Smith's Bible Dictionary
Greek form of Jacob, supplanter).
1. James, the son of Zebedee, one of the twelve apostles. He was elder brother of the evangelist John. His mother's name was Salome. We first hear of him in A.D. 27,Mar_1:20, when, at the call of the Master, he left all, and became, one and forever, his disciple, in the spring of A.D. 28. Mat_10:2; Mar_3:14; Luk_6:13; Act_1:13. It would seem to have been at the time of the appointment of the twelve apostles that the name of Boanerges, [sons of thunder] was given to the sons of Zebedee. The "sons of thunder" had a burning and impetuous spirit, which twice exhibits itself. Mar_10:37; Luk_9:54.
On the night before the crucifixion, James was present at the agony in the garden. On the day of the ascension, he is mentioned as persevering, with the rest of the apostles and disciples, in prayer.Act_1:13. Shortly before the day of the Passover, in the year A.D. 44, he was put to death by Herod Agrippa I. Act_12:1-2.
2. James, the son of Alpheus, one of the twelve apostles.Mat_10:3. Whether or not this James is to be identified with James the Less, the son of Alphaeus, the brother of our Lord, is one of the most difficult questions in the gospel history. By comparing Mat_27:56 and Mar_15:40 with Joh_19:25, we find that the Virgin Mary had a sister named, like herself, Mary, who was the wife of Clopas or Alpheus, (varieties of the same name), and who had two sons, James the Less and Joses.
By referring toMat_13:55 and Mar_6:3, we find that a James the Less and Joses, with two other brethren called Jude and Simon, and at least three sisters, were sisters with the Virgin Mary at Nazareth. By referring to Luk_6:16 and Act_1:13, we find that there were two brethren named James and Jude among the apostles.
It would certainly be natural to think that we had here, but one family of four brothers and three or more sisters, the children of Clopas and Mary, nephews and nieces of the Virgin Mary. There are difficulties however, in the way of this conclusion into which we cannot here enter; but in reply to the objection that the four brethren inMat_13:55 are described as the brothers of Jesus, not as his cousins, it must be recollected that adelphoi, which is here translated "brethren," may also signify cousins.
Taken from: Smith's Bible Dictionary by Dr. William Smith (1884)