(1) How to prove the resurrection? (2) Exhibit #4: Jesus was crucified under Pilate 
(3) Exhibit #5: Roman crucifixion led to death  (4) Exhibit #6: Jesus died on the cross
(5) Exhibit #7: The evidence of the missing body  (6) Exhibit #8: The resurrection appearances
(7) The resurrection creed: 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 (8) Exhibit #9: Would you die for a lie?:
(9) Exhibit #10: The conversion of Saul to Paul

(10) Exhibit #11: The conversion of James

(11) Exhibit #12: Not enough faith for alternative explanations 
5. Did the Resurrection Really Happen? (10)

Exhibit #11: The Conversion of James, the Brother of Jesus

After the miraculous conception of Jesus, Mary and Joseph had other children as well. The gospels report that Jesus had at least four brothers and some sisters: “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mother’s name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren’t all his sisters with us?” (Matthew 13:55, also Mark 6:3). And the gospels also record, that while Jesus was alive, his brothers did not believe in Him: “For even his own brothers did not believe in him” (John 7:5). The Scriptures do not sugarcoat this. The lack of belief by James and the other brothers is corroborated by the absolute silence about them in the gospels. None of the accounts of Jesus’ ministry mentions them in any role.

However, after the resurrection, in the earliest years of Christianity, James, the brother of Jesus, became a significant player in the movement. In Galatians 1:19, Paul explicitly identified him as one of the only two individuals he met with during his 37 AD trip to Jerusalem : “I saw none of the other apostles—only James, the Lord’s brother.” So, there cannot be any doubt that James,[42] Jesus’ brother, had within four years of the resurrection not only converted to Christianity; he had become a recognized leader in the early church.

Later on Paul also gives an important clue as to why James became a Christian, in the early resurrection creed in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8, Paul writes that Jesus also appeared to James: “Then he appeared to James”(1 Corinthians 15:7). One can argue which James this is (lack of surnames in Bible times can occasionally be quite confusing). However, the context makes it clear, that this is not James the son of Zebedee (the brother of John) or the other apostle James: James the son of Alphaeus. (as they are mentioned as part of the apostle group before). Therefore this must be James, the Lord’s brother.

Subsequently, in Acts 12:17 and 15:13 this same James is recognized after the resurrection as a leader of the church in Jerusalem . And he also wrote the New Testament book by that name.

An important, non-Biblical confirmation comes to us from Josephus: “Ananus…assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, …, he delivered them to be stoned.” [43] This passage does not only confirm that James was the brother of Jesus, it also mentions that he was martyred for his faith by stoning (around 57 AD).

All in all, it is a well founded conclusion that James, the brother of Jesus – like Paul – made a remarkable conversion from a non-believer during the lifetime of Jesus to a leader in the earliest years of the Christian movement and was ultimately stoned for his faith. Although the personal appearance of the risen Jesus to His brother James is reported only once in the New Testament, this reported encounter is part of the powerful early resurrection creed dated back to only a few years after the resurrection. And one can wonder: What could have ever happened to James that could have converted him to a believer apart from the appearance of the resurrected Christ? James knew Jesus while He was alive and certainly knew about His teachings and even Jesus’ miracles. None of this, however, convinced him, so what could the apostles have said to convince this man? Logically, only a personal encounter with Jesus, as mentioned by Paul, would explain his 180 degree change in beliefs and actions.


The bone box of James

In October 2002 an ancient ossuary was discovered with the remarkable inscription: “James, son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” An ossuary or bone box was commonly used in the first century to give the bones of deceased (after the body had decomposed) a final resting place, usually in a family tomb.  Ossuaries were sometimes inscribed, often with the names of the deceased and his father. The 2002 ossuary of James is unusual because it includes the name of the brother, Jesus, which suggests that this brother Jesus must have been an important individual.

James' Ossuary?

Since its discovery the bone box (picture)[44] has been the subject of extensive and intense scrutiny, research and debate. There is unanimous agreement that the box itself is an authentic first century ossuary. The conclusions on the inscription are mixed. The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto where the inscription was discovered deemed it authentic; members of the Geological Survey of Israel supported this conclusion. However, later a committee of textual scholars and geology specialists appointed by the Israel Antiquities Authority in a majority opinion declared the inscriptions to be a forgery, but at least two members of the committee found the name “Jesus” on the box to be authentic.[45]

Read on about: (11) Exhibit #12: Not enough faith for alternative explanations 

[42] Sometimes James, the brother of Jesus, is also referred to as “James the Just”.

[43] Ibid, The Antiquities of the Jews, 20.200. The stoning of James, brother of Jesus is not mentioned in the NT.

[44] Picture used by permission. The James ossuary (shown on the picture) was on display at the Royal Ontario Museum from November 15, 2002 to January 5, 2003.

[45] Steven Feldman in Archaeology Odyssey 06:05 (September/October 2003). See also Jerome Murphy-O’Connor in BR 19:03. Biblical Archaeology Society (June 2003) and Edward J. Keall in BAR 29:04 (July/August 2003).

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