Of Nazirites & Naṣoraeans.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Of Nazirites & Naṣoraeans.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Oct 07, 2020 3:18 pm

Ṣṣ Σσ צ (Sigma/Ṣade) — Epiphanius and the Talmud

Epiphanius, of course, has a lot to say about various Jewish and Christian sects. My main concern is to present his treatment of the Naṣaraeans, but recall that the Kertir inscription also mentioned a group that many/most researchers seem to interpret as Baptists (or dippers) of some kind. Epiphanius himself describes a few sects which seem to enjoin baptism, so I will lay them out, as well:

Epiphanius, Panarion Proem 1.3.5-1.4.3; 1.5.3-4: 3.5 Then the aforementioned Judaism itself, which derived its character from Abraham, was amplified through the Law given to Moses, and inherited its name, “Judaism,” from Judah the son of Jacob or Israel, through David, the king from the tribe of Judah. 6 And derived from Judaism itself are the following seven sects: The fourteenth, Scribes. The fifteenth, Pharisees. The sixteenth, Sadducees. The seventeenth, Hemerobaptists [Ἡμεροβαπτιστῶν]. The eighteenth, Ossaeans [Ὀσσαίων]. The nineteenth, Nasaraeans [Νασαραίων]. The twentieth, Herodians. 4.1 From these sects, and later on in the course of time, appeared the saving dispensation of our Lord Jesus Christ — that is to say, his incarnation, preaching of the Gospel, and proclamation of a kingdom. This alone is the fount of salvation, and the faith in the truth of the catholic, apostolic, and orthodox church. 2 From this the following sects, which have Christ’s name only but not his faith, have been broken away and split off: 3 The first, Simonians. The second, Menandrians. The third, Satornilians. The fourth, Basilideans. The fifth, Nicolaitans. The sixth, Gnostics, who are also known as Stratiotics and are the same as the Phibionites, but some call them Secundians, others, Socratists, others, Zacchaeans, and by some they are called Coddians, Borborites, and Barbelists. The seventh, Carpocratians. The eighth, Cerinthians, also called Merinthians. The ninth, Nazoraeans. The tenth, Ebionites. The eleventh, Valentinians. The twelfth, Secundians, with whom Epiphanes and Isidore are associated. The thirteenth, Ptolemaeans. .... 5.3 In the first Section of the first Volume there are twenty Sects, as follows: Barbarism, Scythianism, Hellenism and Judaism. Varieties of Hellenes: Pythagoreans or Peripatetics, Platonists, Stoics, Epicureans. The Samaritan sect, which is derived from Judaism. Four Samaritan peoples, as follows: Gorothenes, Sebuaeans, Essenes, Dositheans. Seven Jewish sects as follows: Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, Hemerobaptists [Ἡμεροβαπτισταί], Ossaeans [Ὀσσαῖοι], Nasaraeans [Νασαραῖοι], Herodians. 4 There are likewise thirteen sects in the second section of the first volume, as follows: Simonians; Menandrians; Satornilians; Basilideans; Nicolaitans; Gnostics, also called Stratiotics and Phibionites, but Secundians by some, Socratists by others, Zacchaeans, Coddians, Borborites and Barbelists by others; Carpocratians; Cerinthians, also called Merinthians; Nazoraeans [Ναζωραῖοι]; Ebionites; Valentinians; Secundians, with whom Epiphanes and Isidore are associated; Ptolemaeans.

Epiphanius, Anacephalaeosis 1.17[.1]-1.19.2: 1 Hemerobaptists [Ἡμεροβαπτισταί]. These were Jews in all respects, but claimed that no one can attain eternal life unless he is baptized every day. 18.1 Ossenes [Ὀσσηνοί], meaning “boldest [ἰταμώτατοι].” They were observers of the Law’s provisions but also made use of other scriptures after the Law, though they rejected most of the later prophets. 19,1 19. Nasaraeans [Νασαραῖοι], meaning “rebels [ἀφηνιασταί],” who forbid the eating of any meat and do not partake of living things at all. They have the holy names of patriarchs which are in the Pentateuch, up through Moses and Joshua the son of Nun, and they believe in them — 2 I mean Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the earliest ones, and Moses himself, and Aaron, and Joshua. But they hold that the scriptures of the Pentateuch are not Moses’ scriptures, and maintain that they have others besides these.

Epiphanius, Panarion 17.1.1-17.2.5:

Against Hemerobaptists [Ἡμεροβαπτιστῶν], Sect four from Judaism, but seventeen of the series.

1.1 A sect of Hemerobaptists [Ἡμεροβαπτιστῶ], as they are called, accompanies these. It is no different from the others, but has the same ideas as the Scribes and Pharisees. However, it certainly does not resemble the Sadducees in the denial of resurrection of the dead, although it does in the unbelief which is found in the others. 2 But this sect had acquired this additional characteristic, of being baptized every day in spring, fall, winter and summer, so that they got the name of Hemerobaptists [Ἡμεροβαπτιστῶν]. 3 For this sect alleged that there is no life for a man unless he is baptized daily with water, and washed and purifi ed from every fault. 2.1 But this sect too I can refute with one argument, since the words (= ἡμέρα and βαπτίζειν) are expressions of unbelief on their part rather than of faith. If they are baptized every day their conscience is convincing them that the hope they had yesterday is dead, the faith and the purification. 2 For if they were satisfi ed with one baptism they would have confi dence in this as in something living and forever immortal. But they must think it has been nullified since they bathed today, not to cleanse the body or get rid of dirt, but because of sins. Again, by taking another bath the next day, they have made it plain that the previous baptism of yesterday is dead. For unless yesterday’s had died they would not need another the next day for the purification of sins. 3 And if they do not simply avoid sin, supposing that the water will cleanse them as they keep sinning every day, their supposition is of no use and their deed is undone and come too late. 4 Neither Ocean nor all the rivers and seas, the perennial streams and brooks and all the water in the world, can wash away sin, for this is not reasonable and is not by God’s ordinance. Repentance cleanses, and the one baptism, through the pronouncing of the Name in the mysteries. 5 But I shall pass this sect by as well. I believe that I have given sufficient indication of the concise remedy for their lunacy, as it has been set down here for the benefit of the readers.

Frank Williams, The Panarion of Epiphanius, volume 1, page 45, footnote 25: 25 .... The term translates the Hebrew, טובלי יום, which in itself means persons who have incurred uncleanness on a particular day and bathed to remove it, and must “remain unclean until evening.”

Other writers also named some of these sects:

Eusebius, History of the Church 4.22.7, writing of Hegesippus: 7 The same writer also records the ancient heresies which arose among the Jews, in the following words: “There were, moreover, various opinions in the circumcision, among the children of Israel. The following were those who were opposed to the tribe of Judah and the Christ: Essenes, Galileans, Hemerobaptists, Masbothaeans, Samaritans, Sadducees, Pharisees [Ἐσσαῖοι, Γαλιλαῖοι, Ἡμεροβαπτισταί, Μασβώθεοι, Σαμαρεῖται, Σαδδουκαῖοι, Φαρισαῖοι].”

Justin Martyr, Dialogue 80.4: 4 For, if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven, do not imagine that they are Christians, even as one, if he would rightly consider it, would not admit that the Sadducees, or similar sects of Genists and Meristae and Galilaeans and Hellenists and Pharisees and Baptists [Γενιστῶν καὶ Μεριστῶν καὶ Γαλιλαίων καὶ Ἑλληνιανῶν καὶ Φαρισαίων καὶ Βαπτιστῶν], are Jews — do not hear me impatiently when I tell you what I think — but are called Jews and children of Abraham, “worshiping God with the lips,” as God Himself declared, “but the heart was far from Him” (= Isaiah 29.13).

Clementine Homilies 2.21.1-3: 1 “But that he came to deal with the doctrines of religion happened on this wise. There was one John, a Hemerobaptist [Ἡμεροβαπτιστής], who was also, according to the method of combination, the forerunner of our Lord Jesus; and as the Lord had twelve apostles, bearing the number of the twelve months of the sun, so also he, John, had thirty chief men, fulfilling the monthly reckoning of the moon, among which number was a certain woman called Helena, that not even this might be without a dispensational significance. For a woman, being half a man, made up the imperfect number of the triacontad; as also in the case of the moon, whose revolution does not make the complete course of the month.”

Apostolic Constitutions 6.6: 6 For even the Jewish nation had wicked heresies, for of them were the Sadducees, who do not confess the resurrection of the dead, and the Pharisees, who ascribe the practice of sinners to fortune and fate, and the Basmotheans [Migne Βασμώθεοι, TLG Μασβωθαῖοι], who deny providence and say that the world is made by spontaneous motion, and take away the immortality of the soul, and the Hemerobaptists [Ἡμεροβαπτισταί], who every day, unless they wash, do not eat — nay, and unless they cleanse their beds and tables, or platters and cups and seats do not make use of any of them. And those who are newly risen among us, the Ebionites [Ἐβιωναῖοι], who will have the Son of God to be a mere man, begotten by human pleasure and the conjunction of Joseph and Mary. There are also those that separate themselves from all these, and observe the laws of their fathers, and these are the Essenes [Ἐσσαῖοι]. These, therefore, arose among the former people. And now the evil one, who is wise to do mischief, and as for goodness knows no such good thing, has cast out some from among us and has wrought by them heresies and schisms.

But let us continue with Epiphanius and his intriguing Naṣaraean sect, as well as others which may or may not be related:

Epiphanius, Panarion 18.1.1-18.3.5:

Against Nasaraeans [Νασαραίων], sect five from Judaism but eighteen of the series.

1.1 Next I shall undertake the describe the sect after the Hemerobaptists [Ἡμεροβαπτιστάς], called the sect of the Nasaraeans [Νασαραίων]. They are Jews by nationality, from Gileaditis, Basanitis, and the Transjordan [ἀπὸ τῆς Γαλααδίτιδος καὶ Βασανίτιδος καὶ τῶν ἐπέκεινα τοῦ Ἰορδάνου ὁρμώμενοι], as I have been told, but descendants of Israel himself. This sect practices Judaism in all respects and has scarcely any beliefs beyond the ones that I have mentioned. 2 It too had been given circumcision, and it kept the same Sabbath and observed the same festivals, and certainly did not inculcate fate or astrology. 3 It also recognized as fathers the persons in the Pentateuch from Adam to Moses who were illustrious for the excellence of their piety — I mean Adam, Seth, Enoch, Methuselah, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Levi and Aaron, Moses, and Joshua the son of Nun. However, it would not accept the Pentateuch itself. It acknowledged Moses and believed that he had received legislation — not this legislation though, they said, but some other. 4 And so, though they were Jews who kept all the Jewish observances, they would not offer sacrifice or eat meat; in their eyes it was unlawful to eat meat or make sacrifices with it. They claimed that these books are forgeries and that none of these customs were instituted by the fathers. 5 This was the difference between the Nasaraeans [Νασαραίων] and the others; and their refutation is to be seen not in one place but in many.

2.1 First, <in> their acknowledgment of the fathers and patriarchs, and Moses. Since no other writing speaks of them, how do they know the fathers’ names and excellence if not from the Pentateuchal writings themselves? 2 And how is it possible that there is truth and falsehood in the same place, and that scripture partly tells the truth but partly lies, 3 when the Savior says, “Either make the tree good and his fruits good; or else make the tree corrupt and his fruits corrupt. For a good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit” (= Matthew 12.33; 7.18)? 4 Hence their idea and the teaching they inculcate is futile, and there are many grounds for its refutation. Thus not only are the events recorded in scripture famous to this day, but even the sites of the wonders are preserved. 5 First there is the spot where Abraham offered the ram to God, called Mount Zion to this day. Moreover, the site of the oak of Mamre, where the calf was served to the angels. But if Abraham served a meat dish to angels, he would not fail to share some of it himself.

3.1 Moreover, the tradition of the lamb <which> was slaughtered in Egypt is still famous among the Egyptians, even the idolaters. 2 At the time when the Passover was instituted there — this is the beginning of spring, at the first equinox — all the Egyptians take red lead, though without knowing why, and smear their lambs with it. And they also smear the trees, the fig trees and the rest, and spread the report that fire once burned up the world on this day. But the fiery red appearance of the blood is a protection against a calamity of such a magnitude and such nature. 3 But where can I not find evidence of the rite? Thus even today the remains of Noah’s ark are still shown in Cardyaei. 4 And if one were to make a search and discover them — it stands to reason — he would surely also find the ruins of the altar at the foot of the mountain. That was where Noah stayed after leaving the ark; and when he had offered some of the clean beasts, and their fat, to the Lord God, he was told, “Behold, I have given you all things even as herbs of the field. Slay and eat” (= Genesis 9.3; Acts 10.13). 5 But once more, I shall also pass by the sect’s strangeness and foolishness. I am content with the few words I have said, inserted here with my limited ability to oppose the error of the sect we have been discussing.

Frank Williams, The Panarion of Epiphanius, volume 1, page 46, footnote 27: 27 This group has some traits in common with the Mandaeans, whose usual name for themselves is “Nazoraeans,” and who reject the Pentateuch.

Frank Williams, The Panarion of Epiphanius, volume 1, page 47, footnote 30: 30 Lidzbarski translates the term with which Mandaeans reject the Torah as a Buch des Frevels (= Book of Iniquities).

Epiphanius, Panarion 19.1.1-19.6.5:

Against Ossaeans [Ὀσσαίων], sect six from Judaism, but nineteen of the series.

1.1 After this sect in turn, comes another one which is closely connected with them, the one called the sect of the Ossaeans (≈ Hippolytus, Refutation 9.13.1-9.17.3, Elchasaites). These are Jews like the others, hypocritical in their behavior and horrid in their way of thinking. 2 I have been told that they originally came from Nabataea, Ituraea, Moabitis, and Arielis, the lands beyond the basin of what sacred scripture calls the “Salt Sea.” This is the one which is called the “Dead Sea.” 3 And from the translation of the name, “the People of the Ossaeans [τὸ γένος τῶν Ὀσσαίων]” means “sturdy people [στιβαρὸν γένος].” 4 The man called Elxai (≈ Hippolytus, Refutation 9.13.1) joined them later, in the reign of the emperor Trajan (≈ Hippolytus, Refutation 9.13.4) after the Savior’s incarnation, and he was a false prophet. He wrote a book (≈ Hippolytus, Refutation 9.13.1; Eusebius, History 6.38[.1]), supposedly by prophecy or as though by inspired wisdom. They also say that there was another person, Iexaeus, Elxai’s brother. 5 Elxai was deluded by nature and a deliberate fraud. Originally he was a Jew with Jewish beliefs, but he did not live by the Law. He introduced one thing after another and formed his own sect, (6 and designated salt, water, earth, bread, heaven, aether, and wind as objects for them to swear by as worship. But again, at some time he designated seven other witnesses — I mean the sky, water, “holy spirits” (<as> he says), the angels of prayer, the olive, salt, and the earth (≈ Hippolytus, Refutation 9.15.2,5; Clementine Epistle of Peter to James 4.2). 7 He has no use for celibacy, detests continence and insists on matrimony. And as though <by> revelation, if you please, he introduced some further figments of his imagination. 8 But he taught hypocrisy, by saying that even though <one> should happen to worship idols in time of persecution, it is not a sin — just so long as he does not worship them in his conscience and, whatever confession he may make with his mouth, he does not make it in his heart. 9 In addition the fraud ventured to produce a witness. He said that a Phineas, a priest of the stock of Levi, Aaron, and the ancient Phineas, escaped death in Babylon during the captivity by bowing down to the image of Artemis at Susa in the reign of King Darius. Thus all the things he teaches are false and futile.

2,1 <As has been said> earlier, Elxai was connected with the sect I have mentioned, the one called the Ossaean. Even today there are still remnants of it in Nabataea, which is also called Perea near Moabitis; this people is now known as the Sampsaean. They imagine that they are calling Elxai a power revealed [δύναμιν ἀποκεκαλυμμένην], if you please, since “el” means “power” but “xai” [כסה, “hide”] is “hidden.” 2 But the whole of the insolence of the custom was exposed in our own time, and incurred serious disgrace in the eyes of those who were capable of perceiving the truth and being certain of it. ( <For the sect> still <survived> even <in our time>, during the reigns of Constantius and the current emperors.) (3) For until Constantius’ time a Marthus and a Marthana, two sisters descended from Elxai himself, were worshiped as goddesses in the Ossaean territory — because they were descended from this Elxai, if you please! Yet Marthus has recently died, (though Marthana is still alive)! 4 The deluded sectarians in that country would take even the sisters’ spittle away with them, and the other dirt from their bodies, supposedly as a protection against diseases. They surely didn’t work! But something that has gone astray is always proud and ready to be fooled — evil is a blind thing, and error a stupid one.

3.1 And how long shall I spend my time in speaking of all this charlatan’s lies against the truth — 2 first, by teaching the denial of God and hypocrisy, with his claim that one can participate in the abominable sacrifices of idolatry, deceive the ones who hear him, and deny his own faith with his lips and not incur sin? It follows that their condition is incurable and cannot be corrected. 3 For if the mouth that confesses the truth is already prepared to lie, who can trust them not to have a deceived heart? The divine Word declares this expressly when he teaches in the Holy Spirit, “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (= Romans 10.10). 4 In turn, moreover, he supposedly confesses Christ by name when he says “Christ is the great king” (≈ Hippolytus, Refutation 9.15.1). But from the deceitful, false composition of the book of his foolishness, I am not quite sure whether he taught this of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he does not specify this either but simply says “Christ,” as though — from what I can gather — he means someone else, or is awaiting someone else. 5 For he forbids prayer facing east. He claims that one should not face this direction, but should face Jerusalem from all quarters. Some must face Jerusalem from east to west, some from west to east, some from north to south and south to north, so that Jerusalem is faced from every direction. 6 And notice the craziness of the fraud! He bans burnt offerings and sacrifices, as something foreign to God and never offered to him on the authority of the fathers and Law, and yet he says we must pray towards Jerusalem, where the altar and sacrifices were — <this man who> rejects the Jewish custom of eating meat and the rest, and the altar, and fire as something foreign to God! (7) In the following words he claims that water is fortunate while fire is hostile: “Children, go not unto the sight of fire, since ye are deceived; for such a thing is deceit. Thou seest it as very nigh,” he says, “and yet it is afar off. Go not unto the sight of it, but go rather unto the sound of water.” And he has lots of tall tales.

4.1 Then he describes Christ as a kind of power, and even gives his dimensions — his length of 24 schoena, or 96 miles, and his width of twenty-four miles, or six schoena, and similar prodigies about his thickness and feet, and the other stories. 2 And the Holy Spirit — a feminine one at that — is like Christ too, and stands like an image, above a cloud and in between two mountains. And I am going to skip the rest, so as not to trick the readers’ hearing into mythology. 3 Later in the book he practices a deception with certain words and empty phrases by saying, “Let none seek the interpretation but let him say these things only in prayer.” These too he has taken from the Hebrew, if you please — as I understand them in part — though Elxai’s imaginings are worthless. He claims to say, “Abhar anid moibh nochile daasim ane daasim nochile moibh anid abhar selam [σελάμ]” This can be interpreted as follows: 4 “Let the humiliation <which> is from my fathers pass, (the humiliation) of their condemnation, degradation and toil, by degradation in condemnation through my fathers. (Let it pass) from bygone humiliation by an apostleship of perfection” (= אנא מסעד עליכון ביומ דינא רבא, “I am your help in the day of the great judgment,” written as a palindrome?). 5 But all this applies to Elxai; his power and imposture have come to nothing. If anyone cares to hear one word painfully rendered by one word, I do not mind doing even this. For the full satisfaction of those who want to hear them exactly, I shall give his very words, and their translations opposite them, thus: 6 “Abhar,” let it pass away. “Anid,” “humiliation.” “Moibh,” “which is from my fathers.” “Nochile,” “of their condemnation.” “Daasim,” “and of their degradation.” “Ane,” “and of their toil.” “Daasim,” “by degradation.” “Nochile,” “in condemnation.” “Moibh,” “through my fathers.” “Anid,” “from humiliation.” “Abhar,” “bygone.” “Selam,” “in apostleship of perfection.”

5.1 This, then, is the sect of those Ossenes [Ὀσσηνῶν], which lives the Jewish life in Sabbath observance, circumcision, and the keeping of the whole Law. Only by renouncing the books <of Moses> does it cause a schism — as the Nasaraeans [Νασαραίοις] do — since it differs from the other six of these seven sects. 2 <One text> will be enough to expose its foreignness to God, since the Lord plainly says, “The priests in the temple profane the Sabbath” (= Matthew 12.5). 3 But what can this profanation of the Sabbath be except that no one did work on the Sabbath, but the priests broke it in the temple by offering sacrifice, and profaned it for the sake of the continual sacrifice of animals? 4 And I shall pass this sect by as well. For again, Elxai is associated with the Ebionites [Ἐβιωναίοις] after Christ, as well as with the Nazoraeans [Ναζωραίοις], who came later. 5 And four sects have made use of him because they were bewitched by his imposture: Of those <that came> after him, <the> Ebionites [Ἐβιωναίων] <and> Nazoraeans [Ναζωραίων]; of those before his time and during it the Ossaeans [Ὀσσαίων], and the Nasaraeans [Νασαραίων] whom I mentioned earlier. 6 This is the <sixth> sect of the seven in Jerusalem. They persisted until the coming of Christ, and after Christ’s incarnation until the capture of Jerusalem by the Emperor Titus, Domitian’s brother but Vespasian’s son, in the second year of his father Vespasian’s reign. 7 And after Jerusalem’s fall this, and the other sects which enjoyed a brief period of celebrity — I mean the Sadducees, Scribes, Pharisees, Hemerobaptists [Ἡμεροβαπτιστῶν], Ossaeans [Ὀσσαίων], Nasaraeans [Νασαραίων], and Herodians — lingered on until, at its time and season, each was dispersed and dissolved.

6.1 Any sensible person has only to prepare his own remedy, from their lunacy itself and the words of the proclamation of the deadly poison, despising their vulgar teaching and chatter. 2 Especially as the Lord says at once, in the Law and in the Gospel, “Thou shalt have none other gods” (= Exodus 20.3), and, “Thou shalt not swear by the name of any other god” (≈ Exodus 23.13). And again he says in the Gospel, “Swear not, neither by heaven, nor by earth, neither any other oath. But let your yes be yes and your no no; whatsoever is more than these comes of the evil one” (= Matthew 5.37; James 5.12). 3 It is my opinion that the Lord was making a prediction about this because certain persons would command us to swear by other names — in the first place, because it is wrong to swear, by the Lord himself or anything else; swearing is <of> the evil one. 4 Hence it was the evil one who spoke in Elxai — the one who compelled him not only to swear by God, but also by salt, water, <bread>, aether, wind, earth, and heaven. Anyone willing to be cured need only take an antidote, in passing as it were, through the two arguments in opposition to Elxai’s imposture. 5 Next, passing by Elxai’s nonsense and the deceitfulness of this sect, I shall compose the rebuttal of the seventh sect which was current among the Jews of that period. And it is this: [Herodians].

Epiphanius, Panarion 20.3.1-4: 1 At all events, these were the seven sects in Israel, in Jerusalem and Judaea, and the four I mentioned in “Samaritans” in Samaria. But most of them have been eliminated. There are no Scribes any longer, no Pharisees, Sadducees, Hemerobaptists [ Ἡμεροβαπτισταί], or Herodians (= the sect currently under discussion). 2 There are only a handful of Nasarenes [Νασαρηνοί], perhaps one or two, above the Upper Thebaid and beyond Arabia, and the remnant of Ossaeans [Ὀσσαίων], no longer practicing Judaism but joined with the Sampsites, who in their turn <live> in the <territory> beyond the Dead Sea. Now, however, they have been united with the sect of the Ebionites [Ἐβιωναίων]. 3 And as a result they have lapsed from Judaism — as though a snake’s tail or body had been cut off and a snake with two heads and no tail had sprouted from it, grown on and attached to a body chopped in half. 4 So much for my discussion of the four Samaritan and the seven Jewish sects, none of which exist any longer except just three Samaritan ones, I mean <those of the> Gorothenes, Dositheans, and Sebuaeans, but no Essenes at all — as though they have been buried in darkness. And there are no more sects among the Jews except those of the Ossaeans [Ὀσσαίων], and a few isolated Nasaraeans [Νασαραίων]. But Ossaeans [Ὀσσαῖοι] have abandoned Judaism for the sect of the Sampsaeans, who are no longer either Jews or Christians. That will do for these.

Epiphanius, Panarion 30.1.1-30.3.2:

Against Ebionites. Number ten, but thirty of the series.

1.1 Following these and holding views like theirs, Ebion [Ἐβίων], the founder of the Ebionites [Ἐβιωναῖοι], arose in the world in his turn as a monstrosity with many forms, and practically represented in himself the snakelike form of the mythical multiheaded hydra. He was of the school of the Nazoraeans, but preached and taught other things than they. 2 For it was as though someone were to collect a set of jewelry from various precious stones and an outfit of varicolored clothing and tog himself up conspicuously. He, in reverse, took any and every doctrine which was dreadful, lethal, disgusting, ugly, and unconvincing, thoroughly contentious, from every sect, and patterned himself after them all. 3 For he has the Samaritans’ unpleasantness but the Jews’ name, the opinion of the Ossaeans [Ὀσσαίων], Nazoraeans [Ναζωραίων], and Nasaraeans [Νασαραίων], the form of the Cerinthians, and the perversity of the Carpocratians. And he wants to have just the Christians’ title — most certainly not their behavior, opinion and knowledge, and the consensus as to faith of the Gospels and Apostles! 4 But since he is midway between all the sects, as one might say, he amounts to nothing. The words of scripture, “I was almost in all evil, in the midst of the church and synagogue” (= Proverbs 5.14), are applicable to him. 5 For although he is Samaritan, he rejects the name because of its objectionability. And while professing himself a Jew, he is the opposite of the Jews — though he does agree with them in part as I shall prove later with God’s help, through the proofs of it in my rebuttal of them.

2.1 For this Ebion [Ἐβίων] was contemporary with the Jews, and <since he was> with them, he was derived from them. 2 In the first place, he said that Christ was conceived by sexual intercourse and the seed of a man, Joseph (≈ Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.21.1; Eusebius, History 3.27.2; Origen, Against Celsus 5.61; Commentary on Matthew 16.12; Tertullian, On the Flesh of Christ 14.5) — I have already said that he agreed with the others in everything, with this one difference, his adherence to Judaism’s Law of the Sabbath, circumcision, and all the other Jewish and Samaritan observances. 3 But like the Samaritans he goes still further than the Jews. He added the rule about taking care not to touch a gentile; 4 and that every day, if a man has been with a woman (≈ Lev 15.18; Clementine Homilies 7.8.2) and has left her, he must immerse himself in water — any water he can find, the sea or any other. 5 Moreover, if he should meet anyone while returning from his immersion and bath in the water, he runs back again for another immersion, often even with his clothes on (≈ Hippolytus, Refutation 9.15.4-6)! 6 This sect now forbids celibacy and continence altogether (≈ Epistle of Clement to James 7.1-2), as do the other sects which are like it. For at one time they prided themselves on virginity, presumably because of James the Lord’s brother, <and so> address their treatises to “elders and virgins” (= Epistle 1 of the Blessed Clement, the Disciple of Peter the Apostle 1; link). 7 Their origin came after the fall of Jerusalem. For since practically all who had come to faith in Christ had settled in Perea then, in Pella, a town in the “Decapolis” (= Matthew 4.25) the Gospel mentions, which is near Batanaea and Basanitis, as they had moved there then and were living there, this provided an opportunity for Ebion [Ἐβίωνι]. 8 And as far as I know, he first lived in a village called Cocabe in the district of Qarnaim — also called Ashtaroth — in Basanitis. There he began his evil teaching — the place, if you please, where the Nazoraeans [Ναζωραῖοι] I have spoken of came from. 9 For since he was connected with them and they with him, each party shared its own wickedness with the other. Each also differed from the other to some extent, but they emulated each other in malice. But I have already spoken at length, both in other works and in the other Sects, about the locations of Cocabe and Arabia.

3.1 And at first, as I said, Ebion [Ἐβίων] declared that Christ is the offspring of a man, that is, of Joseph. For a while now, however, various of his followers have been giving conflicting accounts of Christ, as though they have decided on something untenable and impossible themselves. 2 But I think it may be since they were joined by Elxai — the false prophet <I mentioned earlier> in the tracts called “Sampsaeans,” “Ossenes [Ὀσσηνοῖς],” and “Elkasaites” — that they tell an imaginary story about Christ and the Holy Spirit as he did.

Epiphanius, Panarion 40.1.5: 5 He (= an old man unworthily named Peter) had belonged to many sects in his early youth but during Aetius’ episcopate he was accused and convicted of being a Gnostic, and was then deposed from the presbyterate — at some time he had been made a presbyter. After his conviction he was banished by Aetius and went to live in Arabia at Cocabe where the roots of the Ebionites and Nazoraeans were — as I have indicated of Cocabe in many Sects.

Epiphanius, Panarion 53.1.1-53.2.4:

Against Sampsaeans.

1.1 There is a sect of Perean Sampsaeans, the people also known as Elkasaites whom I have already mentioned in my other Sects, in the country called Perea beyond the Salt, or as it is called, the Dead Sea. They are <also> in Moabitis near the river Arnon, and on the other side in Ituraea and Naabatitis, as I have often said of them. 2 These people boast that Elxai is their teacher, and further, two women of his stock who are alive to this day, and are worshipped as supposed goddesses because they are of the blessed seed. 3 But Ossaeans [Ὀσσαῖοι], Ebionites [Ἐβιωναῖοι], and Nazoraeans [Ναζωραῖοι] use this book, as I have often said. These Sampsaeans, however, actually base their religion on it, and are neither Christians, Jews nor pagans; since they are just in the middle, they are nothing. But they say that they have another book, which is called the book of Elxai’s brother Iexai. 4 They say that God is one, and supposedly worship him by the administration of some sort of baptisms. They are devoted to the Jewish religion, [but] not in all ways. Some of them even abstain from meat. 5 They will die for Elxai’s descendants. And I have heard recently that the one woman, called Marthus, had died though, unless she has died too, Marthana was still alive. 6 Any time these women went anywhere on foot, the crowds would follow them and take the dust of their feet for healing, if you please, and, since they were woefully deluded, their spittle too, and use them in phylacteries and amulets. For every error contracted blindness first, and nonsense next. 7 They accept neither prophets nor apostles, but all their ideas are delusion. They honor water and all but regard it as God, for they claim it is the source of life. 8 They confess Christ in name but believe that he is a creature, and that he keeps appearing every now and then. He was formed for the first time in Adam, but when he chooses he takes Adam’s body off and puts it on again. 9 He is called Christ, and the Holy Spirit is his sister, in female form. Each of them, Christ and the Holy Spirit, is ninety-six miles in height and twenty-four miles in width; and they <blab out> a lot of other <nonsense>.

2.1 I have often described these people before in the other Sects, and composed refutations; hence I do not think it is necessary to make a big thing of the demolition of a refutation, since I have already done it with Elxaeus, or Elxai himself, and his followers, in the other Sects I have mentioned. Anyone can tell that he and his sect are off the track. 2 Let us go on to the rest now, since we have struck him, like a solar lizard, with the cudgel of hope in Christ and his cross. For it is worth using the very name they have given themselves as a symbolic explanation of their phony title. “Sampsaeans” translated means “Solar [Ἡλιακοί, שמש].” This is why I have mentioned the beast. 3 For people call this lizard a “solar lizard.” But this sect is inferior to the lizard, since it does not even have its momentary advantage. For though the lizard’s sight is dim, it sometimes sees clearly with the aid of the sun’s orb; <for> in its den, which faces eastward, it strains itself, fasting, towards the east, <and> when it sees the sun its sight loses its dimness. But in my opinion this sect has the lizard’s foolishness in everything, and not even this little bit to its credit. 4 And so, now that this sect which we have called a solar lizard has also been trampled by the truth, <let remain in its foolishness>.

Epiphanius, Panarion 69.23.1-3: 1 And so, when the blessed John came and found people preoccupied with Christ’s human nature on earth, with the Ebionites gone wrong because of <Mathew’s> tracing of Christ’s earthly genealogy from Abraham and Luke’s carrying of it back to Adam — and the Cerinthians and Merinthians, saying that he was conceived sexually as a mere man, and the Nazoraeans and many other sects — 2 John, as though coming along behind them, began to recall them from their wandering, as it were, and their preoccupation with Christ’s coming below. As though following behind and seeing that some were pointed towards rough, steep paths and had left the straight, true road, he began, as it were, to say to them, “Where are you headed? Where are you going, you who are taking that rough road full of obstacles and leading to a pit? 3 That is not so! Turn back! The divine Word begotten of the Father on high does not date only from Mary. He is not from the time of Joseph her betrothed. He is not from the time of Shealtiel, Zerubbabel, David, Abraham, Jacob, Noah and Adam. ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’ (= John 1.1).”

I quoted Epiphanius on the Ebionites, which kind of opens a door to a lot of other treatments of that particular group:

Justin Martyr, Dialogue 47.1-5: 1 “But,” Trypho again objected, “if a man knows that what you say is true, and professing Jesus to be the Christ believes in and obeys Him, yet desires also to observe the commandments of the Mosaic Law, shall he be saved?” “In my opinion,” I replied, “I say such a man will be saved, unless he exerts every effort to influence other men (I have in mind the Gentiles whom Christ circumcised from all error) to practice the same rites as himself, informing them that they cannot be saved unless they do so. You yourself did this at the opening of our discussion, when you said that I would not be saved unless I kept the Mosaic precepts.” 2 “But why,” pressed Trypho, “did you say, ‘In my opinion such a man will be saved?’ There must, therefore, be other Christians who hold a different opinion.” “Yes, Trypho,” I conceded, “there are some Christians who boldly refuse to have conversation or meals with such persons. I don’t agree with such Christians. But if some, due to their instability of will, desire to observe as many of the Mosaic precepts as possible-precepts which we think were instituted because of your hardness of heartwhile at the same time they place their hope in Christ, and if they desire to perform the eternal and natural acts of justice and piety, yet wish to live with us Christians and believers, as I already stated, not persuading them to be circumcised like themselves, or to keep the Sabbath, or to perform any other similar acts, then it is my opinion that we Christians should receive them and associate with them in every way as kinsmen and brethren. 3 But if any of your people, Trypho, profess their belief in Christ, and at the same time force the Christian Gentiles to follow the Law instituted through Moses, or refuse to share in communion with them this same common life, I certainly will also not approve of them. 4 But I think that those Gentiles who have been induced to follow the practices of the Jewish Law, and at the same time profess their faith in the Christ of God, will probably be saved. Those persons, however, who had once believed and publicly acknowledged Jesus to be the Christ, and then later, for one reason or another, turned to the observance of the Mosaic Law, and denied that Jesus is the Christ, cannot be saved unless they repent before their death. The same can be said of those descendants of Abraham, who follow the Law and refuse to believe in Christ to their very last breath. Especially excluded from eternal salvation are they who in their synagogues have cursed and still do curse those who believe in that very Christ in order that they may attain salvation and escape the avenging fires of Hell. 5 God in His goodness, kindness, and infinite richness considers the repentant sinner to be just and innocent, as He declared through the Prophet Ezekiel (= Ezekiel 33.11-20), and the one who turns from the path of piety and justice to follow that of injustice and impiety God judges to be an impious and unjust sinner. Thus has our Lord Jesus Christ warned us, ‘In whatsoever things I shall apprehend you, in them also shall I judge you’” (≈ Clement of Alexandria, The Rich Man 40.2; Ezekiel 33.16-20).

Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.26.2: 2 Those who are called Ebionites [Ἐβιωναῖοι] agree that the world was made by God, but their opinions with respect to the Lord are similar to those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates. They use the Gospel according to Matthew only, and repudiate the Apostle Paul, maintaining that he was an apostate from the law. As to the prophetical writings, they endeavour to expound them in a somewhat singular manner: they practice circumcision, persevere in the observance of those customs which are enjoined by the Law, and are so Judaic in their style of life that they even adore Jerusalem as if it were the house of God.

Hippolytus, Refutation 7.34.1-7.35.1: 34.1 The Ebionites [Ἐβιωναῖοι], however, acknowledge that the world was made by Him Who is in reality God, but they propound legends concerning the Christ similarly with Cerinthus and Carpocrates. They live conformably to the customs of the Jews, alleging that they are justified according to the law and saying that Jesus was justified by fulfilling the law. 2 And therefore it was that he was named Christ of God and Jesus, since not one of the rest had observed completely the law. For, if even any other had fulfilled the commandments in the law, he would have been that Christ. (They allege) that they themselves also, when in like manner they fulfill it, are able to become Christs; for they assert that our Lord Himself was a man in a like sense with all. 35.1 But there was a certain Theodotus, a native of Byzantium, who introduced a novel heresy. He announces tenets concerning the originating cause of the universe, which are partly in keeping with the doctrines of the true Church insofar as he acknowledges that all things were created by God. Forcibly appropriating, however, Christ from the school of the Gnostics, and of Cerinthus and of Ebion [Ἐβίωνος], he alleges that he appeared in some such manner as I shall now describe, 2 that Jesus was a man, born of a Virgin according to the counsel of the Father, and that after he had lived promiscuously with all men and had become preeminently religious, he subsequently at his baptism in the Jordan received Christ, who came from above and descended in form of a dove. And this was the reason why powers did not operate within him prior to the manifestation in him of that Spirit which descended, which proclaims him to be the Christ. But some are disposed that this man was never made God at the descent of the Spirit, whereas others that it was after the resurrection from the dead.

Hippolytus, Refutation 10.22[.1]-10.23.: 22.1 But the Ebionites [Ἐβιωναῖοι] assert that the world is made by the true God, and they speak of Christ in a similar manner with Cerinthus. They live, however, in all respects according to the law of Moses, alleging that they are thus justified. 23.1 But Theodotus of Byzantium introduced a heresy of the following description, alleging that all things were created by the true God, whereas that Christ, he states, in a manner similar to that advocated by the Gnostics already mentioned, made His appearance according to some mode of this description. And Theodotus affirms that Christ is a man of a kindred nature with all men, but that He surpasses them in this respect, that according to the counsel of God He had been born of a Virgin, and the Holy Ghost had overshadowed His mother. This heretic, however, maintained that Jesus had not assumed flesh in the womb of the Virgin, but that afterwards Christ descended upon Jesus at His baptism in form of a dove. And from this circumstance the followers of Theodotus affirm that at first miraculous powers did not acquire operating energy in Savior Himself. Theodotus, however, determines to deny the divinity of Christ. Now, opinions of this description were advanced by Theodotus.

Tertullian, On the Prescription of Heretics 10.6-9: 6 If, however, because so many other things have been taught by one and another we are on that account bound to go on seeking, so long as we are able to find anything, we must be ever seeking and never believe anything at all. 7 For where shall be the end of seeking? Where the stop in believing? Where the completion in finding? With Marcion? But even Valentinus proposes a maxim, “Seek, and you shall find.” 8 Then with Valentinus? Well, but Apelles, too, will assail me with the same quotation; Hebion [Hebion] also, and Simon, and all in turn, have no other argument wherewithal to entice me and draw me over to their side. 9 Thus I shall be nowhere, and still be encountering, “Seek, and you shall find,” precisely as if I had no resting place, as if I had never found that which Christ has taught, that which ought to be sought, that which must be believed.

Tertullian, On the Prescription of Heretics 33.3-12: 3 Paul, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, sets his mark on certain ones who denied and doubted the resurrection (= 1 Corinthians 15.12). This opinion was the especial property of the Sadducees. 4 A part of it, however, is maintained by Marcion and Apelles and Valentinus, and all other impugners of the resurrection. 5 Writing also to the Galatians, he inveighs against such men as observed and defend circumcision and the Law (= Galatians 5.2). Thus runs the heresy of Hebion [Hebionis]. 6 Such also as “forbid to marry” he reproaches in his instructions to Timothy (= 1 Timothy 4.3). Now this is the teaching of Marcion and his follower Apelles. 7 He directs a similar blow against those who said that “the resurrection was past already” (= 2 Timothy 2.3). Such an opinion did the Valentinians assert of themselves. 8 When again he mentions “endless genealogies” (= 1 Timothy 1.4), one also recognizes Valentinus, in whose system a certain Aeon, whosoever he be, of a new name, and that not one only, generates of his own grace Sense and Truth; and these in like manner produce of themselves Word and Life, while these again afterwards beget Man and the Church. From these primary eight spring ten other Aeons after them, and then the twelve others arise with their wonderful names to complete the mere story of the thirty Aeons. 9 The same Apostle, when disapproving of those who are “in bondage to elements” (= Galatians 4.9), points us to some dogma of Hermogenes, who introduces matter as having no beginning and then compares it with God, who has no beginning. By thus making the mother of the elements a goddess he has it in his power “to be in bondage” to a being which he puts on a par with God. 10 John, however, in the Apocalypse is charged to chastise those “who eat things sacrificed to idols” and “who commit fornication” (= Revelation 2.14). There are even now another sort of Nicolaitans. Theirs is called the Gaian heresy. 11 But in his epistle he especially designates those as “Antichrists” who “denied that Christ was come in the flesh” (= 1 John 4.3) and who refused to think that Jesus was the Son of God. The one dogma Marcion maintained, the other Hebion [Hebion]. [12] The doctrine, however, of the sorcery of Simon, which inculcated the worship of angels (= Colossians 2.18?), was itself actually reckoned amongst idolatries and condemned by the Apostle Peter in Simon’s own person.

Tertullian, On the Veiling of Virgins 6.1-2: 1 Let us now see whether the Apostle withal observes the norm of this name in accordance with Genesis, attributing it to the sex, calling the Virgin Mary a woman, just as Genesis does Eve. For, writing to the Galatians, “God,” he says, “sent His own Son, made of a woman” (= Galatians 4.4), who, of course, is admitted to have been a virgin, although Hebion [Hebion] resists. 2 I recognize, too, the angel Gabriel as having been sent to “a virgin” (= Luke 1.26-27). But when he is blessing her it is “among women,” not among virgins, that he ranks her: “Blessed are you among women.” The angel withal knew that even a virgin is called a woman!

Tertullian, On the Flesh of Christ 14.5: 5 Well, but as bearing human nature He is so far made inferior to the angels; but as bearing angelic nature He to the same degree loses that inferiority. This opinion will be very suitable for Hebion [Hebioni], who holds Jesus to be a mere man and nothing more than a descendant of David, and not also the Son of God, although He is, to be sure, in one respect more glorious than the prophets, inasmuch as he declares that there was an angel in Him, just as there was in Zechariah.

Tertullian, On the Flesh of Christ 18.1a: 1a Now, that we may give a simpler answer, it was not fit that the Son of God should be born of the seed of a human father, lest, if He were wholly the Son of a man, He should fail to be also the Son of God and be nothing more than “a Solomon” or “a Jonas,” as Hebion [Hebionis] thought we ought to believe concerning Him.

Tertullian, On the Flesh of Christ 24.2: 2 Having thus Marcion in his prophetic view, he says, “I am God, and there is none else; there is no God beside me” (= Isaiah 45.5). And when in another passage he says, in like manner, “Before me there was no God” (= Isaiah 46.9), he strikes at those inexplicable genealogies of the Valentinian Aeons. Again, there is an answer to Hebion [Hebioni] in the Scripture: “Born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (= John 1.13). In like manner, in the passage, “If even an angel of heaven preach unto you any other gospel than that which we have preached unto you, let him be anathema” (= Galatians 1.8), he calls attention to the artful influence of Philumene, the virgin friend of Apelles.

Origen, Homily on Jeremiah 19.12: 12 .... Then Paschor “struck Jeremiah the Prophet,” also with emphasis. “And he struck Jeremiah the Prophet” (= Jeremiah 20.2). He even adds the phrase, “the Prophet.” Here then he who struck Jeremiah struck the Prophet. And it is recorded in Acts that a man who was commanded by Ananias the high priest struck Paul. “Therefore,” Paul said, “God shall beat you, you whitewashed wall” (= Acts 23.3)! And up to the present Ebionites [Ἐβιωναῖοι], placed under the illegitimate high priest of the Word, beat the Apostle of Jesus Christ with slanderous words, and Paul said to such a high priest of the Word that “God shall beat you.” And such a high priest is “beautiful” on the surface and “a whitewashed wall,” but inwardly “full of the bones of dead men and of every uncleanness” (= Matthew 23.27). ....

Origen, On First Principles 1.3.4: 4 The Hebrew [Justinian ὁ Ἑβραῖος, Rufinus Hebraeus magister] also used to say that those two seraphim which are described in Isaiah as each having six wings and calling to one another and saying, "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Sabaoth" (= Isaiah 6.2-3), were to be understood of the only begotten Son of God and of the Holy Spirit.

Origen, On First Principles 4.1.26: 26 For the Hebrew teacher [no Greek extant, Rufinus Hebraeus doctor] also used to teach thus, that because the beginning or end of all things could not be comprehended by anyone except only the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, on that account through the figure of a vision Isaiah affirmed to speak of two seraphim alone.

Origen, Against Celsus 5.61: 61 After the above remarks he proceeds as follows: “Let no one suppose that I am ignorant that some of them will concede that their God is the same as that of the Jews, while others will maintain that he is a different one, to whom the latter is in opposition, and that it was from the former that the Son came.” Now, if he imagine that the existence of numerous heresies among the Christians is a ground of accusation against Christianity, why, in a similar way, should it not be a ground of accusation against philosophy, that the various sects of philosophers differ from each other, not on small and indifferent points, but upon those of the highest importance? Nay, medicine also ought to be a subject of attack, on account of its many conflicting schools. Let it be admitted, then, that there are among us some who deny that our God is the same as that of the Jews: nevertheless, on that account those are not to be blamed who prove from the same Scriptures that one and the same Deity is the God of the Jews and of the Gentiles alike, as Paul, too, distinctly says, who was a convert from Judaism to Christianity, “I thank my God, whom I serve from my forefathers with a pure conscience” (= 2 Timothy 1.3). And let it be admitted also that “there is a third class who call certain persons carnal and others spiritual” — I think he here means the followers of Valentinus — yet what does this avail against us, who belong to the Church, and who make it an accusation against such as hold that certain natures are saved, and that others perish in consequence of their natural constitution? And let it be admitted further that “there are some who give themselves out as Gnostics” in the same way as those Epicureans who call themselves philosophers, yet neither will they who annihilate the doctrine of providence be deemed true philosophers, nor those true Christians who introduce monstrous inventions which are disapproved of by those who are the disciples of Jesus. Let it be admitted, moreover, that “there are some who accept Jesus,” and who boast on that account of being Christians, “and yet would regulate their lives like the Jewish multitude in accordance with the Jewish law” — and these are the twofold Ebionites [οὗτοι δ' εἰσὶν οἱ διττοὶ Ἐβιωναῖοι], who either acknowledge with us that Jesus was born of a virgin or deny this, and maintain that He was begotten like other human beings — what does that avail by way of charge against such as belong to the Church, and whom Celsus has styled “of the multitude?” He adds, also, that “certain of the Christians are Sibyllists,” having probably misunderstood some who blamed such as believed in the existence of a prophetic Sibyl and termed those who held this belief Sibyllists.

Eusebius, History of the Church 3.27.1-6: 1 The evil demon, however, being unable to tear certain others from their allegiance to the Christ of God yet found them susceptible in a different direction, and so brought them over to his own purposes. The ancients quite properly called these men Ebionites [Ἐβιωναίους] because they held poor and mean opinions concerning Christ. 2 For they considered him a plain and common man who was justified only because of his superior virtue, and who was the fruit of the intercourse of a man with Mary. In their opinion the observance of the ceremonial law was altogether necessary on the ground that they could not be saved by faith in Christ alone and by a corresponding life. 3 There were others, however, besides them, who were of the same name but who avoided the strange and absurd beliefs of the former, and did not deny that the Lord was born of a virgin and of the Holy Spirit. But nevertheless, inasmuch as they also refused to acknowledge that he preexisted, being God, Word, and Wisdom, they turned aside into the impiety of the former, especially when they, like them, endeavored to observe strictly the bodily worship of the Law. 4 These men, moreover, thought that it was necessary to reject all the epistles of the Apostle, whom they called an apostate from the law; and they used only the so called Gospel according to the Hebrews and made small account of the rest. 5 The Sabbath and the rest of the discipline of the Jews they observed just like them, but at the same time, like us, they celebrated the Lord’s days as a memorial of the resurrection of the Savior, 6 wherefore, in consequence of such a course, they received the name of Ebionites [Ἐβιωναίων], which signified the poverty of their understanding. For this is the name by which a poor man is called among the Hebrews.

Eusebius, Onomasticon, Χωβά: Khoba, which is left (= north) of Damascus. There is also a village Khoba [Χωβά] in the same regions, in which there are Hebrews who have faith in the Christ who are called Ebionites [Ἐβιωναῖοι].

Apostolic Constitutions 6.6: 6 For even the Jewish nation had wicked heresies, for of them were the Sadducees, who do not confess the resurrection of the dead, and the Pharisees, who ascribe the practice of sinners to fortune and fate, and the Basmotheans [Migne Βασμώθεοι, TLG Μασβωθαῖοι], who deny providence and say that the world is made by spontaneous motion, and take away the immortality of the soul, and the Hemerobaptists [Ἡμεροβαπτισταί], who every day, unless they wash, do not eat — nay, and unless they cleanse their beds and tables, or platters and cups and seats do not make use of any of them. And those who are newly risen among us, the Ebionites [Ἐβιωναῖοι], who will have the Son of God to be a mere man, begotten by human pleasure and the conjunction of Joseph and Mary. There are also those that separate themselves from all these, and observe the laws of their fathers, and these are the Essenes [Ἐσσαῖοι]. These, therefore, arose among the former people. And now the evil one, who is wise to do mischief, and as for goodness knows no such good thing, has cast out some from among us and has wrought by them heresies and schisms.

As for the Talmud (there being no references to the Nazarenes or Nazoraeans or Naṣoraeans by name in the Mishnah or in the Tosefta), I had originally planned to present passages referring to the Noṣrim, or to Jesus the Noṣri, from the Talmud on this thread, but I had also collected, because of another (but obviously parallel) research focus of mine, Mishnaic and Talmudic passages about ben Stada, ben Pantera, and similar topics, so I decided to create a separate thread for them a few days ago. Of interest is that, when the Talmud refers to Christians, it is under the name of the Noṣrim, with a ṣade and not with a zayin.
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Fri Oct 09, 2020 1:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Of Nazirites & Naṣoraeans.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Wed Oct 07, 2020 3:19 pm

Ṣṣ Σσ צ (Sigma/Ṣade) + Zz Ζζ ז (Zeta/Zayin) — A Few Thoughts

So what are we to make of this mass of material?

First, any theory of development which suggests two or more independent events whereby somebody transliterated the Semitic ṣade as a Greek zeta or Latin zee, or vice versa, is not going to be nearly as parsimonious as a theory which suggests only one such event. Thus, whichever word or concept crossed the linguistic wall first has to be able to account for all the other instances on the target side of the divide. (For example, if we imagine that, in Greek, the first concept was the town of Naṣareth being transliterated as Nazareth, then Nazareth has to be able to account for Nazarene, Nazoraean, and any related term; if it is not so able, then those other terms had to have been independent transliterations which for some reason broke the rules, so to speak, just like the first one did.)

Second, by the same token, the wall ought to have been crossed over in only one direction. If it was crossed in one direction, and then later again in the opposite direction, then we are dealing with two improbable events instead of only one, and parsimony suffers once more. (In other words, if we imagine that the first step was that the Greek zeta was transliterated as a Semitic ṣade, then we probably ought not to suppose that at some other point later on the reverse happened independently.)

With these principles in mind, can we reasonably surmise which came first in Christian origins, the Semitic NṢR or the Greek NZR? I think we can. Nazirite or Naziraean, NZR, is a Semitic word. It would be weird for it to begin as a designation for Jesus in Greek or in Latin, only for Semitic speakers not to know what it meant and therefore render it with the wrong medial consonant in their own tongue. Thus, it seems better to me to start with the Semitic term Naṣoraean and go in the other linguistic direction. It makes sense for what is apparently the more obscure term, Naṣoraean, to get confused with the more common term, Nazirite or Naziraean, in the target language. Furthermore, the very fact that the Semitic root NZR was beginning to be transliterated in Greek, as we can see in several of those passages from the OG or LXXB, means that NZR could be a known root in Greek which could have been confused, whether deliberately or accidentally, with the original Semitic root NṢR, as yet unknown (or at least less known) in Greek.

Thus, at some point a Greek Christian author or scribe must have rendered the Semitic root NṢR as NZR on the strength of the latter pointing to the Nazirite vow, which is (A) why we find Jesus being called a Nazarene in the same context in which he is also called the Holy One of God and (B) why we find his being reared in Nazareth being put on the anonymous lips of "the prophets" (the combination of a "former prophet" in Judges and a "latter prophet" in Isaiah or some such). Just as the boy Samson was going to be a NZR, so too the boy Jesus. This author or scribe either already thought of Jesus as a Nazirite/nazir in some way (as my own view of the Messiah ben Joseph connection might suggest) or straight up misunderstood the term Naṣoraean (which he or she did not understand) as Naziraean (which he or she did understand) and decided that it was appropriate to paint Jesus in Nazirite hues, at least for some purposes. Certain factors conspired against turning Jesus into a full Nazirite, however, not least of which was the concept of the Messianic Banquet: if the Messiah is present, there is eating and drinking to be done. 1 Enoch 62.14 lists eating as one of the main activities the righteous will do with the Son of Man; so of course "the Son of Man came eating and drinking" (Matthew 11.19 = Luke 7.34); the bridegroom was present; only in his absence would there be abstinence by either party (Matthew 26.29 = Mark 14.25).

The Semitic root NṢR, however, cannot stand on its own in such a scenario. We have seen that it can mean to guard or to keep, as a verb, or a shoot or branch, as a noun, but those definitions do not go very far in explaining why a Syriac scribe, for example, would transliterate a Greek term based on the root NZR, found in one of the Christian gospels, as NṢR. Thus, the Semitic root NṢR had to already designate what the root NZR, in Greek, was trying to convey.

And that is exactly what our sources tell us happened. The trajectory implies, in fact, that there was a recognizable group of people who were called Naṣoraeans; that is what would explain a term like Nazarene or Nazoraean being rendered as a Naṣoraean. The Semitic side of the wall needed no help from the Greek and Latin side in figuring out what the word meant; the Semitic side already knew, because it was the name of a Semitic sect.

That such a sect existed is exactly what the Mandaeans tell us about themselves and what Epiphanius claims about his Naṣaraeans; Epiphanius strenuously denies any connection between them and the Nazoraeans, but he avers that they existed. (It hardly seems accidental that Epiphanius is one of the church fathers who knew some Hebrew; he knew that ṣade and zayin are not the same thing; he was not going to buck Christian tradition, but he knew he had to account for a group whose name was spelled with a ṣade.) The existence of such a group also explains both why that group gets mentioned in the Kartir inscription and how the translators of the Syriac versions of Greek texts knew to transliterate Nazareth, Nazarene, and Nazoraean with a ṣade instead of with a zayin. It explains the same about the Talmudic rabbis who spoke and wrote about the Noṣrim and Yeshu the Noṣri; those same rabbis, incidentally, had no problem applying that term, Noṣri, to a time period long before our usual dates for Jesus; this datum might not mean much of anything, given that the rabbis who were telling stories about the Noṣrim and about Yeshu the Noṣri were not necessarily motivated by the desire to achieve an accurate historical reconstruction, but both Epiphanius and the Mandaeans insist that the Naṣoraeans predated what we think of as Christianity. Acts 24.5 insists that the Nazoraeans were a sect; although this passage says nothing about dating the sect, and the rest of Luke-Acts rather implies that the term arose from the designation of Jesus the Nazoraean, from Nazareth, the church fathers agreed that Christians were called Nazoraeans before they were called Christians, thus confirming in a roundabout sort of way, or at least not disconfirming in any way, that the Naṣoraean sect predated Christianity.

On the Greek or Latin side of the linguistic wall, we have seen, the first instance of somebody transliterating ṣade as zayin has to account for all the rest of the instances of the same thing happening. Well, the obvious source for such a fanning out of the tradition from a single point would be the gospels. All of the witnesses for the Greek or Latin side, with the exception of Pliny (as I have admitted), are dependent upon Christian gospel materials. Once that was the official Christian spelling for the sect, the town, and the demonym, it stuck, just as the official King James spellings for most biblical names have stuck in English.

I cannot absolutely rule out the possibility that the name of the sect might have been based on the name of the town of Naṣareth, but I think that such a supposition is more convoluted than some of the alternatives. The name of that obscure little town, which goes unmentioned in extant Jewish literature literally for centuries, can obviously not be the cause for Talmudic rabbis and Zoroastrian priests and Mandaean sectarians and Syriac scribes choosing a ṣade over a zayin when speaking or writing of Semitic Christians. No, there had to be a sect. Was that sect named after Naṣareth? Not if the Mandaeans and Epiphanius are correct about the sect predating Jesus and his association with that town. Not if we deem it at least a bit unlikely that a sect would be named for the hometown of its founder, to the point that the entire East knew a family of related sects by that name. (Montanists could be called Pepuzans, but Pepuza played a central role in their eschatology and religion. The evidence for Nazareth playing such a role in Jewish Christianity appears to amount to a single statement by Julius Africanus.)

NṢR is a pretty fitting root for a sect, at any rate, on its own merits. The Watchers? The Keepers (of Secrets, of the Law, of the Faith)? The Guardians? Sign me up.

But I will readily admit that I do not have everything figured out on this topic. Maybe the linguistic wall I have described between ṣade/sigma and zayin/zeta is more permeable than I and the scholars I have consulted have been led to believe; maybe there are lots of relevant examples of the crossover lurking out there of which I am unaware, despite even scholars trying to minimize the wall seemingly being forced to admit that the examples are exceptional and often purely accidental. Or there could very well be trajectories in which Nazareth makes perfect sense as the origin of the entire linguistic complex I have been delving into in this thread. Does anyone want to give Pliny and his Nazerini a try as the font for it all, or at least work them into the equation somewhere, which I have not? Maybe there is a way for the concept of Jesus as Nazirite to be the source for it all, even for the Semitic side; my Messiah ben Joseph theories would thrive on that, so, if you can make it work, please do!

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Re: Of Nazirites & Naṣoraeans.

Post by davidmartin » Thu Oct 08, 2020 4:11 am

within Judaism is there any precedent for a group that is opposed by the mainstream to be associated with a location of ill-repute based on a play on words?

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Re: Of Nazirites & Naṣoraeans.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Oct 08, 2020 5:25 am

davidmartin wrote:
Thu Oct 08, 2020 4:11 am
within Judaism is there any precedent for a group that is opposed by the mainstream to be associated with a location of ill-repute based on a play on words?
Jewish sects named by various authors:

Josephus: Essenes, Sadducees, Pharisees, Zealots or Galileans (Fourth Philosophy)
Hegesippus: Essenes, Galileans, Hemerobaptists, Masbothaeans, Samaritans, Sadducees, Pharisees.
Justin Martyr: Sadducees, Genists, Meristae, Galilaeans, Hellenists, Pharisees, Baptists.
Apostolic Constitutions: Sadducees, Pharisees, Basmotheans, Hemerobaptists, Ebionites, Essenes, Samaritans.
Epiphanius: Gorothenes, Sebuaeans, Essenes, Dositheans; Scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, Hemerobaptists, Ossaeans, Nasaraeans, Herodians.

Maybe the Galileans? But that name was more than a slur, I think. They seem to have had a connection to Galilee, and Galilee is where the War was fought for a good while before Jerusalem came under siege.
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Re: Of Nazirites & Naṣoraeans.

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Thu Oct 08, 2020 7:09 am

.
Lots of work. Hats off Ben!

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Re: Of Nazirites & Naṣoraeans.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Oct 08, 2020 7:17 am

Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
Thu Oct 08, 2020 7:09 am
.
Lots of work. Hats off Ben!
Thanks!
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Re: Of Nazirites & Naṣoraeans.

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Oct 08, 2020 8:22 am

As a side note, doesn't it seem strange that Hegesippus - the earliest of these list makers - doesn't do what Epiphanius naturally does which is tell us WHERE these sects lived and a little bit about them. I am curious about a lot of things related to Hegesippus. But most of all what value did just making a list of names with no context have in antiquity.

It strikes me as being a made up list. I can't even think of a comparison. Maybe the legendary elements of fables and Greek stories about the Amazons or other mythological people.
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Re: Of Nazirites & Naṣoraeans.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Oct 08, 2020 8:56 am

Secret Alias wrote:
Thu Oct 08, 2020 8:22 am
As a side note, doesn't it seem strange that Hegesippus - the earliest of these list makers - doesn't do what Epiphanius naturally does which is tell us WHERE these sects lived and a little bit about them.
Maybe he does and Eusebius does not bother to quote that part. Hard to tell with lost works.
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Re: Of Nazirites & Naṣoraeans.

Post by Secret Alias » Thu Oct 08, 2020 10:49 am

But the Roman and Jerusalem succession list is like that.
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Re: Of Nazirites & Naṣoraeans.

Post by Ben C. Smith » Fri Oct 09, 2020 4:01 pm

I quoted from Julius Africanus upthread to the effect that the Desposyni, the alleged relatives of the Master/Lord, had traveled out "from Nazara and Cochaba, villages of Judea" (ἀπό τε Ναζάρων καὶ Κωχαβα, κωμῶν Ἰουδαϊκῶν).

There is some confusion as to which Cochaba is intended. On the one hand, Epiphanius mentions in Panarion 29.7.7 that the Nazoraeans were found, among other locales, in Basanitis (Bashan) at a place called Cocabe (Κωκάβῃ]), Chochabe (Χωχάβῃ) in Hebrew (כּוֹכָב). On the other hand, that Africanus characterizes both Nazara and Cochaba as villages of Judea suggests that no location in Bashan is in view. Adding to the confusion is Eusebius in his lexicon of names:

Eusebius, Onomasticon, Χωβά: Khoba, which is left (= north) of Damascus. There is also a village Khoba [Χωβά] in the same regions, in which there are Hebrews who have faith in the Christ who are called Ebionites [Ἐβιωναῖοι].

Richard Bauckham, Jude and the Relatives of Jesus, page 63: Eusebius locates it fairly precisely: ‘Khoba which is to the left of Damascus. There is also a village of Khoba in the same district in which there are Hebrews who believe in Christ, called Ebionites.’ This appears to distinguish two places called Khoba in the area of Damasas. The first may be modern Kabun, just north (‘to the left’) of Damascus. It is possible that the second, Ebionite Khoba, is actually the same as the Kokhaba of Epiphanius and that Eusebius mistook its location (Batanea can hardly be accurately described as in the area of Damascus), as well as perhaps confusing its name with the Khoba north of Damascus. But it is also possible that Eusebius’ Ebionite village is the modern Kaukab which is fifteen kilometres southwest of Damascus (it is the place where medieval Christians located Paul’s conversion).

Richard Bauckham, Jude and the Relatives of Jesus, pages 64: 64 Julius Africanus, however, associates Kokhaba with Nazareth, and there are two places of this name not far from Nazareth.

Cochaba and towns of similar nomenclature seem to be something of a Springfield: lots of towns by that name, none of them very big. (Springfield, Missouri, is the largest demographic area by that name in the United States, and it has a population of only 159,498.) And, of course, we have to evaluate any possible identifications of Ebionites, Nazoraeans, and the Desposyni. The variables and resultant combinations of data multiply very quickly.

But I want to focus on Nazara (Nazareth) for a moment. At first glance, one might suppose that Nazara is apparently serving as a base of operations for the Desposyni because of the combination of (A) them being related to Jesus and (B) his hometown having been Nazareth. They operated out of Nazareth and a town called Cochaba, presumably one of the two spots in Galilee near Nazareth, because the family came from that area.

But Bauckham gives another reason. He notes about Cochaba:

Richard Bauckham, Jude and the Relatives of Jesus, pages 64-65: 64-65 The Semitic name, of course, means ‘star,’ a word fraught with messianic significance in the period (as Bar Kokhba, the messianic pun on the name of Simon bar Kosiba, reminds us). It would have suggested Balaam’s prophecy of the star (kôkа̄b) of Jacob in Numbers 24:17. But we also know that Nazareth was probably related, by means of the pesher-like pun, to the prophecy of the messianic branch (nēṣer) from the roots of Jesse (Isa 11:1). By means of this pun, Jesus’ otherwise distinctly unmessianic home town (cf. John 1:46; 7:41-42) was given messianic prophetic significance (Matt 2:23).

That these two villages named by Julius Africanus as origin points for the Desposyni should be so immediately susceptible to two of the most famous of the messianic puns is interesting, to say the least. The suggestion is that these towns were selected (or even named??) precisely because of the symbolic significance of the Star and the Branch:

Testament of Judah 24.1-6: 1 And after these things shall a Star [ἄστρον] arise to you from Jacob in peace, and a Man shall rise from my seed, like the Sun of righteousness, walking with the sons of men in meekness and righteousness, and no sin shall be found in Him. 2 And the heavens shall be opened above Him, to shed forth the blessing of the Spirit from the Holy Father; and He shall shed forth a spirit of grace upon you, 3 and you shall be unto Him sons in truth, and you shall walk in His commandments, the first and the last. 4 This is the Branch [ὁ βλαστός] of God Most High, and this the Wellspring unto life for all flesh. 5 Then shall the sceptre of my kingdom shine forth, and from your root shall arise a stem; 6 and in it shall arise a rod of righteousness to the Gentiles, to judge and to save all that call upon the Lord.

Revelation 22.16: 16 “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.

Justin Martyr, 1 Apology 32.12-13: 12 And Isaiah, another prophet, foretelling the same things in other words, spoke thus: “A star shall rise out of Jacob, and a flower shall spring from the root of Jesse; and His arm shall the nations trust.” 13 And a star of light has arisen, and a flower has sprung from the root of Jesse, this Christ.

Justin Martyr, Dialogue 126.1: 1 “But if you knew, Trypho,” continued I, “who He is that is called at one time the Angel of Great Counsel, and a Man by Ezekiel, and like the Son of Man by Daniel, and a Child by Isaiah, and Christ and God to be worshipped by David, and Christ and a Stone by many, and Wisdom by Solomon, and Joseph and Judah and a Star by Moses, and the East by Zechariah, and the Suffering One and Jacob and Israel by Isaiah again, and a Rod, and Flower, and Cornerstone, and Son of God, you would not have blasphemer Him who has now come, and been born, and suffered, and ascended to heaven, who shall also come again, and then your twelve tribes shall mourn.”

But do we now find too many reasons at our disposal for the Desposyni to be in Nazareth? If they (or the tradents passing down the story) chose the town (and recall that it is spelled with the ṣade in Hebrew, just like the word נֵצֶר in Isaiah 11.1) for the pun that its name gave them, then there is no need to suppose that they chose it because the family of Jesus hailed from the area. It could hypothetically have all worked out like that: his hometown had a messianic pun hidden in it all along, and thus the Desposyni had two completely independent and perfectly sufficient reasons to operate out of its environs; but the supposition seems less simple than some of the alternatives, or so it seems to me. I suspect that spin was right, and Nazara/Nazareth, far from being the origin of the linguistic complex this thread deals with, is a latecomer to the game. It was chosen, both in the gospels and in the lore (whatever else we may think of it) surrounding the Desposyni, because it sounded like either or both sides of the coincidence of words or names, already baked into our linguistic data set, involving the roots NZR and NṢR (just like Cochaba played into the Star prophecy), and not because it is where Joseph and Mary reared Jesus and his siblings.
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Sat Oct 17, 2020 9:17 am, edited 2 times in total.

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