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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol I:
The Church History of Eusebius.: Chapter XX

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XX.—The Relatives of our Saviour.

1. “Of the family of the Lord there were still living the grandchildren of Jude, who is said to have been the Lord’s brother according to the flesh. 720

2. Information was given that they belonged to the family of David, and they were brought to the Emperor Domitian by the Evocatus. 721 For Domitian feared the comp. 149 ing of Christ as Herod also had feared it. And he asked them if they were descendants of David, and they confessed that they were. Then he asked them how much property they had, or how much money they owned. And both of them answered that they had only nine thousand denarii, 722 half of which belonged to each of them;

4. and this property did not consist of silver, but of a piece of land which contained only thirty-nine acres, and from which they raised their taxes 723 and supported themselves by their own labor.” 724

5. Then they showed their hands, exhibiting the hardness of their bodies and the callousness produced upon their hands by continuous toil as evidence of their own labor.

6. And when they were asked concerning Christ and his kingdom, of what sort it was and where and when it was to appear, they answered that it was not a temporal nor an earthly kingdom, but a heavenly and angelic one, which would appear at the end of the world, when he should come in glory to judge the quick and the dead, and to give unto every one according to his works.

7. Upon hearing this, Domitian did not pass judgment against them, but, despising them as of no account, he let them go, and by a decree put a stop to the persecution of the Church.

8. But when they were released they ruled the churches because they were witnesses 725 and were also relatives of the Lord. 726 And peace being established, they lived until the time of Trajan. These things are related by Hegesippus.

9. Tertullian also has mentioned Domitian in the following words: 727 “Domitian also, who possessed a share of Nero’s cruelty, attempted once to do the same thing that the latter did. But because he had, I suppose, some intelligence, 728 he very soon ceased, and even recalled those whom he had banished.”

10. But after Domitian had reigned fifteen years, 729 and Nerva had succeeded to the empire, the Roman Senate, according to the writers that record the history of those days, 730 voted that Domitian’s honors should be cancelled, and that those who had been unjustly banished should return to their homes and have their property restored to them.

11. It was at this time that the apostle John returned from his banishment in the island and took up his abode at Ephesus, according to an ancient Christian tradition. 731



This Jude was the brother of James, “the brother of the Lord,” who is mentioned in Jude 1, and is to be distinguished from Jude (Thaddeus-Lebbæus), one of the Twelve, whose name appears in the catalogues of Luke (Luke 6:14, Acts 1:13Luke vi. 14 and Acts i. 13) as the son of James (not his brother, as the A.V. translates: the Greek words are Ιούδας ᾽Ιακώβου). For a discussion of the relationship of these men to Christ, see above, Bk. I. chap. 12, note 14. Of the son of Jude and father of the young men mentioned in this chapter we know nothing.


According to Andrew’s Lexicon, “An Evocatus was a soldier who, having served out his time, was called upon to do military duty as a volunteer.”

This suspiciousness is perfectly in keeping with the character of Domitian. The same thing is told also of Vespasian, in chap. 12; but in his case the political situation was far more serious, and revolutions under the lead of one of the royal family might most naturally be expected just after the terrible destruction. The same act is also mentioned in connection with Trajan, in chap. 32, and there is no reason to doubt its truthfulness, for the Jews were well known as a most rebellious and troublesome people.


A denarius was a Roman silver coin, in value about sixteen, or, according to others, about nineteen, cents.


“Taxes or tributes were paid commonly in the products of the land” (Val.).


Most editors (including Valesius, Heinichen, Crusè, &c.) regard the quotation from Hegesippus as extending through §8; but it really ends here, and from this point on Eusebius reproduces the sense in his own words (and so Bright gives it in his edition). This is perfectly clear, for in the first place, the infinitive πιδεικνῦναι occurs in the next sentence, a form possible only in indirect discourse: and secondly, as Lightfoot has pointed out, the statement of §8 is repeated in chap. 32, §6, and there in the exact language of Hegesippus, which differs enough from the language of §8 to show that the latter is a free reproduction.


μ€ρτυρας. On the use of this word, see chap. 32, note 15.


Compare Renan’s Les Evangiles, p. 466.


Tertullian, Apol. chap. 5.


τι συνέσεως. Lat. sed qua et homo.


Domitian reigned from Dec. 13, 81 a.d., to Sept. 18, 96.


See Dion Cassius, LXVIII. 1 sq., and Suetonius’ Domitian, chap. 23.


Literally, “the word of the ancients among us” ( τῶν παρ᾽ ἡμῖν ἀρχαίων λόγος). On the tradition itself, see chap. 1, note 6.

Next: Chapter XXI

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