Saint NameJames, 'brother of the Lord', also known as James the Just : S00058
David, Old Testament king of Israel : S00269
Saint Name in SourceἸάκωβος
Type of EvidenceLiterary - Sermons/Homilies
Evidence not before410
Evidence not after450
Activity not before410
Activity not after450
Place of Evidence - RegionPalestine with Sinai
Place of Evidence - City, village, etcJerusalem
Place of evidence - City name in other Language(s)Jerusalem
Major author/Major anonymous workHesychius of Jerusalem
Cult activities - Liturgical Activity
Cult activities - Festivals
Cult Activities - Protagonists in Cult and NarrativesEcclesiastics - lesser clergy
SourceHesychius lived as a monk and priest in Palestine and Jerusalem in the first half of the 5th century. A member of the clergy of the Holy Sepulchre, he was a leading theologian and author, flourishing from the 410s to perhaps after 451. He was a close associate of Juvenal (bishop of Jerusalem 422-458), and participated in the theological debate against Nestorius, supporting Cyril of Alexandria. The date of his death is uncertain. Theophanes reports that he died in the same year as Melania the Younger (ed. de Boor 92, 20: AM 5926), but he is also reported to have been alive when the Council of Chalcedon took place in 451, and to have opposed it.
His surviving works include commentaries and homilies. He is known to have published an ecclesiastical history, which has not survived. The circulation of his works in the Middle Ages seems to have been geographically limited, since they tend to be found in manuscripts from Jerusalem and southern Italy, but hardly ever in Constantinopolitan ones. His homilies are important testimonies for the early stages of development of the liturgical traditions of the church of Jerusalem, and the appearance of a number of feasts with a strong Marian dimension like the 14 February feast of Hypapante (Candlemas) and 15 August.
On the manuscripts see: Aubineau 1978, 365-366.
DiscussionThis homily is probably associated with a peculiar Jerusalem feast held on 25 December at the church of Holy Sion. Instead of celebrating the Nativity of Christ, which was already widely practised elsewhere, Jerusalem dedicated the day to the commemoration of two of Christ’s relatives, James, the so-called Brother of the Lord, and King David, Christ’s ancestor. This feast is recorded by the Armenian Lectionary of Jerusalem (E05188) and Cosmas Indicopleustes (5.12).
Both James and David were honoured mainly as relatives of Christ, in association with Christ’s birth, even though that event was honoured in Jerusalem on the Day of Epiphany (6 January). In the extant fragment, Hesychius is clearly aware of the fact that the day is related to the Nativity, and refers extensively to Bethlehem, as if trying to justify why Jerusalem does not join in the feast. James is praised as the first bishop of Jerusalem and the man who established laws and rules for the first Christian community. His commemoration at the shrine of Holy Sion will have recalled memories of the first Christian community, with which that site was closely linked. The sections of the homily which referred to David have not survived.
BibliographyText, French translation, and commentary:
Aubineau, M., Les homélies festales d’Hésychius de Jérusalem I: les homélies I-XV (Subsidia Hagiographica 59: Brussels, 1978).