[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Re: The Essene Name

In a message dated 96-10-16 23:47:01 EDT, Vernon Chadwick writes:

<< Another of the corpus' self-designations would be 'ebionim' [the poor]
 occurs frequently in several documents.  Whether or not the 'ebionim'
 to throughout the scrolls would be the one and the same as the 'Ebionites' 
 described [interchangeably with Nazarenes] by Eusibius in _Ecclesiastical 
 History_ some three hundred years later is highly subject to speculation, 
 however there do seem to be references to the early Jerusalem church in the
 as 'the poor' [ptochos] as well.  Where would one find the earliest
 to the [for lack of a better word] 'sect' of Ebionites??

I believe Irenaeus' book against heresies is one of the earliest sources 
(late second century).  Epiphanius (late 4th century) has quotes from the 
"Gospel of the Ebionites" in his book the Panarion, 30.13.1-8; 30.14.5; 
30.16.5; 30.22.4, along with a general description of the Ebionites (which 
is of not uniform reliability).  

One must recognize in reading the church fathers the tendency to 
falsely attribute the founding the the Ebionite sect to "Ebion" (!) and 
secondarily to identify this invented figure Ebion with Cerinthus, an early 
second century so-called heretic.  Also, all Jewish Christianity was 
lumped together as Ebionite by later critics.

Of genuine interest are the traditions associating the Ebionites with 
certain villages east of the Sea of Galilee in the years after the Jewish
Some of these traditions are collected by Hugh Schonfield in his rare early 
book, According to the Hebrews (as I recall) and some of his later books 
on Christianity ("Those Amazing Christians", I believe).  

Two very good Ebionite primary source, available in one of the older 
collections of writings of the Ante-Nicene Fathers, are the Kerygma 
Petrou and the Pseudo-Clementine Recognitions.  Though novelistic, 
they are, however, somewhat dry reading due to their sheer length, 
and it is hard to abstract the essential Ebionite beliefs at first read.
Hence I would recommend the synthesis of Ebionite beliefs by 

    Hans Joachim Schoeps
    Jewish Christianity:  Factional Disputes in the Early Church
    Philadelphia, Fortress Press, 1969

Hope this helps!

-- Russell Gmirkin