MembersThe Jews Who Followed James, Brother of Jesus

An in-depth look at the early and varied “Jewish-Christian” movements that later died out, only to give birth in our days to Messianic Judaism

A family of Cochin Jews from the Kerala region of India, circa 1900. Photo: Public domain

Christianity at its inception was very diverse and had numerous sects, much like today, though most of those early “denominations” disappeared during the first millennia AD. One of the more interesting among them was that of the Jewish-Christians, who in fact were the very first “Christians.” And they were the predecessors of a more modern movement known today as “Messianic Jews.”

Let’s explore this Jewish-Christian movement a little.

From the 5th century until the 16th, Christianity became more or less synonymous with Catholicism. But this does not mean that this was the only form of Christianity. Jesus himself was Jewish and never saw himself otherwise. His followers were mostly Jews, and both he and they remained a Jewish sect during his lifetime. After Jesus’ death, his followers continued their Jewish observances, preaching that Jesus was the Messiah to the Jews. One of the most prominent leaders during this period was James (or, more correctly, Jacob. The name “James” was imposed upon him by King James of the newly-United Kingdom when he commissioned his eponymous version of the...

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