The Disciples: James the Less

James the Less is often referred in this way, because there were two James in the apostle.  The other was James, the son of Zebedee, who is often referred to as James the greater.

                We know very little about James the less, but let’s explore the little we are told.

                In the list of Jesus disciples, we discover “James son of Alphaeus.”

        We know from this James is the son of Alphaeus. The name Alphaeus means changing, but this is not the only time we read the name Alphaeus. {Matthew 9:9}

        In Mark, we are told “he [Jesus] saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth”. {Mark 2:14} 

        So, we discover Levi {who is also known as Matthew} is the son of Alphaeus.  We can assume this makes Matthew Levi and James brothers, although a brother is never specifically mentioned for either man.

        He is again listed as James, the son of Alphaeus in the list of the disciples in the upper room when the Holy Spirit came upon them.  {Acts 1:13}

        Some scholars believe James the Less is also the brother of Judas Thaddeus, although this is not clearly stated, and Judas Thaddeus is not mentioned as the son of Alphaeus.

                The name James is a form of Jacob and means supplanter.

        Church tradition states James the less was crucified in Ostrakine, Egypt while preaching the gospel.  Other sources state he was stoned and then clubbed to death. Clearly, he died as a martyr.

        James was a common name and there are at least three James: James, the son of Zebedee, James the Less and James, the brother of Jesus.  This makes it difficult at times to know which man is being referred to, unless more information is provided.  Often the gospel writers differentiate between the men but not always.

        James the less is often depicted holding a fuller’s club.  He is the patron of pharmacists, milliners, and Italy.   

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