October 23, 2017

Synaxarion of the Holy Apostle and First Bishop of Jerusalem James the Brother of God

St. James the Brother of God (Feast Day - October 23)


The brother was hurled to the condemning club,
By this the all-blessed one died being struck with a club.
On the twenty-third the good brother of God was struck with a club.

Saint James the Brother of God was the first Bishop of Jerusalem, having been ordained by the Lord Himself. He was also the first to write the Divine Liturgy, having been taught regarding it by the Master Christ Himself. This was later shortened by Basil the Great, and again that of Basil the Great was shortened by the divine Chrysostom due to the weakness of the listeners.

Having therefore shepherded the Church of Jerusalem, and converted many Jews and pagan Greeks to the faith of Christ, he moved the Jews to rage. They therefore captured him, and hurled him from the pinnacle of the Temple, and while he was still alive, they killed him.

As to why he is called the Brother of God, there is a tradition that has been passed down to us that when Joseph, the betrothed of the Theotokos, was distributing his belongings to his sons, which were born to him from another woman,* namely this James, as well as Joses, Judah and Simon, he wanted to give a portion to our Lord Jesus Christ, Who was born of the Virgin. The other three sons did not show a liking to this, but this James made the Lord fellow-inheritor of his own portion.

Not only is he called the Brother of God, but also Bulwark of the People and Just.


* Saint Jerome staunchly defends the mutual perpetual virginity of Joseph and Mary. "You say that Mary did not remain a virgin; even more do I claim that Joseph also was virginal through Mary, in order that from a virginal marriage a virginal son might be born. For if the charge of fornication does not fall on this holy man, and if it is not written that he had another wife, and if he was more a protector than a husband of Mary, whom he was thought to have as his wife, it remains to assert that he who merited to be called the father of the Lord remained virginal with her." (Jerome against Helvidius, PL 23:203). This is a teaching held more widely in the West, while in the East it was widely believed that Joseph was previously married and had children by that marriage, and that he became betrothed to the Ever-Virgin Mary at an older age.

Apolytikion in the Fourth Tone
Thou hast received the gospel as a Disciple, thou art invincible as a Martyr, bold as the Brother of God, and thou dost intercede as a Hierarch. Entreat Christ our God that He may save our souls.

Kontakion in the Fourth Tone
God the Word, only-begotten of the Father, came to us in the last days. He has made thee first shepherd and teacher of Jerusalem, and a steward of spiritual mysteries. We honour thee, O Apostle James.