The gospel of the Ebionites.

One of the ancient Jewish gospels.

I make no attempt here to critically sort out which of the following patristic references properly pertain to the gospel of the Ebionites and which do not. This page simply takes the statement at face value. Refer also to my consolidated page on the Jewish-Christian gospels.


Late century II.

From Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.26.2 (de Santos 1; Lagrange 8):

[Ebionaei] solo autem eo quod est secundum Matthaeum evangelio utuntur, et apostolum Paulum recusant, apostatam eum legis dicentes.

[The Ebionites], however, use only that gospel which is according to Matthew, and renounce the apostle Paul, calling him an apostate from the law.

From Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3.11.7 (de Santos 2):

Ebionaei etenim, eo evangelio quod est secundum Matthaeum solo utentes, ex illo ipso convincuntur, non recte praesumentes de domino.

The Ebionites indeed, using only that gospel which is according to Matthew, are convinced by that alone, not presuming rightly about the Lord.


Early century III.

From Origen, Homily on Luke 1.1:

Ecclesia quator habet evangelia, haeresis plurima, e quibus quoddam scribitur secundum Aegyptios, aliud iuxta duodecim apostolos.* ausus fuit et Basilides scribere evangelium et suo illud nomine titulare.

* Note that the Greek version has only το επιγεγραμμενον των δωδεκα ευαγγελιον (the gospel entitled of the twelve), omitting the apostles.

The church has four gospels, heresy many, from among which a certain one is written according to the Egyptians, another according to the twelve apostles. Even Basilides dared to write a gospel and to entitle it by his own name.

Clementine literature.

Early century III.

Not one of these three pseudo-Clementine quotations is secure as having come from the Ebionite gospel, and Aurelio de Santos Otero includes each with a question mark (?) as a signal of the doubt attached to them.

From the Pseudo-Clementines, Homilies 3.51 (de Santos 8):

Το δε ειπειν αυτον· Ουκ ηλθον καταλυσαι τον νομον, και φαινεσθαι αυτον καταλυοντα, σημαινοντος ην οτι α κατελυσεν ουκ ην του νομου.

And when he said: I did not come to abolish the law, and it appeared that he himself did abolish it, it was a sign that the things which he abolished were not of the law.

From the Pseudo-Clementines, Homilies 11.35 (de Santos 9):

Ου χαριν ο αποστειλας ημας εφη· Πολλοι ελευσονται προς με εν ενδυμασι προβατων, εσωθεν δε εισι λυκοι αρπαγες· απο των καρπων αυτων επιγνωσεσθε αυτους.

By which grace the one who sent us said: Many shall come to me in clothing of sheep, but within are ravenous wolves. From their fruits you shall know them.

From the Pseudo-Clementines, Recognitions 2.29 (de Santos 10):

E contrario vero eos qui in divitiis ac luxuria versabantur lugebat, qui nihil pauperibus largiebantur, arguens eos rationem reddituros quia proximos suos quos diligere sicut seipsos debuerant, ne in egestate quidem positos miserati sunt.

To the contrary, truly, he lamented those who were engaged in riches and luxuries, who handed out nothing to the poor, declaring that they would give back a reason as to those nearby them, to whom they owed it to love as themselves, nor indeed were miserable that they were placed in want.


Late century IV.

From Epiphanius, Panarion 30.3, writing of the Ebionites (de Santos 1; Lagrange 1):

Και δεχονται μεν και αυτοι το κατα Ματθαιον ευαγγελιον. τουτω γαρ και αυτοι, ως και οι κατα Κηρινθον και Μηρινθον, χρωνται μονω. καλουσι δε αυτο κατα Εβραιους, ως τα αληθη εστιν ειπειν οτι Ματθαιος μονος Εβραιστι και Εβραικοις γραμμασιν εν τη καινη διαθηκη εποιησατο την του ευαγγελιου εκθεσιν τε και κηρυγμα.

And they themselves also accept the gospel according to Matthew. For this they use alone, as also those from Cerinthus and Merinthus. But they call it according to the Hebrews, since it is true to say that Matthew alone in the New Testament made the layout and preaching of the gospel in Hebrew, and in Hebraic letters.

From Epiphanius, Panarion 30.13, writing of the Ebionites (de Santos 2-5; Lagrange 2-4):

Εν τω γουν παρ αυτοις ευαγγελιω κατα Ματθαιον ονομαζομενω, ουχ ολω δε πληρεστατω, αλλα νενοθευμενω και ηκρωτηριασμενω, Εβραικον δε τουτο καλουσιν, εμφερεται, οτι Εγενετο τις ανηρ ονοματι Ιησους, και αυτος ως ετων τριακοντα, ος εξελεξατο ημας. και ελθων εις Καφαρναουμ εισηλθεν εις την οικιαν Σιμωνος του επικληθεντος Πετρου, και ανοιξας το στομα αυτου ειπε· Παρερχομενος παρα την λιμνην Τιβεριαδος εξελεξαμην Ιωαννην και Ιακωβον υιους Ζεβεδαιου, και Σιμωνα, και Ανδρεαν, και Θαδδαιον, και Σιμωνα τον Ζηλωτην, και Ιουδαν τον Ισκαριωτην, και σε τον Ματθαιον καθεζομενον επι του τελωνιου εκαλεσα, και ηκολουθησας μοι. υμας ουν βουλομαι ειναι δεκαδυο αποστολους, εις μαρτυριον του Ισραηλ.

In the gospel among them named according to Matthew, but not all very complete, but illegitimized and adulterated, but they call it the Hebraic [gospel], it states: There was a certain man, Jesus by name, and he himself was about thirty years old, who elected us. And having come to Capernaum he went into the house of Simon, nicknamed Peter, and he opened his mouth and said: While passing by the lake of Tiberias I elected John and Jacob, the sons of Zebedee, and Simon, and Andrew, and Thaddeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, and you, Matthew, I called while you were sitting in the toll-booth, and you followed me. I wish, therefore, for you to be twelve apostles as a testimony of Israel.

Και εγενετο Ιωαννης βαπτιζων, και εξηλθον προς αυτον Φαρισαιοι και εβαπτισθησαν, και πασα Ιεροσολυμα. Και ειχεν ο Ιωαννης ενδυμα απο τριχων καμηλου, και ζωνην δερματινην περι την οσφυν αυτου· και το βρωμα αυτου, φησι, μελι αγριον, ου η γευσις ην του μαννα, ως εγκρις εν ελαιω· ινα δηθεν μεταστρεψωσι τον της αληθειας λογον εις ψευδος, και αντι ακριδων ποιησωσιν εγκριδας εν μελιτι.

And John was baptizing, and Pharisees went out to him and were baptized, and all Jerusalem. And John had clothing from the hairs of a camel, and a skin belt around his loin. And his food, it says, was wild honey whose taste was of manna, as cake in oil. So that clearly they exchange the word of truth for a falsehood, and instead of locusts they make it cakes in honey.

Η δε αρχη του παρ αυτοις ευαγγελιου εχει οτι Εγενετο εν ταις ημεραις Ηρωδου του βασιλεως της Ιουδαιας ηλθεν Ιωαννης βαπτιζων βαπτισμα μετανοιας εν τω Ιορδανη ποταμω, ος ελεγετο ειναι εκ γενους Ααρων του ιερεως, παις Ζαχαριου και Ελισαβετ, και εξηρχοντο προς αυτον παντες.

And the beginning of the gospel among them has: It happened in the days of Herod the king of Judea that John came baptizing a baptism of repentance in the Jordan river, who was said to be from the line of Aaron the priest, the son of Zacharias and Elizabeth, and all were going out to him.

Και μετα το ειπειν πολλα επιφερει οτι, Του λαου βαπτισθεντος, ηλθε και Ιησους και εβαπτισθη υπο του Ιωαννου. και ως ανηλθεν απο του υδατος ηνοιγησαν οι ουρανοι, και ειδε το πνευμα του θεου το αγιον εν ειδει περιστερας κατελθουσης και εισελθουσης εις αυτον. και φωνη εγενετο εκ του ουρανου, λεγουσα· Συ μου ει ο υιος ο αγαθητος· εν σοι ηυδοκησα· και παλιν· Εγω σημερον γεγεννηκα σε. Και ευθυς περιελαμψε τον τοπον φως μεγα, ο ιδων, φησιν, ο Ιωαννης λεγει αυτω· Συ τις ει, κυριε; Και παλιν φωνη εξ ουρανου προς αυτον· Ουτος εστιν ο υιος μου ο αγαπητος, εφ ον ηυδοκησα. και τοτε, φησιν, ο Ιωαννης προσπεσων αυτω ελεγε· Δεομαι σου, κυριε, συ με βαπτισον. ο δε εκωλυεν αυτω, λεγων· Αφες, οτι ουτως εστι πρεπον πληρωθηναι παντα.

And after it says many things it states: When the people were being baptized, Jesus came too and was baptized by John. And as he came up out of the water the heavens opened, and he saw the holy spirit of God in the image of a dove coming down and coming onto him. And there was a voice from heaven saying: You are my beloved son. With you I am pleased. And again: Today I have begotten you. And immediately a great light illuminated the place. When John saw this, it says, he said to him: Who are you, Lord? And again there was a voice from heaven to him: This is my beloved son, with whom I am pleased. And then, it says, John walked to him and said: I request you, Lord, you baptize me. But he prevented him, saying: Allow it, since thus is it proper to fulfill all things.

From Epiphanius, Panarion 30.14, writing of the Ebionites:

Παλιν δε αρνουνται ειναι αυτον ανθρωπον, δηθεν απο του λογου ου ειρηκεν ο σωτηρ εν τω αναγγεληναι αυτω οτι, Ιδου, η μητηρ σου και οι αδελφοι σου εξω εστηκασιν, οτι, Τις μου εστι μητηρ και αδελφοι; και εκτεινας την χειρα επι τους μαθητας εφη· Ουτοι εισιν οι αδελφοι μου και η μητηρ και αδελφαι, οι ποιουντες τα θεληματα του πατρος μου.

But again they deny that he was a man, apparently from the word which the savior spoke when it was announced to him: Behold, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, that is: Who is my mother and brothers? And he stretched out his hand over the disciples and said: These who my brothers and mother and sisters, those who are doing the wishes of my father.

From Epiphanius, Panarion 30.16, writing of the Ebionites (de Santos 6; Lagrange 5):

Ου φασκουσι δε εκ θεου πατρος αυτον γεγεννησθαι, αλλα εκτισθαι, ως ενα των αρχαγγελων, μειζονα δε αυτων οντα, αυτον δε κυριευειν και αγγελων και παντων υπο του παντοκρατορος πεποιημενων, και ελθοντα και υφηγησαμενον, ως το παρ αυτοις κατα Εβραιους ευαγγελιον καλουμενον περιεχει, οτι Ηλθον καταλυσαι τας θυσιας, και εαν μη παυσησθε του θυειν, ου παυσεται αφ υμων η οργη.

And they say that he was not engendered from God the father, but created, as one of the archangels, but being greater than they are, and that he is Lord both of angels and of all things made by the creator of all, and that he came also to declare, as the gospel among them called according to the Hebrews has: I came to abolish the sacrifices, and, if you do not cease to sacrifice, the wrath will not cease from you.

From Epiphanius, Panarion 30.22, writings of the Ebionites (de Santos 7; Lagrange 6):

Αυτοι δε αφανισαντες αφ εαυτων την της αληθειας ακολουθιαν ηλλαξαν το ρητον, οπερ εστι πασι φανερον εκ των συνεζευγμενων λεξεων, και εποιησαν τους μαθητας μεν λεγοντας· Που θελεις ετοιμασωμεν σοι το πασχα φαγειν; και αυτον δηθεν λεγοντα· Μη επιθυμια επεθυμησα κρεας τουτο το πασχα φαγειν μεθ υμων;

And they themselves, having removed from themselves the following of the truth, changed the word, which is apparent to all from the words in context, and made the disciples to say: Where do you wish us to prepare the Passover for you to eat? And they made him to clearly say: It is not with desire that I have desired to eat meat, this Passover, with you, is it?


Early century V.

From Jerome, On Matthew 2, commentary on Matthew 12.13 (de Santos 23):

In evangelio quo utuntur Nazaraeni et Ebionitae, quod nuper in Graecum de Hebraeo sermone transtulimus, et quod vocatur a plerisque Matthaei authenticum, homo iste qui aridam habet manum caementarius scribitur istius modi vocibus auxilium precans: Caementarius eram, manibus victum quaeritans. precor te, Iesu, ut mihi restituas sanitatem, ne turpiter mendicem cibos.

In the gospel which the Nazaraeans and Ebionites use, which we recently translated from Hebrew speech into Greek, and which is called by many the authentic [gospel] of Matthew, this man who has the dry hand is written to be a mason, praying for help with words of this kind: I was a mason, seeking a livelihood with my hands. I pray, Jesus, that you restore health to me, lest I disgracefully beg food.