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epithet descriptive in his case, as in that of Zacchæus (Luke xix. 3), of his stature. (4) There is a James whose name appears, together with Joses and Simon and Judas, in the lists of the “ brethren” of the Lord, in Matt. xiii. 55, Mark vi. 3, and who is so described by St Paul in Gal. i. 19. St Paul's way of speaking of him there and in Gal. ii. 9, 12, leaves not a shadow of doubt as to the identity of this James with the one who occupies so prominent a position in the Church at Jerusalem in Acts xii. 17, xv. 13, xxi. 18.
The Epistle of St James may have been written, as far as the description which the writer gives of himself is concerned, by any one of these four, reserving the question whether the descriptions connected with (2), (3) and (4) give us any grounds for believing that the three accounts refer to two or even to one person only.
II. The hypothesis that the son of Zebedee, the brother of the beloved disciple, was the writer of the Epistle, has commonly been dismissed as hardly calling for serious consideration. It is not, however, without a certain amount of external authority, and has recently been maintained with considerable ability by the Rev. F. T. Bassett in a Commentary on the Epistle (Bagsters, 1876). . It may be well therefore to begin with an inquiry into the grounds on which it rests.
(1) The oldest MSS. of the earlier, or Peshito, Syriac version, ranging from the 5th to the 8th century, state, in the superscription or subscription of the Epistle, or both, that it is an Epistle “ of James the Apostle.” Printed editions of the Syriac Version state more definitely that the three Epistles (James, i Peter, and 1 John) which that version includes, were written by the three Apostles who were witnesses of the Transfiguration, but it is uncertain on what MS. authority the statement was made. As far then as this evidence goes, it is of little or no weight in determining the authorship. It does not go higher than the fifth century, and leaves it an open question whether “James the Apostle” was the son of Zebedee, or the son of Alphæus, or the brother of the Lord, considered as having been raised to the office and title of an Apostle.
(2) A Latin MS. of the New Testament, giving a version of the Epistle prior to that of Jerome, states more definitely that it was written by “ James the son of Zebedee,” but the MS. is not assigned to an earlier date than the ninth century, and is therefore of little or no weight as an authority. Neither this nor the Syriac version can be looked on as giving more than the conjecture of the transcriber, or, at the best, a comparatively late and uncertain tradition.
(3) Admitting the weakness of the external evidence, Mr Bassett rests his case mainly on internal. It was, he thinks, à priori improbable that one who occupied so prominent a place among the Apostles during our Lord's ministry, whose name as one of the “Sons of Thunder" (Mark iii. 17) indicates conspicuous energy, should have passed away without leaving any written memorial for the permanent instruction of the Church. It is obvious, however, that all à priori arguments of this nature are, in the highest degree, precarious in their character, and that their only value lies in preparing the way for evidence of another kind.
(4) The internal coincidences on which Mr Bassett next lays stress are in themselves so suggestive and instructive, even if we do not admit his inference from them, that it seems worth while to state them briefly.
(a) There is, he points out, a strong resemblance between the teaching of the Epistle and that of John the Baptist, as is seen, e.g., in comparing
And he infers from this the probability that the writer had been one of those who, like Peter, John and Andrew, had listened to the preaching of the Baptist.
(6) There are the frequently recurring parallelisms between the Epistle and the Sermon on the Mount, which strike the attention of well-nigh every reader.
James i. 2 compared with Matt. v. 10-12
vii. 7--12 i. 9
V. 22 i. 20
vi. 14, 15, v. 7
V. 3, 4
ii. 13 ii. 14
...... V. 2 ...... V. IO ...... V. I 2
v. 1 2
It is urged that the son of Zebedee was certainly among our Lord's disciples at the time the Sermon on the Mount was delivered, while there is no evidence that the son of Alphæus had as yet been called, and a distinct statement, assuming the brother of the Lord not to be identical with the son of Alphæus, that he at this time did not believe in Jesus as the Christ. (John vii. 5.)
(c) The writer finds in St James's description of Jesus as “the Lord of Glory” a reference, parallel to those of 2 Pet. i. 16–18 and John i. 14, to the vision on the Mount of Transfiguration which had been witnessed by Peter and the two
sons of Zebedee.
(d) In the emphasis with which the writer of the Epistle condemns the sins of vainglory and rivalry and self-seeking ambition Mr Bassett finds a reference to the disputes and jealousies which during our Lord's ministry disturbed the harmony of the Apostolic company (comp. ch. i. 9-12, iii. 14-16 with Matt. xviii. 1, Mark ix. 34); in his protests against the “ wrath of man" (ch. i. 19, 20), a reminiscence of his own passionate desire to call down fire from heaven, as Elijah had done of old (Luke ix. 54). With this and with Elijah's loss of patience (1 Kings xix. 4-10), he connects the statement that “Elias was a man of like passions with ourselves” (ch. v. 17).
(e) Stress is laid on the language of the Epistle as to the “coming of the Lord” as agreeing with what our Lord had said
on the Mount of Olives in the hearing of the sons of Zebedee and of Jona (Mark xiii. 3). Compare
James ii. 6, 7 with Mark xiii. 9
Mark xiii. 7
Mark xiii. 32
Mark xiii. 29
Matt. xxiv. 27.
It is inferred that here also he was reproducing what he had himself heard.
(5) The not unfrequent parallelisms between this Epistle and i Peter are next brought to bear on the question. They are given as follows :
James i. 2
with 1 Pet. i. 6-9
i. 10 i. 21
iv. 6, 10
It is urged that these coincidences of thought and phrase are just what might be expected in those who like the son of Zebedee and the son of Jona had been friends and companions in the work of disciples and Apostles.
(5) Interesting and suggestive as each of these lines of thought beyond question is, the evidence does not appear, on the whole, to warrant the conclusion which has been drawn from it. It would be a sufficient explanation of (a) and (6) that the writer of the Epistle had been one of the hearers of the Baptist and of our Lord, or had read or heard what we find recorded in St Matthew's Gospel. Of (c) it must be said that the epithet“ of glory” was far too common (Acts vii. 2; Eph. i. 17; Col. i. 27; Heb. i. 3, ix. 5) to prove what it is alleged to prove. The faults mentioned under (d) were too much the besetting sins of the whole people to sustain any conclusion based on the supposition that they applied specially to the writer. It is obvious that the teaching of our Lord as to His “Coming,” under (e), must, from a very early period, have become, at least to the extent to which the Epistle deals with it, the common property of all believers. Lastly, as to the parallelisms of (1) it must be remembered that there is as much evidence that another James was for many years in constant communication with St Peter, as there is for the earlier friendship of that Apostle with the son of Zebedee.
On the whole, then, it is believed that this hypothesis, interesting and ingenious as it is, must be dismissed as not proven.
III. The name of the second Apostle who bore the name of James comes next under consideration. Can we think of the son of Alphæus as the writer of the Epistle? Here a preliminary question meets us : Are we to think of the son of Alphæus as identical with the brother of the Lord, and with “James the little," the son of Mary, the wife of Clôpas, and the sister of our Lord's mother? The view that one and the self-same person is described in these different ways has been so widely held that it is necessary to examine the grounds on which it rests.
(a) It has been supposed that Clôpas in John xix. 25 is another form, somewhat nearer to the Hebrew (Chalpi), of the name which is represented in the first three Gospels by Alphæus. This is in itself probable enough, but it is a question whether the same person would have been likely to have been known by both forms of the name in the same company of the disciples. The natural tendency, where the same names abound in any district, is that the men who bear them become known by distinct forms, or by epithets attached. Prima facie, therefore, we should expect to find the Alphæus, who is the father of Levi or Matthew and of James, and possibly of the Judas who is connected with James in the list of the Twelve, a different person from Clôpas. There is at any rate far more ground for assuming the identity of the father of Matthew with the father of James (the name being the same in each case) than for looking on the two as distinct persons, and the latter as the same as Clôpas.
(6) The inference is, it is supposed, strengthened by the fact that Mary the wife of Clôpas is apparently identical with “Mary the mother of Joses” (Mark xv. 47) and of James (Mark xvi. I, Luke xxiv. 10), of James the little and of Joses (Mark xv. 40), and that these two names appear in conjunction with Judas in the list of the brethren of the Lord (Mark vi. 3). It is assumed