Paralipomena (Pick)/The Gospel of the Ebionites

 

II. THE GOSPEL OF THE EBIONITES.

I. Patristic Notices.

What we know of the Ebionites is from Epiphanius. He tells us: And they only accept the gospel of Matthew. This alone they use, as do also the followers of Cerinthus and Merinthus. They call it the gospel of the Hebrews. To tell the truth, Matthew wrote only in Hebrew and in Hebrew letters the narrative and preaching of the Gospel in the New Testament. Others again have asserted that the gospel of John is kept in a Hebrew translation in the treasuries of the Jews—namely at Tiberias—and that it is hidden there as some converts from Judaism have told us accurately. Even the book of the Acts of the Apostles translated from the Greek into the Hebrew, is said to be kept there in the treasuries, so that the Jews, who told us this and read it came in this way to the belief on Christ.

Epiphanius, Hæres. XXX, 3.

In another passage Epiphanius also states (XXX, 6): And when among these (i. e., among the books hidden at Tiberias), as has been said, he had read the Gospel of John translated from the Greek into Hebrew, he also found the Acts of the Apostles. And not this alone, but also the gospel of Matthew, which was originally Hebrew. …

And (XXX, 13): in the Gospel of Matthew used by them—not in the perfect, but in a mutilated and castrated form—they call it gospel of the Hebrews—it is recorded: "and there was a man," etc. (see below under 4).

2. Remains.

1.(Matt. III, 1 sq.). a. The beginning of their gospel reads thus: "It came to pass in the days of Herod, King of Judæa, that John came and baptized with the baptism of repentance in the river Jordan; he is said to be from the tribe of Aaron and a son of Zacharias the priest and of Elizabeth, and all went out to him."
Epiphanius, Hæres. XXX, 13.
b.They cut off the genealogies in Matthew and commence as stated above, with the words: "It came to pass in the days of Herod, King of Judæa under the high priest Caiaphas, that a man came named John and baptized with the baptism of repentance in the river Jordan," etc.
Epiphanius, Hæres. XXX, 14.
2.(Matt. III, 3 sqq.). And it came to pass when John baptized, that the Pharisees came to him and were baptized, and all Jerusalem also. He had a garment of camels hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins. And his meat was wild honey, which tasted like manna, formed like cakes of oil.
Epiphanius, Hæres. XXX, 13.

3.(Matt. III, 13 sq.). And after many other words it goes on: "The people having been baptized, Jesus came also, and was baptized by John. And as he came out of the water, the heavens opened, and he saw the Holy Spirit descending under the form of a dove, and entering into him. And a voice was heard from heaven: 'Thou art my beloved Son, and in thee am I well pleased.' And again: 'This day have I begotten thee.' And suddenly shone a great light in that place. And John seeing him, said, Who art thou, Lord? Then a voice was heard from heaven: 'This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.' Thereat John fell at his feet and said: I pray thee, Lord, baptize me. But he would not, saying, 'Suffer it, for so it behoveth that all should be accomplished.'"

Epiphanius, Hæres. XXX, 13 (following I a).

4.(Comp. Luke III, 23). And there was a man named Jesus, and he was about thirty years old; he has chosen us.
Epiphanius, ibid.
5.(Matt. IV, 12; IX, 9 sq.). And He came into Capernaum and entered into the house of Simon, surnamed Peter, and He opened His mouth and said, "As I walked by the sea of Tiberias, I chose John and James, the sons of Zebedee, and Simon and Andrew and Thaddæus and Simon Zelotes, and Judas Iscariot; thee also, Matthew, when thou wast sitting at the receipt of custom, did I call and thou didst follow me. According to my intention ye shall be twelve apostles for a testimony unto Israel."
Epiphanius, ibid.
6.(Matt. XII, 47 sq.). They also deny that He is a man, basing their assertion on the word which He said when He was told: "Behold thy mother and thy brethren stand without." "Who is my mother and who are my brethren?" "And He stretched forth His hand toward His disciples and said: 'These are my brethren and my mother and sisters, which do the will[1] of my Father.
Epiphanius, Hæres. XXX, 14.
7.They say that He is not begotten by God the Father, but created like one of the archangels, being greater than they. He rules over the angels and the beings created by God and He came and declared as the gospel used by them records: "I am come to abolish the sacrifices: if ye cease not from sacrificing, the wrath (of God) will not cease from weighing upon you."
Epiphan., Hæres. XXX, 16.
8.(Matt. XXVI, 17 sq.). Those who rejected the meat have inconsiderately fallen into the error and said: "I have no desire to eat the flesh of this Paschal Lamb with you." (They leave the true order of words and distort the word which is clear to all from the connection of the words and make the disciples say: "Where wilt Thou that we prepare for Thee to eat the Passover?" To which He replied: "I have no desire to eat the flesh of this Paschal Lamb with you.")
Epiphan., Hæres. XXX, 22.


  1. Lit. the wills.