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JAMES was the brother of Jesus and leader of Jerusalem church. James, often called James the Just, seems to be an enigma in virtually every way. He is at the center of several controversies surrounding the history of the early church.
What is generally agreed upon about James is that he was the leader of the Jerusalem church, and he was in contact with such leaders as Peter, John, Barnabas, and Paul. At the first church council in Jerusalem, James was instrumental in forging the church’s position regarding Gentiles and the Law of Moses (Acts 15). Beyond this, it seems like everything else is in dispute.
Regarding his relationship to Jesus, there is debate whether he was Jesus’ half brother, Jesus’ stepbrother, Jesus’ cousin, or something else.
Regarding his theology, James’s emphasis on works rather than faith alone has led some to argue that he stands in opposition to Paul’s emphasis on salvation by grace through faith—but others argue that the two positions complement and balance each other.
Regarding archaeological evidence of his existence, a controversy erupted in 2002 when a tomb purported to be his was made public, but later it was deemed to be a fake by the Israeli Antiquities Authority.
Despite all these controversies, however, James’s letter to the scattered believers has always been a favorite due to its very practical wisdom and instruction. It is often referred to as the Proverbs of the New Testament.
According to the Jewish historian Josephus, the Sanhedrin charged James with breaking the law and stoned him to death around AD 62.