There is some dispute over who James, "the brother of Christ" was. Some believe that he was literally the son of Mary and Joseph, others that Christ had no siblings but that he was a cousin. What is not disputable is that he rose to be the head of the Christian Church in Jerusalem. The book of Acts tells the story of how James was visited by Jesus after the crucifixion and how this event finally caused his conversion.
It is also known that he was stoned to death, a martyr for his faith in Jesus near the same time that Paul was reputed to have been killed by Nero in Rome. As head of the church in Jerusalem, James was a "Jewish" Christian. He still adhered to many of the forms and laws of Judaism and felt they were vital to the Christian faith. The book of James is thought to be a compilation of his sermons. It touches very little on the messianic features of Christianity, yet it rigorously delves into the moral teachings of Christ.
The book of James is packed with exhortations and warnings. Each one is an epigram that speaks volumes. It is a great guide for a moral, just and good life. The passages are short, pithy and to the point. There is much here - first to contemplate, then to implement.
James is an excellent study for those looking for guidance in their daily lives. It is also recommended for those interested in doctrine, especially in how the Christian Jews related with Christians converted from Gentiles. An in-depth study is recommended.
Available Bible Studies:
James: A Life Application Bible Study is inexpensive and contains 13 lessons, charts, maps, study questions and notes. Visit our Life Application page for more information on how to use this work in a Bible study.
James and Peter, by William Barclay is great both as an in-depth study for a group and also as a daily guide for individuals. Visit our page on Barclay for more information on how to use Barclay's works in a Bible study.