He is often identified with another figure of a similar name, Cleopas (Κλεοπᾶς), one of the two disciples of Emmaus Luke 24:13-27. There is some variation of the Greek manuscripts in both John 19:25 and Luke 24 as to the spelling Κλ[ε]οπᾶς, and the John "Clopas" is rendered "Cleophas" in the KJV.
The identity of the other women in the parallel passages in Matthew 27:56 and Mark 15:40 is given as Mary Magdalene, "Mary the mother of James and Joses," and "Salome the mother of Zebedee's children" (Matthew), "Salome" (Mark). Luke does not mention the women watching near the cross. The parallels continue again with accounts of the burial. Matthew 28:1 has "Mary Magdalene and the other Mary" with no mention of John's mother Salome, Mark 16:1 has again Mary Magdalene, "Mary the mother of James" and Salome. Luke says "they," John mentions only Mary Magdalene.
As a result of these parallels commentators have identified "Mary of Clopas" with Mary mother of "James, son of Alphaeus." Alphaeus (Greek Ἀλφαῖος) was also the name of the father of the disciple Matthew the evangelist (Mark 2:14). The Aramaic name Hilfai (חילפאי), or Hebrew name Halfi (חלפי) have been proposed by a variety of sources including Joseph Henry Thayer who argued in his Lexicon that dropping the Hebrew "H" (which has no letter in Greek) and rendering Hebrew "H" as "K" in Greek were both possible. Perhaps under the influence of this tradition the modern Hebrew New Testament does in fact use the Hebrew name Yaakov ben Khalfi (יעקב בן חלפי) for James son of Alphaeus. The Aramaic name Halfai is evidenced on Aramaic panels of the period, and the name Hilphai in rabbinic literature.
The most common interpretation is that "of Clopas" indicates the husband of this Mary and subsequently the father of her children, but some see "of Clopas" as meaning this Mary's father. In medieval tradition Clopas is the husband of Saint Anne and the father of "Mary of Clopas".
Early Christian writings
Clopas also appears in early Christian writings such as the 2nd century writers Papias and Hegesippus as a brother of Joseph, the husband of Mary, mother of Jesus, and as the father of Simeon, the second bishop of Jerusalem. Eusebius of Caesarea relates in his Church History (Book III, ch. 11), that after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Christians of Jerusalem
- "all with one consent pronounced Symeon, the son of Clopas, of whom the Gospel also makes mention; to be worthy of the episcopal throne of that parish. He was a cousin, as they say, of the Saviour. For Hegesippus records that Clopas was a brother of Joseph."
A few modern writers identify Mary of Clopas with Jesus' mother, such as James Tabor who has postulated that Clopas, whom he accepts as a brother of Joseph, became the second husband of Jesus' mother. Tabor argues that Clopas married Mary according to the Levirate law, which however would only apply in case of a childless widow - though this view is not widely accepted.
|Wikisource has the text of the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia article Cleophas.|
- David Francis Bacon (1813-1865) Lives of the apostles of Jesus Christ 1836- Page 390 "Now, both of these differences can, by a reference to the original Hebrew word, be shown to be only the results of the different modes of expressing the same Hebrew letters ; and the words thus expressed may, by the established rules of.."
- Thayer Greek Lexicon entry Alphaeus
- Franz Delitzsch Hebrew New Testament
- John Cunningham Geikie The life and words of Christ Volume 1 1884 "Alphaeus, or Alpheus __, and Clopas are different ways of pronouncing in Greek the Hebrew name ___ (Chal'phai)."
- Seth Schwartz Imperialism and Jewish society, 200 B.C.E. to 640 C.E. - Page 262 - 2001 "(Panel 3, in Aramaic) May Yosi and Azrin and Haziqin sons of Halfai be remembered for good. / Whoever causes faction between men and their fellows, or recounts / slander about his fellow to the nations ['amemayah], or steals / the .."
- Ben-Zion Rosenfeld Torah centers and rabbinic activity in Palestine, 70-400 CE 2010 Page 136 "A tannaitic sage by the name of Abba Hilphai b. Keruya is referred to in rabbinic literature as a pious person. Rabban Gamliel of Yavneh apparently came to visit him and asked Abba Hilphai to pray for him."
- "St. Anne". Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. 1913.
- Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History, Book III, ch. 11.
- Tabor, James D. (2006). The Jesus Dynasty: A New Historical Investigation of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-7432-8723-1.