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Ebionites

The Ebionites (perhaps from Hebrew אביונים, Ebionim, "the poor ones") were a Jewish Christian sect which existed in the Near East during the early centuries of the Common Era.

Virtually no writings of the Ebionites have survived, except as excerpted in the writings of orthodox Christians, such as Irenaeus, Hippolytus, and Tertullian, who considered the Ebionites to be heretics.

All these sources agree that the Ebionites denied the divinity of Jesus Christ and the doctrine of the Trinity. One group, apparently the larger, denied the Virgin Birth as well, while a smaller group accepted this doctrine.

Both groups considered St. Paul to be an apostate, and of the books of the New Testament they accepted only a version of the Gospel of St. Matthew to be Scripture. Both groups also adhered to the Jewish religious law. Apparently, one group considered observation of the law mandatory for all Christians, while the other considered it to apply only to Jewish Christians.

Neither group exerted any great influence, and both gradually dwindled into obscurity and extinction.

A later form of Ebionism was Gnostic in its teachings. Whether it was truly an historical development of earlier Ebionism, or simply shared the name, is not clear.



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