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Εβιωναιοι/

Updated: 2013.09.25

Ëb•i•ō•naῖoi, later anglicized to "Ebionites". This name was transliterated into Greek from the Hebrew , based on the gift-giving to the inaugurated in Ës•teir 9.22:

The language and culture chasm, sharply demonstrated in MMT, between the Pᵊrush•im (who included Ribi Yᵊho•shua and his original Nᵊtzâr•im followers) and the Hellenists (including the Roman occupiers and proto-Christians who, after 135 C.E., were syncretized into Christianity), has gone unrecognized. One cannot understand 1st century Judaism without fully grappling with this chasm just as they did.

An ever-increasing multitude of charlatans, having "discovered" and read The Gospel of the Ebionites, assume that makes them an authority on the Εβιωναιοι – and many, who can't even read the word, even claim to be Ebionite. If they reflected a scholarly knowledge that would be acceptable. However, the form-critical analysis specialist who wrote the book on the Other Gospels, Ron Cameron (who taught at Harvard Divinity School and was an Instructor in Religion at Wesleyan Univ.), illuminates:…

the Other Gospels (Ron Cameron)"The Gospel of the Ebionites (Gos.Eb.) is a gospel harmony preserved in a few quotations in the writings of Ep•i•phani•os… the Ebionites rejected the virgin birth… Their gospel makes both John the Baptist and Jesus vegetarians: John's diet is said to consist exclusively of wild honey; and Jesus is made to say that, at the Passover meal with his disciples, he does not desire to eat meat. In another context, Jesus makes a legal pronouncement in which he states that he has come to abolish sacrifices… A date of composition in the middle of the second century… is most likely. Its provenance is probably Syria-Palestine, where the Ebionites were at home" (Ron Cameron, the Other Gospels, Philadelphia, Westminster, 1982, p. 103f.).

What little is known about the Εβιωναιοι is found in the early <Church literature, written by Greek-speaking Hellenists, almost exclusively gentile, who had no working grasp of Hebrew or Judaism. Their knowledge was limited to what was conveyed to them in Greek. All of these writings were later extensively redacted (in the 2nd-4th centuries) entirely by Greek-speaking Christian gentiles who had no knowledge whatsoever of the Jewish community (viewing them as "sons of Satan and enemies of God and the Church"), much less Judaism, with the admitted intention of "correcting" earlier texts to conform, ultimately, to this 4th century, rabidly misojudaic, gentile Roman Hellenism (Zeus & Co.) that was being syncretized into gentile Roman Christianity and gentile Roman Christian doctrines.

Since the Εβιωναιοι were Hellenist, they were [a] apostates by Pᵊrush•im definition (as assimilated Hellenists) and [b] the first and earliest "Reform Jewish" group with which the earliest (Greek-speaking Roman gentile Christians could communicate. Eu•sëbi•os specifically notes (EH III.xxvii.2) that there were a number of groups and he knew no better than to lump all of them together, despite noting that they were distinctly different, under the same name: Εβιωναιοι, acknowledging that he didn't know which is which; nor was he clear about the differences between them.

Consider the possibility of a Reform Jew today who thinks that Rebbe Schneerson is the Mâ•shiakh. The Reform Jew might go to one of the Orthodox Chabad rabbis who also believe that Rebbe Schneerson is the Mâ•shiakh, requesting his help in collecting and distributing food for Reform Jews in a home for seniors. In some cases, the Orthodox rabbi may be able to help. In other cases, the Orthodox rabbi might have his hands full providing for Orthodox seniors. In such case, he would likely commend the Reform Jew, as (charitably) a brother Jew, for doing a good work and then refer him to a Reform rabbi and congregation better positioned to help Reform Jewish seniors. Has the Orthodox Chabad rabbi thereby been transformed into a Reform Jew? A Christian Jew? A gentile Christian? 1st century Pᵊrush•im developed into today's Orthodox Jews while 1st century Hellenists developed into today's Reform Jews. Why, when gentiles read their Christian NT account (Acts 6.1-7) of Hellenist Stephan•os doing the identical same thing, does anyone assume "Poof!"—magically, the 1st century Orthodox Pᵊrush•im Nᵊtzâr•im abandoned Tor•âh to be transformed into 1st century Hellenist Reform Jews? (And how do Christians go way beyond that to get from Hellenist Reform Jews to gentile Christians?)

Only Christian assumptions, compounded by historical ignorance of the 1st century Jewish community, mislead the reader of their account to assume that, because Stephan•os was a Hellenist, therefore (?) Pâ•qid Ya•a•qov "ha-Tza•diq" and the Nᵊtzâr•im Pᵊrush•im must also be Hellenists. Such assumptions are particularly misleading since Christians (and most Jews!) still can't distinguish between Nᵊtzâr•im and Christians!!! This is further compounded by Jews mindlessly accepting this linchpin of Christian Gospel (claiming their Hellenist-fabricated, 4th-century Christ is a historical Pᵊrush•i Ribi) rather than becoming knowledgeable of Christian a•vod•âh zâr•âh. By assuming—and often fanatically perpetuating—this linchpin of Christian doctrine, however, Jews who, often rabidly, deny this difference (havdâl•âh) not only besmirch the reputation of a 1st century Pᵊrush•i Ribi and his Nᵊtzâr•im Jewish followers, they become themselves unwitting preachers of this linchpin of the Christian gospel !!!

The historical record exposes the error. The Tzᵊdoq•im included the priestly and Levitical families, including the original Essenes, and the apostate spin-off Hellenist pseudo-Tzᵊdoq•im "Temple Priests" ("Wicked Priests") and their Roman collaborating, aristocrat supporters. DSS 4Q MMT demonstrates that the Pᵊrush•im, which included the all Ribis, rabbis and their followers; i.e., including the Nᵊtzâr•im, opposed, and were distinct from, Hellenist assimilationists who were regarded as apostates by the mainstream Pᵊrush•im—which included the Nᵊtzâr•im.

Thus, it is understood in the passage under scrutiny that Stephan•os' min was a Hellenized min, appealing to the apostate, spin-off Hellenist pseudo-Tzᵊdoq•im "Temple Priests" ("Wicked Priests") and their Roman collaborating, aristocrat supporters (proof: "and [resulted] a throng of priests obeyed the faith" Acts 6.7), distinct from the Nᵊtzâr•im. Neither Stephan•os nor his Ëb•i•ō•naῖoi widows were Nᵊtzâr•im. Rather, they were a group of Hellenist apostates seeking support from the Nᵊtzâr•im, based on Ës•teir 9.22, for their "Εβιωναιοι"—a request the Nᵊtzâr•im rebuffed. Thereafter, Stephan•os' min was referred to as the Εβιωναιοι by the Nᵊtzâr•im and other Pᵊrush•im… but called Εβιωναιοι by other Hellenists.

Information about the Nᵊtzâr•im, as contrasted against the Εβιωναιοι, must be derived from the description of Dërëkh -- given in 4Q MMT to determine what constraints unavoidably defined the Nᵊtzâr•im in order not to contradict the historical record that [a] they were accepted in the 1st-century Pᵊrush•im (rabbinic) community at least until they disappeared in 135 C.E. and [b] they were rabidly vilified by the Christian Church as "sons of Satan" and "enemies of God and the Church," until the Christian Church extirpated any last remnant that may have remained of the Nᵊtzâr•im in 333 C.E.

Eu•sëbi•os constructively calls all of the gentile Christian Church's ante-135 C.E. Jewish precursors "sons of Sâ•tân," which unavoidable implies archenemies of Christianity and the Church:

Eusebius (Loeb Classical Library)"But others, the Wicked Demon, when he could not alienate them from God's plan in Christ, made his own, when he found them by a different snare. The first Christians gave these the suitable name of Εβιωναιοι because they had poor and mean opinions concerning Christ. They held him to be a plain and ordinary man who had achieved righteousness merely by the progress of his character and had been born naturally from Mary and her husband. They insisted on the complete observation of the Law, and did not think that they would be saved by faith in Christ alone and by a life in accordance with it."

"But there were others besides these who have the same name. These escaped the absurd folly of the first mentioned, and did not deny that the Lord was born of a Virgin and the Holy Spirit but nevertheless agreed with them in not confessing his pre-existence as God, being the Logos and Wisdom. Thus they shared in the impiety of the former class, especially in that they were equally zealous to insist on the literal observance of the Law. They thought that the letters of the Apostle [Paul] ought to be wholly rejected and called him an apostate from the Law. They used only the account called according to the Hebrews [i.e., Hebrew Matityahu] and made little account of the rest. Like the former they used to observe the Sabbath and the rest of the Jewish liturgy, but on Sun[god]days celebrated rites like ours in commemoration of the Saviour's resurrection." (Eu•sëbi•os, loc. cit.)

Note that this represents, on the one hand, the earliest recorded Hellenist apostate spin-off from the Nᵊtzâr•im known to the extant Church historians and, on the other hand, the apostate spin-off Hellenist prototype branch (the Hellenist Tzᵊdoq•im) that evolved into the gentile Hellenist Christian Church. Thus, this describes the first and earliest hybrid proto-Christian group known by the Church between the Nᵊtzâr•im and the Church.

While Stephan•os described his group of needy Hellenist widows as when requesting (probably Pur•im) charity from the Nᵊtzâr•im, one must remember that

  1. Stephan•os and his Hellenist group, being Greek-speakers, among themselves, would have referred to themselves in Greek, as Εβιωναιοι, not the Hebrew .

  2. Stephan•os' request received a skeptical rebuff from Pâ•qid Ya•a•qov "ha-Tza•diq": We have our own Table—of Ël•oh•im—to serve and we're not leaving it in order to wait your "table" (implying they were lax proselytes more committed to Hellenism than to Tor•âh). You, and your six Hellenist friends, take care of your own Hellenist "table."

  3. and soon after, Stephan•os was stoned—and these Hellenists—retroactively and anachronistically attributed to be Christians—were "persecuted by Jews"—as Hellenizing apostates!

While Ribi Yᵊho•shua and, lᵊ-hav•dil, Stephan•os at first appear to be persecuted and condemned by the same people and for the same reason, one must understand how that can happen, considering that Ribi Yᵊho•shua was a Pᵊrush•i persecuted and condemned by Hellenist "Wicked Priests" of the "Temple" while Stephan•os was a Hellenist persecuted and condemned by Hellenist "Wicked Priests" of the "Temple." These seemingly contradictory and inscrutable, yet indisputable, facts are reconciled by recognizing that both men were accused of claiming to see Ribi Yᵊho•shua in the heavens or at the Right Hand of --—a direct rival of Caesar's claim of being "the" deity. Thus, neither man was persecuted or condemned for being anti-Hellenist (while Ribi Yᵊho•shua was anti-Hellenist, Stephan•os was Hellenist)—and certainly there were no Christians even in existence at this time to be persecuted, but, rather, they were each persecuted and condemned by the "Wicked Priests" of the "Temple" for rivaling the "divinity" of Caesar, thus threatening to bring down the wrath of Rome on the Hellenist "Wicked Priests" of the "Temple." (That those "Wicked Priests" were concerned about their fellow Yᵊhud•im or anything outside of their own interests contradicts the entire history of that era.) This was the identical reason (explaining a previously inscrutable mystery) why the Hellenist "Wicked Priests" of the "Temple" later murdered Pâ•qid Ya•a•qov "ha-Tza•diq".

Thus, all Christianity and the Church derived from the Hellenists—and Hellenist "Wicked Priests" of the "Temple" (so that's what happened to them; the vanished apostates have been found!), distinctly separate and opposite from anti-Hellenist Ribi Yᵊho•shua and the Nᵊtzâr•im.

The metonym Εβιωναιοι was adopted by this Hellenist mixture of Jewish and gentile "1st century Reform Judaism"—who were apostate, distinct and separate from the Nᵊtzâr•im and other Pᵊrush•im. The name thereafter gravitated, among Hellenizing Jews and gentiles, to this distinct min of Hellenizing "needy." These "" were not Nᵊtzâr•im or Pᵊrush•im. However, neither were they yet full-fledged Christians (as their definition of Christian continually evolved from the time of Paulos (in Greek-speaking Antakya, Turkey) a decade later until the 4th century C.E.—when the 4th century C.E. Christians would "retroject" their 4th century C.E. Christian definitions back into the 1st century, superimposing (sowing) their 4th century C.E. Christianized versions overtop the 1st-century historical Nᵊtzâr•im or other Pᵊrush•im Jews). By means of their "corrective" redactions they replaced all of the original Judaic historical Nᵊtzâr•im and Pᵊrush•im Jews with their 4th century C.E. Hellenist-fabricated Christian counterfeits.

For further information, see also Εβιωναιοι in our History Museum.

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