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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

ALPHaeUS ( Ἀλφαῖος).—In the NT this name is borne by (1) the father of the Levi who is commonly identified with Matthew the Apostle ( Mark 2:14); (2) the father of the second James in the lists of the Apostles ( Matthew 10:3,  Mark 3:18,  Luke 6:15,  Acts 1:13). The desire to connect as many of the Twelve as possible by ties of natural relationship has led some ( e.g. Weiss) to identify the two. But in the lists Matthew and James are separated by Thomas in St. Mark and St. Luke; and even in St. Matthew, where one follows the other, there is no note that they were brothers, similar to that attached to the names of the sons of Zebedee.

The identification of (2) with the Clopas of  John 19:25 rests on two hypotheses: (α) The assumption that as a Mary is given as the mother of James, and consequently as the wife of Alphaeus, she must be the same as Mary the wife of Clopas who stood by the Cross. Jerome ( de Perpet. Virg. v. 16) adopted this argument. But Mary is a name of far too common occurrence in the NT to make this theory of any value. (β) The alleged derivation of the names Alphaeus and Clopas from a common Aramaic original. But this has not been satisfactorily established: there is even a lack of agreement as to the form of the original. WH [Note: H Westcott and Hort’s text.] hold that its initial letter would be ח, and print Ἀλφαῖος accordingly; but Edersheim quotes the Babylonian Talmud to show that the letter would be א. Jerome, although predisposed by his view of the Brethren of the Lord in favour of finding the same man under both names, rejects the linguistic identification; and the Syriac versions also represent them by different words. Delitzsch held Alphaeus to be a Grecized form of an Aramaic word, but Clopas and Cleopas to be abbreviations of a Greek name Cleopatros (against this see Deissmann, Bible Studies , English translation p. 315 n. [Note: note.] ).

Nothing is known of either Alphaeus beyond the name; for such details as that (2) was the brother of Joseph, the reputed father of the Lord, stand or fall with his identification with Clopas to whom they really belong. See art. Clopas, below.

Literature.—Lightfoot, Essay on ‘The Brethren of the Lord’ in his Commentary on Galatians , also in Dissertations on the Apost. Age , p. 1; Mayor, The Epistle of St. James , Introd. p. xxi; Edersheim, Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah , bk. v. ch. 15; Andrews, Life of our Lord upon Earth , 114, 115; Weiss, Life of Christ , bk. iv. ch. 7 [English translation].

C. T. Dimont.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [2]

ALPHÆUS . 1 . The father of James the Apostle (  Matthew 10:3 =   Mark 3:18 =   Luke 6:15 =   Acts 1:13 ), commonly identified with James the Little, son of Mary and brother of Joses or Joseph (  Mark 15:40 =   Matthew 27:56 ). The identification is confirmed by   John 19:25 , if it be allowed that Clopas is the same name as Alphæus. And this is most likely. Both names probably represent the Aramaic Chalphai (cf. 1Ma 11:70 ). St. John’s ‘Clopas’ is almost a transliteration, while ‘Alphæus’ is the name in a Greek dress, the disguise being more apparent if it be written, with WH [Note: H Westcott and Hort’s text.] , ‘Halphæus.’

2 . The father of Levi the tax-gatherer (  Mark 2:14 ), afterwards Matthew the Apostle and Evangelist (  Matthew 9:9;   Matthew 10:3 ). It is remarkable that in   Mark 2:14 Codex Bezæ and some cursives read James for Levi , and there is a tradition (Chrysost. in Matth . xxxiii.) that the Apostles Matthew and James had both been tax-gatherers. It is perhaps possible that Alphæus the father of James was identical with Alphæus the father of Levi, and that the two tax-gatherer Apostles were brothers. Nothing is recorded of Alphæus; yet, if these identifications be allowed, great was his glory. He was evidently himself a believer; his son Joses, though undistinguished, was evidently a believer also; his son James was an Apostle; his son Matthew was an Apostle and an Evangelist; and his wife Mary was one of the faithful women who stood by the Cross and visited the Sepulchre (  Mark 16:1 ).

David Smith.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [3]

Father of James the Less, the apostle, and writer of the epistle, and "brother (i.e. cousin) of our Lord" ( Matthew 10:3;  Mark 3:18;  Luke 6:15;  Acts 1:13); also of Joses ( Mark 15:40). Husband of the Mary who with Jesus' mother stood at the cross ( John 19:25). The same as Clopas (as it should be written, not Cleophas), both names being Greek variations of Hebrew Chalpai , or Ηhalpai . Possibly the Cleopas of  Luke 24:18. If the translation  Luke 6:16 be correct, "Jude, brother of James," Alphaeus was his father also. In  Mark 2:14 Levi (Matthew) is called the son of Alphaeus. Whether he be the same is not certain: probably not.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [4]

1. Father of James the Less,  Matthew 10:3   Luke 6:15 , and husband of the Mary usually regarded as sister to the mother of Christ,  John 19:25 . See  John 19:25 with   Luke 24:18 and   Matthew 10:3 , it is evident that Alphaeus is the same as Cleophas; Alphaeus being his Greek name, and Cleophas his Hebrew or Syriac name.

2. Father of Matthew, or Levi, the evangelist,  Mark 2:14 .

Smith's Bible Dictionary [5]

Alphae'us. (Changing). The father of the apostle James the Less,  Matthew 10:3;  Mark 3:18;  Luke 6:15;  Acts 1:13, and husband of Mary.  John 19:25. See Mary . In this latter place, he is called Clopas (not, as in the Authorized Version, Cleophas).

Easton's Bible Dictionary [6]

  • The father of Levi, or Matthew ( Mark 2:14 ).

    Copyright Statement These dictionary topics are from M.G. Easton M.A., DD Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition, published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain.

    Bibliography Information Easton, Matthew George. Entry for 'Alphaeus'. Easton's Bible Dictionary. 1897.

  • Holman Bible Dictionary [7]

     Matthew 10:3 Mark 3:18 Luke 6:15 Acts 1:13 Mark 15:40  John 19:25  Luke 24:18 2 Mark 2:14 Matthew 9:9  Luke 5:27

    Morrish Bible Dictionary [8]

    1. The father of one of the apostles named James.  Matthew 10:3;  Mark 3:18;  Luke 6:15;  Acts 1:13 .

    2. Father of Levi (or Matthew) the apostle.  Mark 2:14 .

    International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [9]

    al - fē´us ( Ἀλφαῖος , Alphaı́os  ; Westcott and Hort, The New Testament in Greek, Αλφαῖος , Halphaı́os ):

    (1) The father of the second James in the list of the apostles ( Matthew 10:3;  Mark 3:18;  Luke 6:15;  Acts 1:13 ).

    (2) The father of Levi, the publican ( Mark 2:14 ). Levi is designated as Matthew in the Gospel of Mt ( Matthew 9:9 ). There is no other reference to this Alpheus.

    Some writers, notably Weiss, identify the father of Levi with the father of the second James. He says that James and Levi were undoubtedly brothers; but that seems improbable. If they were brothers they would quite likely be associated as are James and John, Andrew and Peter. Chrysostom says James and Levi had both been tax-gatherers before they became followers of Jesus. This tradition would not lend much weight as proof that they were brothers, for it might arise through identifying the two names, and the western manuscripts do identify them and read James instead of Levi in  Mark 2:14 . This, however, is undoubtedly a corruption of the text. If it had been the original it would be difficult to explain the substitution of an unknown Levi for James who is well known.

    Many writers identify Alpheus, the father of the second James, with Clopas of  John 19:25 . This had early become a tradition, and Chrysostom believed they were the same person. This identity rests on four suppositions, all of which are doubtful:

    (a) That the Mary of Clopas was the same as the Mary who was the mother of the second James. There is a difference of opinion as to whether "Mary of Clopas" should be understood to be the wife of Clopas or the daughter of Clopas, but the former is more probable. We know from  Matthew 27:56 and   Mark 15:40 that there was a James who was the son of Mary, and that this Mary belonged to that little group of women that was near Jesus it the time of the crucifixion. It is quite likely that this Mary is the one referred to in   John 19:25 . That would make James, the son of Mary of  Matthew 27:56 , the son of Mary of Clopas. But Mary was such a common name In the New Testament that this supposition cannot be proven.

    (b) That the James, who was the son of Mary, was the same person as the James, the son of Alpheus. Granting the supposition under (a), this would not prove the identity of Clopas and Alpheus unless this supposition can also be proven, but it seems impossible to either prove it or disprove it.

    (c) That Alpheus and Clopas are different variations of a common original, and that the variation has arisen from different pronunciations of the first letter ח (" ") of the Aramaic original. There are good scholars who both support and deny this theory.

    (d) That Clopas had two names as was common at that time; but there is nothing to either substantiate or disprove this theory. See Clopas .

    It seems impossible to determine absolutely whether or not Alpheus, the father of the second James, and Clopas of  John 19:25 are the same person, but it is quite probable that they are.

    Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [10]

    ( Ἀλφαῖος ), the name of two men.

    1. The putative father of James the Less ( Matthew 10:3;  Mark 3:18;  Luke 6:15;  Acts 1:13), and husband of Mary, the sister-in-law of our Lord's mother ( John 19:25) (See Mary); for which reason James is called "the Lord's brother" ( Galatians 1:19). (See James). A.D. ante 26. It seems that he was a (perhaps elder) brother of Joseph, to whom, on his decease without issue, his widow was married according to the Levirate Law (q.v.). By comparing  John 19:25, with  Luke 24:10, and  Matthew 10:3, it appears that Alphaeus is the Greek, and Cleophas or Clopas (q.v.) the Hebrew or Syriac name of the same person, according to the custom of the provinces or of the time, when men had often two names, by one of which they were known to their friends and countrymen, and by the other to the Romans or strangers. More probably, however, the double name in Greek arises, in this instance, from a diversity in pronouncing the ח in his Aramaean name, חִלְפִי (Chalphay', Changing, as in the Talmudists, Lightfoot, ad Acts, 1, 13 ), a diversity which is common also in the Septuagint (Kuinol, Comment. on  John 19:25). (See Name). Or rather, perhaps, Clopas was a Greek name adopted out of resemblance to the Jewish form of Alpheus (like "Paul" for "Saul"), if, indeed, the former be not the original from which the latter was derived by corruption.

    2. The father of the evangelist Levi or Matthew ( Mark 2:14). A.D. ante 26.

    Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [11]

    Alphaeus, 1

    Alphæ´us, father of James the Less ( Matthew 10:3;  Luke 6:15), and husband of Mary, the sister of our Lord's mother ( John 19:25); for which reason James is called 'the Lord's brother' [BROTHER]. By comparing  John 19:25, with  Luke 24:10, and  Matthew 10:3, it appears that Alphaeus is the same person as Cleophas; Alphaeus being his Greek, and Cleophas his Hebrew or Syriac name.

    Alphaeus, 2

    Alphæus, the father of the evangelist Levi or Matthew ( Mark 2:14).