The Desposynoi -- the brothers and cousins of Jesus?

The biggest downside of blogs is that there are so many good ones that I don't have the chance to visit my favorites as regularly as I would like. For example, it had been awhile since I visited Disert Paths, the very fine blog by CADRE friend Darrell Pursiful, adjunct professor of New Testament studies. When I finally stopped by, I found a post entitled The Nazoreans IV: The Desposynoi which contained information with which I was unacquainted.

This post is the fourth in a series about the Nazoreans (hence, the "IV" in the title) which examines "the contours of the early Jesus movement. In particular, . . . the faith and practice of Jesus' earliest Jewish followers and those who came after them." The first post, entitled "Terminology", Darrell examines the origin of the terms ebionite and nazorean for purposes of defining the people being discussed. In Part II, "Pre-Christian Origins", Darrell examines how the Jesus movement was "situated in relation to other Jewish sects of the first century." In Part III, entitled "Early Development", Darrell examines the "unexpected diversity" within just a decade or so of the movement's birth. All of these posts are excellent and informative, and I recommend them to anyone not familiar with the communities of the earliest followers of Jesus.

Part IV, however, was especially interesting to me. It contained information about the early church with which I was wholly unfamiliar. It concerns a group knowns as the Desposynoi, roughly translated, the "Lord's people", who were based in both Nazareth and Kokhaba. It appears that this group was made up of Jesus brothers and cousins. According to a quote contained in the post:

Just as it was normal practice in the ancient Near East for members of the royal family to hold high offices in government, so Palestinian Jewish Christians felt it appropriate that Jesus' brothers, cousins and other relatives should hold positions of authority in his church. Indeed, the term desposynoi … could well have the sense, more or less, of "members of the royal family."

I found the post fascinating, and I wanted everyone to have a chance to read it. It is worth the time.


I've been reading that series on the Dester Paths blog. It's excellent. I'm glad you plugged it. I know that guy from the Egalitarian Christian Alliance. I've known him since '02.
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