One of my main questions about the text is what status it had among the Jewish Christian church in Jerusalem in c. 135 AD.
First, I should note that scholars have a 70 year period for its date of composition, c. 50-150, so while it looks like it was written before the 135 destruction, this is not clear. The Early Writings entry says:
Unlike other Jewish-Christian gospels, the Gospel of the Hebrews shows no dependence upon the Gospel of Matthew. The story of the first resurrection appearance to James the Just suggests that the Jewish-Christian community that produced this document claimed James as their founder... Cameron makes these observations on dating and provenance: "The earliest possible date of the composition of the Gospel of the Hebrews would be in the middle of the first century,
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/g ... brews.html
I am pretty skeptical about the claim that it was written in Egypt. Just because it has a quote with the verse "From Egypt did I call My son" and that Clement of Alexandria and Origen had a copy doesn't mean that it was originally written there, since Hegessippus earlier seems to have had a copy. I think that it's remarkable that we can't show that it was written based on
Matthew, although we don't have enough quotes and it probably would have been a similar document.
Eusebius says that Papias (c. 125 AD) quotes a story about an accused woman that shows up in the Gospel according to the Hebrews, but this doesn't mean which writer or writing took the story from the other. Papias did though claim that Matthew wrote a Gospel text in Hebrew first, since Eusebius notes "These things therefore are recorded by Papias about Mark. But about Matthew he says these: 'Matthew therefore in the Hebrew dialect ordered together the oracles, and each one interpreted them as he was able
.'" But I suppose that even Papias could have been wrong about the authorship of the Gospel According to the Hebrews.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia's entry for the Gospel According to the Hebrews notes:
Eusebius, speaking of Ignatius and his epp., takes notice of a saying of Jesus which he quotes (Ep. ad Smyrn, iii; compare Luke 24:39), "Take, handle me, and see that I am not an incorporeal spirit." The saying differs materially from the saying in Luke's Gospel, and Eusebius says he has no knowledge whence it had been taken by Ignatius. Jerome, however, twice over attributes the saying to the "Gospel according to the Hebrews," and Origen quotes it from the "Teaching of Peter." Ignatius may have got the saying from oral tradition, and we cannot, therefore, be sure that he knew this Gospel.
Justin Martyr (c. 150) has the story about the fire at Jesus' baptism that resembles Epiphanius' quote from the Hebraic Gospel, "And again: 'Today I have begotten you.' And immediately a great light illuminated the place." (http://www.textexcavation.com/jewishgospels.html
Eusebius wrote about Hegesippus, a writer of c.165:
"[Hegesippus] sets out something from the gospel according to the Hebrews and from the Syriac, and likewise from the Hebrew dialect, making apparent that he himself had come to faith out of the Hebrews."
It sounds like Hegessipus comes from the official mid-2nd century Jewish-Christian community, is quoting from the Gospel according to the Hebrews and that Hegessipus respects this text.
Irenaeus in c. 180, maybe 30 - 130 years after the text's composition, says:
"Indeed Matthew, among the Hebrews in their own dialect, also bore forth a writing of the gospel, Peter and Paul evangelizing in Rome and founding the church." Now, do we really know that the "Gospel according to the Hebrews" was really an earlier version of Matthew's Gospel?
Maybe this was just Irenaeus' theory about a document 30-100 years before his time? If it was written in 150 AD, Irenaeus should have had a good idea about its authorship. And maybe Irenaeus was just talking about Matthew's earlier writing in Aramaic, not about the document called "The Gospel According to the Hebrews".
Clement of Alexandria (c. 190, writing 40-140 years after the composition) refers to the "Gospel according to the Hebrews", giving a quote from it that doesn't show up in our canonical Matthew.
Eusebius claimed that the Ebionites "used only the so-called Gospel according to the Hebrews and made small account of the rest."
Jerome in the 4th century wrote that the Gospel According to the Hebrews was used by the Nazarenes in Syria and that it was in the library of Caesarea (Palestine). So you can conclude that it had significant currency among the Jewish Christian community in the time of Hegessippus and Jerome.