Talk:Hebrew Gospel (Aramaic)/wip

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Patristic sources and testimony[edit]

There was a strong tradition in the early church that the apostle Matthew had written a gospel in the Hebrew language. This association is mentioned by a number of early Christian writers, including Papias, Origen, and Eusebius. Some authors, such as Irenaeus, Epiphanius, and Jerome identify specifically Matthew as the author of the Gospel of the Hebrews.[1] Jerome relates that the Nazarenes and Ebionites believed that the Gospel of the Hebrews was the original Gospel of Matthew (Commentary on Matthew 2 . 12) Epiphanius in the Panarion wrote that, "They [Jewish Christians] too accept Matthew's gospel and like the followers of Cerinthus and Merinthus, they use it alone. They call it the Gospel of the Hebrews, for in truth, Matthew alone of the New Covenant writers expounded and declared the gospel in Hebrew using Hebrew script." (Panarion, 30.3.7)

Papias, Bishop of Hierapolis in Asia Minor during the first half of the 2nd century, writes that Matthew composed the logia in the Hebrew tongue and each one interpreted them as he was able. He also notes that the story of the Sinful Woman was originally from the Gospel of the Hebrews.[2][3](Eusebius, Church History 3 . 39 . 16) Apart from Papias' comment, we do not hear about the author of the Gospel until Irenaeus around 185 who remarks that Matthew issued a written Gospel of the Hebrews (Against Heresies 3.1.1) Pantaenus, Origen and other Church Fathers also believed Matthew wrote the Gospel of the Hebrews (Church History 5.10.3, 6.25.4) None of these Church Fathers asserted that Matthew wrote his Gospel in Greek.[4]

Traditionally within orthodox Christianity, the Gospel of Matthew was believed to have been composed by Matthew with some believing it to be the first gospel written. This view is not widely held within contemporary Biblical studies. Most scholars believe that the author of the Gospel of Matthew made use of the Gospel of Mark and another source known as Q. This solution to the origin is known as the Two-source hypothesis. For this and other reasons, the Gospel of Matthew was composed in Greek and not Hebrew as suggested by Papias.[5]

Irenaeus believed Matthew issued a written Gospel of the Hebrews in their own language while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome and laying the foundations of the Church (Against Heresies 3:1). According to Eusebius Hegesippus said Matthew's Gospel was written in Syriac (Ecclesiastical History 3:22-24) a view Eusebius shared (Theophania 4:12). This is repeated in the Stichometry of Nicephorus (c.810). Epiphanius wrote that the Ebionites used only the Gospel of the Hebrews, which was expounded and declared Hebrew using Hebrew script.

Jerome makes frequent reference to the Nazarene Gospel of the Hebrews being composed in Hebrew in his commentaries (Commentary on Isaiah 4, Commentary on Ezekiel 16:3, Commentary on Isaiah 40:9, Commentary on Micah 7:6) Jerome considered that the Gospel of the Hebrews, was written in the Chaldee and Syriac (Aramaic) language but in Hebrew script. Jerome claimed to have translated the whole into Greek (Against Pelagius 3:2) but this is doubted by many scholars since Jerome also made this claim about the Old Testament before he had actually done so. Jerome claimed that a Hebrew original of the Nazarene text was preserved in the library of Caesarea, which Pamphilus of Caesarea had gathered.(Illustrious Men 2"). In recent years some modern scholars have given more credence to Jerome's testimony.[6]

Jerome identifies the readers of this gospel as observant Jews, distinct from the culturally assimilated and Hellenized Jews, for whom the Greek Septuagint had been translated from Hebrew. It was used extensively by the followers of Hegesippus, Merinthus and Cerinthus as well as by the Ebionites and the Nazarenes.

According to Pantaenus, it was also in circulation in India, having been brought there by Bartholomew (Eusebius, Church History 5.10.3) Pantaenus became head of the School in Alexandria and was responsible for much of the Library in Caesarea. In this library was preserved a copy of the Gospel of the Hebrews. The Nazarenes of Beroea gave a copy to Jerome.(Jerome, On Illustrious Men 3)

Patristic Testimony on Non-canonical status[edit]

Origen and Eusebius classed a Gospel of the Hebrews among the "disputed writings" which some reject, but which others class with the accepted books: "And among these some have also placed the Gospel according to the Hebrews, with which those Hebrews who accept Christ are especially delighted" (Church History III.xxv.5) Hence there were a body of Jewish Christians who regarded it as their authority regarding the life, work, and teaching of Jesus.[citation needed] Jerome often cites it as though it were a trustworthy source. Beyond this we know very little of its status.[7]

Patristic Names of Gospels[edit]

Different church fathers refer to a Gospel of the Hebrews, Gospel of the Apostles, Gospel of the Twelve Apostles as well as The Hebrew Gospel. To distinguish various texts modern scholars generally refer to the Gospels of the Hebrews, Nazarenes, Ebionites respectively.

In the Catalog of Eusebius, only one Hebrew gospel is listed: "And among these some have placed also the Gospel of the Hebrews with which those of the Hebrews that have accepted Christ are especially delighted." (Church History, 3.25.5). Epiphanius mentions only one Hebrew gospel: "They [the Ebionites] call it the Gospel of the Hebrews for, in truth, Matthew alone in the New Covenant expounded and declared the Gospel in Hebrew using Hebrew script." (Panarion, 30.3.7)

Modern scholarship[edit]

Number of Jewish-Christian Gospels?[edit]

Since no complete text of any Jewish-Christian Gospel survives, a primary task of scholarship is determining how many distinct Gospels are indicated by the patristic evidence. Hans-Josef Klauck in Apocryphal gospels: an introduction (2003) notes that "it has become almost canonical in twentieth-century scholarship to speak of three Jewish-Christian gospels: a Gospel of the Hebrews (EvHeb), a Gospel of the Nazaraeans (EvNaz) and a Gospel of the Ebionites (EvEb)".[8] This, effectively, is the distinction observed by Hans Waitz, Wilhelm Schneemelcher and Philipp Vielhauer in what is often termed the "standard" edition of the New Testament Apocrypha. A notable supporter of this now traditional division into three is Albertus Klijn (1992) who writes that "The presence of three Jewish Christian Gospels is an established fact."[9] There are those who dissent from this conclusion, such as Paul Foster (2008).[10] Part of the reason for three Gospels is the presence of differences in the surviving fragments, particularly the presence of three separate accounts of Christ's baptism, while another factor was the scepticism towards the reliability of the evidence of Jerome.[11] However, Klauck also notes that "In more recent years (cf. [P. L.] Schmidt) in a pendulum swing away from this scepticism, there has been a tendency to regard Jerome as more trustworthy."[12] For that reason, the division of Jerome's testimony into two—a Gospel of the Hebrews (EvHeb) and a Gospel of the Nazaraeans (EvNaz)—is less confident.[13] This still leaves however the problem of the multiple accounts of Christ's baptism, which seem to require at least three sources.[14] Craig A. Evans (2005) considers that it is probably more safe to divide the material into Origen's Gospel, Jerome's Gospel, Epiphanius' Gospel, etc.[15]


The topic of the Gospel according to the Hebrews continues to be one of ongoing and heated debate. Scholars do agree that the title, Gospel according to the Hebrews is not a scholarly neologism, nor is it simply a "hypothetical" gospel. They agree that its title was used in the Early Church as well as in the early church catalogs.In the "Gospel of the Hebrews", written in the Chaldee and Syriac language but in Hebrew script, and used by the Nazarenes to this day (I mean the Gospel of the Apostles, or, as it is generally maintained, Matthew's gospel, a copy of which is in the library at Caesarea) (Jerome, Pelag. 3.2, Eusebius, Hist.Eccl., 3.25.5) See also Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople, who produced a catalog of New Testament books, followed by that of the antilegomena (which contains the Revelation of John) and that of the apocrypha. Next to each book is the count of its stichoi (lines). The following is an excerpt. New Testament (writings) the following are gainsaid: 1. The Revelation of John 1400 lines 2. The Revelation of Peter 300 lines 3. The Epistle of Barnabas 1360 lines 4. The Gospel of the Hebrews 2200 lines Apocrypha of the New Testament: 1. The Circuit of Paul 3600 lines 2. The Circuit of Peter 2750 lines 3. The Circuit of John 2500 lines 4. The Circuit of Thomas 1600 lines 5. The Gospel of Thomas 1300 lines 6. The Didache 200 lines 7. The 32 (books) of Clement 2600 lines It is important to note that the Gospel of the Hebrews is 2200 lines, 300 fewer than Greek Matthew. (Nicephorus, Patriarch of Constantinople, in his Stichometry)

Hebrew Gospel hypotheses[edit]

There are various hypotheses concerning the relation of the material preserved by Jerome to the New Testament. The Hebrew Gospel hypothesis of Nicholson (1879) claims two versions of Matthew, Greek and Hebrew, while that of James R. Edwards (2009) is that the Jewish Christian Gospels preserve some of the source material of Gospel of Luke. These hypotheses are contested by scholars such as Hans-Josef Klauck (2002) who writes, "the Gospel of the Hebrews is not to be equated with an Ur-Matthew."[16]

Traditionally, although the Gospel is technically anonymous, it was believed that the Gospel of Matthew was the work of Saint Matthew, and scholars believed that it was an eyewitness account of the life of Jesus Christ. This is still the 'official' position of the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Evangelical Churches. Craig Blomberg holds that the traditional authors are probably the actual authors for all gospels.[17] F. F. Bruce[18] and Gregory Boyd[19] maintain that the apostle Matthew did write 'his' gospel. They support their position by arguing that, as a former tax collector, Matthew would not have been an ideal person to falsify a gospel.

Nevertheless, most critical scholars still reject Matthean authorship of the first Gospel. Some argue that an apostle and eyewitness of Jesus' ministry would not have used a secondary source, yet the first Gospel relies on Mark for much of its material. Others claim that the perspectives of the book show a fuller development of traditional material and of relations with the Jews than one might expect in an "early Gospel".[20]

The two-source hypothesis is the most commonly accepted solution to the synoptic problem. It argues that Matthew borrowed from two Greek sources, the Gospel of Mark and a hypothetical sayings collection, known by scholars as Q. Therefore Canonical Matthew was composed in Greek at a later time than the Gospel of Mark.[21][22][23] According to Jerome, the Nazarenes and the Ebionites regarded their version of Matthew as the original (Commentary on Matthew 2).[24]

Scholars of the Tübingen School such as Johann Gottfried Eichhorn (d.1827),[25][26] Christian Friedrich Weber (1806),[27] thought that the Gospel of the Hebrews may indeed be an authentic eyewitness account written by the Apostle Matthew himself.[28] If this is the case, the Gospel of the Hebrews clearly has important data to contribute toward the solution of the synoptic problem.[29] Edward Byron Nicholson (1879) considered that the fragments showed a tradition that among the Nazarenes and Ebionites existed gospels commonly called the Gospel of the Hebrews, written in Aramaic with Hebrew letters and attributed to St. Matthew.[30] While Jerome regarded his Gospel of the Hebrews was with respect, the Jewish-Christian Gospels were generally regarded as heretical and corrupted texts. Nevertheless the ascription of the source of a Hebrew Gospel to the apostle Matthew was widespread and no Church Father attributes a Hebrew Gospel to anyone other than Matthew. Even Epiphanius, in criticizing the Gospel of the Ebionites recognises the tradition that Matthew wrote a Gospel in Hebrew.[31]

Needless to say, this position has been widely contested. Rudolf Handmann (1888) regarded the Gospel of the Ebionites as a pasticcio which belongs with the dregs of the gospel tradition.[32][33]

"The doctrine of Judaism cannot be joined to the doctrine of Christ. What connection can there be between the agreement of the Gospel of the Hebrews and the agreement of the Holy Gospels?" - Discourse on Maria Theotokos by Cyril 12A.

Modern scholars, at least until recently, have taken the position as per the Wilhelm Schneemelcher that there were at least three distinct Jewish Gospels:

  1. The Gospel of the Nazarenes, which was read in Semitic speech and used among the Nazarenes and was similar to canonical Matthew.
  2. The Gospel of the Ebionites, which was used by heretical Jewish Christians.
  3. The Gospel of the Hebrews, which has no special relationship to any one of the canonical gospels, but contains syncretistic elements, and shows the heretical character of the Jewish Christian.

The position of Parker (1940)[34] is that there is only one Hebrew gospel, the Gospel of the Hebrews but that there were several editions of this one gospel in the Early Church.

Although there is still ongoing debate about the Jewish Christian Gospels and "only the very daring, nowadays, venture on speculations in regard to the Gospel of the Hebrews ", most scholars agree with Schneemelcher when he says, "Thus the number of Jewish Gospels -- whether there be one, two or three such gospels -- is uncertain, the identification of the several fragments is also uncertain and, finally the character and the relationship to one another of the several Jewish gospels is uncertain."[35]

B. H. Streeter argued that a third source, referred to as M, and also hypothetical, lies behind the material in Matthew that has no parallel in Mark or Luke.[36] Through the remainder of the 20th century there were various challenges and refinements of Streeter's hypothesis. In 1953, Parker posited an early version of Matthew (Aramaic M) as a primary source. The Church Fathers also wrote of such a source,[37] called the Gospel of the Hebrews[38]

Scholars agree that there is a connection between the Gospel of the Hebrews and Matthew, but critical scholars generally consider that the extant Gospel of the Hebrews to be translated from a Greek source text into Hebrew and back into Greek.[39] One of the reasons for this view is the opinion that the 4th Century might offer more favourable circumstances for the circulation and perhaps the making of a Hebrew Gospel among Jews than the 1st or 2nd Century.[40]

Although, as Hans-Josef Klauck writes, "the Gospel of the Hebrews is not to be equated with an Ur-Matthew."[41] A study of the external evidence regarding this gospel shows that among the Nazarenes and Ebionites existed a gospel commonly called the Gospel of the Hebrews. It was written in Aramaic with Hebrew letters. Its authorship was attributed to St. Matthew.[42] While the Gospel of the Hebrews was still being circulated and read, the Church Fathers referred to it always with respect, often with reverence. They accepted it as being the work of Matthew.[43]

Although scholarly consensus still holds to Markan priority, some modern scholars believe that the Gospel of the Hebrews was the second source used in the Gospel of Luke[44] and helped form the basis[45][46] for the Synoptic Tradition. They point out that in the first section of De Viris Illustribus (Jerome), we find the Gospel of Mark listed as the first gospel written, and thus the basis of later gospels (On illustrious men 1:4) Following it should be Q. However, such a source document is absent from Jerome's list, nor is one mentioned by Jerome in his writings Rather, the first seminal document is not Q but the Gospel of the Hebrews (On illustrious men 3:1) In "the place of honor" that should be given "the phantom Q" we find a Hebrew usurper.[47]

Scholarly consensus remains overwhelmingly[citation needed] in favor of Markan priority, and this consensus has not been seriously challenged by speculations surrounding the origins of the Hebrew Gospel. That no copy of either Q or the Hebrew Gospel exists makes the determination of their early role in the development of the Synoptic gospels highly conjectural. Nonetheless, arguments in favor of Q as a primary source for Matthew and Luke remain compelling.[48]

Allegations of deliberate suppression of the Hebrew Gospel[edit]

It has been claimed[by whom?] that the rivalry between Gentile Christians and Jewish Christians brought about the intentional destruction of Hebrew texts. The doctrinal reason centered on Adoptionism. This theology was a minority Hebrew Christian belief that Jesus was merely human, being born of a physical union between Joseph and Mary.[49] He only became divine, by adoption at his baptism, being chosen because of his sinless devotion to the will of God.[50] The Adoptionist view may date back almost to the time of Jesus reconciling the claims that Jesus was the Son of God with the radical monotheism of Judaism.[citation needed] Both the primary gospels i.e. (the Gospel of the Hebrews and the Gospel of Mark) had similar adoptionist views of the incarnation, but the Gospel of the Hebrews was the most radical. Jesus was seen to be "adopted" at his baptism when the voice from heaven declared: "You are my beloved Son, this day have I begotten you."[51][52]

By the end of the 2nd century, Adoptionism was declared a heresy and it was formally rejected by the First Council of Nicaea (325), which wrote the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity and identified Jesus as eternally begotten of God. The Roman Emperor Constantine, who converted to Christianity in the early 300s, fostered the faith as an imperial religion.


  1. ^ Schoemaker p.199 1904
  2. ^ Bart Ehrman 1999 p.43
  3. ^ Bart Ehrman (1999) Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, Oxford University Press, p.43
  4. ^ Bart Ehrman 1999 p.43
  5. ^ Bart Erhman (1999) Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, Oxford University Press, pp. 43, 78-83
  6. ^ "Hebraisch, Griechisch 1998"
  7. ^ Schoemaker, p.198
  8. ^ Hans-Josef Klauck Apocryphal gospels: an introduction (2003) p.37
  9. ^ A. F. J. Klijn Jewish-Christian Gospel Tradition (VCSupp XVII; Leiden: Brill, 1992) 41,
  10. ^ Foster, Paul The non-canonical gospels: "Here I differ from AFJ Klijn, Jewish-Christian Gospel Tradition (VCSupp XVII; Leiden: Brill, 1992) 41, where he writes that 'The presence of three Jewish Christian Gospels is an established fact.' "
  11. ^ Philipp Vielhauer, intro to section "Jewish Christian Gospels" in NTA1.
  12. ^ Hans-Josef Klauck p.37
  13. ^ Klauck p?; also in Craig A. Evans p.?
  14. ^ Klauck: "Against this hypothesis, however, it must be pointed out that we possess three extra-canonical narratives of the baptism of Jesus (see below) which vary to such an extent that they cannot come from one or even two gospels alone." p.37
  15. ^ Craig A. Evans, Ancient texts for New Testament studies: a guide to the background: "that the church fathers refer when they speak of a Gospel of the Ebionites, or a Gospel of the Nazarenes."
  16. ^ Hans-Josef Klauck Apokryphe Evangelien - Eine Einführung 2002 Continuum International Publishing Group p.36
  17. ^ Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ, Zondervan, 2001.
  18. ^ Bruce, F.F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable?, InterVarsity Press, 1974, 1981. p 30-35
  19. ^ Gregory Boyd, The Jesus Legend: The Case for the Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition, Baker Academic, 2007.
  20. ^ Chuck Colson, Norm Geisler & Hank Hanegraaff The Apologetics Study Bible B&H Publishing Group 2007 page 1402
  21. ^ Everett F. Harrison Introduction to the New Testament p152
  22. ^ Bart D. Ehrman, The New Testament and other early Christian writings, Oxford University Press, 1998. p 9
  23. ^ Bart Erhman, Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium, Oxford University Press, 1999. pp 40-45, 78-83
  24. ^ Felix Just, Early Christian Texts Quoted by Eusebius, CatholicResources, 2006. p 1-2
  25. ^ William Binnington Boyce The higher criticism and the Bible 1881 "... inclines to this theory, and thinks that our Gospel of Matthew is formed upon this Gospel of the Hebrews."
  26. ^ John Kitto, A cyclopædia of Biblical literature: Volume 3 1876 ".. says, that ' Matthew among the Hebrews published also a written gospel in their own language' ... Jerome tells the same tale, with the addition that Pantaenus brought back this Hebrew gospel with him (de Vir. III., 36).
  27. ^ Christian Friedrich Weber Neue Untersuchung über das Alter und Ansehen des Evangeliums der Hebräer 1806
  28. ^ William Rainey Harper, Ernest De Witt Burton & Shailer Mathews, The Biblical world, Volume 20, University of Chicago Press, 1902. pp 289-252
  29. ^ W. R. Schoemaker, The Gospel According to the Hebrews, The University of Chicago Press. 1902. pp 196-203
  30. ^ Edward Byron Nicholson, The Gospel According to the Hebrews, 1879 p26
  31. ^ James R. Edwards, The Hebrew Gospel & the Development of the Synoptic Tradition, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2009. p 117
  32. ^ James R. Edwards The Hebrew Gospel and the Development of the Synoptic Tradition 2009 p113 "R. Handmann, Das Hebräer-Evangelium, 40-44, asserts that the Gospel attributed to the Ebionites by Epiphanius is a “Bastardwerk” that has nothing to do with the Hebrew Gospel."
  33. ^ Rudolf Handmann, Das Hebräer-Evangelium, Publisher J. C. Hinrichs, 1888. pp 15-16. "einzelne Uebersetzungsfehler als eine für die hebräischen Christen gemachte aramäische Bearbeitung einer griechischen Schrift erweise, nämlich unseres ersten Evangeliums. Ewald ') erklärt es gar für ein „ Bastardwerk ", welches aus der"
  34. ^ Pierson Parker (1940) p471
  35. ^ Wilhelm Schneemelcher, Neutestamentlichen Apokryphen in deutscher Übersetzung (Tübingen 1959–1997) translated into English as The New Testament Apocrypha, . Vol. 1, (1991) James Clarke & Co. Ltd. p135. ISBN 0-664-22722-8, ISBN 978-0-664-22722-7
  36. ^ Burnett H. Streeter (1924) The Four Gospels. A Study of Origins Treating the Manuscript, MacMillian and Co., Ltd.
  37. ^ Pierson Parker (1953) The Gospel Before Mark, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  38. ^ James R. Edwards (2009) p105–107
  39. ^ ed. Schneemelcher NTA 1
  40. ^ William David Davies, Dale C. Allison - 2004 "More favourable circumstances for the circulation and perhaps the making of a Hebrew Gospel among Jews can most easily be envisaged from the fourth and fifth centuries"
  41. ^ Hans-Josef Klauck, Apocryphal gospels: an introduction.36.
  42. ^ Edward Nicholson (librarian) 1881 p26
  43. ^ Edward Nicholson (librarian) p82}}
  44. ^ Pierson Parker 1940
  45. ^ William Farmer The Synoptic Problem: a Critical Analysis 1981 p196
  46. ^ Everett Falconer Introduction to the New Testament 1971 Wm. Eerdmans p152
  47. ^ James R. Edwards (2009) p228
  48. ^ Andrew Gregory Prior or Posterior? Cambridge University Press 51:3:344-360
  49. ^ Bart D. Ehrman, Truth and fiction in The Da Vinci code: a historian reveals what we really know about Jesus, Mary Magdalene, and Constantine, (2004) Oxford University Press US, p.19
  50. ^ Ed Hindson & Ergun Caner, The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics: Surveying the Evidence for the Truth of Christianity (2008) Harvest House Publishers, p17
  51. ^ Pamela E. Kinlaw, The Christ is Jesus: metamorphosis, possession, and Johannine christology (2005) Issue 18 of Academia Biblica, Society of Biblical Literature, p130. ISBN 1-58983-165-9, ISBN 978-1-58983-165-0
  52. ^ Keith Akers [The Lost Religion of Jesus: Simple Living and Nonviolence in Early Christianity + [R. M. M. Tuschling] Angels and orthodoxy: a study in their development in Syria and Palestine from the Qumran texts to Ephrem the Syrian + John Ross Carter, Of human bondage and divine grace: a global testimony, Open Court Publishing, 1992. p. 257

I pasted the content to be merged to a wip page. This will all be deleted later during the cleanup. Ignocrates (talk) 23:13, 18 January 2013 (UTC)