Sacred Texts  Christianity  Early Church Fathers  Index  Previous  Next 

Fragments from His Five Books of Commentaries on the Acts of the Church.


Concerning the Martyrdom of James, the Brother of the Lord, from Book V. 3693

James, the Lord’s brother, succeeds to the government of the Church, in conjunction with the apostles.  He has been universally called the Just, from the days of the Lord down to the present time.  For many bore the name of James; but this one was holy from his mother’s womb.  He drank no wine or other intoxicating liquor, 3694 nor did he eat flesh; no razor came upon his head; he did not anoint himself with oil, nor make use of the bath.  He alone was permitted to enter the holy place: 3695   for he did not wear any woollen garment, but fine linen only.  He alone, I say, was wont to go into the temple:  and he used to be found kneeling on his knees, begging forgiveness for the people—so that the skin of his knees became horny like that of a camel’s, by reason of his constantly bending the knee in adoration to God, and begging forgiveness for the people.  Therefore, in consequence of his pre-eminent justice, he was called the Just, and Oblias3696 which signifies in Greek Defence of the People, and Justice, in accordance with what the prophets declare concerning him.

Now some persons belonging to the seven sects existing among the people, which have been before described by me in the Notes, asked him:  “What is the door of Jesus?”  p. 763 And he replied that He was the Saviour.  In consequence of this answer, some believed that Jesus is the Christ.  But the sects before mentioned did not believe, either in a resurrection or in the coming of One to requite every man according to his works; but those who did believe, believed because of James.  So, when many even of the ruling class believed, there was a commotion among the Jews, and scribes, and Pharisees, who said:  “A little more, and we shall have all the people looking for Jesus as the Christ.

They came, therefore, in a body to James, and said:  “We entreat thee, restrain the people:  for they are gone astray in their opinions about Jesus, as if he were the Christ.  We entreat thee to persuade all who have come hither for the day of the passover, concerning Jesus.  For we all listen to thy persuasion; since we, as well as all the people, bear thee testimony that thou art just, and showest partiality to none.  Do thou, therefore, persuade the people not to entertain erroneous opinions concerning Jesus:  for all the people, and we also, listen to thy persuasion.  Take thy stand, then, upon the summit 3697 of the temple, that from that elevated spot thou mayest be clearly seen, and thy words may be plainly audible to all the people.  For, in order to attend the passover, all the tribes have congregated hither, and some of the Gentiles also.”

The aforesaid scribes and Pharisees accordingly set James on the summit of the temple, and cried aloud to him, and said:  “O just one, whom we are all bound to obey, forasmuch as the people is in error, and follows Jesus the crucified, do thou tell us what is the door of Jesus, the crucified.”  And he answered with a loud voice:  “Why ask ye me concerning Jesus the Son of man?  He Himself sitteth in heaven, at the right hand of the Great Power, and shall come on the clouds of heaven.”

And, when many were fully convinced by these words, and offered praise for the testimony of James, and said, “Hosanna to the son of David,” then again the said Pharisees and scribes said to one another, “We have not done well in procuring this testimony to Jesus.  But let us go up and throw him down, that they may be afraid, and not believe him.”  And they cried aloud, and said:  “Oh! oh! the just man himself is in error.”  Thus they fulfilled the Scripture written in Isaiah:  “Let us away with the just man, because he is troublesome to us:  therefore shall they eat the fruit of their doings.”  So they went up and threw down the just man, and said to one another:  “Let us stone James the Just.”  And they began to stone him:  for he was not killed by the fall; but he turned, and kneeled down, and said:  “I beseech Thee, Lord God our Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”

And, while they were thus stoning him to death, one of the priests, the sons of Rechab, the son of Rechabim, to whom testimony is borne by Jeremiah the prophet, began to cry aloud, saying:  “Cease, what do ye?  The just man is praying for us.”  But one among them, one of the fullers, took the staff with which he was accustomed to wring out the garments he dyed, and hurled it at the head of the just man.

And so he suffered martyrdom; and they buried him on the spot, and the pillar erected to his memory still remains, close by the temple.  This man was a true witness to both Jews and Greeks that Jesus is the Christ.

And shortly after Vespasian besieged Judæa, taking them captive.



In Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., ii. 23.  [Comp. Isa. iii. 10, Sept.]




Τὰ ἅγια.


The reference appears to be to the Hebrew word לפֶּעׂ, a rising ground, which was applied as a proper name to a fortified ridge of Mount Zion.  See 2 Chron. xxvii. 3.  It has been proposed to read ἐκαλεῖτο Σαδδὶκ καὶ ᾽Ωζλιὰμ, ὅ ἐστιν δίκαιος καὶ περιοχὴ τοῦ λαοῦ.  The text, in which not only a Hebrew word but also a Greek (Δίκαιος) is explained in Greek, can hardly give the correct reading.  [The translator suggests ᾽Ωβλίας as the probable reading of the LXX., though it is corrupted as above.]


Πτερύγιον.  [Matt. iv. 5.]

Next: Fragment II