Who Was James, The Lord’s Brother? -- By: Kenneth Mackenzie

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 096:383 (Jul 1939)
Article: Who Was James, The Lord’s Brother?
Author: Kenneth Mackenzie


Who Was James, The Lord’s Brother?

Kenneth Mackenzie

When one would leave the beaten path which many feet have smoothed for easy walking, he must be certain of his footing; for stones and moss, and hillocks which are not friendly to venturesome experimentation, beset him on every side. Therefore, in presenting this study, the writer confesses to the possible charge of presumptuous novelty. But, if it may awaken in the minds of the readers an incentive to enlightenment as to what is otherwise a baffling problem, the undertaking will not be entirely fruitless.

Of the Jameses who are noted in the New Testament, we know that the son of Zebedee, brother of John, was martyred by Herod (Acts 12:2); the other, in the same chapter designated by Peter (Acts 12:17) seems to be a man of sufficient authority to be the special recipient of the news of Peter’s release. The assumption that he is the son of Alpheus (Matt 10:23) and cousin of our Lord, since he was the son of Mary, the sister of the Virgin having the same name, Mary (Matt 7:56; Mark 15:40; John 19:25), is so prevalent that any search into the question would seem to be inconsistent.

But, this James does not fit into the picture which this investigation seeks to portray. He was an apostle, but being ninth in the list, though related to our Lord by blood, the eminence given to the James we are discovering is not compatible with the James of the apostolic company.

The theory of cousinship as covering the brother title ‘has held with some degree of authority. But the language of Mark 6:4, “Is not this the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda and Simon? and are not his sisters with us?” seems to point to a literally fraternal relationship.

Paul’s citation (Gal 1:19), “James the Lord’s brother,” challenges attention. In other instances, he is exact in his wording, “Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas”; “mother and grandmother.” Not inferential as “salute Rufus...and his mother and mine.” Note that the Jude of Mark 6:4, calls himself the brother of James (Jude 1) as Mark so puts it. And James is senior.

For reasons doctrinally and authoritatively, the Roman Church has promulgated the dogma of the Perpetual Virginity of Mary. To deny it is to b...

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