Who was St James the Less?

Why is our church called St James the Less?  Many churches are called after disciples, apostles or significant figures in the life of Jesus and the early Church.  St James the Less is one such.

He is alleged that he was named “The Less” because (a) he came later to discipleship, (b) he was shorter in stature or (c) he was younger than another disciple of Jesus also called James.

There is much confusion as to the identification of St James the Less.  There are many James in the story of Jesus:

James, disciple, son of Zebedee, brother of John

James, disciple, son of Alphaeus

James, son of Mary, brother of Joses

James, brother or cousin of Jesus

Different historians argue that these may not be four distinct people but different identifications given at different times to two or three James.  (You can explore the various arguments at your leisure on the internet.)

Tradition has it that St James the Less was the first Bishop of Jerusalem, and was killed there around 62AD and buried near the temple (but again, this may be a cross-over with the stories of other James’).  From this distance of time, it is impossible to know for certain.



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