B'nai-Amen & Ebionites
The Ebionites were a branch of "Jewish Christianity" mentioned by several "Christian" writers. They made use of the original Aramaic Hebrew Gospel written by Saint Matthew. This text was sometimes referred to as the Gospel of the Hebrews, or According to the Hebrews. (This original edition was different than the later altered and translated version adopted by Rome, now known as Matthew.) The B'nai-Amen accept this Ebionite gospel as the True Gospel before being corrupted and rewritten as the New Testament Matthew by Rome.
Epiphanius, pretending or believing that he had the original version, accused the Ebionites, and other Hebrew speaking disciples, of changing this Gospel of Matthew to reflect their own vegetarian and Essene views. The truth is that Epiphanius' own "Christian" church had been the one to change the text to reflect its own meat eating and non Essene approach to religion. The quotes preserved in his Panarion, despite all his railing to the contrary, are the original words spoken of by Yeshua and faithfully recorded in Aramaic by Matthew and others.
The Gospel of the Ebionites
In the Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, we read:
In the Gospel that is in general use among them (Ebionites) which is called "according to Matthew", which however is not whole and complete but forged and mutilated - they call it the Hebrew's Gospel - it is reported:
There appeared a certain man named Jesus of about thirty years of age, who chose us. And when he came to Capernaum, he entered into the house of Simon whose surname is Peter, and opened his mouth and said: "As I passed the Lake of Tiberias, I chose John and James the sons of Zebedee, and Simon and Andrew and Thaddeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the Iscariot, and you, Matthew, I called as you sat at the receipt of custom, and you followed me. You, therefore, I will to be twelve apostles for a testimony unto Israel." (Epiphanius, Panarion 30.13.2-3)
It came to pass that John was baptizing; and there went out to him Pharisees and were baptized, and all of Jerusalem. And John had a garment of camel's hair and a leather girdle about his loins, and his food, as it is said, was wild honey, the taste if which was that of manna, as a cake dipped in oil. Thus they were resolved to pervert the truth into a lie and put a cake in the place of locusts. (Epiphanius, Panarion 30.13.4-5)
And the beginning of their Gospel runs:It came to pass in the days of Herod the king of Judaea, when Caiaphas was high priest, that there came one, John by name, and baptized with the baptism of repentance in the river Jordan. It was said of him that he was of the lineage of Aaron the priest, a son of Zacharias and Elisabeth : and all went out to him. (Epiphanius, Panarion 30.13.6)And after much has been recorded it proceeds:When the people were baptized, Jesus also came and was baptized by John. And as he came up from the water, the heavens was opened and he saw the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove that descended and entered into him. And a voice sounded from Heaven that said: "You are my beloved Son, in you I am well pleased. " And again: " I have this day begotten you". And immediately a great light shone round about the place. When John saw this, it is said, he said unto him : "Who are you, Lord?" And again a voice from Heaven rang out to him: "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." And then, it is said, John fell down before him and said: "I beseech you, Lord, baptize me." But he prevented him and said: "Suffer it; for thus it is fitting that everything should be fulfilled." (Epiphanius, Panarion 30.13.7-8)Moreover, they deny that he was a man, evidently on the ground of the word which the Savior spoke when it was reported to him:"Behold, your mother and your brethren stand without." namely: "Who is my mother and who are my brethren?" And he stretched his hand towards his disciples and said: "These are my brethren and mother and sisters, who do the will of my Father."They say that Christ was not begotten of God the Father, but created as one of the archangels ... that he rules over the angels and all the creatures of the Almighty, and that he came and declared, as their Gospel, which is called Gospel according to Matthew, or Gospel According to the Hebrews?,
(Epiphanius, Panarion 30.14.5)
reports:"I am come to do away with sacrifices, and if you cease not sacrificing, the wrath of God will not cease from you."But they abandon the proper sequence of the words and pervert the saying,
(Epiphanius, Panarion 30.16,4-5)
as is plain to all from the readings attached, and have let the disciples say:"Where will you have us prepare the passover?" And him to answer to that: "Do I desire with desire at this Passover to eat flesh with you?"
(Epiphanius, Panarion 30.22.4)
Most scholars concur that the Clementine Homilees (and Recognition's of Clement 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10) contain large Ebionite interpolated additions. Within this writing we learn of a different Peter than the one presented in the gentile "Book of Acts". In the Clementine Homilees Peter expounds many profound principles and doctrines of immense worth to modern Essenes and B'nai-Amen. They also contain information of the daily lifestyle and diet of early Nasarene leaders such as Peter. We learn that Peter bathes in flowing water every morning before dawn and that he eats only wheat, olives, fruits and vegetables. We also learn of the strict Nasarene rules governing association and eating with meat eaters. All doctrines and principles espoused by these Clementine works are received by the Essene Church of the B'nai-Amen.
Ancient Writers on the Ebionites
"Those who are called Ebionites 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 endeavor 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." (Irenaeus, Adversus haereses (Against Heresies), 180 A.D.)
God, then, was made man, and the Lord did Himself save us, giving us the token of the Virgin. But not as some allege, among those now presuming to expound the Scripture, [thus:] "Behold, a young woman shall conceive, and bring forth a son," as Theodotion the Ephesian has interpreted, and Aquila of Pontus, both Jewish proselytes. The Ebionites, following these, assert that He was begotten by Joseph; thus destroying, as far as in them lies, such a marvelous dispensation of God, and setting aside the testimony of the prophets which proceeded from God. (Irenaeus, Adversus haereses (Against Heresies), 180 A.D.)
He will judge also the Ebionites; [for] how can they be saved unless it was God who wrought out their salvation upon earth? Or how shall man pass into God, unless God has [first] passed into man? And how shall he (man) escape from the generation subject to death, if not by means of a new generation, given in a wonderful and unexpected manner (but as a sign of salvation) by God [I mean] that regeneration which flows from the virgin through faith? Or how shall they receive adoption from God if they remain in this [kind of] generation, which is naturally possessed by man in this world? And how could He (Christ) have been greater than Solomon, or greater than Jonah, or have been the Lord of David, who was of the same substance as they were? How, too, could He have subdued him who was stronger than men, who had not only overcome man, but also retained him under his power, and conquered him who had conquered, while he set free mankind who had been conquered, unless He had been greater than man who had thus been vanquished? But who else is superior to, and more eminent than, that man who was formed after the likeness of God, except the Son of God, after whose image man was created? And for this reason He did in these last days exhibit the similitude; [for] the Son of God was made man, assuming the ancient production [of His hands] into His own nature, as I have shown in the immediately preceding book. (Irenaeus, Adversus haereses (Against Heresies), 180 A.D.)
He shall also judge those who describe Christ as [having become man] only in [human] opinion. For how can they imagine that they do themselves carry on a real discussion, when their Master was a mere imaginary being? Or how can they receive anything steadfast from Him, if He was a merely imagined being, and not a verity? And how can these men really be partaken of salvation, if He in whom they profess to believe, manifested Himself as a merely imaginary being? Everything, therefore, connected with these men is unreal, and nothing [possessed of the character of] truth; and, in these circumstances, it may be made a question whether (since, perchance, they themselves in like manner are not men, but mere dumb animals) they do not present, in most cases, simply a shadow of humanity. (Irenaeus, Adversus haereses (Against Heresies), 180 A.D.)
"The Ebionaeans, 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. And therefore it was, (according to the Ebionaeans,) that (the Savior) was named (the) Christ of God and Jesus, since not one of the rest (of mankind) had observed completely the law. For if even any other had fulfilled the commandments (contained) in the law, he would have been that Christ. And the (Ebionaeans allege) that they themselves also, when in like manner they fulfill (the law), are able to become Christ's; for they assert that our Lord Himself was a man in a like sense with all (the rest of the human family)." (Hippolytus, d. c. 235, Against All Heresies)
"But the Ebionaeans 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." (Hippolytus, d. c. 235, Against All Heresies)
[The Heresy of the Ebionites.] "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, because they held poor and mean opinions concerning Christ. 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. There were others, however, besides them, that were of the same name, but 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 pre-existed, 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. 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. 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. Wherefore, in consequence of such a course they received the name of Ebionites, which signified the poverty of their understanding. For this is the name by which a poor man is called among the Hebrews."(Eusebius, 4th century, Ecclesiastical History)
[The Translator Symmachus] "As to these translators it should be stated that Symmachus was an Ebionite. But the heresy of the Ebionites, as it is called, asserts that Christ was the son of Joseph and Mary, considering him a mere man, and insists strongly on keeping the law in a Jewish manner, as we have seen already in this history. Commentaries of Symmachus are still extant in which he appears to support this heresy by attacking the Gospel of Matthew. Origen states that he obtained these and other commentaries of Symmachus on the Scriptures from a certain Juliana, who, he says, received the books by inheritance from Symmachus himself."(Eusebius, 4th century, Ecclesiastical History)
"The matter in debate, therefore, or I should rather say your opinion regarding it, is summed up in this: that since the preaching of the gospel of Christ, the believing Jews do well in observing the precepts of the law, i.e. in offering sacrifices as Paul did, in circumcising their children, as Paul did in the case of Timothy, and keeping the Jewish Sabbath, as all the Jews have been accustomed to do. If this be true, we fall into the heresy of Cerinthus and Ebion, who, though believing in Christ, were anathematized by the fathers for this one error, that they mixed up the ceremonies of the law with the gospel of Christ, and professed their faith in that which was new, without letting go what was old. Why do I speak of the Ebionites, who make pretensions to the name of Christian? In our own day there exists a sect among the Jews throughout all the synagogues of the East, which is called the sect of the Minei, and is even now condemned by the Pharisees. The adherents to this sect are known commonly as Nasarenes; they believe in Christ the Son of God, born of, the Virgin Mary; and they say that He who suffered under Pontius Pilate and rose again, is the same as the one in whom we believe. But while they desire to be both Jews and Christians, they are neither the one nor the other. I therefore beseech you, who think that you are called upon to heal my slight wound, which is no more, so to speak, than a prick or scratch from a needle, to devote your skill in the healing art to this grievous wound, which has been opened by a spear driven home with the impetus of a javelin. For there is surely no proportion between the culpability of him who exhibits the various opinions held by the fathers in a commentary on Scripture, and the guilt of him who reintroduces within the Church a most pestilential heresy. If, however, there is for us no alternative but to receive the Jews into the Church, along with the usages prescribed by their law; if, in short, it shall be declared lawful for them to continue in the Churches of Christ what they have been accustomed to practice in the synagogues of Satan, I will tell you my opinion of the matter: they will not become Christians, but they will make us Jews." (Jerome, CE 404, Letter 75 - Jerome to Augustin)
The surviving literature of the ancient Ebionites contain many accurate and true preservations of original B'nai-Amen Essenism. The various quotes preserved therein are more accurate portrayals of original scripture than the mutilated and edited New Testament books used by modern Christianity. The few preserved quotes of Yeshu (Jesus) that survive in them radically reorientate the true believer toward the true role and teachings of Yeshua.
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