The author of the General Epistle of James identifies himself as "James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ " (James 1:1). Early church tradition ascribes this letter to James, the "brother", or kinsman, of our Lord, known as James the Just.
St. James was probably converted by a post-resurrection appearance of Christ (1 Cor. 15:7). The apostles made him the first bishop of Jerusalem (see Acts 12:7, 18; Gal. 1:18, 19, 2:9), where he presided over the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:13).
James was the ideal bishop for Jerusalem. He lived a strict and holy life, praying in the temple so frequently he was called "camel-kneed". The Jews considered him incorruptible, for he obeyed the Law of Moses better than they. Furthermore, they found no fault with him, except that he confessed Jesus to be the Messiah. It was the Jews who called this bishop of the Church "Just"!
According to tradition, James was executed, around 62 AD, at the prompting of the Sanhedrin, being thrown from the temple walls and then clubbed to death. October 23 is the remembrance of his martyrdom.
from The Orthodox Study Bible, Copyright ©
by St. Athanasius Orthodox Academy,
Nelson ISBN 0-8407-8391-4