Who was “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus?”
The Bible makes several references to Jesus brothers and sisters, including Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3, but scholars and theologians differ on the exact nature of their kinship.
Protestants traditionally believe Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born but not afterward, based on Matthew 1:25: “Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name Jesus.”
Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches believe Mary was a virgin all her life. Catholics say James was a close relative, perhaps a cousin, but not a full-blooded brother. Orthodox tradition teaches that Joseph had James by his first wife, and when she died he married Mary, making James a half-brother, said the Rev. Aristotle Damaskos of Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Toledo.
According to biblical and historical accounts, James was a leader of the emerging Christian community after the crucifixion of Christ.
Jesus appeared to James after the Resurrection (I Corinthians 15:7) and Paul said he saw “James, the Lord s brother,” when he traveled to Jerusalem after his conversion on the road to Damascus (Galations 1:19).
James was known as “James the Just” and “James the Righteous” and is the author of the New Testament letter that bears his name, written about 48 A.D. He led a Jerusalem Church Council in 49 A.D. that produced a historic compromise on Jewish-Gentile issues.
Historians differ on whether James was stoned to death in 62 A.D. or martyred when he was thrown from the pinnacle of the Temple.
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