Nazarene Space

Nazarenes were not Apostate Ebionites


Nazarenes were not Apostate Ebionites
By
James Scott Trimm

Posting these facts on Facebook caused me to be blocked by Paul Sides

who teaches that Nazarnes and Ebionites were the same, and

uses this false foundation to introduce apostate Ebionite teachings.



The first believers in Yeshua were a Jewish sect known as  “Nazarenes” or in Hebrew “Netzarim” (Acts 24:5). The “church father” Jerome (4th Cent.) described these Nazarenes as those “…who accept Messiah in such a way that they do not cease to observe the old Law.” (Jerome; On. Is. 8:14).

Elsewhere he writes:

Today there still exists among the Jews in all the synagogues of the East a heresy which is called that of the Minæans, and which is still condemned by the Pharisees; [its followers] are ordinarily called ‘Nazarenes’; they believe that Messiah, the son of God, was born of the Virgin Miriam, and they hold him to be the one who suffered under Pontius Pilate and ascended to heaven, and in whom we also believe.”
(Jerome; Letter 75 Jerome to Augustine)

The word “Minæans” was apparently Latinized from Hebrew MINIM (singular is MIN) a word which in modern Hebrew means “apostates” but was originally an acronym for a Hebrew phrase meaning “Believers in Yeshua the Nazarene”.

The fourth century “church father” Epiphanius gives a more detailed description:

But these sectarians… did not call themselves Christians–but “Nazarenes,” … However they are simply complete Jews. They use not only the New Testament but the Old Testament as well, as the Jews do… They have no different ideas, but confess everything exactly as the Law proclaims it and in the Jewish fashion– except for their belief in Messiah, if you please! For they acknowledge both the resurrection of the dead and the divine creation of all things, and declare that God is one, and that his son is Yeshua the Messiah. They are trained to a nicety in Hebrew. For among them the entire Law, the Prophets, and the… Writings… are read in Hebrew, as they surely are by the Jews. They are different from the Jews, and different from Christians, only in the following. They disagree with Jews because they have come to faith in Messiah; but since they are still fettered by the Law–circumcision, the Sabbath, and the rest– they are not in accord with Christians…. they are nothing but Jews…. They have the Goodnews according to Matthew in its entirety in Hebrew. For it is clear that they still preserve this, in the Hebrew alphabet, as it was originally written. (Epiphanius; Panarion 29)

In the 1980's I began the work of restoration of the ancient sect of the Nazarenes and in 1996 I founded the Society for the Advancement of Nazarene Judaism, now known as the Worldwide Nazarene Assembly of Elohim, and an organized restoration of Nazarene Judaism began.

In recent years there have been attempts to hijack this restoration and divert it into various "pet doctrine" heresies.  One of these has been an effort to confuse the issues and misidentify the Nazarenes as synonymous with a heretical group known as "Ebionites".

The fact is that the Nazarenes and Ebionites were distinct groups.  The Nazarenes were the original Jewish followers of Yeshua as Messiah.  The Ebionites were an apostate group that rejected Nazarene Judaism and embraced the false teachings of Evion (Ebion) the Apostate, after the destruction of the Temple.

Some writers in their books wrongly group both Nazarene and Ebionism into the same entity as quoted below:

“Since the Nazarenes and Ebonites (Unitarian Christians) are by all the Church historians unanimously acknowledged to have been the first Christians, or those who believe in Christ among the Jews with which, his own people, he lived and died, they having been the witness of his actions, and of whom were all the apostles, considering this, I say how it is possible for them to be the first of all others (for they were made to be the first heretics), who should form wrong conceptions of the doctrines and designs of Jesus? And how came the Gentiles who believed on him after his death by the preaching of persons that never knew him to have truer notions of these things, or whence they could have their information but from the believing Jews?” (emphasis added).
(“The Nazarenes” by Toland, as quoted in “Jesus a Prophet of Islam” by Muhammad `Ata ur-Rahim)

“Nazarenes continued to exist until about 400 [CE] declaring to the last that [Jesus/Yeshua] was the Messiah, that he would soon return, that he was the Son of [God] but not divine himself, that the Jewish law had never been abrogated by him, and that Paul was a deceiver who had perverted [Jesus'/Yeshua's] message.”
(Hyam Maccoby, Revolution in Judaea, p 818)

“Thus a new Jewish sect arose known as the Nazarenes under the leadership of….James, based on the belief in [J's] continued Messiahship. The Pharisees did not regard this sect as heretical. Indeed, the Nazarenes were regarded as being within the Pharisee party until about 90 [C.E.].”
(Revolution in Judea, p 168)

And more:

“The event, however, that weakened the Nazarenes fatally and gave the victory to the Paulinists was the siege and capture of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 [C.E.]. The Nazarenes, as loyal Jews, took part in the defense of the city, and in the ensuing massacre most of them died. A few survived to continue an enfeebled existence… The remnants of the Nazarenes … were regarded as heretics by the main body of Christians. To add to their miseries, they now for the first time came into conflict with their fellow-Jews, the Pharisees, who regarded the development of the anti-Semitic Christianity as proof that [Jesus/Yehoshua] could not have been the Messiah, and requested the Nazarenes to give up the Messianic belief that differentiated them from their follow-Jews In about 90 [CE] the Nazarenes were finally expelled from the Jewish Synagogue and became a heretical group in Judaism as well as Christianity. The Nazarenes continued to exist until about 400 [CE] declaring to the last that [Jesus/Yeshua] was the Messiah, that he would soon return, that he was the Son of [Elohim] but not divine himself, that the Jewish law had never been abrogated by him, and that Paul was a deceiver who had perverted [Jesus/Yeshua's] message.”
(Revolution in Judea, p 181)

To demonstrate the total error of there secondary sources, let us look at the documented historical evidence in the primary source documents:

WHAT THEY THOUGHT ABOUT YESHUA

NAZARENES:

“The adherents to this sect are known commonly as Nazarenes; they believe in Christ the Son of God, born of, the Virgin Mary; and they say that He who suffered under Pontius Pilate and rose again, is the same as the one in whom we believe.”
(Letter 75 Jerome to Augustine)

“For they acknowledge both the resurrection of the dead and the divine creation of all things, and declare that G-d is one, and that his son is Y’shua the Messiah.”
(Epiphanius; Panarion 29)

EBIONITES:

“Those who are called Ebionites agree that the world was made by God; but their opinions with respect to the Lord (Yeshua as a human prophet) are similar to those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates.”
(Irenaeus; Aganist Heresies 1:26)

“The Ebionaeans, however, acknowledge that the world was made by Him Who is in reality God, but they propound legends concerning the Christ similarly with Cerinthus and Carpocrates. They live conformably to the customs of the Jews, alleging that they are justified. according to the law, and saying that Jesus was justified by fulfilling the law. And therefore it was, (according to the Ebionaeans,) that (the Savior) was named (the) Christ of God and Jesus, since not one of the rest (of mankind) had observed completely the law. For if even any other had fulfilled the commandments (contained) in the law, he would have been that Christ. And the (Ebionaeans allege) that they themselves also, when in like manner they fulfill (the law), are able to become Christs; for they assert that our Lord Himself was a man in a like sense with all (the rest of the human family).”
(Hippolytus; Against All Heresies, 7.22)


ABOUT VIRGIN BIRTH

NAZARENES:

“The adherents to this sect are known commonly as Nazarenes; they believe in Christ the Son of God, born of, the Virgin Mary; and they say that He who suffered under Pontius Pilate and rose again, is the same as the one in whom we believe.”
(Letter 75 Jerome to Augustine)

EBIONITES:

“God, then, was made man, and the Lord did Himself save us, giving us the token of the Virgin. But not as some allege, among those now presuming to expound the Scripture, [thus:] ‘Behold, a young woman shall conceive, and bring forth a son,’ as Theodotion the Ephesian has interpreted, and Aquila of Pontus, both Jewish proselytes. The Ebionites, following these, assert that He was begotten by Joseph; thus destroying, as far as in them lies, such a marvelous dispensation of God, and setting aside the testimony of the prophets which proceeded from God.”
(Irenaeus; Aganist Heresies 3:21)

“The evil demon, however, being unable to tear certain others from their allegiance to the Christ of God, yet found them susceptible in a different direction, and so brought them over to his own purposes. The ancients quite properly called these men Ebionites, because they held poor and mean opinions concerning Christ. For they considered him a plain and common man, who was justified only because of his superior virtue, and who was the fruit of the intercourse of a man with Mary.”
(Eusebius; Ecclesiastical History 3.27)

“But the heresy of the Ebionites, as it is called, asserts that Christ was the son of Joseph and Mary, considering him a mere man…”
(Eusebius; Ecclesiastical History 6:17)

WHAT THEY THOUGHT ABOUT PAUL

NAZARENES:

The proclaiming was multiplied, through the Goodnews of the emissary Paul who was the least of all the emissaries.”
(Nazarene commentary on Is. 8:23-9:3, Is. 9:1-4 in Christian editions)

EBIONITES:

“But the Ebionites… repudiate the apostle Paul.”
(Irenaeus; Aganist Heresies 1:16:2)

“They declare that he was a Greek….He went up to Jerusalem, they say, and when he had spent some time there, he was seized with a passion to marry the daugher of the priest. For this reason he became a proselyte [through the Saducee movement, hence his working for the Temple police] and was circumcised. Then, when he failed to get the girl, he flew into a rage and wrote against cirumcision and against the sabbath and the Law.”
(Epiphanius; Panarion 30:16-19)



THEIR SCRIPTURES

NAZARENES:

“But these sectarians… did not call themselves Christians–but ‘Nazarenes,’… However they are simply complete Jews. They use not only the New Testament but the Old Testament as well, as the Jews do…”
(Epiphanius; Panarion 29)

EBIONITES:

“But the Ebionites use only… Matthew…”
(Irenaeus; Aganist Heresies 1:16:2)

“they used only the so-called Gospel according to the Hebrews and made small account of the rest.”
(Eusebius; Ecclesiastical History 3.27)

THEIR GOSPEL OF MATTHEW

NAZARENES:

“They [the Nazarenes] have the Gospel according to Matthew quite complete in Hebrew, for this Gospel is certainly still preserved among them as it was first written, in Hebrew letters.”
(Epiphanius; Panarion 29:9:4)

EBIONITES:

“In the Gospel that is in general use among them which is called ‘according to Matthew’, which however is not wholely complete but falsified and mutilated.”
 (Epiphanius; Panarion 30:13:2)



ORIGIN OF EBIONITES: APOSTATIZED FROM THE NAZARENES

“Next comes Ebion, the founder of the Ebionites. He held doctrines like those of the Nazarenes…being from their sect, although what he taught and proclaimed differed from what they did…”
(Epiphanius; Panarion 30:1:1)

“Their sect began after the capture of Jerusalem. For when all those who believed in Messiah settled at that time for the most part in Peraea, in a city called Pella … that provided an opportunity for Ebion. … They (Nazarenes and Ebionites) do in fact differ from each other…”
(Epiphanius; Panarion 30:2:7)

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