Burghley House Collection, Lincolnshire, UK/Bridgeman Art Library
James, the brother of Jesus, is dressed as a bishop, with mitre and staff, in Paolo Veronese’s 16th-century portrait. Though James was never a bishop (the church historian Eusebius, quoting earlier traditions, called him one but there was no such thing in his day), he was the one calling the shots in the Jerusalem church after Jesus’ death, making decisions that Peter and Paul had to abide by. Yet today he is the least well remembered of the three—primarily because the heirs of Peter and Paul are responsible for writing and compiling the history of Christianity found in the New Testament. But as Ben Witherington points out, they did not completely expunge James. By closely reading the few New Testament passages that mention James, we can retrace his emergence as the first leader of the church.