Much of the material for the essays “Primary Sources from the Ancient Mind” has been collected in the volume A New Eusebius, edited by J. Stevenson (London: William Clowes and Sons, 1960).
Eusebius of Caesarea, the 4th Century Christian historian, cites the earlier historian Hegesippus concerning the Domitian persecution. This persecution against Christians occurred at the close of the first century.
“Now when this Domitian gave orders that those who were of the family of David should be put to death, it is recorded in an ancient authority that some heretics brought an accusation against the descendants of Jude, who was the Savior’s brother after the flesh, on the ground that they were of the family of David, and that they bore kinship to Christ himself. This is shown by Hegesippus, who speaks as follows in these very words:
But there still survived of the family of the Lord the grandsons of Jude, his brother after the flesh, as he was called. They were informed against, as being of the family of David - and the evocatus brought them before Domitian Caesar. For he feared the coming of the Christ, as did also Herod. And he asked them if they were of David’s line, and they acknowledged it. Then he asked them what possessions they had or what fortune they owned. And they said that between the two of them they had only nine thousand denarii, half belonging to each of them - and this they asserted they had not in money, but only in 39 plethra of land, so valued, from which by their own labors they paid the taxes and supported themselves.
The accused explained that Christ’s kingdom was not of this world and Domitian dismissed them with contempt. (Stevenson, pp. 9-10)
Did this really take place? What matters are two facts: First, and less important to this discussion, the dogma that developed later concerning the perpetual virginity of Mary was neither the assumption of scripture nor of the ancient Church.
Second, and more important to this discussion, is that at the time of the Council of Nicea when Eusebius was alive, David’s descendants were not viewed as threats of any kind to the Church. The existence of Jude’s children was neither suppressed nor denied. In this story treated as historical by Eusebius, the descendants of David, the very kindred of Christ himself, are dismissed “with contempt” from the emperor: they are not killed or buried or excised from the “official documents” of “the Church.”