The Gospel of the Ebionites
The extracts are set out in:
Preuschen, 9–12, 141–3.
Klostermann, Apocrypha, ii.(2) 9–12.
de Santos Otero, 47–53 (with Spanish trans.).
[Cf. Fabricius, i. 346–9.]
Hennecke3, i. 153–8. Hennecke5, i. 166–72.
Hennecke1, 24–7 (A. Meyer); id., Handbuch, 42–7.
Hennecke3, i. 100–4 (P. Vielhauer).
Hennecke5, i. 138–42 (P. Vielhauer and G. Strecker).
H. Waitz, ‘Das Evangelium der zwölf Apostel (Ebioniten‐evangelium)’, ZNW 13 (1912), 338–48; 14 (1913), 38–64, 117–32.
H.‐J. Schoeps, ‘Ebionitische Apokalyptik im Neuen Testament’, ZNW 51 (1960), 101–11.
M.‐E. Boismard, ‘Évangile des Ebionites et problème synoptique: Mc 1.2–6 et par.’, Rev. Bib. 73 (1964), 321–52.
D. A. Bertrand, ‘L’Évangile des Ebionites: une harmonie évangelique antérieure au Diatessaron’, NTS 26 (1980), 548–63.
G. Howard, ‘The Gospel of the Ebionites’, ANRW 2.25.5, 4034–52.
F. Neirynck, ‘The Apocryphal Gospels and the Gospel of Mark’, in J.‐M. Sevrin (ed.), The New Testament in Early Christianity (Leuven, 1989), 123–75, esp. 157–60 (= BETL 86).
1(a). The Gospel According to the Hebrews
Clement of Alexandria, Strom. 2. 9. 45 (Stählin, GCS 52 (15), p. 137):
As it is also written in the Gospel of the Hebrews, ‘He who wonders shall r eign, and he who reigns shall rest.’
Cf. Strom. 5. 14. 96 (Stählin, GCS 52 (15), p. 389): With these words agrees the sentence: ‘He who seeks will not rest till he finds, and when he finds he will wonder, and wondering he shall reign, and reigning he shall rest.’ 1 Cf. Matt. 11: 28 f.
(Cf. also Coptic Thomas, logion 2, and P. Oxy. 654—below, pp. 135–6.)
Origen, on John 2. 12 (Preuschen, p. 67):
If any should lend credence to the Gospel according to the Hebrews, where t he Saviour himself says, ‘My mother, the Holy Spirit, took me just now by one of my hairs and carried me off to the great Mount Tabor’, he will have difficulty in explaining how the Holy Spirit can be the mother of Christ.
Cf. id., on Jer. 15. 4 (ed. E. Klostermann, GCS 6 (Leipzig, 1901), p. 128): If anyone receives the word, ‘My mother, the Holy Spirit, took me just now and carried me off to the great Mount Tabor’, he could see his mother.(See also Jerome, on Micha 7. 6f. (ed. M. Adriaen, CCL 76 (Turnhout, 1976), p. 513); id., on Is. 40. 9–11 (ed. M. Adriaen, CCL 73 (Turnhout, 1963), p. 459); id., on Ezek. 16. 3 (ed. F. Glorie, CCL 75 (Turnhout, 1964), p. 168).)
Jerome, on Eph. 5. 4 (Migne, PL 26, cols. 552 C—D):
As we read in the Hebrew Gospel where the Lord says to his disciples, ‘N ever be glad unless you are in charity with your brother.’ 2 Cf. Luke 15: 31 f.
Id., de Vir. Ill. 2 (Richardson, p. 8):
The Gospel also entitled ‘according to the Hebrews’ which I lately t ranslated into Greek and Latin, and which Origen 3 ‘Adamantius’, according to the text cited by Klijn, ANRW 2.25.5, 4011. often quotes, contains the following narrative after the Resurrection: ‘Now the Lord, when he had given the cloth to the servant of the priest, went to James and appeared to him.’ For James had taken an oath that he would not eat bread from that hour on which he had drunk the cup of the Lord till he saw him risen from the dead. Again a little later the Lord said, ‘Bring a table and bread’, and forthwith it is added: ‘He took bread and blessed and broke it and gave to James the Just and said to him, “My brother, eat your bread, for the Son of Man is risen from those who sleep.” ’
Cf. ibid. 16, which attributes the following passage from Ignatius, ad Smyrn. 3. 1–2, to the Gospel of the Hebrews: I know and believe that after his resurrection he lived in the flesh. For when the Lord came to Peter and to the Apostles, he said to them, ‘Lay hold, handle me, and see that I am not an incorporeal spirit.’ And immediately they touched him and believed, being convinced by his flesh and spirit.
Id., on Ezek. 18. 7 (ed. F. Glorie, CCL 75 (Turnhout, 1964), p. 237):
I n the Gospel of the Hebrews which the Nazarenes are in the habit of reading it belongs to the greatest sins when ‘one afflicts the spirit of his brother’.
Id., on Isa. 11. 2 (ed. M. Adriaen, CCL 73 (Turnhout, 1963), pp. 147–8):
B ut in the Gospel which is written in Hebrew and which the Nazarenes read, ‘the whole fountain of the Holy Spirit shall descend upon him’. And the Lord is spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. And in the Gospel referred to above I find this written: ‘And it came to pass, as the Lord came up out of the water, the whole fountain of the Holy Spirit descended upon him and rested upon him and said to him, “My son, in all the prophets I expected that you might come and that I might rest upon you. You are my rest, you are my firstborn Son, who reigns in eternity.” ’ 4 Cf. Mark 1: 9–11 and parallels.
Eusebius, HE 3. 39. 17 (Schwartz, GCS 9.1, p. 292):
H e (Papias) gives a history of a woman who had been accused of many sins before the Lord, which is also contained in the Gospel of the Hebrews.
1(b). The Gospel of the Nazaraeans
(Pseudo‐) Origen, on Matt. 15. 14 (Latin) (ed. E. Benz and E. Klostermann, x, GCS 40 (Leipzig, 1935), pp. 389–90):
I t is written in a certain Gospel, which is styled ‘according to the Hebrews’, if any one pleases to receive it, not as an authority, but as an illustration of the subject before us: Another rich man said to him, ‘Master, what good thing shall I do to live?’ He said to him, ‘O man, fulfil the law and the prophets.’ He replied, ‘I have done that.’ He said to him, ‘Go, sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and come, follow me.’ But the rich man began to scratch his head and it did not please him. And the Lord said to him; ‘How can you say, “I have fulfilled the law and the prophets”, since it is written in the law: You shall love your neighbour as yourself, and lo! many of your brethren, sons of Abraham, are clothed in filth, dying of hunger, and your house is full of many goods, and nothing at all goes out of it to them.’ And returning to Simon, his disciple, who was sitting by him, he said, ‘Simon, son of Jonas, it is easier for a camel to enter the eye of a needle than for a rich man (to enter) into the kingdom of heaven.’ 5 Matt. 19: 16–24 .
Eusebius, Theophania, 4. 12 (Syriac) (ed. H. Gressmann, GCS 11.2 (Leipzig, 1904), pp. 182*–4*) (cf. Theophania Syriaca, ed. S. Lee (London, 1842):
The cause therefore of the divisions of souls that take place in houses C hrist himself taught, as we have found in a place in the Gospel existing among the Jews in the Hebrew language, in which it is said: ‘I will choose for myself the best which my Father in heaven has given me.’ 6 Cf. John 6: 37–9 .
Id., Theophania, 4. 22 (Greek) (Klostermann, p. 9 (no. 15); Migne, PG 24, cols. 685–8):
Since the Gospel which has come down to us in the Hebrew language p ronounces the threat not against the man who hid the money, but against him who spent it in riotous living . . . (The master) had three servants; one spent the substance of the master with harlots and with flute girls; the second multiplied it; the third hid the talent; then one was received, another was blamed, and the other was cast into prison. I imagine that according to Matthew the threat which was spoken after the word addressed to the idle one does not concern him, but, by way of epanalepsis, the one mentioned before who had eaten and drunk with the drunkard. 7 Matt. 25: 14–30 .
Jerome, 8 Jerome's references to this gospel span writings normally dated between 383 and 415. Epistle 20 to Damasus (ed. I. Hilberg, CSEL 54 (Vienna and Leipzig, 1910), p. 110):
Matthew who wrote a Gospel in Hebrew put it thus: ‘Osanna Barrama’, i.e. H osanna in the highest.
Id., de Vir. Ill. 3 (Richardson, pp. 9 f.):
Now this Hebrew (viz. Matthew) is preserved to this day in the library at C aesarea, which Pamphilus the Martyr so diligently collated. I also obtained permission from the Nazarenes of Beroea in Syria, who use this volume, to make a copy of it. In this it is to be observed that, throughout, the evangelist, when quoting the witness of the Old Testament, either in his own person or in that of the Lord and Saviour, does not follow the authority of the Seventy translators, but the Hebrew Scriptures, from which he quotes these two sayings: ‘Out of Egypt have I called my Son’ 9 Matt. 2: 15 . and ‘hence he shall be called a Nazarene’. 10 Matt. 2: 23 .
Id., on Matt. 2. 5 (Hurst and Adriaen, p. 13):
‘B ethlehem of Judaea’. This is a mistake of the scribes, for I believe that the evangelist wrote it as we read it in the Hebrew ‘of Judah’ not Judaea.
Ibid. 6. 11 (Hurst and Adriaen, p. 37):
I n the Gospel of the Hebrews for the ‘supersubstantial bread’ I found ‘Mahar’ which signifies ‘tomorrow's’, so that the meaning would be: ‘give us this day the bread for the morrow.’ 11 Matt. 6: 11; Luke 11: 3 .
Cf. id., on Ps. 135 (ed. G. Morin, CCL 78 (Turnhout, 1958), p. 295): In the Hebrew Gospel according to Matthew it is thus: ‘Our bread of the morrow give us this day’; that is ‘the bread which you will give us in your kingdom give us this day’.
Ibid. 12. 13 (Hurst and Adriaen, p. 90):
I n the Gospel that the Nazarenes and Ebionites use, which I recently translated from the Hebrew into Greek and which most people designate as the authentic text of Matthew, we read that the man with the withered hand 12 Matt. 12: 9–14 and parallels. was a mason, who asked for help with these words: ‘I was a mason, working for my bread with my hands. I pray to you, Jesus, restore me to health so that I do not eat my bread in disgrace.’
Ibid. 23. 35 (Hurst and Adriaen, p. 219):
I n the Gospel which the Nazarenes use we find it written for ‘Son of Barachias’ 13 Matt. 23: 35 . ‘Son of Johoiada’.
Ibid. 27. 16 (Hurst and Adriaen, p. 265):
I n the so‐called Gospel of the Hebrews, Barabbas who was condemned for sedition and murder is interpreted by ‘son of their teacher’.
Ibid. 27. 51 (Hurst and Adriaen, p. 275):
I n the Gospel often mentioned we read that ‘the very great lintel of the Temple broke and fell into pieces’.
Cf. Epistle to Hedibia, 120. 8 (ed. I. Hilberg, CSEL 55 (Vienna and Leipzig, 1912)), pp. 489–92: But in the Gospel that is written in Hebrew letters we read not that the veil of the temple was rent but that a lintel of the temple of wondrous size fell.
Id., on Isa., pref. to book 18 (ed. M. Adriaen, CCL 73 (Turnhout, 1963), p. 741):
For when the apostles thought him to be a spirit or, in the words of the G ospel of the Hebrews which the Nazarenes read, ‘a bodiless demon’ he said to them . . .
Id., Dialogi contra Pelagianos. 3. 2 (ed. Migne, PL 23, cols. 597B–598A):
In the Gospel of the Hebrews which is written in the Syro‐Chaldaic tongue b ut in Hebrew characters, which the Nazarenes make use of at this day, and which is also called the ‘Gospel of the Apostles’, or as many think, ‘that of Matthew’, and which is in the library of Caesarea, the following narrative is given: ‘Behold, the mother of the Lord and his brothers said to him, “John the Baptist baptizes for the remission of sins; let us go and be baptized by him”.’ But he said, ‘What have I committed, that I should be baptized of him, unless it be that in saying this I am in ignorance?’ 14 Matt. 3: 13–14 . . In the same volume (i.e. in the Gospel of the Hebrews) we read, ‘If your brother has sinned in word against you and has made satisfaction, forgive him up to seven times a day.’ Simon, his disciple, said to him, ‘Seven times?’ 15 Matt. 18: 21–2 . The Lord answered saying, ‘Verily I say to you: until seventy times seven! For even in the prophets the word of sin is found after they have been anointed with the Holy Spirit.’
Cf. variant in cursive 566 at Matt. 18: 22 below.
New Testament Greek cursive manuscripts (biblical reference, marginal note, and cursive number)
Matt. 4: 5 . The Jewish copy has not ‘to the holy city’ but ‘in Jerusalem’. 566
Matt. 5: 22 . The word ‘without cause’ is not inserted in some copies, nor in the Jewish. 1424
Matt. 7: 5 . The Jewish has here: ‘If you are in my bosom and do not do the will of my Father which is in heaven, out of my bosom will I cast you away.’ 1424 (2 Clement 4: 5 has: The Lord said, ‘If you are with me gathered together in my bosom and do not do my commandments, I will cast you away and say to you, “Depart from me: I do not know where you come from, you workers of wickedness”.’)
Matt. 10: 16 . The Jewish has ‘(wise) more than serpents’ instead of ‘as serpents’. 1424
Matt. 11: 12 . (The kingdom of heaven suffers violence.) The Jewish has: ‘is ravished (or plundered)’. 1424
Matt. 11: 25 . (I thank you [lit. confess to you], O Father.) The Jewish: ‘I give you thanks.’ 1424
Matt. 12: 40 . The Jewish does not have: ‘three days and three nights (in the heart of the earth)’. 899
Matt. 15: 5 . The Jewish: ‘Corban, by which you shall be profited by us.’ 1424
Matt. 16: 17 . The Jewish: ‘[Simon] son of John.’ 566, 1424
Matt. 18: 22 . The Jewish has, immediately after the seventy times seven: ‘For in the prophets, after they were anointed with the Holy Spirit, there was found in them a word (matter) of sin.’ 566, 899
Matt. 26: 74 . The Jewish: ‘and he denied and swore and cursed.’ 4, 273, 566, 899, 1424
Matt. 27: 65 . The Jewish: ‘And he delivered to them armed men, that they might sit opposite the cave and keep watch on it day and night.’ 1424
1(c). The Gospel of the Ebionites
Epiphanius, adv. Haer. 30. 3 (Holl, GCS 25, pp. 335 f.):
A nd 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 belief in Christ.
Ibid. 30. 13:
I n the Gospel of Matthew used by them—not in a perfect but in a mutilated and castrated form—called the Gospel of the Hebrews it is recorded: ‘And there was a man named Jesus, and he was about thirty years old; he has chosen us 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 Thaddaeus and Simon Zelotes, and Judas Iscariot; you also, Matthew, when you were sitting at the receipt of custom, did I call and you followed me. According to my intention you shall be twelve apostles for a testimony to Israel”.’ 16 Matt. 10: 1–4 and parallels.
And it came to pass when John baptized, that the Pharisees came to him a nd 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. 17 Mark 1: 5–6 and parallel.
The beginning of their Gospel reads thus: ‘It came to pass in the days of H erod, King of Judaea, 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.’ 18 Mark 1: 4 and parallel.
And after many other words it goes on: ‘After the people had been b aptized, 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 in the form of a dove and entering into him. And a voice was heard from heaven, “You are my beloved Son, and in you am I well pleased.” And again, “This day have I begotten you.” And suddenly a great light shone in that place. And John, seeing him, said, “Who are you, 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 you, Lord, baptize me.” But he would not, saying, “Suffer it, for thus it is fitting that all should be accomplished”.’ 19 Matt. 3: 14 f.
Ibid. 30. 14:
They also deny that he is a man, basing their assertion on the word which h e said when he was told: ‘Behold your mother and your brethren stand outside.’ ‘Who is my mother and who are my brethren?’ And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples and said, ‘My brethren and my mother and sisters are those who do the will of my Father.’ 20 Mark 3: 31–5 and parallels.
Ibid. 30. 16:
They say that he is not begotten by God the Father but created like one of t he archangels, being greater than they. He rules over the angles and the beings created by God and he came and declared, as the gospel used by them records: ‘I have come to abolish the sacrifices: if you do not cease from sacrificing, the wrath [of God] will not cease from weighing upon you.’
Ibid. 30. 22:
Those who reject meat have inconsiderately fallen into error and said, ‘I h ave 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 do you want us to prepare for you to eat the Passover?’ To which he replied, ‘I have no desire to eat the flesh of this Paschal Lamb with you.’ 21 Mark 14: 12–16 and parallels.
3 ‘Adamantius’, according to the text cited by Klijn, ANRW 2.25.5, 4011.
8 Jerome's references to this gospel span writings normally dated between 383 and 415.