The Desposyni, also known as the Rex Deus, refer to the descendants of Jesus Christ and his family. The term “Desposyni” comes from the Greek word meaning “belonging to the Lord.” Some key points about the Desposyni:
- They were the blood relatives of Jesus, descended from his brothers, sisters, and other family members.
- Eusebius and Hegesippus wrote about the Desposyni in the 2nd and 3rd centuries.
- They lived in Nazareth and other parts of Galilee after Jesus’ death and resurrection.
- The Desposyni were persecuted by the Romans and Jewish authorities who saw them as a threat.
- They continued leading the early Jewish-Christian sect for several generations.
- The Desposyni had knowledge of the family traditions and stories about Jesus’ life passed down to them.
- Some legends connect them to the Holy Grail and starting a bloodline in Europe, but this is speculative.
Jesus’ Family and Brothers
To understand the Desposyni, we must first look at the family members of Jesus while he lived. The Gospels mention Jesus having four brothers – James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas (Matthew 13:55, Mark 6:3). He also had sisters, but they are unnamed (Matthew 13:56).
There has been some debate about whether these were literally Jesus’ brothers/sisters or just close relatives. But the Greek word used is “adelphos” which means brother in a literal sense. So the traditional view is that they were children of Mary and Joseph born after Jesus’ miraculous conception (Psalm 69:8, John 7:5).
Jesus’ brothers did not believe in him during his ministry (John 7:5). But after his resurrection, they became believers and leaders in the early church. James and Jude wrote epistles in the New Testament. James led the church in Jerusalem (Galatians 1:19, Acts 15:13). Joseph/Joses is also mentioned in the Gospels (Mark 6:3).
Jesus probably also had sisters, though they are unnamed. In ancient Jewish culture, women’s names were often unrecorded unless they played a major leadership role. So Jesus had brothers and sisters from the marriage of Joseph and Mary.
The Desposyni after Jesus’ Death
After Jesus was crucified and resurrected, his family members living in Galilee became the leaders of the early Jewish sect of Christians or Nazarenes. This group was initially mostly Jewish believers still holding to the laws of Moses (Acts 2:46, 21:20). The Desposyni operated mostly in Galilee and northern Israel rather than Judea.
Hegesippus and Eusebius wrote about the history of the Desposyni in the 2nd and 3rd centuries. Hegesippus notes that two grandsons of Jude were arrested during the reign of Domitian (81-96 AD), questioned about the nature of the “kingdom of Christ”, and eventually released (Eusebius 3.19-20). This shows the Desposyni were persecuted for their connection to Jesus.
The Desposyni continued leading the Nazarenes for a few generations. They were respected in the early church for their knowledge, eyewitness accounts, and familial relationship to Jesus. But they remained mostly in Galilee and small sects rather than the mainstream church. With the Jewish revolts and destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 and 135, the influence of the Desposyni declined further.
Traditions and Stories about Jesus
As the family of Jesus who lived during or soon after his time on earth, the Desposyni had unique stories and traditions passed down about his life and teachings. They would have recalled details that were not included in the written Gospels but circulated in oral stories.
According to Hegesippus via Eusebius, the grandsons of Jude “explained the tradition concerning the Lord as it had been delivered to them” (Eusebius 3.20). Irenaeus also based some of his accounts of Jesus on information from the Desposyni (Against Heresies III.3). Papias gained access to Desposyni traditions, claiming he, “carefully noted down the traditions handed down by the elders” (Eusebius 3.39).
So the blood relatives of Jesus provided early church writers with oral traditions about Christ’s life and teachings. These were accounts presumably passed down within the family that could not have been known unless they originated from the time of Jesus on earth.
Eventual Decline of the Desposyni
Over the generations, the influence of the Desposyni slowly declined. This was due to both internal and external factors:
- As the church became more Gentile and Hellenistic, the Jewish roots of the Desposyni became less authoritative.
- With the deaths of those who personally knew Jesus, apostolic authority shifted away from familial relationships to spiritual anointing.
- Gentile church fathers like Ignatius elevated single bishop leadership over kinship ties.
- After the Jewish revolts of AD 70 and 135, the Desposyni largely lived as exiles in the Galilee and lost influence.
- Gnostic and other heretical groups diminished the importance of Jesus’ physical family.
- Persecution and inner turmoil within the Jewish Christian sects contributed to their fragmentation.
So while the Desposyni continued as a small sect for a time, their unique status as the family of Jesus became less important to the growing mainstream churches. The original eyewitness traditions were coopted and transformed as Christianity spread to the Gentile world. Their lineage and leadership ended within a few centuries.
Legends and Speculations about the Desposyni
Because the Desposyni represented a direct blood lineage from Jesus himself, later legends and literature often exaggerated their history. Some key speculative connections include:
- Royal Bloodline – Stories claim the Desposyni had noble Roman ancestry and a secret right to Davidic kingship. This spawned legends about them creating royal dynasties in Europe.
- Holy Grail Theories – Theories connect the Desposyni to the Holy Grail, such as bringing it from Jerusalem to Western Europe and spawning Grail king lineages.
- Merovingian Dynasty – They are said to have intermarried with Franks and launched the Merovingian royal dynasty, whose kings ruled France from the 5th to 8th century.
- Jesus in Britain – Legends claim Jesus or his brother Joseph of Arimathea traveled to Britain and spawned high royal families related to the Desposyni.
While these theories make for fanciful reading, there is no solid evidence the Desposyni intermarried with European noble lines. Mainstream history holds they were a small sect in Judea and Galilee not involved with European dynasties. But the allure of a “holy bloodline” from Jesus persists in literature and lore.
In summary, the main points about the Desposyni:
- They were the family and descendants of Jesus, especially through his brothers.
- The Desposyni led the earliest Jewish sect of Jewish Christians.
- They had special authority due to their relationship and eyewitness accounts of Jesus.
- But their status declined as Christianity spread to the Gentile world.
- Myths connect them to European dynasties, but there is no evidence.
- The Desposyni represent the original family of Jesus before the diversification of the faith.
Examining the Desposyni provides a window into the earliest Jewish Christianity from the time of Jesus’ own family. From these origins, the faith grew into a worldwide phenomenon, though the Desposyni eventually faded from prominence and obscurity. Their legacy represents the roots of the Christian tradition grounded in the kin and community of Christ himself.