The Ebionites (Greek: _gr. Ἐβιωναῖοι "Ebionaioi" from Hebrew; _he. אביוניםFact|date=June 2008, _he. "Ebyonim", "the Poor Ones") were an early
Jewish Christiansect that lived in and around Judeaand Palestine from the 1st to the 4th century.cite book| author = A.F.J. Klijn & G.J. Reinink| title = Patristic Evidence for Jewish-Christian Sects| publisher = Brill | year = 1973 | id = ISBN 9004037632 ]
To throw light on the views, practices and history of the Ebionites, modern scholars attempt to reconstruct information from the available sources. Much of what is known about the Ebionites derives from the
Church Fathers, who wrote polemicsagainst the Ebionites, whom they deemed heretical Judaizers. [See also ] Some scholars agree with the substance of the traditional portrayal as an offshoot of mainstream Christianity attempting to reestablish Jewish Law.G. Uhlhorn, "Ebionites", in: Philip Schaff(ed.), "A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology", 3rd ed. (1894), p. 684–685 (vol. 2).] Oscar Cullmann, "Ebioniten", in: "Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart", 1958. p. 7435 (vol. 2).] According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Ebionite movement may have arisen about the time of the destruction of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem (AD 70). [ [http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9031860/Ebionite article "Ebionite"] ] Others have argued that the Ebionites were more faithful to the authentic teachings of Jesus and constituted the mainstream of the Jerusalem church before being gradually marginalized by the followers of Paul of Tarsus.cite book| author = Hans-Joachim Schoeps| title = Jewish Christianity: Factional Disputes in the Early Church. Translation Douglas R. A. Hare| publisher = Fortress Press| year = 1969] cite book| author = Hyam Maccoby| title = The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity| pages = p. 172-183.| publisher = HarperCollins | year = 1987 | id = ISBN 0062505858] cite book| author = Robert Eisenman| title = James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls | pages = p. 5-6.| publisher = Viking | year = 1997 | id = ISBN 1842930265] cite book| author = James Tabor| title = The Jesus Dynasty: A New Historical Investigation of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity| publisher = Simon & Schuster | year = 2006| id = ISBN 0743287231] Tabor (2006), p. 275, 278-283.] [Howard Bream's review of H. J. Schoeps, "Theologie und Geschichte des Judenchristentums" (1949), in: "The Journal of Religion" (1952), p. 58: "In the development of Christianity itself, he [Schoeps] believes that they [the Ebionites] were in many respects closer to the teachings of Jesus than were the Gentiles. This is true particularly where the Ebionites differed from normative Judaism, as in rejecting animal sacrifice and in deleting certain passages from Scripture with the claim that they were interpolations."]
In contrast to mainstream Christianity, the Ebionites insisted on a universal necessity of following Jewish religious law and rites, [Kaufmann Kohler, [http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=22&letter=E "Ebionites"] , in: Isidore Singer & Cyrus Alder (ed.), "Jewish Encyclopedia", 1901-1906.] which they interpreted in light of Jesus'
expounding of the Law. They regarded Jesus as a mortal human messianic prophet but not as divine, revered his brother James as the head of the Jerusalem Churchand rejected Paul of Tarsusas an " apostateof the Law"Fact|date=March 2008. Their name suggests that they placed a special value on religious poverty.
Some scholars distinguish the Ebionites from other Jewish Christian groups, e.g. the
Nazarenes,cite paper | author = Tim Hegg | title = The Virgin Birth - An Inquiry into the Biblical Doctrine | publisher = TorahResource | year = 2007 | url = http://www.torahresource.com/EnglishArticles/VirginBirth.pdf | accessdate=2007-08-13|format=PDF] while others believe the two names refer to the same sect and that noted disagreements among Jewish Christians do not correspond with these names. Adolf von Harnack, "The History of Dogma", [http://www.gutenberg.org/files/19612/19612-h/19612-h.htm#SEC_I_VI_I "Chapter VI. The Christianity of the Jewish Christians"] .] Still others contend that the term was not used to describe a single group at all, but rather denoted any group of Christians of that time who sought to adhere both to Jesus and the Jewish law. [Lindsay Jones (ed.) "Encyclopedia of Religion", Detroit: Thomason-Gale, 2005, p. 2595-2596. ISBN 0-02-865997-X.] Clarifyme|date=March 2008
The term "Ebionites" derives from the Hebrew "Evyonim", meaning "the Poor Ones", [The word is still in use in that sense in contemporary Israeli Hebrew] which has parallels in the
Psalmsand the self-given term of pious Jewish circles. [PsSal 10, 6; 15, 1; 1 QpHab XII, 3.6.10] The term "the poor" was at first a common designation for all Christians - a reference to their material as well their religious poverty. [Minucius Felix, "Octavius, 36": "That we are called the poor is not our disgrace, but our glory."] [The Greek equivalent (Greek: _gr. πτωχοί)" ptōkhoi" appears in the New Testament( [http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%2015:26;&version=50; Romans 15, 26] ; [http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians%202:10;&version=50; Galatians 2,10] ), possibly as an honorary title of the Jerusalem church.] Following schisms within the early Church, the graecized Hebrew term "Ebionite" was applied exclusively to Jewish Christiansseparated from the developing Pauline Christianity, and later in the fourth century a specific group of Jewish Christians or to a Jewish Christian sect distinct from the Nazarenes. All the while, the designation "the Poor" in other languages was still used in its original, more general sense.James Tabor, " [http://www.religiousstudies.uncc.edu/JDTABOR/ebionites.html Nazarenes and Ebionites] "] Eisenman (1997), p. 4, 45.] Origensays "for Ebion signifies “poor” among the Jews, and those Jews who have received Jesus as Christ are called by the name of Ebionites." [Origen, Contra Celsum, II, 1.] [ [http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf04.vi.ix.ii.i.html ANF04. Fathers of the Third Century: Tertullian, Part Fourth; Minucius Felix; Commodian; Origen, Parts First and Second | Christian Classics Ethereal Library ] ] Tertullianinaccurately derived the name from a fictional heresiarchcalled Ebion.
The divergent application of "Ebionite" persists today, as some authors choose to label all Jewish Christians, even before the mentioned schism, as Ebionites, while others, though agreeing about the historical events, use it in a more restricted sense. Mainstream scholarship commonly uses the term in the restricted sense.
Without authenticated archaeological evidence, attempts to reconstruct their history have been based on textual references, mainly the writings of the Church Fathers. The earliest reference to a group that might fit the description of the Ebionites appears in
Justin Martyr's "Dialogue with Trypho" (c. 140). Justin distinguishes between Jewish Christianswho observe the Law of Mosesbut does not require its observance upon others, and those who believe the Mosaic Law to be obligatory on all.Justin Martyr, [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/01282.htm "Dialogue with Trypho", 47] .] Irenaeus(c. 180) was the first to use the term "Ebionites" to describe a heretical judaizing sect, which he regarded as stubbornly clinging to the Law.Irenaeus of Lyon, "Adversus Haereses" [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103126.htm I, 26] ; [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103321.htm II,21] .] Origen(c. 212) remarks that the name derives from the Hebrew word "evyon," meaning "poor." [Origen, [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/04124.htm "De Principiis", IV, 22] .] Epiphanius of Salamisin the 4th century gives the most complete but also questionable account in his heresiologycalled " Panarion", denouncing eighty heretical sects, among them the Ebionites.Epiphanius of Salamis, " Panarion", 30.] cite book| author = Glenn Alan Koch| title = A Critical Investigation of Epiphanius' Knowledge of the Ebionites: A Translation and Critical Discussion of 'Panarion' 30| publisher = University of Pennsylvania| year = 1976] Epiphanius mostly gives general descriptions of their religious beliefs and includes quotations from their gospels, which have not survived.
The actual number of groups described as Ebionites is difficult to ascertain, as the contradictory
patristicaccounts in their attempt to distinguish various sects, sometimes confuse them with each other. Other groups mentioned are the Carpocratians, the Cerinthians, the Elcesaites, the Nazarenes, the Nazoraeans, and the Sampsaeans, most of whom were Jewish Christian sects who held gnostic or other views rejected by the Ebionites. Epiphanius, however, mentions that a group of Ebionites came to embrace some of these views despite keeping their name.cite book | author = Henry Wace & William Piercy | title = A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography | year = 1911 | url = http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wace/biodict.html?term=Ebionism%20and%20Ebionites| accessdate = 2007-08-01]
As the Ebionites are first mentioned as such in the 2nd century, their earlier history and their relation to the first
Jerusalem churchremains obscure and a matter of contention. Many scholars link the origin of the Ebionites with the First Jewish-Roman War. Prior to this, they are considered to be part of the Jerusalem church led by the Apostle Peter and later by Jesus' brother James. Eusebius relates a tradition, probably based on Aristo of Pella, that the early Christians left Jerusalem just prior to the war and fled to Pella beyond the Jordan River.O. Cullmann, "Ebioniten", in: "Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart", p. 7435 (vol. 2).] G. Uhlhorn, "Ebionites", in: "A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology", 3rd ed. (edited by Philip Schaff), p. 684–685 (vol. 2).] They were led by Simeon of Jerusalem(d. 107) and during the Second Jewish-Roman War, they were persecuted by the Jewish followers of Bar Kochbafor refusing to recognize his messianic claims.cite book | author = Wace, Henry & Piercy, William | title = A Dictionary of Early Christian Biography | year = 1911 | url = http://www.ccel.org/ccel/wace/biodict.html?term=Ebionism%20and%20Ebionites| accessdate = 2007-08-01]
According to these scholars, it was beyond the Jordan, that the Nazarenes/Ebionites were first recognized as a distinct group when some Jewish Christians receded farther from mainstream Christianity, and approximated more and more closely to Rabbinical Judaism, resulting in a "degeneration" into an exclusively Jewish sect. Some from these groups later opened themselves to either Jewish Gnostic (and possibly Essene) or syncretic influences, such as the book of Elchasai.cite paper | author = Peter Kirby| title = Book of Elchasai | url = http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/elchasai.html | accessdate = 2007-08-18] The latter influence places some Ebionites in the context of the gnostic movements widespread in Syria and the lands to the east.
After the end of the
First Jewish-Roman War, the importance of the Jerusalem churchbegan to fade. Jewish Christianitybecame dispersed throughout the Jewish diasporain the Levant, where it was slowly eclipsed by gentile Christianity, which then spread throughout the Roman Empirewithout competition from "judaizing" Christian groups.cite book| author = Brandon, S. G. F| title = The fall of Jerusalem and the Christian church: A study of the effects of the Jewish overthrow of A. D. 70 on Christianity| publisher = S.P. C.K | year = 1968 | id = ISBN 0281004501 ] Once the Jerusalem church, still headed by Jesus' relatives, was eliminated during the Bar Kokhba revoltin 135, the Ebionites gradually lost influence and followers. According to one writer their decline was due to marginalization and "persecution" by both Jews and Christians.cite book| author = Hyam Maccoby| title = The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity| publisher = HarperCollins | year = 1987 | id = ISBN 0062505858] Following the defeat of the rebellion and the expulsion of all Jews from Judea, Jerusalem became the Gentile city of Aelia Capitolina. Many of the Jewish Christians residing at Pella renounced their Jewish practices at this time and joined to the mainstream Christian church. Those who remained at Pella and continued in obedience to the Law were deemed heretics.cite book| author = Edward Gibbon| title = The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, ch. 15, p. 390–391.| publisher = Random House, NY| year = 2003 | id = ISBN 0375758119 cite book| title = Chapter 15 | url = http://etext.library.adelaide.edu.au/g/gibbon/edward/g43d/chapter15.html | accessdate = 2007-08-02] In 375, Epiphanius records the settlement of Ebionites on Cyprus, but by the mid-5th century, Theodoret of Cyrrhus reported that they were no longer present in the region.
Some scholars argue that the Ebionites survived much longer and identify them with a sect encountered by the historian
Abd al-Jabbararound the year 1000.cite book| author = Shlomo Pines| title = The Jewish Christians Of The Early Centuries Of Christianity According To A New Source | publisher = Proceedings of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities II, No. 13| year = 1966 | id = ISBN 102-255-998] Another possible reference to surviving Ebionite communities in northwestern Arabia, specifically the cities of Taymaand Tilmas, around the 11th century, appears in " SeferHa'masaot," the "Book of the Travels" of Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela, a rabbi from Spain.cite book| author = Marcus N. Adler| title = The Itinerary of Benjamin of Tudela: Critical Text, Translation and Commentary, p. 70–72.| publisher = Phillip Feldheim| year = 1907] 12th century Muslim historian Muhammad al-Shahrastanimentions Jews living in nearby Medinaand Hejazwho accepted Jesus as a prophetic figure and followed traditional Judaism, rejecting mainstream Christian views.cite book| author = Muhammad al-Shahrastani| title = The Book of Religious and Philosophical Sects, William Curetonedition, page 167| publisher = Gorgias Press| year = 2002] Some scholars argue that they contributed to the development of the Islamic view of Jesusdue to exchanges of Ebionite remnants with the first Muslims.
In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, several small yet competing
new religious movements, such as the Ebionite Jewish Communityand others, have emerged claiming to be revivalists of the views and practices of early Ebionites,cite paper|author = Self Help Guide| title = Jesus Christ| year = 2006 | url = http://selfhelp-guide.com/heros4u/jesus_christ.htm| accessdate = 2006-02-21] although their idiosyncratic claims to authenticity cannot be verified.
counter-missionarygroup Jews for Judaismfavorably mentions the historical Ebionites in their literature in order to argue that " Messianic Judaism", as promoted by missionary groups such as Jews for Jesus, is Pauline Christianitymisrepresenting itself as Judaism.cite book| author = Bentzion Kravitz| title = The Jewish Response to Missionaries: Counter-Missionary Handbook | publisher = Jews for JudaismInternational | year = 2001] Some Messianic groups have expressed concern over leaders in Israel that deny Jesus' divinity and the possible collapse of the Messianic movement due to a resurgence of Ebionitism.cite paper| author = Moshe Koniuchowsky| title = "Messianic" Leaders Deny Yeshua in Record Numbers| year = 2007 | url = http://yourarmstoisrael.org/Editorials/?page=MESSIANIC_LEADERS_DENY&type=2| accessdate = 2007-07-21] cite paper|author = James Prasch| title = You Foolish Galatians, Who Bewitched You? A Crisis in Messianic Judaism?|year = 2007 | url = http://www.moriel.org/articles/sermons/new_galatians.htm| accessdate = 2007-07-21] In a recent polemic, a Messianic leader asked whether Christians should imitate the Torah-observance of "neo-Ebionites".cite paper|author = John Parsons| title = Should Christians be Torah-observant?| year = 2007 | url = http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Articles/Torah_Observance/torah_observance.html| accessdate = 2007-07-21]
Views and practices
Judaic and Gnostic Ebionitism
Most patristic sources portray the Ebionites as traditional yet ascetic Jews, who zealously followed the
Law of Moses, revered Jerusalemas the holiest city, and restricted table fellowship only to Gentiles who converted to Judaism. They celebrated a commemorative meal annually,cite paper | author = W.M. Ramsey| title = The Tekmoreian Guest-Friends, The Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 32, p. 151-170.| year = 1912] on or around Passover, with unleavened breadand water only, in contrast to the daily Christian Eucharist. [cite paper| author = Exarch Anthony J. Aneed| title = Syrian Christians, A Brief History of the Catholic Church of St. George in Milwaukee, Wis. And a Sketch of the Eastern Church| year = 1919| url = http://www.melkite.org/HolyCommunion.html| accessdate = 2007-04-28] Irenaeus of Lyon, "Against Heresies" [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103501.htm V, 1] .] Epiphanius of Salamisis the only Church Father who describes some Ebionites as departing from traditional Jewish principles of faithand practice; specifically by engaging in excessive ritual bathing,Epiphanius, "Panarion", 19:28–30.] possessing an angelologywhich claimed that the Christ is a great archangel who was incarnated in Jesus and adopted as the son of God, [Epiphanius, "Panarion", 30, 14, 5.] Epiphanius, "Panarion", 30, 16, 4-5.] opposing animal sacrifice, denying parts or most of the Law, [Epiphanius, "Panarion", 30, 18, 7–9.] and practicing religious vegetarianism [Epiphanius, "Panarion", 30.22.4]
The reliability of Epiphanius' account of the Ebionites is questioned by some scholars.cite book| author = Robert E. van Voorst| authorlink = Robert E. Van Voorst| title = The Ascents of James: History and Theology of a Jewish-Christian Community| publisher = Society of Biblical Literature| year = 1989| id = ISBN 1555402941]
Shlomo Pines, for example, argues that the heterodoxviews and practices he ascribes to some Ebionites originated in Gnostic Christianity rather than Jewish Christianity, and are characteristics of the Elcesaite sect, which Epiphanius mistakenly attributed to the Ebionites.
While mainstream biblical scholars do suppose some Essene influence on the nascent Jewish-Christian Church in some organizational, administrative and cultic respects, some scholars go beyond that assumption. Among them, some hold theories which have been discredited and others which remain controversial.cite paper| author =
Géza Vermes| title = Brother James' Heirs? the community at Qumran and its relations to the first Christians (Times Literary Supplement) | year = 1992]
Regarding the Ebionites specifically, a number of scholars have different theories on how the Ebionites may have developed from an Essene Jewish messianic sect. Hans-Joachim Schoeps argues that the conversion of some Essenes to Jewish Christianity after the Siege of Jerusalem in 70 CE may be the source of some Ebionites adopting Essene views and practices; while some conclude that the Essenes did not become Jewish Christians but still had an influence on the Ebionites.cite book| author = Kriste Stendahl | title = The Scrolls and the New Testament | publisher = Herder & Herder | year = 1991 | id = ISBN 0824511360]
The majority of Church Fathers agree that the Ebionites rejected many of the central
Christian views of Jesussuch as the pre-existence, divinity, virgin birth, atoning death, and physical resurrection of Jesus. The Ebionites are described as emphasizing the oneness of God and the humanity of Jesus as the biological son of both Mary and Joseph, who by virtue of his righteousness, was chosen by God to be the messianic "prophet like Moses" (foretold in " Deuteronomy" 18:14–22) when he was anointed with the holy spirit at his baptism.cite paper| author = Tabor, James D.| title = Ancient Judaism: Nazarenes and Ebionites| year = 1998 | url = http://www.religiousstudies.uncc.edu/JDTABOR/ebionites.html| accessdate = 2006-09-31]
Of the books of the
New Testament, the Ebionites are said to have accepted only a Hebrew version of the " Gospel of Matthew", referred to as the " Gospel of the Hebrews", as additional scriptureto the Hebrew Bible. This version of "Matthew", Irenaeusreports, omitted the first two chapters (on the nativity of Jesus), and started with the baptism of Jesusby John.
The Ebionites believed that all Jews and
Gentilesmust observe the commandments in the Law of Moses, in order to become righteous and seek communion with God, [Hippolytus] but these commandments must be understood in the light of Jesus' expounding of the Law, revealed during his sermon on the mount.cite paper| author = Francois P. Viljoen | title = Jesus' Teaching on the Torah in the Sermon on the Mount | publisher = Neotestamenica 40.1, pp. 135-155 | year = 2006cite paper| title = Jesus' Teaching on the Torah in the Sermon on the Mount | url = http://www.geocities.com/neotestamentica/archive/401/401gviljoen-sample.pdf | accessdate=2007-03-13|format=PDF] The Ebionites may have held a form of " inaugurated eschatology" positing that the ministry of Jesushad ushered in the Messianic Ageso that the kingdom of God might be understood as present in an incipient fashion, while at the same time awaiting consummation in the future age.
James vs. Paul
James, the brother of the Lord, presided over the Jerusalem church after the other apostles dispersed.Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005, article "Jerusalem"] Paul, self appointed "Apostle to the Gentiles", established many churches [Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005, article "Paul, St"] and founded a Christian theology, see
Pauline Christianity. At the Council of Jerusalem("c" 49), Paul argued to abrogate Mosaic observances [Cross, F. L., ed. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. New York: Oxford University Press. 2005, article "Acts of the Apostles"] for his non-Jewish converts, but Paul's arguments were rejected, and Jewish Law and tradition concerning non-Jewish followers were asserted by refrence to Noahide Law. For the parallel in Judaism, see Noachide law.
Some scholarsEisenman (1997), p. 155-184.] Tabor (2006), p. 222-223, 231.] argue that the Ebionites regarded James, brother of Jesus, the first bishop of Jerusalem,James is traditionally considered the leader of the Jerusalem church. As such he appears in Acts (15 and 21),
Eusebius of Caesarea( [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250102.htm "Church History" II, 1, 2] ), Clement of Alexandria(quoted by Eusebius in "Church History" I, 1, 3–4), Hegesippus (quoted by Eusebius in "Church History" II, 23, 4) and the Gospel of Thomas(saying 12).] the rightful leader of the Church rather than Peter. James Tabor argues that the Ebionites claimed a unique dynastic apostolic successionfor the relatives of Jesus.Tabor (2006), p. 4, 74, 222, 226.] They opposed the Apostle Paul, who established that gentile Christians did not have to be circumcised or otherwise follow the Law of Moses, and named him an apostate. Epiphanius relates that some Ebionites alleged that Paul was a Greek who converted to Judaism in order to marry the daughter of a high priest of Israel but apostasized when she rejected him. [Epiphanius of Salamis, "Panarion", 16, 9.]
Few writings of the Ebionites have survived, and these are in uncertain form. The "Recognitions of Clement" and the "Clementine Homilies", two 3rd century Christian works, are regarded by general scholarly consensus as largely or entirely Jewish Christian in origin and reflect Jewish Christian beliefs. The exact relationship between the Ebionites and these writings is debated, but Epiphanius's description of some Ebionites in "
Panarion" 30 bears a striking similarity to the ideas in the "Recognitions" and "Homilies". Scholar Glenn Alan Koch speculates that Epiphanius likely relied upon a version of the "Homilies" as a source document.
Catholic Encyclopediaclassifies the Ebionite writings into four groups: [http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05242c.htm "Ebionites"] , " Catholic Encyclopedia", vol. V (1909).]
Gospel of the Ebionites": According to Irenaeus, the Ebionites used only the " Gospel of Matthew". Eusebius of CaesareaEusebius of Caesarea, [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250104.htm "Church History", IV, 21, 8.] ] mentions a " Gospel of the Hebrews", often identified as the slightly modified Aramaic original of Matthew, written with Hebrew letters. Such a work was known to Hegesippus, Origen[ Jerome, "De viris illustribus", [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2708.htm 2] ] and to Clement of Alexandria. [Clement of Alexandria, [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/02102.htm "Stromata" II, 9, 45] ] Epiphanius of Salamisattributes this gospel to Nazarenes, and claims that Ebionites only possessed an incomplete, falsified, and truncated copy. [Epiphanius, " Panarion" 29, 9.] The question remains whether Epiphanius was able to accurately distinguish between Nazarenes and Ebionites.
*Apocrypha of the New Testament: The "Circuits of Peter" and "Acts of the Apostles", including the work usually titled the "Ascents of James". The first-named books are substantially contained in the Homilies of Clement under the title of Clement's "Compendium of Peter's itinerary sermons", and also in the "Recognitions" attributed to Clement. They form an early Christian didactic fiction to express Jewish Christian views, i.e. the primacy of
James the Just, their connection with the episcopal see of Rome, and their antagonism to Simon Magus, as well as gnostic doctrines. Scholar Robert E. Van Voorstopines of the "Ascents of James" (R 1.33–71), "There is, in fact, no section of the Clementine literature about whose origin in Jewish Christianity one may be more certain". Despite this assertion, he expresses reservations that the material is genuinely Ebionite in origin.
*The Works of
Symmachus the Ebionite: Symmachus produced a translation of the Hebrew Bibleinto Koine Greek, which was used by Jerome and is still extant in fragments, and " Hypomnemata" written to counter the canonical Gospel of Matthew. The latter work, which is totally lostEusebius of Caesarea, [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250106.htm "Church History", VI, 17.] ] [ Jerome, "De viris illustribus", [http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/2708.htm 54] .] is probably identical with "De distinctione præceptorum" mentioned by Ebed Jesu (Assemani, "Bibl. Or.", III, 1).
* The "Book of Elchesai" claimed to have been written about 100 CE and brought to Rome in c. 217 CE by Alcibiades of Apamea. Ebionites deemed those who accepted its gnostic doctrines
apostates. [Hippolytus, "Philosophumena", IX, 14-17.] [Epiphanius, "Panarion", 19, 1; 53, 1.]
Some also speculate that the core of the "
Gospel of Barnabas", beneath a polemical medieval Muslim overlay, may have been based upon an Ebionite or gnostic document.John Toland, "Nazarenus, or Jewish, Gentile and Mahometan Christianity", 1718.] The existence and origin of this source continues to be debated by scholars.cite paper| author = Blackhirst, R.| title = Barnabas and the Gospels: Was There an Early Gospel of Barnabas?, Journal of Higher Criticism, 7/1, p. 1–22.| year = 2000| url = http://depts.drew.edu/jhc/Blackhirst_Barnabas.html| accessdate = 2007-03-11]
The mainstream Christian view of the Ebionites is based on the polemical views of the Church Fathers who portrayed them as
hereticsfor rejecting many of the central Christian views of Jesus, and allegedly having an improper fixation on the Law of Mosesat the expense of the grace of God.cite book| author = Arendzen, J.P. | title = Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume V.: Ebionites | publisher = Robert Appleton Company | year = 1904] In this view, the Ebionites may have been the descendants of a Jewish Christiansect within the early Jerusalem churchwhich broke away from its mainstream theology.cite book| author = Jean Daniélou| title = The theology of Jewish Christianity: The Development of Christian doctrine before the Council of Nicea | publisher = H. Regnery Co | year = 1964 | id = ASIN B0007FOFQI]
Some Christian apologists have criticized the
quest for the historical Jesusas having resulted in a "revival of the Ebionite heresy".cite paper| author = Brad Bromling | title = Jesus: Truly God and Truly Human | Publisher = Apologetics Press | year = 1995 | url = http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/263| accessdate = 2007-08-05] Some scholars with mainstream Christian beliefs are acknowledging the recent emphasis on the Jewishness of Jesus and his earliest followers, and commenting on how they reconciled the Jewish Jesus with the Christ of faith.cite paper | author = William Loader| title = Jesus the Jew | url = http://wwwstaff.murdoch.edu.au/~loader/JJew.html | accessdate = 2007-08-05]
The mainstream Jewish view of the Ebionites is that they were Jewish heretics due to their refusal to see Jesus as a
false prophetand failed Jewish Messiah claimant but also for wanting to include their gospel into the canon of the Hebrew Bible.
Some Muslims who charge Christians with having corrupted the Bible, believe that the Ebionites (as opposed to Christians they encountered) were faithful to the original teachings of Jesus with shared views about Jesus' humanity, though the
Islamic view of Jesusconflicts with the Ebionites' views regarding the virgin birth and the crucifixion.cite book | author = Abdulhaq al-Ashanti & Abdur-Rahmaan Bowes | title = Before Nicea: The Early Followers of Prophet Jesus | publisher = Jamia Media | year = 2005 | id = ISBN 0955109906]
*cite book| author = Eisenman, Robert| title = | publisher = Viking | year = 1997 | id = ISBN 1842930265
*cite book| author = Tabor, James D. | title = The Jesus Dynasty: A New Historical Investigation of Jesus, His Royal Family, and the Birth of Christianity| publisher = Simon & Schuster | year = 2006| id = ISBN 0743287231
*G. Uhlhorn, "Ebionites", in: Philip Schaff (ed.), "A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology", 3rd ed. (1894), p. 684–685 (vol. 2).
*cite book| author = Wilson, Barrie| title = How Jesus Became Chrisitan - The early Chritians and the transformation of a Jewish teacher into the Son of God | publisher = Orion | year = 2008 | id = ISBN 978 0 297 85200 1
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