The gospel of the Nazoraeans.

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 Nazoraeans (or Nazarenes, or Nazoreans) and which do not. This page simply takes the statement at face value. Refer also to my consolidated page on the Jewish-Christian gospels.

Epiphanius.

Late century IV.

From Epiphanius, Panarion 29.9 (de Santos 14; Lagrange 19):

Εχουσι [οι Ναζωραιοι] δε το κατα Ματθαιον ευαγγελιον πληρεστατον Εβραιστι. παρ αυτοις γαρ σαφως τουτο, καθως εξ αρχης εγραφη Εβραικοις γραμμασιν, ετι σωζεται. ουκ οικα δε ει και τας γενεαλογιας τας απο του Αβρααμ αχρι Χριστου περιειλον.

And [the Nazoraeans] have the gospel according to Matthew very complete in Hebrew. For among them this is clearly still preserved, just as it was written from the beginning in Hebraic letters. But I do not know if it has taken away the genealogies from Abraham to Christ.

Jerome.

Early century V.

From Jerome, On Isaiah, preface to book 18 (de Santos 29):

Cum enim apostoli eum putarent spiritum, vel iuxta evangelium quod Hebraeorum lectitant Nazaraei incorporale daemonium, dixit eis: Quid turbati estis, et cogitationes ascendunt in corda vestra? videte manus meas et pedes, quia ipse ego sum. palpate et cernite, quia spiritus carnem et ossa non habet sicut me videtis habere. et cum hoc dixisset, ostendit eis manus et pedes.

Since indeed the apostles supposed him a spirit, or according to the gospel which the Nazaraeans read of the Hebrews an incorporeal daemon, he says to them: Why are you troubled, and cogitations ascend in your hearts? See my hands and feet, that it is I myself. Handle and discern, because a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have. And, when he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.

From Jerome, On Isaiah 4, commentary on Isaiah 11.2 (de Santos 28):

Sed iuxta evangelium quod Hebrao sermone conscriptum legunt Nazaraei: Descendet super eum omnis fons spiritus sancti.... porro in evangelio cuius supra fecimus mentionem haec scripta reperimus: Factum est autem cum ascendisset dominus de aqua descendit fons omnis spiritus sancti, et requievit super eum, et dixit illi: Fili mi, in omnibus prophetis exspectabam te, ut venires, et requiescerem in te. tu es enim requies mea. tu es filius meus primogenitus, qui regnas in sempiternum.

But according to the gospel which the Nazaraeans read, written up in Hebrew speech: The whole fount of the holy spirit shall descend over him.... Further on in the gospel of which we made mention above we find these things written: But it happened that, when the Lord ascended from the water, the whole fount of the holy spirit descended, and rested over him, and said to him: My son, in all the prophets I was expecting you, that you should come, and I might rest in you. You indeed are my rest. You are my first-born son, who reigns in eternity.

From Jerome, On Ezekiel 6, commentary on Ezekiel 18.7 (de Santos 30):

Et in evangelio quod iuxta Hebraeos Nazaraei legere consueverunt, inter maxima ponitur crimina qui fratris sui spiritum contristaverit.

And in the gospel which the Nazaraeans are accustomed to read, according to the Hebrews, it places among the maximal crimes one who has caused sorrow to the spirit of his brother.

From his commentary on Ezekiel 16.13:

In evangelio quoque Hebraeorum, quod lectitant Nazaraei, salvator inducitur loquens: Modo me arripuit mater mea, spiritus sanctus.

In the gospel of the Hebrews also, which the Nazaraeans read, the savior is introduced saying: Just now my mother, the holy spirit, snatched me [away].

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.

From Jerome, On Matthew 4, commentary on Matthew 23.35 (de Santos 24):

In evangelio quo utuntur Nazaraeni, pro filio Barachiae, filium Ioiadae reperimus scriptum.

In the gospel which the Nazaraeans use, instead of the son of Berechiah, we find the son of Jehoiada.

Theodoretus.

Century V.

From Theodoretus, Compendium of Heretical Fables 2.1-2, writing of the Nazoraeans (de Santos 35-37; Lagrange 21-23):

Μονον δε το καθ Εβραιους ευαγγελιον δεχονται, τον δε αποστολον αποστατην καλουσι.

But they accept only the gospel according to the Hebrews, and the apostle they call apostate.

Ευαγγελιω δε τω κατα Ματθαιον κεχρηνται μονω.

But they use only the gospel according to Matthew.

Οι δε Ναζωραιοι Ιουδαιοι εισι, τον Χριστον τιμωντες ως ανθρωπον δικαιον, και τω καλουμενω κατα Πετρον ευαγγελιω κεχρημενοι.

But the Nazoraeans are Jews, honoring Christ as a just man, and using the gospel called according to Peter.

Haimo of Auxerre.

Century IX.

From Haimo, commentary II, On Isaiah 53.12, writing of the words of Jesus on the cross: Father, forgive them (de Santos 40):

Sicut enim in evangelio Nazarenorum habetur, ad hanc vocem domini multa milia Iudaeorum adstantium circa crucem crediderunt.

As it has it in the gospel of the Nazarenes, at this voice of the Lord many thousands of Jews standing around the cross came to faith.

Petrus de Riga.

In a copy of the Bible known as the Aurora of Petrus de Riga, century XIII, one of the marginal notes says regarding the temple incident:

In libris evangeliorum quibus utuntur Nazareni legitur quod radii prodierunt ex oculis eius, quibus territi fugabantur.

In the books of the gospels that the Nazarenes use it is read that rays issued from his eyes, by which terrified they were put to flight.

Confer Jerome, commentary on Matthew 21.15:

Igneum enim quiddam atque sidereum radiabat ex oculis eius, et divinitatis maiestas lucebat in facie.

For a certain fiery and starry [light] radiated from his eyes, and the majesty of divinity shone in his face.

The History of the Passion of the Lord.

Century XIV.

Extant in a codex of the fourteenth century. Note that evangelium is sometimes spelled ewangelium, a peculiarity that I have in my usual way corrected below as e[v]angelium.

From the History of the Passion of the Lord, folio 25 verso, concerning the footwashing for the disciples:

Et sicut dicitur in evangelio Nazareorum, singulorum pedes osculatus fuit.

And, just as it is said in the gospel of the Nazaraeans, he had kissed the feet of each.

From the History of the Passion of the Lord, folio 32 recto, concerning the agony in Gethsemane:

Apparuit autem ei angelus de celo confortans eum. qualiter autem angelus Christum in agonia sue oracionis confortaverit dicitur in evangelio Nazareorum.

But there appeared to him an angel from heaven comforting him. But the angel comforted Christ in his agony of prayer, as it is said in the gospel of the Nazaraeans.

From the History of the Passion of the Lord, folio 35 recto, concerning the Peter and John in the court of the high priest:

In evangelio Nazareorum ponitur causa unde Iohannes notus fuerit pontifici. quia cum fuerit filius pauperis piscatoris Zebedei, sepe portaverat pisces ad curias pontificum.

In the gospel of the Nazaraeans the reason is given for John having been known to the priest. It was because when he was the son of the poor fisherman Zebedee he often ported fishes to the curias of the priests.

From the History of the Passion of the Lord, folio 44 recto, concerning the scourging of the Lord:

Legitur in e[v]angelio Nazareorum quod ludei appreciaverunt quattuor milites ad flagellandum dominum tam dure usque ad effusionem sanguinis de toto corpore. eosdem eciam milites appreciaverunt quod ipsum crucifix[ere]nt sicut dicitur Io{hannes} 19.

It is read in the gospel of the Nazaraeans that the gladiators appropriated four soldiers to scourge the Lord hard enough to [cause] an effusion of blood from his entire body. They appropriated those same soldiers still to crucify him just as it is said in Jo{hn} 19.

From the History of the Passion of the Lord, folio 55 recto, concerning the words of forgiveness from the cross:

Pater ignosce eis, non enim sciunt quid faciunt. et nota quod in e[v]angelio Nazareorum legitur quod ad virtuosam istam Christi oracionem VIII milia conversi sunt postea ad fidem. scilicet tria milia in die pentecostes.

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do. And note that in the gospel of the Nazaraeans it is read that at this virtuous prayer of Christ eight thousand were afterward converted to the faith. There were to be sure three thousand on the day of Pentecost.

From the History of the Passion of the Lord, folio 65 recto, concerning the signs at the death of the Lord:

Item in e[v]angelio Nazareorum legitur superliminare templi infinite magnitudinis in morte Christi scissum. idem dicit Iosephus et addit quod audite sunt voces horribiles in aere dicentes: Transeamus ab hiis sedibus.

Likewise in the gospel of the Nazaraeans it is read that a lintel of the temple of infinite magnitude was broken at the death of Christ. Josephus says the same thing and adds that horrible voices were heard in the air saying: Let us leave these regions.