Clopas (or Clophas) is a figure of early Christianity. The name appears only once in the New Testament:

John 19:25
Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

His identity and relationship to Jesus has been a topic of debate between Christian scholars.


The most common interpretation is that Clopas is the husband of this Mary and subsequently the father of her children. However, though those holding that Saint Anne had three husbands see Clopas as one of Anne's husband and father of Mary of Clopas.[1]

He is often identified with another figure of a similar name, Cleopas, one of the two disciples of Emmaus Luke 24:13-27.

More importantly - but also more controversially, he is also identified with Alphaeus, the father of three of the Twelve Apostles. The Catholic Encyclopedia explains:

"This name, Clopas, is thought by many to be the Greek transliteration of an Aramaic Alphaeus. This view is based on the identification of Mary, the mother of James etc. (Mark, xv, 40) with Mary, the wife of Clopas, and the consequent identity of Alphaeus, father of James (Mark, iii, 18), with Clopas. Etymologically, however, the identification of the two names offers serious difficulties: (1) Although the letter Heth is occasionally rendered in Greek by Kappa at the end and in the middle of words, it is very seldom so in the beginning, where the aspirate is better protected; examples of this, however, are given by Levy (Sem. Fremdwörter in Griech.); but (2) even if this difficulty was met, Clopas would suppose an Aramaic Halophai, not Halpai. (3) The Syriac versions have rendered the Greek Clopas with a Qoph, not with a Heth, as they would have done naturally had they been conscious of the identity of Clopas and Halpai; Alphaeus is rendered with Heth (occasionally Aleph). For these reasons, others see in Clopas a substitute for Cleopas, with the contraction of eo into w. In Greek, it is true, eo is not contracted into w, but a Semite, borrowing a name did not necessarily follow the rules of Greek contraction. In fact, in Mishnic Hebrew the name Cleopatra is rendered by Clopatra, and hence the Greek Cleopas might be rendered by Clopas. See also, Chabot, "Journ. Asiat.", X, 327 (1897). Even if, etymologically, the two names are different they may have been borne by one name, and the question of the identity of Alphaeus and Clopas is still open. If the two persons are distinct, then we know nothing of Clopas beyond the fact recorded in St. John; if, on the contrary, they are identified, Clopas' personality is or may be closely connected with the history of the brethren of the Lord and of James the Less."

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."[2]

Among those modern writers that identify Mary of Clopas with Jesus' mother, the religious scholar James Tabor 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.[3]


  1. Wikisource-logo "St. Anne" in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia.
  2. Eusebius of Caesarea, Church History, Book III, ch. 11.
  3. Tabor, James D. (2006). The Jesus Dynasty: A New Historical Investigation of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0743287231. 

External links

  • Some or all of this article is forked from Wikipedia. The original article was at Clopas. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.
  • Wikisource-logo "Cleophas" in the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia.