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So let's say that Jesus decided to marry and have kids before his crucifixion.

He's still the perfect son of God; he still dies for the sins of mankind. All other aspects and results of his life are exactly the same, but he also happened to have a wife and children along the way. The wife and children are not more or less ordinary than anyone else. Likewise with the descendants.

How would the surrounding 1st and 2nd century world treat his kids? Would they automatically venerate them? Some, even worship them? What about those descendants that are gung-ho about spreading grandpa's Jewish offshoot religion and those that aren't?

To keep this question from getting way too big, let's suppose that the line of Jesus ends in 500 AD.

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closed as too broad by James, Renan, Hohmannfan, Frostfyre, TrEs-2b Aug 12 '16 at 16:23

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site. This is an interesting question but man is it broad. I am not sure we have anything in your question that would help differentiate the quality of any of the many many answers that could be conceived. Can you find a way to narrow the focus? $\endgroup$ – James Aug 12 '16 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ @James Thanks for the welcome. I narrowed it, hopefully enough. $\endgroup$ – LCIII Aug 12 '16 at 13:58
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    $\begingroup$ Have you studied Muhammad's descendants and their role in the history of Islam? There would likely to be some parallels. $\endgroup$ – cobaltduck Aug 12 '16 at 14:06
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    $\begingroup$ If it was well known that they are his children, persecution or death is very likely outcome. $\endgroup$ – Chinu Aug 12 '16 at 14:07
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    $\begingroup$ Welcome to the site LCIII. I think this may not be appropriate for WB as is. You've stated a premise about an alternate Earth history (which we do support), but are asking about specific individuals in that scenario. How these individuals are perceived will largely depend on what and how they live their life. Since each individual can lead many different lives depending on innumerable factors, I consider this question to be more about the story within the setting rather than about the setting itself. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Aug 12 '16 at 15:35
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The answer to your question must be answered by first making some assumptions about his wife and children. Before you can do that, you have to make up your mind about who Jesus is because that will inform the kind of woman he would have married and how his children would have been raised.

First off, Jesus was a real person - let's just get that out of the way. There are four books in the Bible detailing his birth and later life. These books are corruburated by external sources, regarding the time and location of Jesus of Nazareth, so it's not just a "Bible told me so" claim.

Second, the majority of the information that we have on Jesus comes from the four Gospel accounts - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John - and only three of these were disciple of Jesus. Luke was a physician that traveled with Paul the apostle. These accounts of Jesus life seem fantastic to most and leave many with the opinion that Jesus was a peace loving, wise man. But that's because they've never really read the accounts.

Jesus did love peace, but he understood that is was not possible and that he, himself, was a lightning rod for controversy. He constantly challenged religious authority and the hypocritical.

He was wise, but the texts all indicate that he displayed a wisdom that was counter intuitive to the day. His teachings weren't just the Levitical law, but went past the law to the heart and held his listeners accountable for what they thought, not just what they did. In the end this rubbed many the wrong way.

Finally, the texts about Jesus detail miraculous signs - changing water into wine, healing the sick, feeding thousands with very little food at hand, walking on water, calming storms, raising the dead. In the end the accounts tell us he was killed, as phrophesied, and then rose from the dead to atone for the sins of man and conquer death. He claimed this power was given him by God and that he was equal with God. This claim alone should cause one of two responses.

  1. Wise men don't make claims of deity and he was a raving lunatic
  2. He was who he claimed to be and there are implications to this claim for any that believe it

Which ever you decide, your story should follow suit.

Jesus had a mother and a father and several brothers and sisters. Of these, only Mary, his mother, was ever honored to a place of semi-worship. Joseph, his father, is seemingly only notable in the nativity stories and none of his siblings is ever mentioned, except for James and Jude, who authored letters to the Jews in the New Testament of the Bible.

I mention all of this, because a relationship to Jesus did not make for automatic fame for most of the rest of his family. In my opinion it wouldn't have made his wife and children famous either. If anything, they would have been ostracized by the community for being related to the "crazy" heretic that was beaten and executed in a manner befitting "Enemy of the State". This is one scenario.

Based on the accounts of Jesus, it is very likely he would have married a woman very like minded and believing in his deity. This would have made her very devoted to him and to his mission. Their children would have been raised in the Levitical tradition in addition to all the new insights Jesus was teaching. These kids, the eldest at least, would have been in their mid to late teens by the time Jesus story climaxes with his death and ressurection.

Teens in the first century aren't like teens today. They had responsibility, understood commitment, fought in wars, married early, earned homes, worked family businesses, etc. Sure they were impulsive and passionate - hormones are hormones after all. But the point is, in all likelihood, his children would have been more like his disciples turned apostles spreading the word about who he was and aiding in Christianity's spread.

His kids wouldn't have been imbued with any special powers, just because they were his kids. But like the early apostles who were able to heal, speak other languages, and prophesy, his kids - the ones who chose that path - would have been gifted similarly to fulfill the mission they were on. And like most of the apostles in the first century they would have met a martyr's death.

In conclusion and to answer your questions succinctly...

- How would the surrounding 1st and 2nd century world treat his kids?

Depending on which way the kids went they would either be treated the same as any other kids in their positions or they would have been villified, hunted, and killed as heretics.

- Would they automatically venerate them? Some, even worship them?

Only Mary, his mother, was ever venerated. Some of Jesus' other relations did end up worshipping him and died for their beliefs. Jesus' offspring most likely would have worshipped him accordingly.

- What about those descendants that are gung-ho about spreading grandpa's Jewish offshoot religion and those that aren't?

They would have met with martyrdom in the end. Jesus line would most likely die out long before 500 AD unless one or more chose a life separate from their father's beliefs. That didn't happen very often in the 1st and 2nd century.

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    $\begingroup$ This is a Good answer $\endgroup$ – Bryan McClure Dec 22 '16 at 21:24
  • $\begingroup$ Since I can't +2, I'll +1 and also +1 the above comment about this being a good answer. I probably could not have said it that well. $\endgroup$ – Loduwijk Jun 13 '17 at 19:32
  • $\begingroup$ This may be slightly off topic, but for what is otherwise a well-researched answer, there is a serious error: "First off, Jesus was a real person [...] corruburated by external sources, regarding the time and location of Jesus of Nazareth, so it's not just a "Bible told me so" claim." Claims of historical corroburation of Jesus' existence are frequently massively overstated, and you appear to have believed these claims.The actual historical references are all ambiguously authentic (Josephus), too vague to draw real conclusions from (Tacitus) or too late to be authoritative (Pliny the Younger). $\endgroup$ – Jules Sep 18 '17 at 1:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Jules what is the serious error? Just because you don't agree doesn't mean there is an error. There is ample extra-Biblical evidence of his existence. Regardless, the Biblical texts were written in proliferation, 30 - 70 years after the events described, making them much closer and much more accurate than any other ancient text most of us would take at face value. The earliest Tacitus manuscripts in existence are copies made 1000 years after the original and there are only 20 known copies. The New Testament has over 5600 copies, just in Greek, with the earliest only 29 years separated. $\endgroup$ – Steve Mangiameli Sep 18 '17 at 13:23
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I think this would depend on how Jesus was viewed and also the results of his actions. It is very likely that some would wonder if there would have been any additional pronouncements or teachings had he lived long enough to marry and have children.

If Jesus somehow came to be widely viewed back then as literally half-god and half human, as some Christians believe, then any theoretical offspring might be different than pure human. Whether they are venerated or denigrated because of this would probably more depend upon any statements, teachings, or comments Jesus made regarding the nature of family and children; as well as upon what claims they themselves cared to make, if any.

If Jesus was viewed as a human, then it would be less likely for any descendants to put forward a claim of prominence, unless one of the children attempted to "take upon the mantle" so to speak.

However, in either case, as Jesus established a specific hierarchy of authority and methodology for perpetuation of said authority to follow after him, any supposed descendants would have to compete with that hierarchy and subsequent offshoots that developed after his death and resurrection, and the deaths (or disappearance) of the last of the confirmed apostles a couple hundred years later.

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Mohammed had children, so just read a history of early Islam to get a good idea of what might have happened. The split between Sunni and Shia Muslims, for example, could not have happened (or at least, not in the same way) had he been childless.

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    $\begingroup$ Mohammed didn't claim to be God and his followers weren't hunted and killed to silence their stories. Rome's dominance had fallen considerably by the 6th century. And Jesus never started any wars to spread his message. I can appreciate the parallel you are trying to draw, but the circumstances and timing (500+ years) are very different and would most assuredly influence who and what Jesus' children became. $\endgroup$ – Steve Mangiameli Aug 12 '16 at 16:29
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Simply said: allot is possible

but since that isn't a great answer let's clarify some possibilities. In the first years i don't think much will change, the kids of Jesus will be hunted by the Jewish, Romans and other religions like it was back in the day with the followers of Jesus. (If there are people who blow themselves up because they think their imaginary friend is the coolest think ever, imagine what they would do to try to kill the children of the guy who kinda proves their imaginary friend doesn't exist) The Christian religion will go underground and grow around his story AND his children instead of only the story. Bible may be later written by his children instead of an apostle... So subtle changes at first.

later and later this will changes, as the Bible is now the 'proof' is His existence his children will now become that 'proof'. They will try to live up to the 'hype' of their father (maybe even grandfather, or further). The pressure from the moment of birth on any descendants of Jesus will probably be huge, which probably will result in spoiled brats, further enlightenment and wonders (because after all, they are His children) or suicide (something we see all too often nowadays).

It's also possible that in the early years people will sexually enforce themselves on the offspring of Jesus (who doesn't want their kids to be partially divine?) or that the procreation will be managed by a small secretive group who decides who can have a baby Jesus or not.

In the later years when Christianity is the dominant religion in Europe (if they get that far) it's probable that the children will get the same status as the pope currently has. huge palace with lots of riches and lots of powers. When they say that only the oldest kid will earn the status of 'pope' (which probably will be that way as was the same with royal titles) it's very probable that the younger sibling will get jealous and start his own 'Christianity' (Think of Henry VIII or the Reformation). If something like this was to happen, Europe would see religious warfare many times more then it originally was and very possibly destroy the christian faith because it's vulnerability against other religions (like the Muslims)

I'll start my own religion, with blackjack and hookers

If this infighting doesn't happen it's very possible that the Christian church would stand stronger as the children of Christ are the proof of his existence and not a book and an elected ruler. My guess is that more people would turn to christianity and that crusade like events would be more common and large scale.

Just a few of the possibilities

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  • $\begingroup$ If I recall correctly, there actually existed a group which claimed to be descendants of Jesus Christ - supposedly one of the Crusades was related to this group attempting to "restore the rightful king" to Jerusalem. If there is interest in this possibility, I can contact my source and refresh my memory. $\endgroup$ – nijineko Aug 12 '16 at 14:44
  • $\begingroup$ A nitpick: The bible is not the proof of Jesus' existence even today. Jesus had such an impact on the world during his time that there were thousands of witnesses of his miracles spreading the news, and there are still Roman legal records about Jesus. Even those who dismiss the bible completely cannot argue strongly against Roman legal records about Jesus. The fact that he existed and lived is barely debatable at all. The debate is more about whether he was who he said he was, and the thousands of witnesses spreading their own accounts help with that even to this day, even outside the bible. $\endgroup$ – Loduwijk Jun 13 '17 at 19:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Aaron - "and there are still Roman legal records about Jesus": please point me to where I can see a copy of these records. The evidence for all of these supposed contemporary records is strongly overstated. Other than sources that came via or were influenced by the early Christian church, we have no evidence of Jesus's existence at all. $\endgroup$ – Jules Sep 18 '17 at 13:32

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