A Dictionary of All Religions and Religious Denominations/Ebionites

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EBIONITES, a denomination in the first and second centuries; so called from their leader Ebion, or from their poverty, which Ebion signifies in Hebrew. They believed the divine mission of Christ, and, it is said, his participation of a divine nature; yet they regarded him as a man, born of Joseph and Mary, according to the ordinary course of nature. They asserted, that the ceremonial law, instituted by Moses, was not only obligatory upon the Jews, but also upon all others, and that the observance of it was essential to salvation. They observed both the Jewish sabbath and the Lord's day; and in celebrating the eucharist made use of unleavened bread. They abstained from the flesh of animals, and even from milk. They rejected the old testament, and in teh new testament received only the gospel of St. Matthew, and a book which they style, "The gospel according to the Hebrews."

Some ancient writers distinguish two kinds of Ebionites; --the one, usually called Nazarenes, and only Judaizing Christians, who mingled the institutions of Moses with those of Christ: (See Nazarenes) and the other, Unitarians, who denied the divinity of Jesus and rejected a part of the scripture.[1]

Original footnotes[edit]

  1. Mosheim, vol. i. p. 173, 174. Hearne's Ductor Historicus, vol. ii. pp. 74 Priestley's Enquiry, &c.