Bible Review 19:3, June 2003
James, the Brother of Jesus

Where Was James Buried?

Making sense of contradictory accounts

By Jerome Murphy-O’Connor

Controversy over the burial of James, the brother of Jesus, is nothing new. As early as the fourth century A.D., the location of James’s tomb was disputed. In the words of the church father Jerome, writing in 392 A.D.: “Some monks think James was buried on the Mount of Olives, but their opinion is false.” Jerome continues, “He is buried near the Temple from which he was thrown down. The grave-marker was well known up to the siege of Titus [ending the First Jewish Revolt against Rome in 70 A.D.] and even that of Hadrian [ending the Second Jewish Revolt in 135 A.D.].”1 The question for Jerome, then, was whether James was buried on the western or eastern slope of Jerusalem’s Kidron Valley, which separates the Temple Mount and the City of David on the west from the Mount of Olives on the east (see map, below). Jerome was confident James’s tomb was on the west side of the valley, just outside the southeastern corner of the Temple Mount.

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