EBERSDORF BIBLE. See Bibles, Annotated, And Bible Summaries, I., § 3.

EBIONITES: The name applied first to Christians in general, then to Jewish Christians, and finally to heretical Jewish Christians. To Jewish Christians this name was given because they were generally poor (Hebr. ebyon, ebyonim); and this poverty, especially characteristic of the Christians of Jerusalem evoked from the pagan world for the whole sect the contemptuous appellation "the poor" (cf. Minucius Felix, Odavius, xxxvi.). Subsequently its application was limited to Jewish

Christians (Origen, Contra Celaum, ii. ~1).

When a portion of the Jewish Church became separate and heretical, the designation marked this division exclusively. In the fourth century Epiphanius, Jerome and Theodoret used it of a separate party within the Jewish Church distinct from the Nazarenes. Many of the fathers derived the term from a supposed founder of the sect called Ebion (Hip. polytus, Phidoaophoumeno., vii. 34; Tertullian, Her., xxxiii.; De carne Christi, xiv.; Epip6anius, Hair., xxx. 1), said to have lived at Pella after the destruction of Jerusalem.

The sources for the history of Ebionism, or of Jewish Christianity, are very meager. Neither the New Testament nor the extracanonical literature know of any writings coming directly from them. The notices in the early fathers are confused; those in later fathers like Epiphanius and Jerome belong to too late a time to justify inferences as to an earlier existence. Several of the fathers give a picture of the Jewish Christians of their times as it was presented to them and according to their subjective interests.

The doctrine,( position in Jewish Christianity was Early Use of the Name.

not each as to produce different sects. A stronger contrast existed only between ordinary Jewish Christianity and syncretistic Gnostic Christianity, while the former divides into a milder and a stricter party. In the New Testament three groups Three are apparent. The heretics of the Groups Epistle to the Colossians prefigure

Mentioned Gnostic Jewish Christians; the Chris or Implied. tians called Ebionites by Epiphanius appear . in the New Testament as those who observed the Mosaic law, but did not make it binding upon Gentile Christians. Besides these there were the Pharisaic Jewish Christians, who insisted upon the observance of the Mosaic law and of circumcision by all, and rejected Paul as a false apostle. Both the latter parties were known to Justin (Trypho, xlvii.). Between the time of Justin and Irenæus the complete separation of Jewish Christianity moat have been consummated. Irenæus described the Ebionites as Jewish Christians who insisted upon the observance of the whole Jewish law, rejected Paul as a heretic and used only the Gospel of Matthew. Their teaching agreed with that of Cerinthus and Carpocratea, denying the virgin-birth, and regarding Jesus as a mere man.

While the importance of observance of the Jewish law was diminishing, the Christological question became crucial. To regard Christ as mere man was considered specifically Ebionitie. Origen (Contra Celsum, v. 81) distinguished between


two branches of Ebionites, those who the denied and those who accepted the


miraculous birth, but says of both that they rejected the epistles of Paul

Doctrine. (Contra Cetaum, i. 85). Those two groups of Ebionites dwelling in the neighborhood of the Dead Sea had little influence upon the nascent Catholic Church. The case was different with the third group, the syncretistic Gnos tic Jewish Christians, whom alone Epiphanius calls Ebionites, though he knew other parties related to them. Those Ebionites represented a syncretistic Judaism which combined theosophie speculation with ascetic tendencies. Heathenish elements de rived from Asiatic religions were combined with Jewish monotheism; the Old Testament became an object of criticism and parts were eliminated, angelic powers played a great part. That type of Judaism, in absorbing Christian elements, became a syncretistic Jewish Christianity. Jesus was only a man upon whom descended the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove at his baptism, whereby he became a prophet. Circumcision and daily ablutions were regarded important; sacrifices were re jected; and the Old Testament was acknowledged only in part. Christianity was a purified Moeaism; Paul was opposed and rejected. See Elkesaites9.

(G. Uhlhorn.)

Bibliography: The sources are indicated is the text is the writings of Justin Martyr, Hippolytus, Tertullian, Epiphanies, 13eeesippus, and Origen. Collections of sources more or less complete and of later literature are made in A. Schliemann, Din Cknuntinen, pp. 382-622, Hamburg, 1844; A. ltitaehl, Die EntateAung der alhkafholiaclien Kirche, pp. 162 sqq., Bonn, 1867; A. Hilgenfeld, Novum Teetamentum extra canonem. Leipsic, 1888. Consult: J. B. Lightfoot, Galatians, Dissertation iii., London, 1890; G. Uhlhorn, Die Homilies and Raopnitioru» des


Clemens Romanus, pp. 383 sqq., Göttingen, 1854; D. Chwoleohn, Die Saabiar und der Saabaamue. 2 vols., St. Petersburg, 1858; A. Hilgenfeld. Judenthum and Juderr christeathum, Leipsic, 1888; T. Zahn, Kano., II. ii. 824 sqq., ib. 1891; Harnack. Li. I. i. 825 sqq.; Neander, Christian Church, i . 344-384 et passim; Schaff,

Christian Church, ii. 428-432; DCB, ii . 24-28.


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