James the Less, Thaddeus, and Simon of Canaan

As previously mentioned, James, the son of Alphaeus, as Matthew and Luke identify him (Matthew 10:3, Luke 6:15, and Acts 1:13) is better known as James the Less to distinguish him from James, the son of Zebedee, or James the Greater. The Less, or Minor, can mean in Latin either smaller of stature or younger. Though there are many opinions about the various Jameses in the New Testament, the consensus seems to be that there were four principal ones: James, the brother of the Lord (described earlier as the son of Joseph by a previous marriage), who was the first bishop of Jerusalem and the author of the Epistle of James; the two apostles named James (Greater and Less); and James, the son of Cleopas and another Mary (Mark 15:40, Luke 24:10). Some Roman Catholic writers conflate James, the brother of the Lord, with James, the son of Cleopas.


The Apostle Thaddeus is also known as Jude, Judas the brother of James, and “not Iscariot” (Luke 6:16 and John 14:22), and Lebbaeus (Matthew 10:3, which calls him “Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddeus.” Mark 3:18 refers to him simply as Thaddeus). His speaking is recorded only once in the New Testament when, in John 14:23, he asks Jesus, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us and not to the world?”

Simon of Canaan

Also called Simon Zelotes, Simon the Zealous or Simon the Zealot, Simon of Canaan is believed by some to have been the bridegroom at the wedding in Cana where Jesus turned water into wine. Though some believe he was a member of the party known as the Zealots who advocated violent overthrow of the Roman oppressors in Israel, a Roman Catholic source says the better reading of Zelotes is “Zealous,” as in zealous for the faith and Jewish teachings.


The Roman Catholic Church assigns symbols to each apostle. Those associated with Simon the Zealous are a saw (by which tradition says he was martyred by being cut in two) and a book. A scroll and a key represent Simon Peter. Peter's brother Andrew is represented by a decussate cross, the type on which he was crucified.

As Jesus early dispelled any hopes some may have had that he would lead a revolution, it is likely that if Simon was ever a member of the Zealots, he was converted into a zealous apostle of his newfound Lord. An apocryphal Acts of Simon and Judas (Thaddeus) maintains that after the establishment of the church Simon and Thaddeus preached the Gospel in Persia.

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