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the Hebrews who receive Christ.”* especially with
The gospel s'the Hebrews who received Christ,” is given in the here given to
Peto the “Ebionites,” by the same author. “They (the Ebioes) made use only of that which is called the Gospel according othe Hebrews; the rest they made small account of.” +
passages be thought sufficient to identify the Ebionites
with the “ main body of Hebrew Christians,” perbe followi ng may be held to prove their early existence; as it they p resented the Apostle John with a motive for com
spe]: Epiphanius says, “ When therefore the blessed comes and $ Gospe finds men
nnds men speculating about the human nature of he Ebonites going astray respecting the genealogy of
the fleste , deduced from Abraham, and by Luke from Adam ; then he finds the Cerinthians and Merinthians affirming his natural birth as a mere man; the Nazarenes too, and many other heresies ; coming, as he did, fourth, or in the rear of the Evangelists, he began, if I may say so, to recall the wanderers, and those who speculated about the human nature of Christ, and to say to them, when from his station in the rear, he beheld some declining into rugged paths, and quitting, as it were, the straight and true one, · whither are you tending, whither are you going, you who are treading a path rugged and obstructed, conducting, moreover, to a precipice? Return, it is not so; the God, Logos, who was begotten of the Father from the beginning, is not from Mary only.'” I
That the Nazarenes and Ebionites were truly “the early Hebrew Christians," must be considered as a fact established by such evidence as the foregoing, till some testimony to the contrary can be produced. That they were the successors of the Judaizing Christians reproved by St. Paul is an assertion destitute of support; for the opponents who troubled the Apostle of the Gentiles were distinguished by their pertinacious attempts, as Hebrews, to force the Mosaic Law on Gentile converts; whereas, respecting the Nazarenes, Lardner observes, “ Divers learned moderns are now convinced of this, and readily allow, that the Jewish believers, who were called Nazarenes, did not impose the ordinances of the law upon others, though they observed them as the descendants of Israel and Abraham."*
The application by Epiphanius of the words “sect” and “ heretics" to these believers, does not prove that he was speaking of a different class from the early Hebrew Christians ; but only that this same class began, in his time, to be spoken of in a different and more disparaging way. He is the first writer, so far as I can discover, who describes them in such reproachful language. On this point Dr. Wall observes : “ He styles them heretics, for no other reason that I can see, but that they, together with their Christian faith, continued the use of circumcision and of the Jewish rites; which things St. Paul never blamed in a Jewish Christian, though, in the Gentile Christian, he did : and Epiphanius with the same propriety, as far as I can perceive, might have blamed St. James, bishop of Jerusalem, and those thousands of Jewish Christians with him, concerning whom James said to Paul, “Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe, and they are all zealous for the law."”'t
And as to the Nazarenes and Ebionites separating from the se neral community of the Christian church, after the second destruction of Jerusalem by Adrian, and thus bringing upon themselves the one probrium of heresy, the fact, stated in this form, cannot be pro From the first, the Hebrew Christians had formed a separat from the Gentile Christians. But their proportion to the who of believers seems to have been for some time too consid admit of their being spoken of in contemptuous language. Gentile portion of the Church became altogether ascend especially when it furnished all the ecclesiastical writers, (one chief functions it has been, in every age, to call names,) th
e altogether ascendant, and lesiastical writers, (one of whose
to call names,) the Jewish
* Jewish Testimonies, I. Works : Kippis's ed. 4to. vol. iii. p. 48 + Acts xxi. 20. Wall's Preface to Critical Notes on the N. T. p. 12.
destitsite of all pretensions to philosophy, and free from that ambitious ?
tious speculative spirit out of which orthodox theology
natu Tally treated with less respect, and regarded as exins to that g eneral union which had consolidated itself inde
tly of thero , and at last completely left them out. It does not that any fur Ether change was wrought by Adrian's destruction
tha a necessarily followed from his resolution to exe ne A colony which he founded there, all who practised Thí s imperial determination compelled the withdrawal Ch Fistians to the North of Palestine ; and they were
v church, whose gentile origin and customs qualimimombers (
u uer the Emperor s decree) for settlement on the ancient site.
u De Tattershall disparages the testimony of the witnesses cited in this cause, Epiphanius and Jerome; and not without good reason if there should be sufficient proof, when the whole case is before us, of his two allegations, viz. ;
First, That Epiphanius contradicts himself; affirming now the completeness, and then the mutilation, of the Gospel in ques
Secondly, That Epiphanius contradicts Jerome ; in asserting, what “ Jerome does not admit,” the identity of the Ebionite Gospel with that of St. Matthew.
Premising that one and the same work is to be understood as described, by the several titles, “Nazarene Gospel,” “Ebionite Gospel,” “Gospel according to the Hebrews,” “Gospel according to the Twelve Apostles,” I would submit that the first of these allegations is more plausible than true, and that the second is wholly untenable.
The contradictory statements of Epiphanius are the following:
(a.) “They (i. e. the Nazarenes) have the Gospel of Matthew most entire in the Hebrew language among them; for this, truly, is still preserved among them, as it was at first, in Hebrew characters. But I know not whether they have taken away the genealogy from Abraham to Christ.”*
(b.) “In that Gospel which they (i. e. the Ebionites) have called the Gospel according to St. Matthew, which is not entire and perfect,
• Hæres. 29, $ 9, as cited by Jones, Part II. ch. 25, and by Dr. Tattershall,
but corrupted and curtailed, and which they call the Hebrew Gospel,” &c.*
The verbal contradiction between these two passages, is no doubt manifest enough ; and in a writer of more accuracy than Epiphanius, might have justified the proposal of Casaubon (approved by Jones) to effect a violent reconciliation, by the conjectural insertion of the negative adverb in the former sentence, which would then describe the document as not wholly perfect. But the looseness of this author's style appears to me sufficient to explain the opposition be. tween the statements; which seem indeed, to look defiance at each other, when brought by force, face to face; but which at the intervals of separate composition, may be, by no means, irreconcileable. That in the first, Epiphanius designed the phrase “ most entire,” to be understood with considerable latitude, is evident from the expression of suspicion which instantly follows, that the genealogy might probably be absent. And if the work in question contained a quantity of matter additional to Matthew's Gospel, while it also omitted some of its integral parts; it seems not unnatural that the same writer, who with his thoughts running on its redundancies, had at one time called it a most full copy, should at another, when dwelling on its deficiencies, style it an incomplete edition of the first Evangelist. But it is more important to observe, that on the points for which the Editors of the Improved Version adduce the testimony of Epiphanius, viz., to identify the Gospel of Matthew with that of the Nazarenes and Ebionites, and to attest the absence from this book of the story of the ml raculous conception, there is here no contradiction whatever. In both passages he states the work to be Matthew's, and in neither, according to Dr. Tattershall, does he say that the first two chapters were wanting. The harmony then, on these, the only points in dispute, is complete.
(2.) “ Jerome,” it is said, “ does not admit the work in question to be the Gospel of St. Matthew ;” which puts him at issue wil Epiphanius. Will Dr. Tattershall permit me to lay before him passage of Jerome, which has been under his eye recently, for he no quoted a sentence from Jones which occurs on the adjacent page: runs thus. “Matthew, also called Levi, who became from a public an Apostle, was the first who composed a gospel of Christ ; and a the sake of those who believed in Christ among the Jews, wrote: the Hebrew language and letters ; but it is uncertain who it was to
* Hæres. 30, $ 13, as cited by Jones, Part II. ch. 23, and by Dr. latte p. 89.
Greek. Moreover the Hebrew (copy) itself is to rved in the library of Cæsarea, which Pamphilus, the
mucha diligence collected. The Nazarenes, who live in Cerity of Syria, and make use of this volume, granted me the writing it out; in which (Gospel) there is this observable,
Evangelist either cites himself, or introduces our Saviour as citing, a Ay passage out of the Old Testament, he does not
-anslatí on of the Seventy, but the Hebrew copies : of are these two instances, viz., that · Out of Egypt I have .'* q id that, “Het shall be called a Nazarene." I
1 presume, does admit the Nazarene Gospel to be a nd the harmony on this point, between him and
Epiphanius, is compete.
les alleging the above contradiction, Dr. Tattershall notices a supposed variance (not amounting to inconsistency) between these two Fathers on another point. From a statement of Jerome, he " thinks it may be fairly inferred,” that he knew the first two chapters of Matthew's Gospel to be wanting in the Nazarene record. But it is denied that Epiphanius gives any countenance to the notion of their absence. Now I conceive that if this statement be precisely reversed, we shall have the true state of the case before us. Epiphanius gives us testimony to the absence, Jerome to the presence, of these chapters in the Nazarene Gospel.
First, as to Epiphanius : he makes the following statements bearing on this point :
(1.) He says that “ the beginning of their (the Ebionites') Gospel was this: “It came to pass in the days of Herod, the King of Judæa, that John came baptizing with the baptism of repentance in the river Jordan.'"'S Is it not evident from this, that the initial event of this narrative was the advent of the Baptist, and that the previous account of the birth of Christ was absent? So, at least, it has been hitherto supposed.
(2.) He says in positive terms, “They have taken away the genealogy frum Matthew, and accordingly begin their Gospel, as I have above said, with these words ; • It came to pass,' &c. || It cannot
* Matt, ïi. 15.
+ Matt. ii. 23. Catal, vir. illust. in Matth. Giving Jones's translation, I do not think it necessary to quote the original Latin. See Jones on the Canon, Part ii. ch. 25.
$ Hær. 30, $ 13, quoted by Jones' Part II. ch. 25. || Ibid.