[[Acts of the Apostles|Acts]] provides clear evidence that James was an important figure in the Christian community of Jerusalem. When Peter, having miraculously escaped from prison, must flee Jerusalem, he asks that James be informed (12:17). When the Christians of [[Church of Antioch|Antioch]] are concerned over whether Gentile Christians need be circumcised to be saved, they send Paul and [[Apostle Barnabas|Barnabas]] to confer with the church there, and it is James who utters the definitive judgement (15:13ff). And when Paul arrives in Jerusalem to deliver the money he raised for the faithful there, it is to James that he speaks, and who insists that Paul ritually cleanse himself (21:18).
A debated passage, often characterized as a Christian interpolation, in [[Josephus]]'
s ''Jewish Antiquities'' records his death in Jerusalem as having occurred after the death of the procurator Porcius Festus, yet before Clodius Albinus took office (''Antiquities'' 20,9)— which has thus been dated to AD 62. The high priest Ananus took advantage of this lack of imperial oversight to assemble a council of judges who condemned James "on the charge of breaking the law," then had him executed by stoning. Josephus reports that Ananus' act was widely viewed as little more than judicial murder, and offended a number of "those who were considered the most fair-minded people in the City, and strict in their observance of the Law," who went as far as meeting Albinus as he entered the province to petition him about the matter. Their agitations led to Ananus being deposed as high priest.
Eusebius, while quoting Josephus' account, also records otherwise lost passages from [[Hegesippus]] (see links below), and [[Clement of Alexandria]] (''Historia Ecclesiae'', 2.23). Hegesippus' account apparently varied from what Josephus reports: the [[Pharisees]], upset at his teachings, first threw him from the summit of the Temple in Jerusalem, then stoned him, and at last broke his skull with a fuller's club.