Thoughts on ancient gospels and the like

12 June 2007

Desposynoi – Part 2

Filed under: Desposynoi,Herodians — markandmore @ 22:31

I am going to bring together two quite different observations from different authors. As far as I am aware, these two have never been brought together like this.

The family of Saulus.

Robert Eisenman in his paper ‘Paul as Herodian’, which he wrote 11 years ago, and which is available in his book,The Dead Sea Scrolls and the First Christians: Essays and Translations , and also online here, proposes that Paulus aka Saulus is the same person as the Saulus found in Josephus. He supports this with a close reading of the Pauline epistles where there are a surprising number of quick references that Paul knew and was related to members of the Herodian clan, the Jewish royal family who of course were not Judeans but Edomites. Edomites had been incorporated into Judea by the expansions of the Maccabees. Therefore an Edomite clan was as legitimate a ruling dynasty in Judea as the Scottish Stuarts were as rulers of England. Were they Jews? You can argue it both ways.

Certainly Herod the so-called Great was insecure about his Jewishness, which explains his rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple, his destruction of the genealogy scrolls of the old Jerusalem families, and his marrying into the Maccabean clan which was by then a decadent dynasty and after Herod had finished marrying and executing them, there were almost none left. There have been proposals from different writers that Herodians were involved in writing the various New Testament books – I will return to these proposals in later postings. However for the purpose of this posting I am provisionally assuming that both Jesus and Paul were historical.

Of course the Herodians were client kings reigning at the will of Rome. The Jewish view of their legitimacy and the Roman view of it were quite different. In one way and another the clan managed to stay on one throne or another until the Roman-Jewish war that terminated Nero’s reign in Rome.

Robert Eisenman provides a genealogical chart of the Herodians at the end of his James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Here is the important part that shows the ancestry of Saulus. Salome was the sister of Herod called the ‘Great’. With one of her husbands, Costobarus, she had a son Antipater (there are other Antipaters in the Herodian clan so we must be careful), and the second son to this Antipator was Saulus. So Saulus is a great-nephew to Herod called the ‘Great’. The Herodians were Roman citizens, and Saulus being one of them, the mystery of his Roman citizenship as used in Acts 22:25-29 is cleared up.


The father of Jesus.

Here we turn to Robert Graves. In his King Jesus, 1946 and his Nazarene Gospel Restored, 1954, he proposes the following using the Jesus story in John’s gospel (18:29-38):

Pilate grants a private audience to Jesus, which he would have done only for a Roman citizen.

Pilate decides that Jesus is indeed king of the Jews. For a Roman like Pilate, this must mean that Jesus is king as per Roman law. Now Augustus had recognized Herod’s will nominating his son by Doris, Antipater, as his heir. If Jesus had explained that his father was Antipater secretly married to Mariam, and that his mother had remarried after Herod had changed his mind and put Antipater to death, then Pilate would indeed see Jesus as the rightful king of the Jews.

The Herod-Antipator-Jesus family was revived in Graham Phillips’ The Marian Conspiracy, 2000 (later reissued as The Virgin Mary Conspiracy, 2005). He gives no credit or even mention to Robert Graves (although Nazarene Gospel Restored is in his bibliography). Instead he gives credit for the idea of Antipater as father of Jesus to The Laws of The Jews by Joseph Schreiber, New York, 1956 (no publisher given). 1956 is later than the dates on Graves’ books and maybe Schreiber took the idea from Graves. If he came to the idea independently that is worth documenting. However there is something funny, or at least obscure, about Schreiber’s book. It is totally unknown to WorldCat, to Amazon, to the British Library and to the Library of Congress. Google finds only one reference to it: an italian site on ‘una possibile antistoria del cristianesimo‘ that as likely as not is using Phillips as a source.
Here is the genealogical chart for Herod-Antipator-Jesus.


Now let us put the two charts together:


Lo! Herod and Salome are siblings; Antipater and Antipater are cousins; Yeshua/Jesus and Saulus/Paulus are second cousins.

If we return to Luke’s Jesus Story (but not Marcion’s ), we are told that Miriamne (Mary) and Elisheba (Elizabeth) are cousins, and therefore Yohanon the Baptist and Yeshua are second cousins.

Yohanon the Baptist to Yeshua to Saulus.

John the Baptist to Jesus to Paul.

Second cousin to second cousin to second cousin.

Yohanon is not a descendant of Herod called the Great, but Yeshua and Saulus are.

Desposynoi – the family of the lord, the family of the great despot, Herod!!

These bible strands surely can be unwound in strange ways.


  1. Thank you.. Thank you.. Thank you.. I don’t know what else to say. It just made sense of a whole lot of other things that I’ve thought,learned,and discovered. I’m so excited now I can’t think! Thank you! Thank you!

    Comment by kim obourne — 11 January 2009 @ 8:23 | Reply

  2. A little too thin…

    Comment by Margaret — 27 March 2012 @ 22:57 | Reply

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