An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

James the Apostle, Saint

(the Greater). James and John, sons of Zebedee, are mentioned frequently in the gospels. James is usually mentioned first. He is sometimes called “the elder” or “the greater,” to distinguish him from the other apostle James, the son of Alphaeus, who is called James the Less. James was a fisherman by trade. James and John left their father and their work as fishermen when called by Jesus. They became apostles, and with Peter formed an inner circle in the apostolic group. They witnessed the Transfiguration, the healing of Peter's mother-in-law, the raising of the daughter of Jairus, and the agony at Gethsemane. Jesus nicknamed the brothers James and John “sons of thunder.” Legend claims that James was a great traveler and carried the gospel to Spain. He is the patron saint of that country where he is called Santiago. His work for the Lord in Jerusalem angered Herod, who had him killed about the year 42. He was the first of the apostles to be martyred and the only one whose martyrdom is mentioned in the Bible (Acts 12:1-2). James's life is commemorated in the Episcopal calendar of the church year on July 25.

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.