Nazarenes - Encyclopedia




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NAZARENES (Naq'copaIoc), an obscure Jewish-Christian sect, existing at the time of Epiphanius (fl. A.D. 370) in Coele-Syria, Decapolis (Pella) and Basanitis (Cocabe). According to that authority (Panarion, xxix. 7) they dated their settlement in Pella from the time of the flight of the Jewish Christians from Jerusalem, immediately before the siege in A.D. 70; he characterizes them as neither more nor less than Jews pure and simple, but adds that they recognized the new covenant as well as the old, and believed in the resurrection, and in the one God and His Son Jesus Christ. He cannot say whether their christological views were identical with those of Cerinthus and his school, or whether they differed at all from his own. But Jerome 79, to Augustine) says that they believed in Christ the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary, who suffered under Pontius Pilate, and rose again, but adds that, "desiring to be both Jews and Christians, they are neither the one nor the other." They used the Aramaic recension of the Gospel according to Matthew, which they called the Gospel to the Hebrews, but, while adhering as far as possible to the Mosaic economy as regarded circumcision, sabbaths, foods and the like, they did not refuse to recognize the apostolicity of Paul or the rights of heathen Christians (Jer., Comm. in Isa., ix. i). These facts, taken along with the name (cf. Acts xxiv. 5) and geographical position of the sect, lead to the conclusion that the Nazarenes of the 4th century are, in spite of Epiphanius's distinction, to be identified with the Ebionites.

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