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English Bible Dictionary

James, son of Alpheus

 

(the Greek form of Jacob, supplanter).

James the son of Alpheus, one of the twelve apostles. (Matthew 10:3) Whether or not this James is to be identified with James the Less, the son of Alphaeus, the brother of our Lord, is one of the most difficult questions in the gospel history. By comparing (Matthew 27:56) and Mark 15:40 with John 19:25 We find that the Virgin Mary had a sister named, like herself, Mary, who was the wife of Clopas or Alpheus (varieties of the same name), and who had two sons, James the Less and Joses. By referring to (Matthew 13:55) and Mark 6:3 We find that a James the Less and Joses, with two other brethren called Jude and Simon, and at least three sisters, were sisters with the Virgin Mary at Nazareth by referring to (Luke 6:16) and Acts 1:13 We find that there were two brethren named James and Jude among the apostles, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. It would certainly be natural to think that we had here but one family of four brothers and three or more sisters, the children of Clopas and Mary, nephews and nieces of the Virgin Mary. There are difficulties however, in the way of this conclusion into which we cannot here enter; but in reply to the objection that the four brethren in (Matthew 13:55) are described as the brothers of Jesus, not as his cousins, it must be recollected that adelphoi, which is here translated "brethren," may also signify cousins.

 

* See other occurrences of the same term: James.

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