James, son of Alphaeus

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James the Younger, portrait on a brotherhood staff from around 1850.
James the Younger (center) - Detail from the mural The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

James, son of Alphaeus or the younger († around 62 in Jerusalem) is the second named of the two apostles with the name James, so called to distinguish from James the Elder , the first named. He is venerated as a saint in many denominations .


James is only mentioned in the Apostellists ( Mt 10.3  EU , Mk 3.18  EU , Lk 6.15  EU and Acts 1.13  EU ) in the New Testament . There he is called "James, son of Alphaeus" - in contrast to another apostle of the same name, who is called "James, son of Zebedee". In the church tradition the terms "James the Younger" and "James the Elder" have prevailed.

His grave is said to be in the basilica of St. twelve apostles are in Rome.

Naming controversy

In church history, James the son of Alphaeus was also equated with James the Little and James the Righteous , the brother of Jesus. James the Little is mentioned only once in the Bible (Mk 15:40) as the son of a disciple of Jesus named Mary and brother of a Joses. In the church tradition, this Maria was equated with Maria Cleophae from the Gospel of John Joh 19.25  EU and partly made a half-sister of the mother of Jesus , but Cleophas also became a brother of St. Joseph . The equation with James, the brother of Jesus, comes from the fact that the tradition regards the "brothers" of Jesus mentioned in the Bible - James, Simeon, Judas and Joses - as his relatives. This tendency to make all biblical figures with the same name one person led, in extreme cases, to equating the three other brothers of Jesus with the apostles Simon Zelotes and Judas Thaddäus as well as with Joseph Barnabas from the Acts of the Apostles and, as a fifth brother, the apostle Matthew added, since this is possibly identical with the tax collector Levi, the son of Alphaeus, mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew .

The equation of James Alphaeus with James, the little one, and James, the Lord Brother, was made binding for the Catholic Church in the sixteenth century at the Council of Trent , but it is difficult to justify and partly controversial within the Catholic exegetes.


Since, according to tradition, James was slain with a club, the club has been one of his iconographic attributes since the 12th century , and in the late Gothic period also the walker's pole .

St. James the Younger is the patron saint of Uruguay .

Remembrance day

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Eckhard J. Schnabel : Urchristliche Mission , TVG, 2002, p. 263
  2. ^ Heinrich Schlier: The Letter to the Galatians , Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen, 1989, p. 61
  3. James the Elder J. in the ecumenical dictionary of saints


Web links

Commons : James, son of Alphaeus  - collection of images, videos and audio files