I was talking to a friend this morning about Bible translations. I mentioned that there is no such book as ‘James’ in the Bible. Now I have heard that the name Jacob and James are related. However James is an English version of the name Jacob and from what I can tell is a result of bad pronunciation of the original. Needless to say it was not in use during Bible times.
So there was no James the brother of Jesus, there was no James the disciple of Jesus. There is no one named James in the entire Bible! If you look up James in a Strong’s Concordance you will find that the Strong’s number is G2835 Ἰάκωβος (Iakobos) which when translated is the name Jacob. It has the same meaning as Strong’s G2834 Ἰακώβ (Iakob) used for Jacob. They both refer to the same Hebrew name. So the correct name of the book in the Bible written by the brother of Jesus (Iasous in Greek or Yeshua in Hebrew) is Jacob. Jacob was a leader of the congregation of the Messiah in Jerusalem. It was Cephas (Peter) cf. John 1:42, Jacob (James), and John who were the three disciples of Jesus.
The translators of the ‘New Testament’ translated Jacob from the Books of Moses consistently as Jacob, but the changed the contemporaries of Jesus whose names were Jacob to James, maybe to differentiate them. However, James is an English name, and Jacob is a Hebrew name. Since we use the name Jacob today, maybe we should consider being a bit more accurate with the Bible and give all the James’ back their original birth names. I am sure their mothers would appreciate it!
I heard the reason that we have the James in our Bibles is so that King James would sign off on the authorized version. Now there is no way to prove that is true, but I bet it sure didn’t hurt!
So at the Resurrection when you go to look for the brother of Jesus who wrote the letter in the Bible we still read today, you are going to want to ask for Jacob (יַעֲקֹב Ya’akov).