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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:
The Church History of Eusebius.: Chapter XIX

Early Church Fathers  Index     

p. 305 Chapter XIX.—The Episcopal Chair of James.

The chair of James, who first received the episcopate of the church at Jerusalem from the Saviour himself 2300 and the apostles, and who, as the divine records show, 2301 was called a brother of Christ, has been preserved until now, 2302 the brethren who have followed him in succession there exhibiting clearly to all the reverence which both those of old times and those of our own day maintained and do maintain for holy men on account of their piety. So much as to this matter.



That James was appointed bishop of Jerusalem by Christ himself was an old and wide-spread tradition. Compare, e.g., the Clementine Recognitions, Bk. I. chap. 43, the Apostolic Constitutions, Bk. VIII. chap. 35, and Chrysostom’s Homily XXXVII. on First Corinthians. See Valesius’ note ad locum; and on the universal tradition that James was bishop of Jerusalem, see above, Bk. II. chap. 1, note 11.


See Gal. i. 19. On the actual relationship of “James, the Brother of the Lord” to Christ, see Bk. I. chap. 12, note 14.


There can be no doubt that a chair (θρόνος), said to be the episcopal seat of James, the first bishop of Jerusalem, was shown in that church in the time of Eusebius, but there can be no less doubt that it was not genuine. Even had James been bishop of Jerusalem, and possessed a regular episcopal chair, or throne (a very violent supposition, which involves a most glaring anachronism), it was quite out of the question that it should have been preserved from destruction at the fall of the city in 70 a.d. As Stroth drily remarks: “Man hatte auch wohl nichts wichtigeres zu retten, als einen Stuhl!” The beginning of that veneration of relics which later took such strong hold on the Church, and which still flourishes within the Greek and Roman communions is clearly seen in this case recorded by Eusebius. At the same time, we can hardly say that that superstitious veneration with which we are acquainted appeared in this case. There seems to be nothing more than the customary respect for an article of old and time-honored associations which is seen everywhere and in all ages (cf. Heinichen’s Excursus on this passage, Vol. III. p. 208 sq.). Crusè has unaccountably rendered θρόνος in this passage as if it referred to the see of Jerusalem, not to the chair of the bishop. It is plain enough that such an interpretation is quite unwarranted.

Next: Chapter XX

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