ The Good News Bible Revised Edition 1994
  26. ^ "James brother of Jesus" Robert Eisenman
  27. ^ "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: St. James the Greater".
  28. ^ Hilarie Cornwell, James Cornwell, Saints, Signs, and Symbols, page 49 (Morehouse Publishing, 2009). ISBN 978-0-8192-2345-6
  29. ^ Philip Schaff, History of the Apostolic Church: with a General Introduction to Church History, page 389 (New York: Charles Scribner, 1853). Citing Nikephoros, Historia Ecclesiastica II:40.
Abdel Messih El-Makari

Father Abdel Messih El-Makari (or El-Manahri) (11 November 1892–14 April 1963) was a Coptic Orthodox monk and priest, and a 20th-century Coptic saint. Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria testified as to his holiness and asceticism.


Alphaeus (from Greek: Ἀλφαῖος) is a man mentioned in the New Testament as the father of two of the Twelve Apostles, namely:

Saint Matthew

James, son of AlphaeusThere were two men named Alphaeus. One of them was the father of the apostle James and the other the father of Matthew (Levi). Though both Matthew and James are described as being the "son of Alphaeus," there is no Biblical account of the two being called brothers, even in the same context where John and James or Peter and Andrew are described as being brothers.

Alphaeus is traditionally identified with Clopas, based on the identification from parallel Gospel accounts of Mary, the mother of James the third woman with Mary Magdalene and Salome wife of Zebedee beside the cross in Matthew with Mary, the wife of Clopas, the third woman in John's account.

According to the surviving fragments of the work Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord of the Apostolic Father Papias of Hierapolis, who lived c. 70–163 AD, Cleophas and Alphaeus are the same person: "Mary the wife of Cleophas or Alphaeus, who was the mother of James the bishop and apostle, and of Simon and Thaddeus, and of one Joseph" For the Anglican theologian J.B. Lightfoot this fragment quoted above would be spurious.The Catholic Encyclopedia suggests that etymologically, the names Clopas and Alphaeus are different, but that they could still be the same person. Other sources propose that Alphaeus, Clophas and Cleophas are variant attempts to render the Aramaic H in Aramaic Hilfai into Greek as aspirated, or K.


Bashnouna (died 19 May 1164) was an Egyptian saint and martyr.

According to his hagiography, Bashnouna was a monk in the Monastery of Saint Macarius the Great in Scetes. He was arrested by the Fatimid authorities during the caliphate of Al-'Āḍid, and threatened to face death if he were not to convert to Islam. Having refused, Bashnouna was burned alive on 24 Pashons, 880 A.M. (19 May 1164 AD) His relics were buried at the Church of Saint Sergius in Cairo.


Clopas (Greek Κλωπᾶς, Klōpas; Hebrew possibly חלפי, Ḥalfi; Aramaic חילפאי, Ḥilfài) is a figure of early Christianity. The name appears in the New Testament, specifically in John 19:25:

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

He is often identified with another figure of a similar name, Cleophas (Κλεοπᾶς), one of the two disciples who met Christ during the road to Emmaus appearance (Luke 24:13-27).

Luke 24:18 Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem...

There is some variation of the Greek manuscripts of both John 19:25 and Luke 24 as to the spelling Κλ[ε]οπᾶς, and the John "Clopas" is rendered "Cleophas" in the KJV.

Commissioning of the Twelve Apostles

The commissioning of the Twelve Apostles is an episode in the ministry of Jesus that appears in all three Synoptic Gospels: Matthew 10:1–4, Mark 3:13–19 and Luke 6:12–16. It relates the initial selection of the Twelve Apostles among the disciples of Jesus.According to Luke:

One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles: Simon (whom he named Peter), his brother Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James son of Alphaeus, Simon who was called the Zealot, Judas son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.

In the Gospel of Matthew, this episode takes place shortly before the miracle of the man with a withered hand. In the Gospel of Mark and Gospel of Luke it appears shortly after that miracle.This commissioning of the apostles takes place before the crucifixion of Jesus, while the Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20 takes place after his resurrection.


Saint Dasya the Soldier, was a Christian martyr of the third century. He was born in Tanda, Egypt, and served as a soldier in the Roman army. Refusing to deny Christ, Dasya was tortured by Arianus, governor of Ansena, and his head eventually cut off.

His feast in the Coptic Orthodox Church is on 2 Thout.

Dorothea of Alexandria

Saint Dorothea of Alexandria (died c. 320) is venerated as a Christian virgin martyr. Her legend states that the Roman Emperor Maximinus II courted her, yet she rejected his suit in fidelity to Christianity and virginity, and consequently he had her decapitated in c. 320.

Faustus, Abibus and Dionysius of Alexandria

Faustus, Abibus and Dionysius of Alexandria (died 250) were Christian martyrs put to death under Decius in 250.

Faustus was a priest, Abibus was a deacon, and Dionysius was a lector. They were executed with several others, who include:

Andronicus, a soldier


Cyriacus, an acolyte

another Cyriacus,

Theocistus, a sea captain




Thecla, and

Caldote.The Roman Martyrology lists only

Faustus and Macarius with 10 companions. Their feast day is celebrated on September 6.

Jacob (disambiguation)

Jacob was a patriarch of the Jewish & Christian traditions. It is also the true name of the two apostles of Jesus: James son of Zebedee and James son of Alphaeus.

James a late Latin or Vulgar name corresponding to "Jacob".

Jacob may also refer to:

Jow (unit), an obsolete unit of length in India

Jacob (sheep), a rare breed of black and white spotted, multi-horned sheep

Book of Jacob (Mormon), the third book in the Book of Mormon

Jacob (clothing retailer), a Canadian clothing store chain

Jacob (film), 1994 film about the life of the patriarch

Jacob (name)


Jacob is a common male given name and a less well-known surname. It is a cognate of James.

Jacob is derived from Late Latin Iacobus, from Greek Ἰάκωβος Iakobos, from Hebrew יַעֲקֹב (Yaʿqob, Yaʿaqov, Yaʿăqōḇ), the name of the Hebrew patriarch, Jacob son of Isaac and Rebecca. The name comes either from the Hebrew root עקב ʿqb meaning "to follow, to be behind" but also "to supplant, circumvent, assail, overreach", or from the word for "heel", עֲקֵב ʿaqeb.

In the narrative of Genesis, it refers to the circumstances of Jacob's birth when he held on to the heel of his older twin brother Esau (Genesis 25:26).

The name is etymologized (in direct speech by the character Esau) in Genesis 27:36, adding the

significance of Jacob having "supplanted" his elder brother by buying his birthright.In a Christian context, Jacob – James as reduced English form – is the name for several people in the New Testament: (1) apostle James, son of Zebedee, (2) another apostle James, son of Alphaeus, and (3) James the brother of Jesus (James the Just), who led the original Nazarene Community in Jerusalem.

James, brother of Jesus

James the Just, or a variation of James, brother of the Lord (Latin: Iacomus from Hebrew: יעקב Ya'akov and Greek: Ἰάκωβος Iákōbos, can also be Anglicized as "Jacob"), was an early leader of the Jerusalem Church of the Apostolic Age, to which Paul was also affiliated. He died in martyrdom in 62 or 69 AD.

Catholics and Eastern Orthodox, as well as some Anglicans and Lutherans, teach that James, along with others named in the New Testament as "brothers" of Jesus, were not the biological children of Mary, but were possibly cousins of Jesus or step-brothers from a previous marriage of Joseph (as related in the Gospel of James).Roman Catholic tradition generally holds that this James is to be identified with James, son of Alphaeus, and James the Less. It is agreed by most that he should not be confused with James, son of Zebedee.

James the Apostle

James the Apostle may refer to:

James, son of Zebedee (James the Greater), one of the twelve apostles of Jesus

James, son of Alphaeus, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus

James the Less

James the Less is a figure of Early Christianity. He is also called "the Minor", "the Little", "the Lesser", or "the Younger", according to translation. He is not to be confused with James, son of Zebedee ("James the Great or Elder"). He is mostly identified with James, the Lord's brother and often with James, son of Alphaeus, but the sources offer no certainty.

Mary, mother of James

Mary is identified in the synoptic gospels as one of the women who went to Jesus' tomb after he was buried. Mark 16:1 and Luke 24:10 refer to "Mary the mother of James" as one of the women who went to tomb, while Matthew 27:56 says that "Mary the mother of James and Joseph" was watching the crucifixion from a distance, while Mark 15:40 calls her "Mary the mother of James the younger and of Joses" (NKJV). Although James the younger is often identified with James, son of Alphaeus, the New Advent Encyclopedia identifies him with both James, son of Alphaeus and James the brother of Jesus (James the Just).According to the surviving fragments of the work Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord of the Apostolic Father Papias of Hierapolis, who lived c. 70–163 AD, "Mary, mother of James the Less and Joseph, wife of Alphaeus was the sister of Mary the mother of the Lord, whom John names of Cleophas" For the Anglican theologian J.B. Lightfoot, this fragment quoted above would be spurious.Her relics are said to be both in France and Italy.

Our Lady of Assiut

Our Lady of Assiut is the name given to a series of reported apparitions of the Virgin Mary in 2000 and 2001 in Assiut, Egypt.


Saint Parsoma the Naked (1257–1317) is a Coptic saint, recognized by the Coptic Orthodox Church.


Psote (died 300), also known as Bisada, Besada, Abashadi, Abassadius, or Beshada, was a bishop of Ebsay in Upper Egypt. He was martyred by beheading at Antinoe.

His feast day is observed on December 23 in the Coptic Church or on December 21 in some other churches.


Sarathiel or Serathiel (Coptic: ⲥⲁⲣⲁⲑⲓⲏⲗ) is an angel in Oriental Orthodox church angelology, especially in Coptic Orthodox church, and is often included in lists as being one of the seven archangels.

New Testament people
Jesus Christ
Virgin Mary
See also
Seven Archangels
Other Saints

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