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The Gospel Of The Ebionites

Alternate title: The Hebrew Gospel

c. 100-150 C.E.

The only remaining fragments of the Gospel of the Ebionites are preserved in the form of citations by the church father Epiphanius in the latter part of the fourth century. Unfortunately, he is a rather hostile witness to the traditions contained therein, and his statements are at times confusing or contradictory.

The Ebionites were Greek-speaking Jewish-Christians who lived east of the Jordan, though Epiphanius oddly refers to the work as the "Hebrew" gospel and considers it to be a modified version of Matthew. More accurately, it appears to be a harmony of all the synoptic gospels, with some subtle changes to reflect the writers' theology. Most importantly, the Ebionites believed in an "adoptionist" Christology—that Jesus was fully human, but was chosen as the son of God at his baptism. However, Epiphanius also states that they believed Jesus to have been "created like one of the archangels." The gospel also makes vegetarians of Jesus and John the Baptist by modifying Luke 22:15, and changing the Baptist's diet from locusts (Greek=akris) to cake (egkris).

While Ebionites obviously postdates the canonical gospels, it was written prior to the late second century when it was referred to by Irenæus.