13.1 But I shall resume the thread of my argument against Ebion — because of the Gospel according to Matthew the course of the discussion obliged me to insert the whole of the knowledge which I had gained. 2 Now in what they call a Gospel according to Matthew, though it is not the entire Gospel but is corrupt and mutilated — and they call this thing “Hebrew” — the following passage is found: “There was a certain man named Jesus, and he was about thirty years of age (= Luke 3.23), who chose us. And coming to Capernaum he entered into the house of Simon surnamed Peter, and opened his mouth and said, 3 “Passing beside the Sea of Tiberias I chose John and James, the sons of Zebedee, and Simon and Andrew and <Philip and Bartholomew, James the son of Alphaeus and Thomas>, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot. You too, Matthew, seated at the receipt of custom, did I call, and you followed me. I will, then, that you be twelve apostles (= Clementine Recognitions 1.40.4; Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 6.6.48) for a testimony to Israel,” 4 and, “John came baptizing, and there went out unto him Pharisees and were baptized, and all Jerusalem. And John had a garment of camel’s hair, and a girdle of skin about his loins. And his meat,” it says, “was wild honey, whose taste was the taste of manna, as a wafer in oil” (= Matthew 2.4-5; Numbers 11.8). 5 This, if you please, to turn the account of the truth into falsehood, and substitute “a wafer [ἐγκρίδα] in honey” for “locusts [ἀκρίδων].”
6 But the beginning of their Gospel is, “It came to pass in the days of Herod, king of Judaea, <in the high priesthood of Caiaphas>, that <a certain> man, John <by name>, came baptizing with the baptism of repentance in the river Jordan, and he was said to be of the lineage of Aaron the priest, the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth, and all went out unto him” (= Luke 1.5; Mark 1.4-5). 7 And after saying a good deal it adds, “When the people had been baptized Jesus came also and was baptized of John. And as he came up out of the water the heavens were opened, and he saw the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove which descended and entered into him. And (there came) a voice from heaven saying, ‘You are my beloved Son; in You I am well pleased,’ and again, ‘This day have I begotten You’ (= Luke 3.21-22; Psalm 2.7; Hebrews 1.5). And straightway a great light shone round about the place (= Justin Martyr, Dialogue 88.3). Seeing this,” it says, “John said unto him, ‘Who are You, Lord’ (= Acts 95)? And again (there came) a voice to him from heaven, ‘This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased’ (= Matthew 3.17). 8 And then,” it says, “John fell down before him and said, ‘I pray You, Lord, baptize me.’ But he forbade him saying, ‘Let it alone, for thus it is meet that all be fulfilled’ (= Matthew 3.15).”
14.1 See how their utterly false teaching is all lame, crooked, and not right anywhere! 2 For by supposedly using their same <so called Gospel according to Matthew> Cerinthus and Carpocrates want to prove from the beginning of Matthew, by the genealogy, that Christ is the product of Joseph’s seed and Mary. 3 But these people have something else in mind. They falsify the genealogical tables in Matthew’s Gospel and make its opening, as I said, “It came to pass in the days of Herod, king of Judaea, in the high priesthood of Caiaphas, that a certain man, John by name, came baptizing with the baptism of repentance in the river Jordan,” and so on. 4 This is because they maintain that Jesus is really a man, as I said, but that Christ, who descended in the form of a dove, has entered him — as we have found already in other sects — <and> been united with him. Christ himself <is from God on high, but Jesus> is the offspring of a man’s seed and a woman.
5 But again they deny that he is a man, supposedly on the basis of the words the Savior spoke when he was told, “Behold, Your mother and Your brethren stand without,” “‘Who are my mother and my brethren?’ And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples and said, ‘These are my brethren and mother and sisters, these who do the will of my Father’ (= Matthew 12.46-50).” 6 And so Ebion, as I said, who is crammed with all sorts of trickery, shows himself in many forms — making him a monstrosity, as I indicated above.
15.1 But they use certain other books as well — supposedly the so called Travels of Peter written by Clement, though they corrupt their contents while leaving a few genuine passages. 2 Clement himself convicts them of this in every way in his general epistles which are read in the holy churches, because his faith and speech are of a different character than their spurious productions in his name in the Travels. He himself teaches celibacy, and they will not accept it. He extols Elijah, David, Samson and all the prophets, whom they abhor. 3 In the Travels they have changed everything to suit themselves and slandered Peter in many ways, saying that he was baptized daily for purification as they are. And they say he abstained from flesh and dressed meat as they do, and any other dish made from meat — since both Ebion himself and Ebionites entirely abstain from these. 4 When you ask one of them why they do not eat meat, having no explanation they answer foolishly and say, “Since it is a product of the congress and intercourse of bodies, we do not eat it.” Thus, according to their own foolish regurgitations, they are wholly abominable themselves, since they are the results of the intercourse of a man and a woman.
16.1 They too receive baptism, apart from their daily baptisms. And they celebrate supposed mysteries from year to year in imitation of the sacred mysteries of the church, using unleavened bread — and the other part of the mystery with water only. 2 But as I said, they set side by side two who have been appointed by God, one being Christ, but one the devil. And they say that Christ has been allotted the world to come, but that this world has been entrusted to the devil (= Clementine Homilies 3.19.2; 8.21.1-2; 20.2.1-2) — supposedly by the decree of the Almighty, at the request of each of them. 3 And they say that this is why Jesus was begotten of the seed of a man and chosen, and thus has been named Son of God by election, after the Christ who came to him from on high in the form of a dove. 4 But they say that he is not begotten of God the Father but created as one of the archangels, and that he is ruler both of angels and of all creatures of <the> Almighty; and that he came and instructed us <to abolish the sacrifices>. 5 As their so called Gospel says, “I came to abolish the sacrifices; and if you cease not from sacrifice wrath will not cease from you” (= Clementine Homilies 2.44.2; 3.26.3; 3.45.1-2; 3.56.4; Recognitions 1.37.1-5; 1.39.12; Mandaean Ginza 9.83; 33.2; 43.8-10). Both these and certain things of the kind are guileful inventions which are current among them.
6 They speak of other Acts of Apostles in which there is much thoroughly impious material, and from them arm themselves against the truth in deadly earnest. 7 They lay down certain ascents and instructions in the supposed “Ascents of James,” as though he were giving orders against the temple and sacrifices, and the fire on the altar — and much else that is full of nonsense. 8 Nor are they ashamed to accuse Paul here with certain fabrications of their false apostles’ villainy and imposture (= Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.26.2; Origen, Against Celsus 5.65; Homily 19 on Jeremiah 18.12; Epistle of Peter to James 2.5; Clementine Recognitions 1.70.1-1.71.6). They say that he was Tarsean — which he admits himself and does not deny. And they suppose that he was of Greek parentage, taking the occasion for this from the (same) passage because of his frank statement, “I am a man of Tarsus, a citizen of no mean city” (= Acts 21.39). 9 They then claim that he was Greek and the son of a Greek mother and Greek father, but that he had gone up to Jerusalem, stayed there for a while, desired to marry a daughter of the high priest, and had therefore became a proselyte and been circumcised. But since he still could not marry that sort of girl he became angry and wrote against circumcision, and against the Sabbath and the legislation.
17.1 But he is making a completely false accusation, this horrid serpent with his poverty of understanding. For “Ebion,” translated from Hebrew to Greek, means “poor.” For truly he is poor, in understanding, hope and actuality, since he regards Christ as a mere man, and thus has come to hope in him with poverty of faith. 2 They themselves, if you please, boastfully claim that they are poor because they sold their possessions in the apostles’ time and laid them at the apostles’ feet, and went over to a life of poverty and renunciation (= Acts 4.34-35), and thus, they say, they are called “poor” by everyone. 3 But there is no truth to this claim of theirs either; he was really named Ebion. I suppose the poor wretch was named prophetically by his father and mother.
4 And how many other dreadful, false, observances they have, chock full of wickedness! When one of them falls ill or is bitten by a snake, he gets into water and invokes the names in Elxai — of heaven, earth, salt, water, winds, “angels of righteousness,” <as> they say, bread and oil (= Epistle of Peter to James 4.1) — and begins to say, “Come to my aid and rid me of my pain!”
5 But I have already indicated, even before this, that Ebion did not know of these things. After a time his followers became associated with Elxai, and they have the circumcision, the Sabbath, and the customs of Ebion, but Elxai’s delusion. 6 Thus they believe that Christ is a manlike figure invisible to human eyes, ninety-six miles — or twenty-four schoena, if you please! — tall; six schoena, or twenty-four miles wide; and some other measurement through. Opposite him the Holy Spirit stands invisibly as well, in the form of a female, with the same dimensions. 7 “And how did I find the dimensions?” he says. “I saw from the mountains that the heads were level with them, and from observing the height of the mountain, I learned the dimensions of Christ and the Holy Spirit.” 8 I have already spoken of this in the Sect, “Against Ossaeans.” I have put it down here though, in passing, lest it be thought that I fail from forgetfulness to mention characteristics of any nation and sect which are also found in others.
18.1 Ebion too preached in Asia and Rome, but the roots of these thorny side growths come mostly from Nabataea and Banias, Moabitis, and Cocabe in Bashanitis beyond Adrai — in Cyprus as well. 2 They compel them to give their children in marriage even when they are too young — with the permission of their teachers, if you please! (Ebionites have elders and heads of synagogues, and they call their church a synagogue, not a church; and they take pride in Christ’s name only.) 3 And they do not allow people to contract only one marriage; even if someone should want to be released from his first marriage and contract another, they permit it — they allow everything without hesitation — down to a second, and a third, and a seventh marriage.
4 They acknowledge Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Moses and Aaron — and Joshua the son of Nun simply as Moses’ successor, though he is of no importance. But after these they acknowledge no more of the prophets, but even anathematize David and Solomon and make fun of them. Similarly they disregard Isaiah and Jeremiah, Daniel and Ezekiel, Elijah and Elisha; for they pay them no heed and blaspheme their prophecies (≈ Methodius, Banquet of the Ten Virgins 8.10), but accept only the Gospel. 5 They say, however, that Christ is the Prophet of Truth and the Christ, <but> is Son of God by promotion (≈ Hippolytus, Refutation 7.34.2), and by union with the elevation on high which has come to him. They say that the prophets are prophets of <their own> understanding, not of truth. 6 Christ alone, they would have it, is prophet, man, Son of God, and Christ — and as I said before he is a mere man who has come to be called Son of God owing to the virtue of his life.
7 Nor do they accept Moses’ Pentateuch in its entirety; they reject certain sayings. When you say to them, of eating meat, “Why did Abraham serve the angels the calf and the milk? Why did Noah eat meat, and why was he told to by God, who said, ‘Slay and eat?’ Why did Isaac and Jacob sacrifice to God — Moses too, in the wilderness?” he will disbelieve those things and will say, “What need for me to read what is in the Law, when the Gospel has come?” 8 “Well, how do you know about Moses and Abraham? I know you admit that they exist, and that you put them down as righteous, and your own ancestors.” 9 Then he will answer, “Christ has revealed this to me,” and will blaspheme most of the legislation, and Samson, David, Elijah, Samuel, Elisha and the rest.
19.1 But the tramp is completely exposed by the Savior, who refutes the whole of his deceitful teaching expressly and as though in summary form with one utterance when he says, “John came in the way of righteousness, neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a devil.’ The Son of Man came eating and drinking, <and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a winebibber>’” (= Matthew 11.18-19). 2 And he certainly does not mean that John never by any chance ate, or that the Savior ate anything and everything — with the suspicion of forbidden foods as well. 3 The passage makes the meaning of the truth plain, since “he is a glutton and a winebibber” can mean only the eating of meat and the drinking of wine; and “neither eating nor drinking” means that John did not partake of meat and wine, but only of locusts and honey — water, too, obviously.
4 But who does not know that the Savior arose from the dead and ate (flesh)? As the holy Gospels of the truth say, “There was given unto him bread, and a piece of broiled fish. And he took it, and did eat, and gave to his disciples” (= Luke 24.42-43; John 21.12). As he also did at the Sea of Tiberias, both eating and giving. 5 And a great deal can be said on this subject. But I must now come to the detailed refutation of their worthless, unsound teachings, and compose the rebuttal of them.
20.1 And first, it must be said of Christ that he is not a mere man. It cannot be that a person conceived <like> a man in every respect will be given to the world for a “sign,” as the Holy Spirit foretold of him by saying to Ahaz, “Ask a sign”; and since Ahaz would not ask, the prophet then said, “The Lord himself shall give you a sign. Behold the Virgin shall conceive” (= Isaiah 7.11, 14). 2 A woman who has been united to a husband and married cannot be called a virgin. But she who has truly had the conception of the Word of God without a husband may properly be called a virgin — 3 as Isaiah himself says in another passage, “‘A voice of a cry from the city, a voice from the temple, a voice of the Lord of recompense, who renders recompense to his enemies. Before she who travailed hath brought forth, before the pain of her travail came, she escaped (it) and was delivered of a man child. Who has heard of such a thing? Or who has seen such things? Or has the earth travailed in one day and brought forth a nation at once? For Zion has travailed and brought forth her children. And it was I who granted this expectation, and they did not remember,’ says the Lord” (= Isaiah 66.6-9). 4 But which “expectation” and which “children,” other than that of a virgin’s giving birth (to a child) without labor pains, something that had never happened, and that the child born of Elizabeth by promise for his sake <leaped in the womb before his birth>, even though John was born with labor pains?
5 How, then, can these people declare the Savior a mere man, conceived of a man’s seed? How will he “not be known,” as Jeremiah says of him, “He is a man, and yet who will know him” (= Jeremiah 17.9)? 6 For in giving his description the prophet said of him, “Who will know him?” But if he were speaking of a mere man, surely his father would know him and his mother, his relatives and neighbors, the members of his household and his fellow townsmen. 7 But since the human offspring is born of Mary but the divine Word came from above, truly begotten not in time and without beginning, not of a man’s seed but of the Father on high, and in the last days consenting to enter a virgin’s womb and fashioning flesh from her, patterned after himself — this is why Jeremiah says, “And he is a man, but who will know him” (= Jeremiah 17.9)? For as God he came from above, the only-begotten divine Word.
8 But the deluded souls are most unfortunate to have abandoned the testimonies of prophets and angels and to be content with those of the deluded Ebion, who wants to do what he likes, and practice the Jewish cusoms even though he is estranged from the Jews. 9 <For> when Gabriel was bringing the tidings to Mary, he pledged his word at once as soon as she said, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” and said, “The Spirit of the Lord shall come upon you, and the power of the highest shall overshadow you. Therefore also that which is born of you shall be called holy, Son of God” (= Luke 1.34-35). 10 By saying, “that which is born,” he showed that the flesh <is> from her and the rest of the humanity, but that the power of the highest and the Holy Spirit overshadowed the holy Virgin from above, from the heavens, and the only-begotten Son, the divine Word, has descended from on high — <indicating> both that Christ became man, and that he was born of her in truth. 11 And how much more there is of this sort! But as I promised it is not my custom to range widely, so as not to make my treatise very lengthy.
21.1 But next I shall discuss the other false accusations which they make, against Peter and the other apostles — that every day, before so much as eating bread, Peter had had immersions. 2 Observe the whole of their slander, and the badness hidden under their cheap teaching! Since they are defiled themselves and often indulge themselves sexually on earth, they make lavish use of water for their own reassurance, to deceive themselves if you please, under the impression that they have purification through baptisms. 3 And they are not ashamed to say these offensive things about the apostles, even though the Lord exposes their perversity since, when he came to wash Peter’s feet, Peter said, “Thou shalt never wash my feet,” and the Savior’s answer was, “If I wash not thy feet thou hast no part with me.” 4 And when Peter replied, “Not the feet only, but also the head,” the Lord returned, “He that is washed once needs not <to wash> his head, but his feet only; for he is clean every whit” (= John 13.8-10). 5 He showed, then, that there is no need to make use of immersions, useless customs, and commandments and teachings of men, as he says in the Gospel in agreement with the prophet, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (= Matthew 15.8-9). 6 Why did he fault the Pharisees and Scribes, with their thorough immersions <both> of themselves, and of their platters, cups and the rest? And why does he declare definitively, “To eat with unwashen hands does not defile a man” (= Matthew 15.20)? Thus not only did he put a stop to the immersion of these things. He even showed that washing one’s hands is unnecessary, and that if one would rather <not> wash his hands, it does him no harm.
22.1 And how can their stupidity about the eating of meat not be exposed out of hand? First of all, because the Lord ate the Jewish Passover. Now the Jewish Passover was a sheep and unleavened bread — sheep’s flesh roasted with fire and eaten, 2 as his disciples say to him, “Where do you wish that we prepare for you to eat the Passover?” And the Lord himself says, “Go into the city, and you shall find a man bearing a pitcher of water and shall follow whithersoever he goes, and say to the goodman of the house, ‘Where is the guest chamber where I shall keep the Passover with my disciples?’ And he shall show you an upper room furnished; there make ready” (= Mark 14.12-15).
3 And again, the Lord himself says, “With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you” (= Luke 22.15). And he did not simply say “Passover” but “this Passover,” so that no one could play with it in his own sense. A Passover, as I said, was meat roasted with fire and the rest. 4 But to destroy deliberately the true passage these people have altered its text — which is evident to everyone from the expressions that accompany it — and represented the disciples as saying, “Where do you wish that we prepare for you to eat the Passover?” and he supposedly saying, “Did I really desire to eat meat as this Passover with you?” 5 But how can their tampering go undetected, when the passage cries out that the mu and the eta are additions? Instead of saying ἐπιθυμίᾳ ἐπεθύμησα, they have put in the additional μή. Christ truly said, “With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you” (= Luke 22.15). But they misled themselves by writing in meat and making a false entry, and saying, “Did I really want to eat meat with you as this Passover?” But it is plainly demonstrated that he both kept the Passover, and, as I said, ate meat.
6 But they will also be convicted by the vision which was shown St. Peter, through the sheet which contained all sorts of wild beasts, domestic animals, reptiles and birds, and the Lord’s voice saying, “Arise, slay and eat!” And when Peter said, “Not so, Lord; nothing common or unclean hath entered into my mouth,” the Lord replied, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common” (= Acts 11.7-9). 7 For the proof of the truth can be arrived at by two methods. If they say that St. Peter’s remark refers inclusively to all foods when he says, “Nothing common or unclean <hath> at any time <entered into my mouth>,” so that he would have called cattle, goats, sheep and birds unclean, they will be exposed at once by his previous mode of life. 8 It was after marrying, fathering children (= Act of Peter apud codex Berolinensis 8502, fourth tractate) and having a mother-in-law that he met the Savior, and he was Jewish. But Jews eat flesh, and among them the eating of meat is not considered abominable or forbidden. 9 Since he had always eaten meat, then — even if we say (he did it only) until he met the Savior — this will prove that he considered nothing unclean which was not declared to be unclean. For in fact he did not attribute commonness or uncleanness to all sorts of meat, but (only) to the ones the Law called common or unclean.
10 But again — since it is established that he did not hold of all kinds of meat that they were all common, but that he held this of the kinds which are called common and unclean in the Law — to teach him the character of Christ’s holy church God told him to consider nothing common. “For all things are pure when they are received with thanks and praise to God” (= Romans 14.20; 1 Timothy 4.3). 11 But even though the riddle referred to the call of the gentiles so that Peter would not regard the uncircumcised as profane or unclean, the expression Peter used did not refer to people but meant the foods the Law prohibits, as anyone can see. And their silly argument has failed from every point of view.
23.1 They pretendedly accept the names of the apostles in order to convince their dupes, and have composed forged books in their names, supposedly by James, Matthew, and other disciples. 2 They list the name of the apostle John among these to make their stupidity detectible in every way. For not only does he refute them in every way by saying, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (= John 1.1). 3 <It is clear from his Gospel>, moreover, that he <accepts> the testimonies of the holy prophets. In this Gospel he published their testimonies by giving a good and full account, with the Holy Spirit’s help, of the things the Savior said about each oracle (of the prophets) which, as I said, has been fulfilled in Christ. From these prophets the Ebionites have estranged themselves. 4 At the very outset he showed how John himself answered the messengers sent by the Pharisees to John the Baptist with, “I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Isaiah” (= John 1.23). 5 And again, when the Lord overturned the tables of the money-changers and said, “Make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise,” John himself, taking the testimony from the prophets, I mean from David, said, “They remembered that it was written, ‘The zeal of your house has eaten me up’” (= John 2.16-17; Psalm 69.9). And again, John himself said, “Isaiah saw, being in the Holy Spirit” (= John 12.41).
24.1 And again, when St. John himself was preaching in Asia, it is reported that he did an extraordinary thing as an example of the truth. Although his way of life was most admirable and appropriate to his apostolic rank and he never bathed, he was compelled to approach the bath by the Holy Spirit who said, “Look what is at the bath!” 2 To his companions’ surprise he actually went to the bathing-room, approached the attendant who took the bathers’ clothes, and asked who was inside in the bathing room. 3 And the attendant stationed there to watch the clothes — some people do this for a living in the gymnasia — said to St. John, “Ebion is inside.” 4 But John understood at once why the Holy Spirit’s guidance had impelled him to approach the bath, as I said — as a memorial to leave us the truth’s advice as to who Christ’s servants and apostles are, and the sons of that same truth, but what the vessels of the evil one are, and the gates of hell; though these cannot prevail against the rock, and God’s holy church which is founded on it. 5 Becoming disturbed at once and crying out John said in an aside audible to all — as a testimony in evidence of undefiled doctrine — “Let us get out of here in a hurry, brothers, or the bath may fall and bury us along with the person who is inside in the bathingroom, Ebion, because of his impiety.” 6 And no one need be surprised to hear that Ebion met John. The blessed John had a very long life, and survived till the reign of Trajan (= Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.3.4). 7 But anyone can see that all the apostles distinguished Ebion’s faith (from their own), and considered it foreign to the character of their preaching.
25.1 And how much do I have to say about their blasphemies of St. Paul? First, they say that he was Greek and of gentile parentage, but that he had later become a proselyte. 2 Why does he say “an Hebrew of Hebrews” of himself, then, “of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin, concerning the Law, a Pharisee, being more exceeding zealous of the traditions of my fathers” (= Philippians 3.5; Galatians 1.14)? 3 And he says elsewhere, “Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I” (= 2 Corinthians 11.22), and, “Circumcised the eighth day, brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, and an Hebrew of Hebrews” (= Philippians 3.5; Acts 22.3). 4 What frightful shrieks and snake’s hisses of the horrid serpents, and what deadly nonsense! Whose word shall I take? Ebion’s and his kind, or St. Peter’s, who says, “As my brother, Paul, hath written unto you, which things are deep and hard to be understood, which they who are unlearned and unstable pervert by their own ignorance” (= 2 Peter 3.15-16)? 5 And St. Paul himself testifies in his turn for Peter and says, “James, John and Cephas, who seemed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship” (= Galatians 2.9). For even if he said that he was from Tarsus, this is no excuse for the attitude of those who hunt for words <that they have invented> to their own ruin and the ruin of <their> converts. 6 For that matter, scripture also says that Barnabas, whose name was once Joseph but was changed to Barnabas, or “son of consolation,” was a Levite from Cyprus. And it is by no means true that, because he was a Cypriote, he was not descended from Levi. Just so, even though St. Paul came from Tarsus, he was not foreign to Israel. 7 For since many were dispersed when there was war during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes and at other times, both by being taken prisoner, and by <fleeing because of> a siege, those who had been taken captive remained in certain places, while everyone who had left for some such reason settled where he could. 8 And so the holy Jeremiah said of Israel because it was so often that they had to flee from their enemies, “And if you pass over to the Citians, there also you shall have no rest” (= Isaiah 23.12). 9 Now anyone can see that Citium means the island of Cyprus, for Cypriotes and Rhodians are Citians. Moreover, the Cypriote and Rhodian stock had settled in Macedonia where Alexander of Macedon came from. And this is why the Book of Maccabees says, “He came out of the land of the Citians” (= 1 Maccabees 1.1); Alexander of Macedon was of Citian descent.
10 But to find my place again after giving the information about them because of the chance remark (= 25.2), I am saying that many of the emigrants who had settled in the other countries had Israelite ancestry. 11 For they were called natives of each country besides. Thus Jethro’s daughters told their father how Moses had helped them when he drove the shepherds away and watered their sheep. And they went and told their father about it, and when he said, “How is it that ye are come so soon today?” 12 they answered, “An Egyptian delivered us from the shepherds, and also drew water for us and watered our flock.” And Jethro answered at once, “Why did you not bring him not hither, that he may eat bread” (= Exodus 2.18-20). 13 But who does not know that Moses was the son of Amram and Jochabed, Amram was the son of Kohath, Kohath of Levi, Levi of Jacob, Jacob of Isaac, and Isaac of Abraham? And the line of his noble stock and his descent had surely not died out because Moses is called “Egyptian.” 14 But these people whom Ebion has led astray have left the road and set their minds on many crooked ways and an uphill path.
26.1 Again, they are proud of having circumcision (= Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.26.2), and boast, if you please, that this is the sign and mark of the patriarchs and the righteous men who have lived by the Law; and they think that it makes them their equals. And indeed they want to give the proof of this from Christ himself, as Cerinthus did. 2 Echoing his silly argument they too say, “‘It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master.’ Christ was circumcised; you be circumcised too!” 3 <There is a lacuna at this point.> ... and that the seeds of the imposture may be discredited in every way. As the sea has a bridle, bars, and gates determined by God; as it has sand for a boundary, and for a commandment, “Hitherto you shall come, but no further; in yourself shall your waves be shattered” (= Job 38.11), <as> he says — so they will be exhausted within themselves. 4 But there the words about the boundary have been said by God for the ordering of the sea by God’s command. Here, however, wickedness, and the imposture that blinds the mind and perverts pious reason, has of itself raised waves against itself beforehand, as it were. It smashes against the harshnesses of its previous pronouncements with other waves of its own opinion, and is constantly being shattered within itself <and> destroying itself. 5 Or it is like a horrid serpent which savages itself and becomes its own destruction by bending round from the tail and devouring itself. 6 They say this used to be done by asps which had been sealed up in jars, and when each had destroyed the other the strongest and and fiercest survived. But when it was left alone and got hungry, certain Egyptian naturalists report that it would eat itself up, beginning with its own tail. Hence they also named this appropriately and from the Gorgon’s head called this too an “aspidogorgon.” 7 So the lamebrained Ebion and his circle have cut themselves up beforehand, and from the outset destroyed the very things of which they are proud. 8 For Christ did not circumcise himself, since he was born as a child. But glory to the merciful God! To avoid admitting the truth Ebion has anticipated himself, so that this even becomes a refutation for him. 9 If he said that Christ had come down from heaven as God and been circumcised by Mary on the eighth day, then — since, as God, he would be allowing this of his own consent — this would provide the tramp with the persuasive argument for circumcision. But since he brings in the idea that Christ, as a mere man, was generated by men, the child cannot be responsible, even though he was circumcised the eighth day. 10 For he did not circumcise himself, but was circumcised by men. Children do not circumcise themselves and are not responsible for their own circumcision; their parents are. They are unknowing, innocent babes, and neither do they know what their parents are doing to them.
27.1 But we say that he both came from heaven as God and remained in the Virgin Mary’s womb for the normal period of gestation, so as to take his incarnate humanity entirely from the virgin womb, and provide the dispensation in which he was also circumcised — truly, and not in appearance — on the eighth day. 2 “For he came to perfect the Law and prophets, not to destroy them” (= Matthew 5.17) — not to declare the Law foreign to himself, but a thing given by himself and continuing as a type until his coming. Thus the deficiencies in the Law would in turn be perfected in him and by him so that the types, come to spiritual perfection, might be preached in truth by him and his apostles — no longer as types but as truth. 3 For in this the saying of the Law was fulfilled, one which had stood until his time, and was abolished and yet brought to fulfillment in him — the words of Zipporah, “The blood of the circumcision of my child has ceased to flow” (= Exodus 4.25). 4 And she did not say, “I was circumcising my child” — the angel who was sent to her was not instituting circumcision, nor did he leave for fear of the blood of circumcision. But in token of the Child who would stanch the blood of circumcision <he was providing that she would say, “The blood of my child has ceased to flow”>. And on hearing this and having made the provision, he went away. 5 And which child’s blood, mark you, but the child’s of whom the prophet said, “They shall wish that they were burned with fire. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is also given” (= Isaiah 9.5-6), 6 truly referring to the child who was born to mean his true incarnation; but (saying), “Unto us a son is given,” to show that God’s Word from above and his Son himself had been given and become man by entering the womb — both human and divine, himself God, himself man; himself a Son given from above, himself a child (humanly) born. 7 With this child the blood of circumcision finally ceased to flow, as he says in the Gospel — when Greeks arrived to see him, approached Philip, and told him, “Show us Jesus,” and Philip told John (sic) and John told Jesus, “Certain Greeks desire to see you” (= John 12.20-22). 8 And the Lord replied at once, “Now has come the glory of God,” to show that physical circumcision, which had served for a while as a type, was passing away, but that uncircumcision in the flesh possesses a greater circumcision in spirit, since it sees Christ and has comprehended him in truth.
28.1 But if these people choose to say, “Then why was Christ circumcised?” — you misguided souls, I have already told you the reason he was circumcised! He was circumcised for many reasons. 2 First, to prove that <he had> really <taken> flesh, because of Manichaeus and those who say he been manifested (only) in appearance. 3 Then, to show that the body was not consubstantial with the Godhead as Apollinarius says, and that he had not brought it down from above as Valentinus says. 4 And to confirm the circumcision which he had given of old and which had served a legitimate purpose until his arrival; and so that the Jews would have no excuse. For if he had not been circumcised they could have said, “We cannot accept an uncircumcised Christ.”
5 And besides, after commanding Abraham to be circumcised — circumcised as a visible seal but in token of the true and invisible seal that he had been given — Christ needed to confirm this by being circumcised (himself). 6 For the visible circumcision was instituted because of Abraham’s doubt, when the holy and righteous man said, as though in doubt, “Shall a son be born unto him who is a hundred years old?” and, “Shall Sarah in her old age bear a son” (= Genesis 17.17)? And the Lord said at once, “Take me a ram three years old, and a goat, and a heifer” (= Genesis 15.9), and so on, and about sundown, when Abraham saw burning torches, an oven and the rest, 7 and after God reprovingly told him, for a safeguard, “Thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and they shall enslave them for four hundred years” (= Genesis 15.13), because of the doubt that had led Abraham to say, “Shall a son be born to him that is an hundred years old” (= Genesis 17.17)? he imposed physical circumcision on him and his, to keep them from forgetting the God of their fathers after they had been enslaved by idolatrous, unbelieving Egyptians. Thus they would see their circumcision, be reminded and feel abashed, and not deny him.
8 And this remained the case until Christ, and because of it he himself consented to be circumcised, and became true man; though he had come from above from the Father as the divine Word, and did not doff the Godhead but truly wore flesh. 9 He was circumcised in the possession of full humanity, making all his provisions in truth — so that the Jews would have no excuse, as I said, and the Manichaeans and others would be refuted and so that, being circumcised himself, he could with reason abolish circumcision and show that another kind was greater. It was not as though he had no circumcision and was making one up for himself. He had one, but showed that there is no further need of this circumcision, but of the greater one.
29.1 And that he was God as soon as he was born and not a mere man, the magi will plainly show. For after a period of two years — as they told Herod the time the star had risen, “two years ago at the most” (= Matthew 2.16) — they came to Jerusalem. And on learning by inquiry that Christ must be born in Bethlehem, these same magi left again with the star guiding them, and came from Jerusalem to Bethlehem. 2 And they went in and found him with his mother Mary, and fell down and worshiped him and offered their gifts. 3 Now if he is worshiped at the outset, the child who has been born is not a mere man at birth, but is God and does not become Christ thirty years later, and not after the baptism, but was born as Christ of a virgin, God and man. 4 And thus the angels hymn him at once with, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good-will among men” (= Luke 2.14), and give the shepherds tidings, “Unto you is born this day, in the city of David, Christ the Lord” (= Luke 2.11).
5 And this is not the only proof, you deluded Ebion! Moreover, when he has turned twelve he is found “sitting in the midst of the priests and elders, both questioning them and disputing with them” (= Luke 2.48), and “They were amazed at the gracious discourse which proceeded out of his mouth” (= Luke 4.22). 6 And it was not after his thirtieth year that he was doing this, allowing you to say he became Christ when the Spirit had come to him, but right at the age of twelve as I said, as it is written in the Gospel according to Luke.
7 But even earlier too, during his childhood, when Joseph and Mary went up to Jerusalem to worship at the feast and started back, Jesus stayed behind. And they looked for him on the road and among their relatives — Mary had relatives — and could not find him. 8 But she went back and found him, and said, “Son, what have You done to us? Behold, Your father and I have sought You sorrowing.” (Joseph was in the position of father to him, for he was not his actual father.) 9 Then the Lord answered her, “Why is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (= Luke 2.48-49), indicating that the Temple had been built in the name of God, that is, of his own Father. 10 Now if he knew the Temple and his Father from childhood, Jesus was not a mere man when he was born and he was not called Christ and Son (only) after his thirtieth year, after the form of the dove had come to him. Instead he was teaching, even at once and with full assurance, that he had to be in his Father’s house. 11 And for proof that Joseph was not his father but <was> in the position of father, hear how the same evangelist — the one who quotes Mary as saying, “Your father and I have sought You sorrowing” (= Luke 2.48) — writes in turn, “And Jesus began to be about thirty years of age, being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph” (= Luke 3.23). By saying, “As was supposed,” he showed that Jesus was not his son, but was supposed to be.
30.1 But the time is going to run short for my discussion in proof of the truth and in refutation of Ebion’s weakmindedness and his phony school of weakmindedness. 2 What does not make it plain that Joseph was not father to Jesus, but was held to be in the position of father? “Behold,” scripture says, “the Virgin shall conceive and bear a son” (= Isaiah 7.14); it did not say, “Behold, the wife!” 3 And again, it says in another place, “And the heifer shall bear, and they shall say, ‘It has not borne’ (= Apocryphon of Ezekiel fragment; Tertullian, On the Flesh of Christ 23.6; Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 7.16.94).” Some Manichaeans and Marcionites say that Jesus was not born — hence, “She shall bear, and they shall say, ‘She has not borne.’ For Mary has not given birth because of a man’s seed, and these people madly tell the lie that she has given birth because of a man’s seed. The heifer, then, has in truth borne God, in truth borne man. 4 And to show that the Virgin is called “heifer” and that what was left by this heifer was a purification of the defiled, hear the Law saying, “Take a fiery red heifer” (= Numbers 19.2), indicating the chosen vessel of Mary <by saying, “Take a heifer.” But it says, “fiery red,”> because of the fieriness of the Savior’s Godhead that was contained in the Virgin; for “God,” says scripture, “is a consuming fire” (= Deuteronomy 4.24). 5 And the Law says, “a fiery red heifer upon whose neck hath never come yoke” (= Numbers 19.2) to show that the Virgin, who does not know the yoke of marriage to a husband, is a “heifer.”
6 But why am I giving most of the arguments? As Isaiah, again, said in the person of the Lord, “Take unto thee a sheet cut from a great, new papyrus roll” (= Isaiah 8.1) — “sheet” because the Virgin is the product of a man’s seed but has been cut off from union with men and separated from natural human behavior. 7 For all human beings are generated by man’s seed. But while Christ’s generation had its humanity naturally from a woman, the Virgin Mary, it was cut off unnaturally from the human line of descent as Jacob says of him, “You came up, my son, from a shoot” (= Genesis 49.9). And he did not say, “You came up from a seed.” 8 And for this reason the holy Isaiah the prophet says, or rather, the Lord says to him, “Take a sheet (cut from) a papyrus roll” (= Isaiah 8.1), giving a symbol of sexual intercourse, the way in which men write their entire record. As it also says in the hundred and thirty-eighth psalm, “In Your book shall all be written; they shall be fashioned in a day, and no one is in them” (= Psalm 138.16), for it likened the womb to a book. 9 This is why David says, “Your eyes did see my unbaked substance” (= Psalm 138.16). That is, he said, “You knew me after I was conceived but before I was formed and even earlier, before my conception.” 31.1 But the Hebrew author makes the expression marvelously clear. He called the “unbaked substance” a “golem,” which means a grain or granule of flour — something which has not yet come together into a loaf and been kneaded, but is like a particle or fleck detached from a grain of wheat, or the tiny speck that is left by fine flour. 2 Thus he precisely represented a thing of the same shape, the particle that is detached from a man for insemination, and said — giving the expression in Greek translation — “the unbaked substance.” In other words, he said, “‘Your eyes did see’ the unformed substance still in the womb, or before the womb” — “God knows all things before they be” (= Susannah [1.]42), as scripture says. But what is meant by “book” and “sheet” is “womb.”
3 And he did not say, “Take a roll,” or, “Take papyrus,” but rather “a piece” — contrary to people’s characteristic custom — because of the likeness of the womb to a place for writing. He said, “new,” because of the newness and spotlessness of the Virgin. 4 And <“great,”> for great indeed is Mary, the holy Virgin, before God and man! How can we not call her “great,” when she contained the Uncontainable, whom heaven and earth cannot contain? Yet he, though uncontainable, was contained by his own choice and consent, willingly and not of necessity. Great, then, is the “sheet of papyrus,” and new! Great, because of the marvel; new, because virgin. 5 “And write on it,” he says, “with a man’s pen” (= Isaiah 8.1). And he did not say, “Someone will write on it with a man’s pen”; and he did not say, “A man will write on it” either, so that Ebion would find no opportunity. If he had said, “A man will write on it,” Ebion could say that a man, Joseph, sowed, and that Christ was generated from the seed of a man. 6 But he said, “Write!” to Isaiah about 753 years before the event, so that the truth would be apparent to everyone from the length of the interval — since no one could have sired the child who was to be born, seven hundred fifty-three years ahead of time. 7 Then did he say, “Write!” to the prophet for no good reason? No, but to show that the Holy Spirit, who was in the prophet, would himself truly become the agent of the incarnate Christ’s conception. For “the Holy Spirit shall come upon you,” and so on (= Luke 1.35), said the angel Gabriel to Mary. 8 But “with a man’s pen” means, “in the image of a man.” “For Christ Jesus is man, but he is mediator between God and men” (= 1 Timothy 2.5), since he came from on high as divine Word but from Mary as man, though not begotten of man’s seed.
9 And this is why the prophet says at once, “And he went in unto the prophetess” (= Isaiah 8.3), to show that Mary is a prophetess — not Ahaz’s wife as some mistakenly allege that this was said because of Hezekiah. 10 For Hezekiah had already been born eleven years before. For it was in the third year of his father’s reign that the prophecy, “Behold, the Virgin shall conceive” (= Isaiah 7.14), was delivered. And after the death of Ahaz, who reigned for fourteen years and (then) died, the scripture says at once, “And Hezekiah began to reign; twenty <and five> years old was he when he began to reign” (2 Kings 18.1-2). 11 So how could Hezekiah, (who reigned for twenty years after his father), be born during the reign of his father, who reigned for fourteen years, because of the prophecy that Emmanuel would be born of a virgin? Instead, will it not be evident to the wise that Hezekiah had already been born when the prophet delivered the oracle during the reign of Ahaz, Hezekiah’s father? 12 Especially since Ahaz’s wife was not a prophetess, as anyone can see. This is Mary, who said prophetically, “For from henceforth all generations will call me blessed” (= Luke 1.48), Mary, to whom Gabriel came with the tidings that the Spirit who had spoken in Isaiah would come upon her and she would bear a son, our Lord Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit — and not by the seed of a man, as these people foolishly and erroneously blaspheme. 32,1 But both the lame-brain’s Sabbath observance and circumcision, and the daily baptisms of which he makes use, stand discredited; for Jesus made a point of healing mostly on the Sabbath. And it was not just that he heals, but that he heals in two ways. 2 He directs the persons he has healed to pick their mattresses up and walk. Moreover, on the Sabbath he made clay and anointed the blind man’s eyes, but the making of clay is work. 3 Hence, since the apostles had learned from their association with him and from his teaching that the Sabbath had been abolished, they plucked ears of grain on the Sabbath, rubbed them in their hands and ate them. But it was a “second Sabbath after the first” as the Gospel indicates. 4 For the Law designated various Sabbaths. The Sabbath proper, which recurs week by week. And the one that is a Sabbath because of the occurrences every month of the new moons and of the successive feasts such as the days of Tabernacles, and of Passover when they sacrifice the lamb and then eat unleavened bread. Further, when they keep the single, annual fast which is called the “Greater Fast,” and the other, which they call the “Lesser.” 5 For when these days occur, on the second day of the week or the third or the fourth, this too is designated a Sabbath for them. 6 Hence, after the Day of Unleavened Bread which had come and been designated a Sabbath, on the Sabbath proper following the Day of Unleavened Bread which was considered a Sabbath, the disciples were found going through the standing grain, plucking the ears, and rubbing and eating them. 7 They were proving that the prohibition which is fixed on the Sabbath has been relaxed at the coming of the Great Sabbath — Christ, who gave us rest from our sins, and of whom Noah was a type. On seeing him at birth his father named him Noah by prophecy, and said, “He will give us rest from our sins or deeds of cruelty” (= Genesis 5.29). 8 But Noah did not give any rest from sins. Lamech made the prophecy of Christ, whose meaning is truly Noah — “Noah” means “rest” — and “Sebeth,” which means “rest and Sabbath.” 9 In other words, “Christ,” in whom the Father and his Holy Spirit have rested, and all holy men have found rest in him by desisting from sins. He is the great, eternal Sabbath, of which the lesser, temporary Sabbath was a type. This served until his coming, had been prescribed by him in the Law, and was abrogated, and fulfilled in him, in the Gospel. For this is what he meant when he said, “The Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath day” (= Matthew 12.8). 10 Hence the disciples broke the Sabbath with confidence — since even the priests before them used to break it in the Temple by sacrificing and offering sacrifices to God, to keep the continual sacrifice that was offered every day from coming to an end. And not only did the priests themselves prophesy the Sabbath’s abrogation by not remaining idle; besides, circumcision itself broke the Sabbath. 32,11 For when a child was born on the Sabbath as one often was, there was an abrogation of the Sabbath and of circumcision. Thus the dissolution of both was predicted. Obviously, if the ones who were to circumcise the child which had been born on the Sabbath chose to be exact about the eighth day, and they found that it fell on Sabbath and still circumcised the child, they performed a work and broke the Sabbath. 12 But if they put it off so as not to break the Sabbath, they then performed the circumcision on the ninth day, and violated circumcision itself, and its mandatory term of eight days.
33.1 Nor was the first circumcision final. It was given for a sign, as a reminder of things to come, and because of the holy Abraham’s doubts when, as I said, he was reproved for them — and as a type of the Greater Circumcision, which fulfills all things equally in those who are held worthy. 2 If the previous circumcision had been for sanctification and the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven, Sarah would have been deprived of the kingdom — and Rebecca, Leah, Rachel, Jochabed, Miriam the sister of Moses, and all the holy women. They could not have inherited the kingdom of heaven, since they could not have the circumcision of Abraham which, as the Ebionites tell it, God had given him. But if these have not been deprived of the kingdom of heaven though they have no circumcision, the physical circumcision of today is of no force. 33,3 But why does Ebion boast of circumcision, when both the idolaters and the Egyptian priests have it? Moreover the Saracens, also called Ishmaelites, have circumcision, and the Samaritans, Idumaeans and Homerites. Most of these do this, not because of a law, but from some senseless custom.
4 And I will simply use a lot of time if I spend it on Ebion’s nonsense, because of the way he pointlessly relies on the wording of the Savior’s, “It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master” (= Matthew 10.25), for his boast that his own circumcision derives from Christ’s — which was cut off altogether in him and abolished through him! 5 Still, since the oaf takes this saying of the imitation of Christ, I do not mind showing that it was not said for this reason. 6 The Lord explains immediately that he did not say it for this reason but because of persecutions and the way the Jews insulted him, and he says, “If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have hated me, they will hate you also” (= John 15.21). “Do you not call me teacher and Lord? And you say well, for so I am” (= John 13.13). “If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more shall they call them of his household” (= Matthew 10.25)? 7 And, “The servant cannot be above his lord, nor the disciple above his teacher. But let the disciple be perfect in all things, as his teacher” (= Matthew 10.24; Luke 6.40) — in other words, ready for persecution, defamation, and whatever may be inflicted on him. 8 Hence St. Paul too said, “Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ” (= 1 Corinthians 1.11). And it was not that he imitated his Master in a wrong way; he did not say, “I am God,” or, “I am the Son of God,” or, “I am the divine Word.” For he says, “I am the least of the apostles,” and, “He was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time” (= 1 Corinthians 15.8-9).
34.1 But if you take this text of the imitation of Christ, Ebion, and want to be as your teacher — or rather, as your Lord — in the circumcision you have such silly ideas <about>, stop being like him in circumcision! This will do you no good. The Lord has made it obsolete, as I have shown plainly through many testimonies. 2 For he came and fulfilled it by giving us the perfect circumcision of his mysteries — not of one member only, but by sealing the entire body and cutting it off from sin. And not by saving one portion of the people, males alone, but by truly sealing the entire Christian people, men and women both, and <leading> them ungrudgingly <on> to the inheritance of the kingdom of heaven. And not by providing the seal defectively in weakness, to only one class, males alone; but by revealing the kingdom of heaven to an entire people through his seal, his commandments, and his good teaching.
3 But if you want to be like the Lord, Ebion — that is, if you want to be like the teacher — you are very wrong. Stop mimicking him in circumcision. Call Lazarus from the grave, or raise another dead man; cleanse lepers or grant sight to the blind, or heal a paralytic from birth, if you can! But you cannot because you are doing the opposite, imprisoned by unbelief, chains of flesh, and insatiable demands of law. 4 Now if you cannot do even these things — which you cannot, because of your wrong belief — I deny <that you are> like Christ. You cannot become like God, for you are a mortal man, and a deluded one. Nor can you call on Christ’s name for miracles — and even if you do, you do not succeed. 5 But if you ever did manage to make a paralytic stand, since he had gotten up by the name of Jesus he could get understanding from him too, so as not to tolerate your Sabbath observance but <be able> to learn, from the name of his Healer, “Take up your bed and go unto your house” on the Sabbath day (= Mark 2.11; John 3.8-16).
6 But I have already said how each of them palms off something different about Christ. Ebion himself did at one time, by saying that he originated as a mere man from sexual intercourse. But at other times the Ebionites who derive from him say that Christ has a heavenly power from God, “the Son,” and that the Son puts Adam on and takes him off when convenient. By the power of God I have refuted their various opinions. 7 But why should I spend any further time on tidal beaches by the sea, which are flooded here and dry there, and fish are often stranded on some of them and injure people’s feet when they cross their high parts because of there being poisonous ones among them — I mean sting-rays, sea-snakes, sharks and sea eels — as I have just now said. 8 I shall leave this spot in its turn, thanking God that I have also put this sect to flight, not half-heartedly but even with a painstaking refutation. 9 But let us address ourselves to others next, beloved, praying for God’s help, that he himself may bring our undertakings to fulfillment through me.