Gnostic Doctrine

Wednesday, 6 March 2019


There is therefore little doubt that these 'Bishops' of Jerusalem were in fact a dynastic bloodline, a dynasty claiming sacred legitimacy because of a blood relationship to Jesus, a relationship which an Apostle like Peter could not claim.

From Pella the Jewish Christians remnant is thought to have moved north-eastward, eventually making their way to the Tigris-Euphrates basin. In this relatively safe area they preserved their traditions for centuries. Eusebius and Epiphanius bear witness to the fact that the Jewish Christians survived and that numbers of Jews joined them. And from the historian Julius Africanus (160-240 CE) we learn that the Jewish Christians heirs took pride in their Davidic descent and circulated the genealogy which now stands at the head of Matthew's gospel.

According to this gospel, and to the Apostle Paul, Jesus was the first born of many brothers, and had at least two sisters. In his Ecclesiastical History, Eusebius of Caesaria (340 CE) speaks of grandchildren of Jesus' brother Jude who were living in Galilee during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian (81-96 CE). (Eusebius, History, 1:7.)

According to Eusebius, the descendants of Jesus' family (termed Desposyni) became dynastic leaders of various Christian Churches, and continued so up until the time of the Emperor Trajan (98-117 CE).

Jewish Christians communities were apparently still active in north and east Palestine right up until the fifth century, the name of Jesus being used by both Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians in the interest of policy.

Further and further magnified by the Roman Christians, however, Jesus became progressively more symbolic and representative of ecclesiastical concerns. In Nazoraean eyes Jesus continued to be a naturally generated man.

According to the Jesuit historian Malachi Martin, a meeting took place in Rome between Pope Sylvester 1 and what is termed in Greek desposyni - the blood relatives of Jesus - in 318 CE. (Martin, Malachi, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church, G P Putnam’s Sons, New York, 1981, p. 43). Eight in number, these Desposyni leaders (otherwise known as ‘Nazoraeans’ or 'Nazarenes') made the following demands: (1) that the confirmation of the Christian bishops of Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus and Alexandria be revoked; (2) that these bishoprics be conferred on members of the Desposyni; and (3) that Christian Churches resume sending money to the Desposyni Church in Jerusalem, which was to be regarded as the Mother Church. Having provided sea travel for these Nazoraean leaders as far as the Roman port of Ostia, Sylvester must surely have recognised them as important, but such a barefaced claim to superiority over the Roman Church by these relatives of Jesus must have come as something of a surprise.

What is important here is the fact that Sylvester felt it necessary to consult with these Nazoraean heirs of Jesus. Everything suggests that it was he who initiated the meeting, and that what he thought of as a straightforward exercise in pontifical authority sorely backfired. This suggests, in turn, a certain naivety on Sylvester's part, for from the nature of the demands made it can be deduced that his estimation of the Nazoraean Community was sadly inadequate. Facing up to Sylvester, these church leaders from the East bluntly refused to recognise the Roman Church as the central authority for the whole Christian world. Due to Constantine’s largesse, the Roman Church was certainly in a priviledged position, but as far as these Nazoraeans were concerned, that in no way changed the underlying fact that the Nazoraean Church was the Mother Church. (Ode 38:9-13)

The Apostolic Church of the Nazoraeans was virtually ignored by the early Greek-oriented Church at Rome. Dismissed in 318 with regal curtness, the representatives of this Church were informed that the centre of influence had long since shifted to Rome, that St Peter's bones were not in Jerusalem, but in Rome, and that the admittedly once powerful family dynasty of Jesus was no longer considered apostolically important.

Quite a slap in the face to those of Jesus' own family who, since the time of James the Righteous, had faithfully carried their message of Jesus as God's chosen Messiah to anyone who would listen. And this was the point, their Jesus was not Pope Sylvester's Jesus, or the Jesus of the Nicean Council which would meet with such dire consequences seven years later. Their Jesus was not divine in his own right, he was divine by way of being anointed by God’s Spirit to be the Christ, a quite different proposition from that developed by the Roman Christians.

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