Sunday, May 23, 2010

Further to the Question of Who's a Jew

Shalom Ilan and Hag Sameach,
As you're probably aware, I've written two articles on the subject of Who's a Jew. Because Karaites follow a patriarchal link, the maternal line is secondary in establishing that fact. And because the Rabbinical philosophy of 'Jewish' eggs would negate such illustrious persons from our history such as David, not to mention our patriachs, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, it is evident that I cannot agree with their definition. Jewishness is more about nurturing than genetics. The Tanach as I quote in my articles is quite specific I feel in instructing us to unite the nations under the Torah, which in itself is a declaration that its not about birthright but what is in the heart. The rabbis have played an exclusionist game for two millennia and look where it has gotten us. Hunted, persecuted and practically annihilated. The Torah calls for 'inclusiveness', a light unto all the world. Do you think their edict on a non-Jewish sourced ova actually follows the Torah? Here is a child that will be loved, nourished, educated, and raised in the Torah and its teachings. Do you not think that renders the child Jewish or not? Judaism is an observance, it is a commitment, it is a demonstration of faith, and those qualities go well beyond genetics. God asked to be loved with all your heart and all your soul. He stated the qualification for Judaism and who are the rabbis to challenge it?

Now on your pursuit of gaining knowledge regarding this modern Ebionite Sect:
Although I agree with Mr. Phillips that you're playing a dangerous game by using words from one writer to challenge those of another, and as you should know if you light a candle at both ends and hold it, ultimately you will get burned, I want you to appreciate that Karaism is not something being resurrected, or rewritten. It has always existed,which makes it very different from modern day sects of a messianistic nature. And because I view the messianistic cults as false teachings which were predicted by the prophets as being the darkness that will descend near the end times I will respond but for purpose of clarity that there are no shortcuts to the Torah. If one is wanting to be seen as Jewish, then one must make the leap fully to Judaism. They must let go of their past and immerse fully in the Torah. The history of Ebionites is well recorded and commented upon almost from the day they were formed. For the record, let me provide a dozen books on the subject just so I can back my words and bring closure to this discussion.

The Gospel of the Ebionites is known only by the quotations from Epiphanius in the passages of his Panarion: 30.13.1-8, 30.14.5, 30.16.4-5, and 30.22.4, but these early historical facts were corroborted by such books and articles as the "Lost Christianities" by Bart Ehrman (2003), John O'Grady's Early Christian Heresies, The Mythmaker: Paul and the inventino of Christianity by Hyam Maccoby, and G. Uhlhorn, "EBIONITES," Philip Schaff, ed., A Religious Encyclopaedia or Dictionary of Biblical, Historical, Doctrinal, and Practical Theology, 3rd edn., Vol. 2. Toronto, New York & London: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1894. pp.684-685, just in case you wanted an early scholarly article.
But Epiphanius wasn't the only early Christian scholar that wrote about the Ebionites. And if we can't trust sources written in the time period of this sects existence or shortly after their disappearance then
we negate anything that is assumed afterwards because it would only be based on conjecture. Here are just some of the other Catholic sources that confirm the original beliefs of the Ebionites: Euseubius, Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies 7.22, 34: 9.13-17, Iraneaseus, Against Heresies 1.26.2, 2.11.7, 3.21.1, 5.1.3/
More modern sources such as:

Top of Page

L.E.. Keck, "The Poor Amongst the Saints in the New Testament," Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 56 (1965): 100-129.

L.E. Keck, "The Poor Amongst the Saints in Jewish Christianity and Qumran," Zeitschrift für die neutestamentliche Wissenschaft 57 (1966): 54-78.

Albertus Frederik Johannes Klijn & G.J. Reinink, Patristic evidence for Jewish-Christian sects. Supplements to Novum Testamentum 36. Leiden: Brill, 1973. Hbk. ISBN: 9004037632. pp.313.{}

H.J.. Schoeps, "Ebionite Christianity," Journal of Theological Studies 16 (1955): 219-24.
Article G. Strecker, "On the Problem of Jewish Christianity," R.A. Kraft & G. Krodel, eds. Orthodoxy and Heresy in Early Christianity. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1971. pp.241-285.

Of course, you probably can't get any more authorative on early Christian sects than the Catholoic Church itself since they were around at the time and here's what they had to write about Ebionites which I've cut and pasted from the Catholic Encyclopedia:
The doctrines of this sect are said by Irenaeus to be like those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates. They denied the Divinity and the virginal birth of Christ; they clung to the observance of the Jewish Law; they regarded St. Paul as an apostate, and used only a Gospel according to St. Matthew (Adv. Haer.., I, xxvi, 2; III, xxi, 2; IV, xxxiii, 4; V, i, 3). Their doctrines are similarly described by Hippolytus (Philos., VIII, xxii, X, xviii) and Tertullian (De carne Chr., xiv, 18), but their observance of the Law seems no longer so prominent a feature of their system as in the account given by Irenaeus. Origen is the first (Against Celsus V.61) to mark a distinction between two classes of Ebionites, a distinction which Eusebius also gives (Church History III.27). Some Ebionites accept, but others reject, the virginal birth of Christ, though all reject His pre-existence and His Divinity. Those who accepted the virginal birth seem to have had more exalted views concerning Christ and, besides observing the Sabbath, to have kept the Sunday as a memorial of His Resurrection. The milder sort of Ebionites were probably fewer and less important than their stricter brethren, because the denial of the virgin birth was commonly attributed to all. (Origen, Hom. in Luc., xvii) St. Epiphanius calls the more heretical section Ebionites, and the more Catholic-minded, Nazarenes.

I think I've exceeded the 12 sources but there is one more that I consider very important.

In regards to being followers of John the Baptist, you'll see from the following article that is the historically accepted story and this is from Dr. James Tabor that I believe Mr. Phillips said he used as a consultant to this newly resurrected Ebionite sect:
Nazarenes and Ebionites - An Introduction by Dr. James Tabor

© 1998, all rights reserved.

Josephus reports four main sects or schools of Judaism: Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots. The earliest followers of Jesus were known as Nazarenes, and perhaps later, Ebionites, and form an important part of the picture of Palestinian Jewish groups in late 2nd Temple times.
The Ebionite/Nazarene movement was made up of the mostly Jewish/Israelite, followers of John the Baptizer, and later Jesus, who were concentrated in Palestine and surrounding regions, and led by “James the Just,” oldest brother of Jesus, flourishing between the years 30-80 CE. They were zealous for the Torah, and continued to walk in all the mitzvot (commandments) as enlightened by their Rabbi and Teacher, accepting non-Jews into their fellowship on the basis of some version of the Noachide Laws (Acts 15 and 21). The term Ebionite (from Hebrew ’Evyonim) means “Poor Ones,” and was taken from the teachings of Jesus: Blessed are you Poor Ones, for yours is the Kingdom of God” based on Isaiah 66:2 and other related texts that address a remnant group of faithful ones. Nazarene comes from the Hebrew word Netzer, drawn from Isa 11:1 and means a Branch—so the Nazarenes were the “Branchites,” or followers of the one they believed to be the Branch. The term Nazarene was likely the one first used for these followers of Jesus, as evidenced by Acts 24:5 where Paul is called “the ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes.” Here we see the word used in a similar way to that of Josephus in writing of the four sects/schools of Judaism: Pharisees; Sadducess; Essenes; and Zealots. So the term Nazarene is probably the best and broadest term for the movement, while Ebionite (Poor Ones) was used as well, along with a whole list of other terms: Saints, Children of Light, the Way, New Covenanters, et al. We also know from the book of Acts that the group itself preferred the designation “The Way” (see Acts 24:14;22, etc.). The term “Christian,” first used in Greek speaking areas for the movement, actually is an attempt to translate the term Nazarene, and basically means a “Messianist.

So let's put this to rest now and rather than bother with these fringe sects, let's deal with the only issues that matter and that is the dualism in Judaism between Karaism and Rabbinism. Against the odds, Karaism has survived, overwhelmed by the tide of Rabbanites. It is going through a revival because the events of the times are predicating such events. Even the tide can be counteracted by the rip-tide that pulls in the opposite direction against the major force of the ocean. If one let's themself stand in the riptide they will be pulled in to it. So to those Rabbanites that have found fault with their traditions and teachings: that see there is a cancer within the rabbanite community that feeds itself on deceit and illusion, whose eyes have opened to the removal of sacred ordinances that were purposely eradicated by the rabbis, the intentional failure to preserve the houses of David and Aaron, exactly as Salmon ibn Yerushim accused the Gaons of doing a thousand years ago, then let yourself be pulled by this small rip-tide within the sea of Judaism that is tugging at your soul.
Shalom Aleichim
Avrom Aryeh-Zuk Kahana

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