Feature Article: Christology Revisited

I have drunk quite deeply from the well of New Testament studies on the subject of Christology. A fairly consistent picture emerges from the great players in the field. Perhaps one of the most prolific and highly regarded scholars is Jimmy Dunn, a British New Testament scholar who was for many years the Lightfoot Professor of Divinity in the Department of Theology at the University of Durham. Though he is personally a committed Christian and a believer in the Trinity, he is scrupulously objective in his assessment of the historical evidence, even when it goes against his religious views.

We can see this in his judicious assessment of the New Testament writers. Did the first Christians (who were Jews) worship Jesus as God? Did Jesus believe himself to be the incarnate son of God? I find his answers credible and persuasive. What do you think?

Categories: Christology, Feature Article, Jesus, New Testament scholarship

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84 replies

  1. I just don’t understand how you can sit there and say:

    1. Jesus(as) did not believe himself to be God or the literal son of God.
    2. Early Christians didn’t worship Jesus(as) but worshipped God through Jesus(as).
    3. A clear theological train has developed regarding his status.

    And then, still, believe in the Trinity or Jesus’s deity. I mean even if I wasn’t a Muslim I still would not hold the position of him being a god. I mean it’s almost shocking how much mental gymnastics people can do.

  2. Reblogged this on | truthaholics and commented:
    HISTORICAL FACT: Crucial scriptural distinction made here about whom Jesus (pbuh) actually worshipped himself which affirms the pristine purity of monotheism PLUS amongst the earliest generation of the faithful BEFORE the interventions of the Nicean Council of 325 AD and introduction of Roman syncreticism under Emperor Constantine into the creed.

  3. I haven’t drunk nearly as deeply as you, but it seems to me that the ‘Early High Christology’ view has a very solid foothold in contemporary New Testament scholarship, and has been increasing in popularity. Hurtado goes as far as to call it an ’emerging consensus’ (https://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2013/12/12/highearly-christology-an-emerging-consensus/). Many ‘great players’ exemplify this view — NT Wright, Richard Bauckham, Simon Gathercole, the late Martin Hengel and of course Hurtado himself come to mind. Even Bart Ehrman argues that High Christology (HC) came very quickly onto the scene, while the original apostles were still around.

    An interesting development in the last few decades or so has been a shift from the earlier Harnack/Bousset view that HC was a late development and the result of Hellenization, to the now dominant view of HC as an early and natural outgrowth of 2nd Temple Jewish monotheism (see chapter 1 of Matthew Bates’ ‘The Birth of the Trinity’ for a nice historical overview of this development).

    Many scholars are far less tentative than Dunn in claiming that the early Christians worshiped Jesus. The latter seems largely taken for granted now, and the debate is over the theological significance of such worship.

    Overall, my sense is that Dunn’s view of early Christian Christological beliefs is not fully representative of NT scholarship. This of course does not make it wrong, but is nevertheless important to bear in mind.

    • Many ‘great players’ exemplify this view — NT Wright, Richard Bauckham, Simon Gathercole, the late Martin Hengel and of course Hurtado himself come to mind. Even Bart Ehrman argues that High Christology (HC) came very quickly onto the scene, while the original apostles were still around.

      Very good, Chris.

      Even Richard Bauckham agrees that Jesus was claiming to be God in Mark 10.


    • Chris thanks for your comments about early Christology which I will come back to.

      In the meantime I think you overlooked my second point:

      Luke and Matthew know nothing of Jesus’ pre-existence or his divine incarnation. In fact both gospels suggest the son of God was *created* in the womb of Mary.

      Here are quotations from three eminent Christian scholars – all personally believers in the Trinity – but honest enough to put the facts of the gospels before dogma. They are agreed that the gospels of Luke and Matthew know nothing of Jesus’ pre-existence or his divine incarnation. In fact both gospels suggest the son of God was created in the womb of Mary. To my certain knowledge only one scholar (Simon Gathercole from Cambridge) has attempted to argue for Jesus’ pre-existence in Lk & Matt, but his arguments have been severely criticised by Jimmy Dunn and Dale Allison.

      Arius was right it seems. Note what careful exegesis of Luke 1:35 reveals:

      This is the view of Raymond Brown, one of the first Catholic scholars to apply historical-critical analysis to the Bible.


      This is the view of Joseph A Fitzmyer, a great American NT specialist:


      And because I like Jimmy Dunn so much here is his exegesis of Luke:


      • Hi Paul,

        Gathercole isn’t alone — see this quote from Hurtado’s blog:

        “And, of course, there is the remarkable version of the lament over Jerusalem (Matthew 23:37-39; also Luke 13:34-35), which appears to ascribe a “pre-existence” to Jesus, who speaks here as the mother hen who repeatedly sought to gather rebellious Israel under her wings.”

        NT Wright, if I’m not mistaken, think that the quotes from Isaiah & Malachi at the beginning of each of the Synoptics (‘Prepare the way of the Lord’ and so on) identify Jesus with the Lord God returning to his Temple.

        But in any case, I’m not sure that it matters. As you know, the pre-existence of Jesus features in Paul’s writings, and likely as well as in a Pre-Pauline hymn (Phil 2), all of which are decades earlier than Matthew and Luke. I don’t think Christ’s pre-existence was all that important to the earliest Christians — even in Paul, it doesn’t come up very often. The early Church seems to have been far more interested in issues that mattered to them directly, e.g. the resurrection of the dead, and ethical matters. Thus, the lack of attention to pre-existence in the Synoptics may just reflect that, rather than indicating active disbelief in it.

        (I can’t actually see the quotations about pre-existence, can re-post them?)

        Also, re. Arius: if memory serves, he actually believed in pre-existence too, but held that Christ was created at some point in time, before the foundation of the world.

      • EDIT: i can now see the quotations. Not sure what happened earlier. Well, the technical linguistic issues are above my paygrade. But I can’t help noting that Luke 1:35 says “the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will *be called* the Son of God.”, not “will *be* the Son of God”

        A subtle difference: the effect of the “overshadowing” isn’t Jesus’ status as Son of God, but rather the fact people will call him ‘Son of God’. His miraculous birth has an effect on what people will say of him.

        (and cf. my earlier claims re. Hurtado and Wright on pre-existence)

  4. James Dunn:

    “He is not the Father”

    Of course, every Christian throughout history has maintained that Jesus is the Son and the Son is not the Father. (anti – Sabellianism; anti-Modalism)

    but that the Father and the Son (and the Holy Spirit) are of the same essence/ substance / nature / being.

    One God, in three persons.

    I wonder what Dunn does with Matthew 14:33 (they worshiped Him); Matthew 20:9 and 17; John 20:28

    and Revelation 5:1-14; (worship is given to the Lamb (Jesus the eternal Son; same worship as given to the Father in chapter 4 and 5)

    and Hebrews 1:6 – “Let all the angels of God worship Him”

    They are the writers of the New Testament and they show that the early Christians worshipped Jesus as God by nature / substance, but not that He is the same person as the Father.

    “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped (Rev. 5:12-14).

  5. Dunn says that Jesus did not think of himself as pre-existent with God.

    What John 17:5 ?

    “Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.”

    • Ken are you aware of the reasons why that comment would not have much traction with NT scholars?

      • Yes.

        Some NT scholars.

        But each scholar would have to be examined for his view of that exact verse. You are just dismissing it entirely because liberal scholars think the Gospel according to John is someone’s later interpretation of the historical Jesus.

      • All critical scholars view John’s Jesus as a heavily theologised portrait of Jesus. It is less historical than the synoptics. In this Feature Article my frame of reference is historical scholarship as understood and practiced in departments of NT studies at universities in North America and Europe.

        Thus citing a verse from John to ‘prove’ something about the historical Jesus will not wash.

      • How do you know the critical scholars are right?

        In their view, the Gospel according to Mark is the closest to the historical Jesus.
        But you have been caught many times, because Mark has one of the clearest statements of substitutionary atonement, Mark 10:45.

        and also Mark has plenty of verses that demonstrate a High Christology:

        “The Son of Man is LORD, even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:28 – a clear reference to Yahweh God, who created the Sabbath Day, in Genesis 2. And refers to God who gave the 10 commandments and commanded rest on the Sabbath Day.

        Jesus is LORD (Kurios, Yahweh)

      • “The Son of Man is LORD, even of the Sabbath.”

        That is a translation sleight of hand. The Greek does NOT read Yahweh (LORD), but Kyrios (κύριος) which is usually translated as “lord” “master” or “teacher”. And ‘son of man’ in the original Aramaic means ‘human being’. So a more likely reading is that the Sabbath was made for man (for his rest and recuperation); he (mankind) is the lord of the sabbath not its servant.

      • Yahweh in Hebrew in Psalm 110:1 is translated into Greek with kurios, many times in the New Testament. This is the most quoted and alluded to verse in the NT.
        Deal with it.

        Matthew 22:44
        Mark 12:36
        Luke 20:42, 43
        Acts 2:34-35
        Hebrews 1:13
        I Corinthians 15:25-27
        and many other passages in the NT

      • “Deal with it.” – not appropriate language for a Feature Article Ken.

      • Sorry. How is that no appropriate?

      • I don’t see how it fits into the categories of:
        “Insults, vulgarity and cheap shots that litter the comment sections.”

        But ok.

      • ” son of man” means human, yes; but also the heavenly being that goes up to the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7:13-14, who sits at His right hand on His throne, and you receives a kingdom made up from all nations, peoples, languages, tribes, who worship Him!

        They worship and serve Him.

        proves Christ is God by nature/ substance.

      • Daniel 7: 13 refers to Israel.

      • It is the same individual in Daniel 3:25 – an individual fourth person who came into the fiery furnace and rescued Daniel’s other 3 friends.

      • “” son of man” means human, yes; but also the heavenly being that goes up to the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7:13-14, who sits at His right hand on His throne, and you receives a kingdom made up from all nations, peoples, languages, tribes, who worship Him!

        They worship and serve Him.

        proves Christ is God by nature/ substance.”

        First of all, that motif is borrowed from Canaanite mythology. El, the elderly high god, is seated on his throne, and rewards the younger storm god Baal (coming with the clouds of heaven) for defeating the sea-god.

        Second, the word rendered as “worshiped” is more correctly translated as “served”, since it is used in Daniel 3:28:

        “They trusted in him and defied the king’s command and were willing to give up their lives rather than serve or worship any god except their own God” (http://biblehub.com/hebrew/yiflechun_6399.htm).

        Indeed, Daniel 3:28 uses different words for “serve” and “worship”.

      • “It is the same individual in Daniel 3:25 – an individual fourth person who came into the fiery furnace and rescued Daniel’s other 3 friends.”

        More likely, it was an angel in Daniel 3:25. Nebuchadnezzar described the being as “like a son of the gods”. This was the way a pagan described it, so why would any one take his description seriously? Of course, given the obvious influence of pagan mythology on the book of Daniel (vis a vis Daniel 7), maybe the author did take the opinions of pagans seriously.

  6. Also, Mark 14:60-64 is high Christology that even the Jewish leadership knew that the Messiah would also be ‘the Son of God”.

    points to Psalm 2 and Jesus as fulfillment of Psalm 2

    • The term ‘son of God’ frequently invoked in patristic and medieval thinking to prop up the doctrine of Jesus’s divinity is unpersuasive: in the Old Testament and in wider Near Eastern usage it can be applied to kings, pharaohs, miracle workers and others. Yet when Paul carried his version of the Christian message beyond Jewish boundaries into the wider gentile world, this image of Christ’s sonship was interpreted not metaphorically, but metaphysically. The resultant tale of controversies, anathemas and political interventions is complex; but what is clear is that the Hellenized Christ, who in one nature was of one substance with God, and in another nature was of one substance with humanity, bore no resemblance to the ascetic prophet who had walked the roads of Galilee some three centuries before.

      From the Muslim viewpoint, this desemiticising of Jesus was a catastrophe.

      Three centuries after Nicea, the Quran stated:

      ‘The Messiah, son of Mary, was no other than a messenger, messengers the like of whom had passed away before him . . . O people of the Book – stress not in your religion other than the truth, and follow not the vain desires of a people who went astray before you.’ (Surat al-Ma’ida, 75)

      And again:

      ‘O people of the Scripture! Do not exaggerate in your religion, nor utter anything concerning God save the truth. The Messiah, Jesus son of Mary, was only a messenger of God, and His word which He conveyed unto Mary, and a spirit from Him. So believe in God and His messengers, and do not say ‘Three’. Desist, it will be better for you. God is only One God. . . . The Messiah would never have scorned to be a slave of God.’ (Surat al-Nisa, 171-2)

      The Qur’anic term for ‘exaggeration’ used here, ghuluww, became a standard term in Muslim heresiography for any tendency, Muslim or otherwise, which attributed divinity to a revered and charismatic figure.

  7. Dear Mr Williams

    With all respect, I do not quite understand why Muslims quote from historians attempting to find the somewhat nebulous ‘Jesus of History’, when these same historians come to conclusions about the Messiah that are quite opposed to the Islamic view of him.

    According to the School of Bart Ehrman and Reza Aslan, the historical Jesus was a zealous rabble rousing, war mongering mystic who believed that he would be the King of Israel when the Kingdom of God eventually came. He was eventually crucified much to his surprise and his followers were so mentally traumatised that they believed that he had risen from the dead. This school sees him in the mould of Bar Kokhba and other ancient Jewish zealots.

    According to the School of Paula Fredriksen, Hyam Maccoby and the late Geza Vermes, the historical Jesus was an itinerant, ecstatic and rather earthy proto rabbi, who taught a radically simplified version of the Torah that was based upon the principles of love and piety. He was essentially an ancient Jewish version of St Francis of Assisi, of blessed and holy memory. They too believed that he was crucified in a state of despair and misunderstanding.

    This is contrasted with the Islamic view of Christ as born of a pure Virgin, speaking as a newborn, forming birds from clay and giving them life, giving life to the dead and not being crucified at all. None of the critically minded scholars Muslims quote would give the Islamic view of Jesus any more historical merit that the orthodox view. In other words the islamic claim to have the ‘Jesus of History’ is condemned by the very scholars they quote in opposition to the Church. The Isa of the Quran is as a -historical a figure as the Jesus of the Gospels.

    And the fact that our earliest texts outside the new testament teach a decidedly un-Islamic view of Christ such as St Polycarp saying that “Whosoever does not confess the Testimony of the Cross is of the devil” may serve to show history that the Disciples of the Messiah held a decidedly different view of their Lord than an Arabian merchant born six centuries later.

    I recommend we return to the one Apostolic Faith as professed by St Irenaeus, of holy and blessed memory

    “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; the scepter of Thy kingdom is a right scepter. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity: therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee.” For the Spirit designates both [of them] by the name, of God—both Him who is anointed as Son, and Him who does anoint, that is, the Father. And again: “God stood in the congregation of the gods, He judges among the gods.” He [here] refers to the Father and the Son, and those who have received the adoption; but these are the Church. For she is the synagogue of God, which God—that is, the Son Himself—has gathered by Himself. Of whom He again speaks: “The God of gods, the Lord hath spoken, and hath called the earth.” Who is meant by God? He of whom He has said, “God shall come openly, our God, and shall not keep silence;” that is, the Son, who came manifested to men who said, “I have openly appeared to those who seek Me not.” But of what gods [does he speak]? [Of those] to whom He says, “I have said, Ye are gods, and all sons of the Most High.” To those, no doubt, who have received the grace of the “adoption, by which we cry, Abba Father.”

    God love you all

    • Good points Tobias. In addition to your examples, the members of the influential ‘Jesus Seminar’ view Jesus as some kind of Hellenistic sage. This too contradicts the Quranic account of Jesus.

      • Dear Mr de Ray

        Thank you for your kind reply. The concept of Christ as an itinerant stoic philosopher divine would, I think have been closer to the Marcionite view.

        God Love you

    • “In other words the islamic claim to have the ‘Jesus of History’ is condemned by the very scholars they quote in opposition to the Church. The Isa of the Quran is as a -historical a figure as the Jesus of the Gospels.”


  8. P.S

    To those individuals who believe that Arius of Alexandria, may his name be accursed, was a proto muslim, here is his profession of faith to the Emperor St Constantine, of Holy and Blessed memory

    Arius and Euzoïus, to our most reverent and pious lord, Emperor Constantine.

    (1.) In accord with the command of your devout piety, sovereign lord, we declare our faith, and in writing profess before God that we and our adherents believe as follows:

    (2.) We believe in one God the Father Almighty, and in the Lord Jesus Christ his Son, who was begotten of him before all ages, God the Word through whom all things were made, both things in heaven and on earth; who descended, and became human, and suffered, and rose again, ascended into heaven, and will again come to judge the living and the dead. (3.) We believe also in the Holy Spirit, and in the resurrection of the flesh, and in the life of the coming age, and in the kingdom of the heavens, and in one catholic church of God, extending from one end of the earth to the other. (4.) This faith we have received from the holy gospels, in which the Lord says to his disciples: “Go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” If we do not so believe and do not truly receive the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as the whole catholic church and the holy Scriptures teach (in which we believe in every respect), may God judge us both now, and in the coming judgment. (5.) Wherefore we (who have been consecrated to the ministry, and hold the faith and opinions of the church and of the holy Scriptures) encourage your piety, most devout emperor, that we may be reunited to our mother, the church, by your peace-loving and devoted piety, avoiding all superfluous questions and disputes. Then both we and the whole church will be at peace and will offer in common our accustomed prayers for your tranquil reign, and also for your whole family.

    • @ Tobias

      To begin Muslims do not need to share every opinion or blindly follow every scholar. One is allowed to take different points to gather their overall thesis. Next Polycarp and Tertullian are late references and quite frankly mean nothing as they were not around when Jesus(as) was alive. Idk why people believe they are relevant to the discussion all they do ia prove Jesus’s(as) follower when to the extreme regarding his status early.

      Next our early text(which we have very little of hence the diffrent opinions) do still have features of Islamic beliefs for example the Ebionites, Nazarenes and the Jewish Christians these sects believed him to be the Messiah and a human. Before one claims a heresy these are the people of Jerusalem where he taught at. All of your guys beliefs stem from pagan greek converts from the faraway lands of Jesus’(as) homebase (like where all heresies start). When the Temple got sacked that pretty much wiped the actual believers out and we have almost nothing from their writings. Even if we use the current NT however the few things we have outside the Pauline tradition offers radically different views like the book of James for example. When you couple this with other things our stance is quite strong.

      Moving on, nobody believes Arius is a proto-Muslim but he was closer to the beliefs of the authors of John then Trinitarians.

      • Moving on, nobody believes Arius is a proto-Muslim but he was closer to the beliefs of the authors of John then [sic. than] Trinitarians.

        True. He was an exalted angelic figure, called the Son, the first created spirit being that then created everything else, according to both Arius and similar to modern Jehovah Witnesses.

      • We have enough early church fathers who wrote under duress and persecution and threat of persecution that functions a lot like the isnad chains of Hadith collections.

        Irenaeus and Tertullian testify of Polycarp being discipled by John and also list bishops that go back to Peter and Paul. (though I think that originally, the bishops-presbyters were the same office and each NT church at the beginning had a college/ plurality until mid to late second century, especially Rome had a plurality of elder-bishops. 1 Clement 42-44; based on earlier canonical texts: Acts 14:23; 1 Peter 5:1-4; Acts 20:17, 28; Titus 1:5-7;
        after canonical books, after I Clement, also the Shepherd of Hermas and the Didache testify of only 2 offices, not 3. (not yet mono-episcopate)

        But the main point is that the testimony of Polycarp (69 – 155 AD; died, 155 AD), Papias (70-135 AD), 1-2 Clement (96 AD), Ignatius (110 AD), Justin Martyr (died 165 AD), Didache (70-120 AD), Shepherd of Hermas(130 AD), Mathetes to Diognetes (130 AD), Pseudo-Barnabas (not the Barnabas of Acts, but a different writer in 2nd century) (120-150 AD), Irenaeus (180-202, writing) and Tertullian (190-220 writings), Clement of Alexandria(215 AD), Cyprian(writing, bishop, 250-258 AD), Origen (writing about 250-255 AD)- these main writers function similarly to the isnad chains of Hadith.

    • Tobias,
      I appreciate your excellent points!

      Where is that reference found about Arius’ faith?

      It sounds like orthodox doctrine. Where is the heresy in it? Maybe I am not understanding, as it says,

      “We believe in one God the Father Almighty, and in the Lord Jesus Christ his Son, who was begotten of him before all ages, God the Word through whom all things were made, both things in heaven and on earth; who descended, and became human, and suffered, and rose again, ascended into heaven, and will again come to judge the living and the dead.”

      sounds like full Deity and eternal generation from eternity past. (before all ages)

      That sounds right, but maybe I am missing something.

      He had said, “there was a time when the Son was not” – not eternal; not full Deity, but the first created being, like an angel, and then through him, created all other things. Like what Jehovah’s Witnesses do with Colossians 1:16 adding the word “other” in there.

      • Dear Mr Temple

        I believe that Arius, the accursed of God, wished to regain Imperial favour in this profession of faith. In his Thalia he describes the Son as the strong God and the Only begotten God,divine and the agent of creation, but no as divine as the Father is. The creed of ulfilias,a priest consecrated by Eusebius of Nicomedia, displays the mainstream Arian 4th century belief as derived from Arius and his acolytes.

      • Yes, the Thalia of Arius, which is imbeded inside of Athanasius’ De Synodis, is clearly heretical; but the document you put up does not appear on the surface reading as heretical. (So, what I gather you are saying he was not being honest in his letter to the Emperor and trying to just play politics to gain favor and avoid punishment.)

        Αὐτὸς γοῦν ὁ θεὸς καθό ἐστιν ἄρρητος ἅπασιν ὑπάρχει.
        … And so God Himself, as he really is, is inexpressible to all.
        ἴσον οὐδὲ ὅμοιον, οὐχ ὁμόδοξον ἔχει μόνος οὗτος.
        He alone has no equal, no one similar (homoios), and no one of the same glory.
        ἀγέννητον δὲ αὐτόν φαμεν διὰ τὸν τὴν φύσιν γεννητόν·
        We call him unbegotten, in contrast to him who by nature is begotten.
        τοῦτον ἄναρχον ἀνυμνοῦμεν διὰ τὸν ἀρχὴν ἔχοντα,
        We praise him as without beginning in contrast to him who has a beginning.
        ἀίδιον δὲ αὐτὸν σέβομεν διὰ τὸν ἐν χρόνοις γεγαότα.
        We worship him as timeless, in contrast to him who in time has come to exist.
        ἀρχὴν τὸν υἰὸν ἔθηκε τῶν γενητῶν ὁ ἄναρχος
        He who is without beginning made the Son a beginning of created things
        καὶ ἤνεγκεν εἰς υἱὸν ἑαυτῷ τόνδε τεκνοποιήσας,
        He produced him as a son for himself by begetting him.
        ἴδιον οὐδὲν ἔχει τοῦ θεοῦ καθ᾽¦ ὑπόστασιν ἰδιότητος,
        He [the son] has none of the distinct characteristics of God’s own being (kat’ hypostasis)
        οὐδὲ γάρ ἐστιν ἴσος, ἀλλ’ οὐδὲ ὁμοούσιος αὐτῷ.
        For he is not equal to, nor is he of the same being (homoousios) as him.
        σοφὸς δέ ἐστιν ὁ θεός, ὅτι τῆς σοφίας διδάσκαλος αύτός.
        God is wise, for he himself is the teacher of Wisdom
        ἱκανὴ δὲ ἀπόδειξις ὅτι ὁ θεὸς ἀόρατος ἅπασι,
        Sufficient proof that God is invisible to all:
        τοῖς τε διὰ υἱοῦ καὶ αὐτῷ τῷ υἱῷ ἀόρατος ὁ αὐτός.
        He is invisible both to things which were made through the Son, and also to the Son himself.

        . . .

        That part from the Thalia of Arius was more clear as heretical.

        But, your point is, even that is not anywhere close to Islamic doctrine of Jesus. I agree.

  9. P.P.S

    I highly recommend tertulian.org. It has an excellent patristic library.

  10. Dear Mr Stewjo004

    Thank you very much for your kind and insightful reply. However there are one or two points I wish to make if I may.
    Firstly regarding the various Judaising sects that dwelt alongside the early church, i have several things to say. The Ebionites, from all the information we posses, believed that Jesus of Nazareth was indeed the Messiah King and Son of God, but that he only gained this station upon baptism in the waters of the Jordan. This can be found in the sections of their gospel preserved in the writings of St Epiphanius of Salamis, of holy and blessed memory, as shown here
    ” After the people were baptized, Jesus also came and was baptized by John; and as he came up from the water, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Holy Ghost in the likeness of a dove that descended and entered into him: and a voice from heaven saying: Thou art my beloved Son, in thee I am well pleased: and again: This day have I begotten thee. And straightway there shone about the place a great light. Which when John saw (it saith) he saith unto him: Who art thou, Lord? and again there was a voice from heaven saying unto him: This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased. And then (it saith) John fell down before him and said: I beseech thee, Lord, baptize thou me. But he prevented him saying: Suffer it (or let it go): for thus it behoveth that all things should be fulfilled”

    Both Christians and Muslims believe that Jesus was the Messiah at his birth from the Holy Virgin, as such the Ebionites can hardly be seen as being ancient Muslims. In addition to this the Ebionite belief that Jesus was the Divinely adopted Son of God violates the Quranic invective against God taking unto himself a son. As such orthodox muslims should loath the Ebionite creed, since it says that a mere man was adopted as Divine or Semi Divine Son of God.

    Secondly persons such as St Polycarp, of holy and blessed memory, St Clement of Rome, of holy and blessed memory, and St Ignatius, of holy and blessed memory, are extremely important such even according to persons such as Bart Ehrman they represent the earliest recorded connection to the Apostles outside the text of the New Testament. Their writings represent the earliest beliefs of the Holy Church. And the writings of these early holy fathers are decidedly un islamic in tone.

    To summarise the Islamic saying the Catholicism has the Christ of Faith, Protestantism has the Christ of Paul and Islam has the Christ of History cannot be taken as being a truthful saying, since the serene and somewhat monosyllabic Isa of the Quran is just as a-historical in the eyes of the historians your coreligionists quote as the Jesus Christ of the Holy Gospel and Blessed Creed

    God Love you

    Tobias Bellhouse

    • @ Tobias

      Hmmm… you’re the first person I’ve heard say that about the Ebionites most scholarly opinion believes Islam “absorbed their beliefs”. It is by all means possible to what your saying as Ebionites had split on certain doctrines. However if I had to guess they’re saying son of God as in the heir of David’s throne not a literal child.


      A saying in Hebrew is fine. God may have said this to the Jews but He rebukes the Christian and pagan understanding.

      Also from the Catholic Encyclopedia about tge Ebionites:
      “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. But we do not know whence St. Epiphanius obtained his information or or how far it is reliable. It is very hazardous, therefore, to maintain, as is sometimes done, that the distinction between Nazarenes and Ebionites goes back to the earliest days of Christianity.”


      Regarding the Church Fathers that is only out of necessity as no early writings from the Disciples. The fact remains that they are over 100 years after Jesus’s ascension and were not witnesses to his ministry and so their testimony is of little value. It simply proves sects of early Christians had extreme veneration for Jesus(as). Also another reason their testimony is not useful is that they were biased towards other sects and made up lies about their beliefs. For example, they claimed the Ebionites were founded by a man named Ebion and this is considered (barring a few scholarly exceptions) to be untrue. We have no text on any if the Church Fathers and have no reason to believe they are not disbelievers for what they are said to have written.

      Finally, the “historical Jesus” is a series of guesses based on the available evidence. Islam’s position IS what happened and is thus the Messiah of history. All the evidence that your scholars work on simply proves that.

      • Stew,

        There is a subtle incoherence in your main argument. You claim on one hand that the Ebionites were effectively proto-Muslims, and on the other hand, that the Church Fathers are unreliable and made things up about sects they disagreed with. But virtually all of what we know about the Ebionites comes from the Church Fathers, like the ones mentioned in your quote. So, if we can’t trust the Church Fathers, then we can’t know what the Ebionites’ beliefs were.

        In any case, our earliest account of Ebionite doctrines, i.e. Irenaeus’ , tells us that “their opinions with respect to the Lord are similar to those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates. ”

        Cerinthus held to what Ehrman calls a ‘separationist; Christology, i.e. Jesus Christ is composed of two persons, one divine (‘Christ’) and one human (‘Jesus’). This is a far cry from the Islamic view.

  11. @ Agnostic

    Thank you for reminding me why I don’t converse with you.

  12. @ Chris

    Not really incoherent just biases and lack of critical thinking on your part.

    I said that Ebionites had beliefs similar to us so we are by no means out of the running in 1st century Christian understanding of Jesus(as). The Church Father are slandering the other side (as we know they did again the Gnostics are another example) and you take things they say with a grain of salt. Again Cerinthus is obviously a slander due to him being a heretic and it doesn’t even match what the others have said in them believing him to be a human and the Messiah.

    • Stew,

      “Ebionites had beliefs similar to us”

      How do you know this? The Church Fathers are virtually our only source of information on the Ebionites. But you say that you find them unreliable. So, which source should we rely on then?

      “it doesn’t even match what the others have said in them believing him to be a human and the Messiah.”

      It’s true that the Church Fathers made conflicting claims about the Ebionites — probably because there was no single ‘Ebionite’ group. But as far as I’m aware, none of them described them as having proto-Muslim beliefs.

      As we have just seen, Irenaeus wrote that they were separationists, like Cerinthus.

      Here’s Epiphanius on them (from his ‘Panarion’):

      “For some of them even say that Adam is Christ—the man who was formed first and infused with God’s breath.12 (4) But others among them say that he is from above; created before all things, a spirit, both
      higher than the angels and Lord of all; and that he is called Christ, the heir of the world there (…) And
      in the last days the same Christ who had come to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, came and donned Adam’s body, and appeared to men, was crucified, rose and ascended.”

      Surely this is profoundly un-Islamic.

      Of course, you can respond that this is all slander. But then you need to give us a source indicating that the Ebionites were proto-Muslims, and argue that it is reliable.

      Many scholars seem to think that the Ebionites were adoptionists, e.g. Ehrman , https://ehrmanblog.org/tag/adoptionist-christology/

      “we are by no means out of the running in 1st century Christian understanding of Jesus(as)”

      How do you know the Ebionites existed in the 1st Century? If I remember well, the earliest explicit references to them are from the late 2nd.

  13. Dear Mr Stewjo004

    Once again thank your comments. However I have, once again, one or two points to make. You say that the islamic position on the Messiah IS unequivocally what happened. But may i ask on what basis you make this observation.
    If it is derived from the Orthodox Muslim belief in the infallibility of the Quranic texts, then that is an aspect of you faith and I respect your pious belief in it. The Quranic narrative is true since the Quran is from God, therefore it must by nature be true.

    But all of the historical evidence we posses displays a narrative that is the decided antithesis of the Islamic narrative of the life of Christ and his Apostles, of holy and blessed memory.
    All reputable historians who specialise in the life of Jesus of Nazareth universally acknowledge the this person wandered the landscape of modern day Palestine, was executed for unknown reasons, and his followers later believed that he had risen from the dead and was the true king of Israel who sat at the right hand of the Lord. As such in the Quran we encounter a Jesus that cannot be seen as being any more a historical verifiable figure that the Jesus of the Holy Gospel.

    The Ebionites and their doctrines are first mentioned in the second century and their connection to the original apostolic church is at best shadow shrouded and tenebrous in nature. As such the same critisism you lay at the holy feet of the Fathers of the Church, namely that their doctrines only evolved after 100 years from the ascension of Christ, can equally be placed at the feet of the Ebionites.

    You say that the ancient Ebionites held similar views to you own, but may i ask which Ebionites. Those who denied the Virgin Birth of Christ from the Holy Virgin Maryam, or those few who accepted it, of whom we know very little. Both sects adhered that Jesus became the Christ at his baptism, both you and i deny this as being a detestable heresy, since according to your scriptures when Gabriel the Holy Archangel came to the Holy and Ever Blessed St Mary, he said that the child she would conceive would be the Messiah, not that he would become the Messiah at some later time. This, as i said before, stands against he repeated islamic denial of the possibility that God should take into himself a son.

    However if you should say that this belief did not represent all of the Ebionite doctrines, that there were some secret unknown true followers of Isa among them, then i fear that we venture into the realm of theological theory in the style of Dan Brown as opposed to truth. I am afraid that Muslims cannot look to these ancient heretics as their spiritual antecedents since all we known of them shows them to be quite un-islamic in their beliefs.

    Many of these so called jewish christians, such as the Elcesaites, Ebionites and Nazarenes, combined elements of Christian theology, gnostic cosmology and Hebrew mysticism to form their own errant beliefs. Unless islam believes in a docetic or adoptionist Christology that I am unaware of, then there is no evidence, theological or historical, for the Islamic view of Christ in earliest years of the Holy Church.

    God Love you


    Regarding your statement that the Fathers of the Church, of holy and blessed memory, lived more than one hundred after the ascension of Christ, there are certain examples which contradict this belief.

    1. St Ignatius of Antioch, of Holy and Blessed memory born 35 AD and died 107 AD, Letter to the Ephesians:

    ‘There is one Physician who is possessed both of flesh and spirit; both made and not made; God existing in flesh; true life in death; both of Mary and of God; first passible and then impassible, even Jesus Christ our Lord’

    Letter to Polycarp:”we ought to bear all things for the sake of God, that He also may bear with us. Be ever becoming more zealous than what thou art. Weigh carefully the times. Look for Him who is above all time, eternal and invisible, yet who became visible for our sakes; impalpable and impassible, yet who became passible on our account; and who in every kind of way suffered for our sakes,”

    On the Holy Eucharist: “Consider how contrary to the mind of God are the heterodox in regard to the grace of God which has come to us. They have no regard for charity, none for the widow, the orphan, the oppressed, none for the man in prison, the hungry or the thirsty. They abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they do not admit that the Eucharist is the flesh of our Savior Jesus Christ, the flesh which suffered for our sins and which the Father, in His graciousness, raised from the dead.”

    2. St Clement of Rome, of holy and blessed memory, Patriarch of Rome from 88 AD to 99 AD, letter to the Corinthians:

    ‘For Christ is of those who are humble-minded, and not of those who exalt themselves over His flock. Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Sceptre of the majesty of God, did not come in the pomp of pride or arrogance, although He might have done so’.

    ‘This is the way, beloved, in which we find our Saviour, even Jesus Christ, the High Priest of all our offerings, the defender and helper of our infirmity. By Him we look up to the heights of heaven. By Him we behold, as in a glass, His immaculate and most excellent visage. By Him are the eyes of our hearts opened. By Him our foolish and darkened understanding blossoms up anew towards His marvellous light’.

    3. St Polycarp of Smyrna, of holy and blessed memory, born 69 AD and died 156 AD, Letter to the Philippians:

    ‘To Him all things 1 Peter 3:22; Philippians 2:10 in heaven and on earth are subject. Him every spirit serves. He comes as the Judge of the living and the dead. Acts 17:31 His blood will God require of those who do not believe in Him’.

    So, my dear sir, how can anyone, even an atheistic historian such as Bart Ehrman, not see these quotations as what they are, namely the earliest perspectives of the beliefs of the Holy Church, which alone has utter and complete infallibility, outside the New Testament.

    Once again God Love you.

    • You say that the ancient Ebionites held similar views to you own, but may i ask which Ebionites. Those who denied the Virgin Birth of Christ from the Holy Virgin Maryam, or those few who accepted it, of whom we know very little. Both sects adhered that Jesus became the Christ at his baptism, both you and i deny this as being a detestable heresy, since according to your scriptures when Gabriel the Holy Archangel came to the Holy and Ever Blessed St Mary, he said that the child she would conceive would be the Messiah, not that he would become the Messiah at some later time.

      Very good Tobias – indeed.

      Boom! The Islamic argument that Ebionites were proto-Muslims is nuked!

  14. In addition to this we also have the word of Christs own mother, The Holy,True and ever Blessed Virgin Mary. See Our Lady of Fatima and her messages to humanity.

  15. I find it interesting that while Jimmy Dunn confesses that Jesus did not teach he was pre-existent with the Father but also attests that the interpretation of later theologians as it is the case is, in fact, an authentic one.

    I must admit I haven’t drunk as deeply as Paul when it comes to NT scholarship but what is the basis behind Dunn’s assertion?

    • It’s called Dunn being inconsistent, illogical, and wanting to have his cake and eat it too. (Just as Geza Vermes accused Raymond Brown of. They are both inconsistent and illogical.

  16. Cerinthus denied that the Supreme God made the physical world. In Cerinthus’ interpretation, the Christ [Spirit] descended upon Jesus at baptism and guided him in ministry and the performing of miracles, but left him at the crucifixion. (Robert Gundry, Intro to NT, p. 338-339; Irenaeus, Against Heresies, Book 1, 26, 1 and 3, 3, 4) Similarly to the Ebionites, he maintained that Jesus was not born of a virgin, but was a mere man, the biological son of Mary and Joseph.

  17. @ Tobias, Ken and Chris

    I…just…did? Since you’re reading what you want to read please allow me to emphasise for you this time:

    “They denied the Divinity … they clung to the observance of the Jewish Law; they regarded St. Paul as an apostate…(Adv. Haer., I, xxvi, 2; III, xxi, 2; IV, xxxiii, 4; V, i, 3)…Some Ebionites accept, but others reject, the virginal birth of Christ, though all reject His pre-existence and His Divinity…St. Epiphanius calls the more heretical section Ebionites, and the more Catholic-minded, Nazarenes. But we do not know whence St. Epiphanius obtained his information or or how far it is reliable…”


    Now from Eusebius:
    “The ancients quite properly called these men Ebionites, because they held poor and mean opinions concerning Christ. [825] 2. For they considered him a plain and common man, who was justified only because of his superior virtue…There were others, however, besides them, that were of the same name, [827] but avoided the strange and absurd beliefs of the former, and did not deny that the Lord was born of a virgin and of the Holy Spirit. But nevertheless, inasmuch as they also refused to acknowledge that he pre-existed, [828] being God, Word, and Wisdom, they turned aside into the impiety of the former, especially when they, like them, endeavored to observe strictly the bodily worship of the law. [829] 4. These men, moreover, thought that it was necessary to reject all the epistles of the apostle, whom they called an apostate from the law…6. Wherefore, in consequence of such a course they received the name of Ebionites, which signified the poverty of their understanding. For this is the name by which a poor man is called among the Hebrews. [833]”


    As we can see Eusebius is dripping with an objective analysis of their beliefs. Let’s now read from the commentary of what Eusebius’s wrote:

    “The Ebionites were not originally heretics…But the natural result of these Judaizing tendencies and of the involved hostility to the apostle of the Gentiles was the ever more tenacious clinging to the Jewish idea of the Messiah; and as the Church, in its strife with Gnosticism, laid an ever-increasing stress upon Christology, the difference in this respect between itself and these Jewish Christians became ever more apparent until finally left far behind by the Church in its rapid development, they were looked upon as heretics… The division which Epiphanius makes is different from that of Justin, as well as from that of Origen and Eusebius; in fact, it is doubtful if he himself had any clear knowledge of a distinction, his reports are so contradictory. The Ebionites known to him were most pronounced heretics; but he had heard of others who were said to be less heretical, and the conclusion that they formed another sect was most natural. Jerome’s use of the two words is fluctuating; but it is clear enough that they were not looked upon by him as two distinct sects. The word “Nazarenes” was, in fact, in the beginning a general name given to the Christians of Palestine by the Jews (cf. Acts 24:5), and as such synonymous with “Ebionites.”

    So let’s let that sink in everyopne for a moment. The Christians of Palestine (i.e. where Jesus(as) actually preached) did not view him as a God, were hostile to Paul and believed much differently than you guys today. Oh and here’s another interesting passage:

    “Handmann holds that the Gospel among the Jewish Christians was called simply “the Gospel,” or some general name of the kind, and that it received from others the name “Gospel according to the Hebrews,” because it was used by them.”

    Hmmm… well wait there’s more. From Lost Christianities by Bart Ehrman:

    “Proto-orthodox authors clearly agree that the Ebionites were and understood themselves to be Jewish followers of Jesus. They were not the only group of Jewish-Christians known to have existed at the time, but they were the group that generated some of the greatest opposition. The Ebionite Christians that we are best informed about believed that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah sent from the Jewish God to the Jewish people in fulfilment of the Jewish Scriptures. They also believed that to belong to the people of God, one needed to be Jewish. As a reult, they insisted on observing the Sabbath, keeping the kosher, and circumcising all males. That sounds very much like the position taken by the opponents of Paul in Galatia. It may be that the Ebionite Christians were their descendants, physical and spiritual. An early source, Irenaeus, also reports that the Ebionites continued to reverence Jerusalem, evidently by praying in its direction during their daily acts of worship.

    But Ebionites’ Jewishness did not endear them to most other Christians, who believed that Jesus allowed them to bypass the requirements of the Law for salvation. The Ebionites, however, maintained that their views were authorized by the original disciples, especially by Peter and Jesus’ own brother, James, head of the Jerusalem church after the resurrection.

    One other aspect of the Ebionites’ Christianity that set it apart from that of most other Christian groups was their understanding of who Jesus was. The Ebionites did not subscribe to the notion of Jesus’ pre-existence…they did not accept any of the writings of Paul. Indeed, for them, Paul was not just wrong about a few minor points. He was the archenemy, the heretic who had led so many astray by insisting that a person is made right with God apart from keeping the Law and who forbade circumcision, the ?sign of the covenant,’ for his followers… (Bart, Ehrman, Lost Christianities. Oxford University Press, 2003. PP. 100-101)

    So in conclusion Ebionites (who were 1st century btw):

    1. Thought Jesus was a human and prophet
    2. Jesus was not a god
    3. Had a book called the Gospel
    4. Believed one had to still observe laws in the Scripture

    All Muslims beliefs and is exactly what God said in the Quran that Jesus taught. Then, later on, all you forefathers deviated and this is the historical reality. Do any of you have any questions, comments or concerns? 🙂

    • And whelp I’ll be a monkey’s uncle what else have I found let’s read:

      Akers mentions three essential characteristics of the Ebionites, as well as other Jewish Christian groups such as the Elchasites, the Nazoraeans and the Ossaens : that is that “they adhered to Jewish law, they were vegetarian, and they rejected animal sacrifice.” 25 He then lists the following as additional key beliefs that the Ebionites held:

      – There is only one God.
      – Jesus is the true prophet.
      – A simple lifestyle is desired by God.
      – Jesus condemned animal sacrifice and teaches vegetarianism.
      – Alcohol should be avoided.
      – God has one law for everyone.
      – The law has been distorted by false texts.
      – Warfare is condemned.
      – Christ has already appeared many times.
      – Baptism was important for salvation.
      – Paul was an apostate from the law.26

      Most of these essential beliefs will now be discussed in light of what is known about the Ebionites; some of the categories will be combined as they are inter-related. There is only One God. The Ebionites, as Jews, were monotheists. Therefore, they rejected any assertions that Jesus or the Holy Spirit could be divine as that would verge into polytheism…The Ebionites did not use the title, Christ” for Jesus, nor did they accept that Jesus was sinless as “their gospel allowed Jesus to admit unwitting sins or sins of ignorance.”30

      Jesus is the True Prophet. To the Ebionites, Jesus did not come to abolish the law; rather, he came to teach his followers how to obey the law more faithfully. In their view, as mentioned previously, he kept the law perfectly and was the only person to ever have done so. Thus, he was to “adopted” as God’s son at his Baptism. It is also important to recognize that the Ebionites would have thought that Jesus’ teaching role in relation to the law was especially important as they contended that the writings of the Pentateuch had been corrupted and did not represent the true law of God; he would restore the forgotten laws received on Mount Sinai for God’s people…

      God has one law for everyone and The law has been distorted by false texts: According to Akers, the Ebionites believed, in a fashion similar to Paul (Galatians 3:28), that “the distinction between Jew and gentile is abolished for the Jewish Christians but with a different result altogether – everyone should follow the universal and eternal law (Homilies 8.10) revealed to Moses (Recognitions 1:35).”40 The Ebionites’ view appears to have been that Jesus “was a prophet who sought to restore the original law…

      Akers states that “the Ebionites condemned many of the texts in the Jewish scriptures as false texts: they believed they were not inspired by God, but were false and shouldn’t be part of scripture are all.”44 They accepted the law as being given to Moses, but “denied that the written books of Moses (Pentateuch) were the same as the law. The written tradition (the Jewish scriptures) had been corrupted by false texts.” 45Schoeps explains that the Ebionites believed that these errors or falsifications would be removed by the True Prophet, Jesus. What were the primary falsifications? Schoeps argues that they are, “(a)s we have seen, Homilies 3.52 programmatically names ‘the sacrifices, the monarchy, and the female prophecy and other such things’ as ordinances that do not come from God.”46 The Ebionites also rejected the anthropomorphic descriptions of God, “especially all statements concerning God’s attributes, actions, and active as well as passive emotions.”47 The Ebionites also denied “the full revelatory character” of the books of the prophets; the reason for this, according to Schoeps is “probably to be sought in the disillusionment resulting from the non-fulfillment of the ancient predictions of the prophets about a political messiah.”48 Interestingly, Schoeps suggests that the Ebionite belief that falsifications existed in scripture, though it was a view that was rejected by Orthodox Jews and Christians, may not have been as eccentric as it first appears. He suggests that “…we may regard it as certain that the Ebionite theory of false pericopes did not come out of the blue, but derived from ancient recollections that the extant version of the Torah was not identical with the Sinai version but had been distorted by additions and alterations.”49

      Opposition to Paul: The Ebionites considered Paul to be an apostate.53Schoeps has observed that “(t)he real basis for the opposition to Paul…was undoubtedly the fact that, since Christianity seemed to them to be essentially the Mosaic law restored through Jesus the Prophet, they abhorred Paul as an enemy of the law.”54

      In the early days of Christianity, the Ebionites appear to have been the largest grouping within what has more recently been referred to as “Jewish Christianity.” Schoeps argues that the Ebionites were “the physical descendants of the first disciples –including Jesus’ own relatives – (and) were the bearers of a legitimate tradition.”56 But, as Ehrman observes, “Ebionite Chrsitianity was at a serious disadvantage when it came to appealing to the masses….the idea of large scale conversions to a religion that required kosher food laws and circumcision seems a bit “far fetched.” He continues, noting that, even if the Ebionites had become a dominant force in the early Christian community, then “Christianity itself would likely have ended up a footnote in the history of region books used in university courses in the west.”57 Thus, given the difficult lifestyle they had chosen and that there was opposition to the Ebionites from the orthodox Jewish community (i.e., they were “cursed” by them), as well as from the “proto-orthodox” early Christian community, it is not surprising that the Ebionites disappeared by the fourth century. What is the significance of the Ebionites for the study of the early Christian Church? As Harvey Cox states in his book, The Future of Faith, “(t)he following are now evident. First, there never was a single “early
      Christianity;” there were many and the idea of heresy was unknown.”58 Recognizing that there was such variety in the early church, and that a strong initial tradition such as that of the Ebionites has been largely lost in the “sands of time,” then knowledge about them and their differing view of the message of Jesus should encourage modern Christians to understand that we do not need to be so protective of our “creedal” faith. Rather, we should be flexible and willing to consider that there may be some nearly forgotten, but possibly vital earlier traditions within Christianity that might be instructive and useful for both modern understanding and practice of faith.


      Now we can add
      5. The Torah had become corrupt
      6. No alcohol

      Whelp. Ken you said something arrogantly about getting “nuked” earlier?? Agnostic I think you had something about “blind faith” and not historical fact I can’t quite remember. Man how much must God must love you to allow this information to reach you.

      Oh for everybody because the occasion seems appropriate:

      • If you want to put the Quranic Jesus in historical context, you should take a at late antique 7th century Arabia, not 1/2 century palestine. That’s what reasonable scholarship does and what Muslim apologists ignore.

      • Assalamu Alaykum brother Stew.

        Very nice rebuttal to what Tobias, Ken and Agnostic wrote. One question though. We, as Muslims, believe that Prophet Jesus (AS) was a Prophet of God and the Messiah from birth, whereas the Ebionites believed that he became the Messiah at baptism (Like how Tobias mentioned). Wouldn’t that imply that the Ebionites were not truly “proto Muslim” because they had a different belief regarding when Jesus became the Messiah? Or do you mean “proto Muslim” because they shared the belief in Jesus being only a human, born of a Virgin (some of them believed that), and preached adherence to the Law, and was a Prophet sent by God? This is as opposed to mainstream, historical Trinitarian Pauline Christianity.

      • Stew, a few comments on your argument.

        1] You have not yet given us any reason to believe that the Ebionites were around in the 1st Century. Once again, the earliest explicit reference to them is from Irenaeus, who was writing in the 2nd Century. They are generally recognized to be a 2nd Century group.

        2] I’m not sure why you think Eusebius is a more accurate and ‘objective’ source than Irenaeus. Eusebius was writing at a time when the Ebionites were no longer around (4th Century), whereas Irenaeus at least was a contemporary.

        3] More importantly though, the standard scholarly view seems to be that the Ebionites held to an *adoptionist* Christology. That is, Christ, while born a mere man, acquires a divine status at some point in his life. Ehrman, in the book, states that according to them, Christ was ‘adopted by God’ (p.100)

        4] Relatedly, there is no evidence that anyone in the Early Church held to an Islamic Christology. Ehrman divides early Christologies into five broad categories:

        -> adoptionism (e.g.Ebionites)
        -> docetism
        -> separationism
        -> modalism
        -> proto-Orthodox view (the one that won out)

        See the link for more detail on each group: https://ehrmanblog.org/early-christian-docetism/

        None of these Christologies are consistent with Islam. So, there is no evidence of a proto-Muslim group in the 1st or 2nd Centuries.

        5] Incidentally, Akers (whom you cite) argues that one of the essential positions of the Ebionites was their belief that “Christ has appeared many times”. To quote him:

        “The Ebionites felt that Jesus’ life was neither the first nor the last appearance of the Christ. According to Epiphanius, the Ebionites thought that Christ was “in Adam” and appeared, as Adam, to the patriarchs” p.28

        This would suggest that they were separationists, i.e. distinguished between the human Jesus and the divine, pre-existent Christ. This is deeply un-Islamic.

  18. Dear All

    May I thank Mr Stewjo004 for his spirited riposte to my idle theological ramblings. I think he and I are truly developing a beneficial form of good natures duelling.

    • @ Tobias and Chris
      Yes, to add to what Tobias said I think you both raised good arguments for your views and not being insulting. Even if we have theological differences I’ve enjoyed the “mental spar”. Please accept my apologies for any insults.

  19. Thanks to EVERYONE for making this first Feature Article a place of respectful discussion and debate.

    • @ Paul
      I think I could have been a bit better (sorry guys naturally this subject is going to stir up passions in people) BUT I do believe the foundations are laid for A LOT more productive learning. For one we had a good correction on higher Christology regarding the council of Nicene not being when Christians began worshipping Jesus(as). It simply defined what we know as “standard Christendom”. Next, I think we (including myself) learned a lot about lower Christology views in the early Church as well. So overall, not bad I would say.

  20. @ Agnostic
    Did you read from what I just quoted from. None of these are Islamic sources so you can’t claim bias. You are simply looking for a reason to argue which is why I don’t engage with you.

  21. @ Student of History
    Ehhh…not that weird and doesn’t contradict anything in Islam. He didn’t become the Messiah he was became the “son of God” (i.e. he is the heir to the throne of David (as))

    Their trying to make the title to contain shirk when it doesn’t (in the Jewish understanding which is who he preached to) All adoption means is he received revelation to preach. For example, the Prophet(saw) was technically a prophet at birth but he received revelation at 40. Same here, it was announced to his mother that he was the Messiah but he received revelation at 30.

  22. @ Chris
    1. Pretty much consensus that they were Paul’s opponents or descendants of them. You are literally the first person I have ever seen argue that Ebionites are 2nd century. Just because they are mentioned in 180 doesn’t mean they weren’t around earlier (by that reasoning we can throw out a lot of books in the NT). Pretty much agreed that Irenaeus just started calling Judaizing Christians (aka Ebionites) heretics at this time:

    “he Ebionites (from Hebrew; אביונים, Ebyonim, “the poor ones”) were an early sect of Jewish followers of Jesus that flourished from the first to the fifth century C.E. in and around the Land of Israel.[1]…the Ebionites saw Jesus as a mortal human being, who by being a holy man,[2] was chosen by God to be the prophet of the “Kingdom of Heaven.”[3]

    “Although their beginning was certainly in the first century, we do not have a New Testament book directed against this teaching (unlike the Judaizers and the Gnostics).”

    2. My apologies it must not have come off correctly, I was being sarcastic about Eusebius (should have put a “…” . One can clearly see bias in Eusebius’s writings about them however we get some glimpses into their beliefs even with the bias.

    3. From Ehrman regarding beliefs:
    The term “Ebionite” was widely used in proto-orthodox and orthodox sources to refer to “Jewish-Christian” groups, or at least one group (it is likely that there were lots of these groups, and it may be that the church fathers assumed they were all the same group when in fact they had different views, different theologies, different practices, and so on).

    I just listed beliefs they had that was consistent with Islam (I can actually add more regarding modern Muslims opinions).

    A. Thought Jesus was a human and prophet (2:136, 3:51, 3:59 3:84)
    B. Jesus was not a god (4:171, 5:116)
    C. Had a book called the Gospel (57:27, 5:46)
    D. Believed one had to still observe laws in the Scripture (3:84, 98:5)
    E. The Torah had become corrupt (2:79, 5:13)

    On point 5 he clarifies even further.

    4. Ebionites did not consider Jesus to be God. That is pretty much a consensus among all of them and any scholarship I’ve ever read concerning them. Son of God in Hebrew means heir to David’s throne.


    Adopted by God means like how David was adopted for obedience.

    5. Ehrman believes Jesus believed himself to only be God’s prophet.

    And @ 00:30 he quite explicitly states there were Christians who thought Jesus(as) was human and then speaks on the Ebionites @ 00:1:00 that THEY are the earliest form of Christianity.

    Even from a logical perspective. If he believed himself to be a prophet a chunk of his followers are going to as well. This is again the Islamic view regarding Jesus.

    • Stew,

      1] Of course there were Judaizing Christians in the 1st Century, as Paul’s letters attest. But there is no evidence that *these* Judaizers disagreed with Paul on Christological matters. If they did, Paul would surely have mentioned it, as their teachings feature prominently in his writings. The disagreement had to do with the status of Gentiles in the Church, which of course Paul does mention.

      Now, those Judaizers that Ireneaeus and later Church Fathers came to call ‘Ebionites’ clearly did disagree with Paul on Christology. But I have yet to see evidence that their Christological views (whether separationist or adoptionist) were held by Paul’s opponents.

      2] but if you think Eusebius is unreliable and biased, why quote him to show that the Ebionites held Islamic views? How do you distinguish the truth from the false charges?

      3] No one denies that *some* of what the Ebionites believed was consistent with Islam. The problem is that their Christological views are also deeply at odds with those of Islam.

      To reiterate my earlier points, Ehrman says they were adoptionists (https://ehrmanblog.org/was-christ-god-the-view-of-jewish-christian-ebionites/)

      Akers, whose book you quote earlier, says they were separationists (see quote from him in my earlier comment).

      Both separationism and adoptionism are fundamentally un-Islamic. So, on either view, the Ebionites were very far from Islam.

      4] No one is saying that, for the Ebionites, Jesus = God. But, if they were adoptionists (cf. Ehrman), then they believed that Jesus *acquired* a divine status, i.e. became a secondary, inferior deity alongside God, much like Roman emperors were believed to become divine after death.

      And if they were separationists (cf. Akers, Irenaeus, Epiphanius), they believed that ‘Jesus-Christ’ was composed of two beings, one divine and one human.

      5] It’s true that, for Ehrman, Jesus didn’t regard himself as divine in any sense. But Ehrman argues in his ‘How Jesus became God’ that the original disciples — i.e. Peter, John etc. — came to believe that Jesus had acquired a divine status after his resurrection. Hence, Ehrman believes that the earliest Christology was adoptionist. So, for Ehrman, there was never a time at which Christian Christological views were essentially Islamic.

  23. Dear Stewjo004

    According to the quotation from the Gospel of the Ebionites from the Panarion of St Epiphanius of Salamis, of holy and blessed memory:

    ‘The people having been baptized, Jesus came also, and was baptized by John. And as he came out of the water the heavens opened, and he saw the Holy Spirit descending under the form of a dove, and entering into him. And a voice was heard from heaven: “Thou art my beloved Son, and in thee am I well pleased. And again: “This day have I begotten thee.” And suddenly shone a great light in that place. And John seeing him, said, “Who art thou, Lord?” Then a voice was heard from heaven: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Thereat John fell at his feet and said: “I pray thee, Lord, baptise me.” But he would not, saying “Suffer it, for so it behoveth that all should be accomplished.”

    The Holy Spirit not only rests upon Jesus, but enters into him. A voice from heaven declares that he is now the Beloved Son of God due to his baptism. There is a blinding flash of light, as the Holy Baptist, of righteous memory, proclaims him as Lord. Here we see the adoption of Jesus as the Christ, the Divine Son of God. This is not unlike the position of Nestorius, the accursed of God.

    Dear Sir, your statement that the Ebionites possessed a single book of the Gospel , allegedly the original proto islamic gospel,seem a little strange. All the evidence suggests that their gospel was an amalgam of the synoptic gospels with an adoptionist bent. The concept of a singular gospel text was a remarkably common idea, as shown in the Diatesseron of Tatian, the accursed of God.

    The Ebionite gospels display obvious alteration of the stories to fit their own doctrinal developments. For example, the Ebionites were vegetarians, and they changed the narrative to support this view. On the diet of John the Baptist, the New Testament Gospels tell us:

    “Now John himself had a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey,” (Matthew 3:4, see also Mark 1:6).

    The Ebionites altered the text to say:

    “And so John was baptizing, and Pharisees came to him and were baptized, as was all of Jerusalem. John wore a garment of camel hair and a leather around his waist; and his food was wild honey that tasted like manna, like a cake cooked in oil.”10

    They removed the locusts to make John a vegetarian. Biblical Christians have no attachment to eating locusts and had no special reason to report that John ate them other than the fact that he did. The Ebionites, however, did have an important reason to deny that John ate locusts. They altered the text to support their teaching. They did this again later in the gospel, where the New Testament says:

    “Now on the first day of Unleavened Bread the disciples came to Jesus and asked, ‘Where do You want us to prepare for You to eat the Passover?’ And He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, “The Teacher says, ‘My time is near; I am to keep the Passover at your house with My disciples.'”‘ The disciples did as Jesus had directed them; and they prepared the Passover,” (Matthew 26:17-19).

    The Ebionite gospel adds an extra clause to the conversation to bring it in line with their views. When the disciples ask where Jesus wants them to prepare the Passover, Jesus begins by sternly clarifying:

    “I have no desire to eat the meat of this Passover lamb with you.”11

    These and other such examples lead scholars to conclude that the Ebionite gospel writer “appears to reinterpret both Jewish and Jesus traditions.”12 The Ebionites are not the preservers of an original Jewish Christian faith. They are a sect that altered the Christian faith to suit their own novel doctrines.

    Yet, even in doing so, they provide an additional line of evidence to us that the Canonical Gospels of the New Testament are, indeed, the older and more reliable sources on who Jesus really is and, therefore, on true Christianity. As much as certain modern critics may wish to find “real” Christianity in some lost ancient sect, the truth is that these later off-shoots all show signs of their novelty and point back to the fact that orthodox, New Testament Christianity is the true heir to Jesus’ teaching. The biblical Gospels are early, authoritative, and reliable. We should accept no substitutes.

    In the Immortal words of St Irenaeus of blessed memory:

    Vain also are the Ebionites, who do not receive by faith into their soul the union of God and man, but who remain in the old leaven of [the natural] birth, and who do not choose to understand that the Holy Ghost came upon Mary, and the power of the Most High did overshadow her: Luke 1:35 wherefore also what was generated is a holy thing, and the Son of the Most High God the Father of all, who effected the incarnation of this being, and showed forth a new [kind of] generation; that as by the former generation we inherited death, so by this new generation we might inherit life. Therefore do these men reject the commixture of the heavenly wine, and wish it to be water of the world only, not receiving God so as to have union with Him, but they remain in that Adam who had been conquered and was expelled from Paradise: not considering that as, at the beginning of our formation in Adam, that breath of life which proceeded from God, having been united to what had been fashioned, animated the man, and manifested him as a being endowed with reason; so also, in [the times of] the end, the Word of the Father and the Spirit of God, having become united with the ancient substance of Adam’s formation, rendered man living and perfect, receptive of the perfect Father, in order that as in the natural [Adam] we all were dead, so in the spiritual we may all be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:22 For never at any time did Adam escape the hands of God, to whom the Father speaking, said, Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness. And for this reason in the last times (fine), not by the will of the flesh, nor by the will of man, but by the good pleasure of the Father, John 1:13 His hands formed a living man, in order that Adam might be created [again] after the image and likeness of God.

    P.S I beg you to look to Our Lady of Fatima, read her words and known the truth that she is the greatest and highest of all created beings:

    “Pray, pray very much, and make sacrifices for sinners; for many souls go to hell, because there are none to sacrifice themselves and pray for them.”

    – Our Lady of Fatima, August 1917

    God love you

    • Just a quick comment Tobias. You said:

      “The Ebionite gospels display obvious alteration of the stories to fit their own doctrinal developments. For example, the Ebionites were vegetarians, and they changed the narrative to support this view. On the diet of John the Baptist, the New Testament Gospels tell us:”

      Well, to be honest and with all due respect, your own gospels display “obvious alteration of the stories to fit their own doctrinal developments”. Here is a perfect example:

      Jesus’ trial before the Sanhedrin –

      “At daybreak the council of the elders of the people, both the chief priests and the teachers of the law, met together, and Jesus was led before them. 67 “If you are the Messiah,” they said, “tell us.”

      Jesus answered, “If I tell you, you will not believe me, 68 and if I asked you, you would not answer. 69 But from now on, the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the mighty God.”

      70 They all asked, “Are you then the Son of God?”

      He replied, “You say that I am.”” – Luke 22

      “The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

      64 “You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”” – Matthew 26

      “Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

      62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”” – Mark 14

      We can see clear differences in Jesus’ alleged response to the question “are you the Messiah, the son of God”. Even the question has its variants!

    • @ Tobias

      This is not my “claim” this is what was noted by your scholars. I did not know this until yesterday. Take it up with Handmann not me.

      Next they had multiple beliefs the “Church Fathers” did not know the differences between the various sects (because they themselves were former pagans from a non Jewish background) they used the umbrella term “Ebionites”. It’s a major pet peeve of mine to research multiple scholarly references and quotes and then they not be read as this objection was already noted and refuted.

      And no the canonical books are not 100% reliable nor the first ones written. They have a plethora of contradictions and historical errors as I noted in my article refuting the Crucifixion:

      If tgey can’t even get the back details right about one of the most important events in modern Christianity I think we can take what is said with a grain of salt.

      Finally (and further proof of the Church’s corruption) is they were know to fake miracles( to “increase the faith of the believers) For example, the “crying” statue of Mary

      So the alleged quotes from Mary that someone one day claimed to have in a vision (which honestly makes no sense as she has never been a Messenger from God) mean nothing to me. Even this quote is wrong. People do not go to Hell because someone doesn’t pray for them. They go to Hell because of their evil and wicked choices that reflect from what’s in their heart. It is actually pretty hard to go to Hell and anyone who has even an ounce of good woll be guided by God.

  24. @ Ken

    I didn’t see this claim of Isnad. No, you don’t you have a quote from Eusebius that Polycarp said this for example. There is no chain to Polycarp causing a break which makes the quote no good. A lot of your books are similar to this.

    • Some important references are: the early church father Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons (ca. A. D. 140-ca. 210), who was himself a disciple of Polycarp (ca. A.D. 70-ca. 155-160) and Polycarp, in turn, a disciple of the Apostle John, testifies on Polycarp’s authority that John published the Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia Minor when he was advanced in age (e.g. Against Heresies 2.22.5; 3.1.1.).

      After Irenaeus, all the church fathers assumed John to be the Gospel’s author. Clement of Alexandria (ca. A.D. 150-ca. 215) writes that John, aware of the facts set forth in the other Gospels and being moved by the Holy Spirit, composed a “spiritual gospel” (see Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History 6.14.7).

      In his Against Heresies (3.1.2) Irenaeus expressly says, “John the disciple of the Lord, who leaned on Jesus’ breast, published the Gospel while he was resident at Ephesus in Asia.”

      In Against Heresies 3.1.2, Irenaeus wrote . . .

      For, while I was yet a boy, I saw thee in Lower Asia with Polycarp, distinguishing thyself in the royal court, and endeavoring to gain his approbation. For I have a more vivid recollection of what occurred at that time than of recent events (inasmuch as the experiences of childhood, keeping pace with the growth of the soul, become incorporated with it); so that I can even describe the place where the blessed Polycarp used to sit and discourse— his going out, too, and his coming in—his general mode of life and personal appearance, together with the discourses which he delivered to the people; also how he would speak of his familiar intercourse with John, and with the rest of those who had seen the Lord; and how he would call their words to remembrance. Whatsoever things he had heard from them respecting the Lord, both with regard to His miracles and His teaching, Polycarp having thus received [information] from the eye-witnesses of the Word of life, would recount them all in harmony with the Scriptures. These things, through God’s mercy which was upon me, I then listened to attentively, and treasured them up not on paper, but in my heart; and I am continually, by God’s grace, revolving these things accurately in my mind.

      Irenaeus had direct personal contact (as a boy) with Polycarp (“in Polycarp’s house”), Bishop of Smyrna, who had direct contact with John the Apostle himself. Writing the following regarding interaction with John the Apostle, Irenaeus related that he had direct contact in his younger years with Polycarp who had sat listening to John the Apostle when the latter was young.

      After Irenaeus, all the church fathers assumed John to be the Gospel’s author. Clement of Alexandria (ca. A.D. 150-ca. 215) writes that John, aware of the facts set forth in the other Gospels and being moved by the Holy Spirit, composed a “spiritual gospel” (see Eusebius’s Ecclesiastical History 6.14.7).”

      F. David Farnell


  25. @ Chris

    I know what adoptionist are, Ehrman (along with a list of other references) has CLEARLY stated that they did not believe Jesus was God or divine in anyway hence statements that they denied the divinity. It makes no sense to say someone denies someone’s divinity as a blanket statement and mean: “Oh well he became divine later.” Even Ehrman states in the post your quoting from says that they don’t know their views completely:

    When I say that some persons were known or thought to hold some such view, I mean that in many instances it is difficult (impossible, actually) to show that they really did hold such views. All we have, in virtually every case (not quite) are what their proto-orthodox opponents said about them. In other words, we have to take their enemies’ word for it. That is not usually a safe guide to a person’s views, as we realize all so well from the political realm (if instead of Jesus’ birth you’re interested in Obama’s, I’m not sure the best source is Donald Trump….)

    We actually don’t know…

    Notice the key words THOUGHT TO and WE ACTUALLY DON’T KNOW. Also using a half quote from the blog isn’t that useful as the full context can’t be read (like the half quotes from various Ebionite books the Church Fathers used). Since I’m not a member of Ehrman’s blog if you are may you please post the entire post including references? As I have stated for about the 5th time now the Church Fathers did not differentiate between ANY of the sects and grouped them all together. They do not have a unified view so please stop trying to make it seem so. Even now your guys position has now changed from they have no Islamic beliefs to some. It seems for you guys nothing short of them reading the Quran is what it takes for them to have Islamic beliefs. It’s really not that difficult to comprehend. Multiple little sects in Jerusalem are called “Ebionites” by former pagan Church Fathers now accusing them of heresy. Even though they are clearly biased and have even said wrong things about their beliefs or even outright fabrications (ex. their fictional founder named “Ebion”) In these biased/fabricated reports about these Jewish sects their is a wide range of views being claimed. Of these views some are un islamic but the lion’s share is. We of course cannot know for sure barring a discovery of DSS magnitude but it can be pretty ascertained that the main area Jesus(as) who dod not consider himself God preached had drastically different views then Modern Christians

    As for your argument concerning Eusebius that is a norm in history when reading bias material. You said you went to college so you should know this is a standard when interpreting history when you have nothing from the other side. Especially when the side telling the story is inconsistent, contradictory and known to lie.

    The entire argument that “multiple Christian sects” were saying Jesus was God, therefore, he must have taught it or every single one must have believed it is shallow. Using Islam as an example, which (as can be seen) is strict monotheism and even we had heresies similar to this with the Prophet’s(saw) cousin by the name of Ali(ra) with the Shia. Early Shi’ism had a variety of beliefs that are drastically different from modern times. Their early beliefs (which we recorded way better than the Church Fathers) ranged from something as simple as “Ali(ra) is a better political leader than Uthman(ra)” to “Ali(as) is God incarnate”. So using laymen, not from the area where the initial message was extreme veneration as evidence doesn’t really make sense and the multiple beliefs recorded isn’t that strange. But seeing the nature of this topic I’ll probably end up writing an article on it

    • Stew,

      1] Regarding adoptionism : it’s incorrect to say that for Ehrman, adoptionists did not believe that Jesus is divine ‘in any way’.

      Here is what Ehrman said in a lecture on the subject, link included below (quote starts at 36:45):

      “The first Christians thought that the man Jesus was made a divine being. He was made a divine being because God had adopted him. God adopted him to be his Son.”

      And again at 40:25 :

      “The earliest Christians thought that when Jesus got raised from the dead, he was taken up to heaven and was made into a divine being, who was worthy of worship. So the early Christians worshiped him as the Son of God who had been exalted to Heaven”


      2] Regarding not knowing what the Ebionites believed : if you can’t know what they believed, why claim that they had mostly Muslim beliefs?

      3] “They do not have a unified view so please stop trying to make it seem so” : I never said that. To quote myself:

      “It’s true that the Church Fathers made conflicting claims about the Ebionites — probably because there was no single ‘Ebionite’ group.”

      4] Even now your guys position has now changed from they have no Islamic beliefs to some.
      Never said that either. My claim is that Ebionite Christologies (assuming we can know what they were) were either adoptionist (cf. Ehrman) or separationist (cf. Akers) and both of these views are profoundly un-Islamic. This isn’t just a matter of quibbling, as both of these views violate Tawheed. How would you feel about a ‘Muslim’ who claimed that Jesus became a divine being?

      5] The entire argument that “multiple Christian sects” were saying Jesus was God, therefore, he must have taught it or every single one must have believed it is shallow.

      I never used that argument. My argument was that, according to Ehrman, *all* early Christians believed that Jesus was divine in some way, even the apostles themselves. The disagreements concerned the *sense* in which he was divine. This contradicts the common Islamic claim that Jesus’ earliest followers were devout Muslims.

      I look forward to reading your article.

  26. Yes, this is exactly what I’m talking about. Just instudying two “Apostolic Fathers” has a host of issues. There was a tendency among different sects to claim to be the “true” followers of the Apostles and according to Ehrman:

    “Irenaeus… claimed that Papias was a companion of the disciple of Jesus, John the Son of Zebedee. But Eusebius, who actually read Papias’s book, claims that this is incorrect. Based on what Papias himself said, Eusebius points out that Papias was not a follower of any of the apostles. He got his information from others. In other words, Irenaeus was trying to make Papias out to be more of an authority than he was. That is very much the tendency in the early Christian tradition (and among conservative Christian scholars today), to claim direct connections with eyewitnesses where there weren’t any. Eusebius himself is skeptical of much of what Papias says: he speaks of the “bizarre parables” that he claims Jesus spoke and of the “legendary accounts” found in his writings. So not even Eusebius thought that Papias could be trusted to convey the truth about Jesus’ life and teachings, despite Papias’s claim to have connections with eyewitnesses.”

    Some scholars maintain that these traditions are historically creditable. I myself do not – I think these are legends meant to buttress the credentials and therefore the authority of Polycarp and Papias. It is interesting and worth reflecting on that we have an actual letter from Polycarp in which he quotes from Matthew, Mark, and Luke. But not from John. Why would that be, if John was his teacher and if John wrote the Fourth Gospel?

    So if John The son of Zebedee(ra) is Polycarp’s teacher, why would he not quote his HIM directly because he is a far better source of authority than any of the gospels? Also IF he was a student how come he himself never mentions this or even quotes the gospel according to John? Next there is a debate in your scholarship about who “Elder John” even is (as some including Eusebius believe that it was not the apostle John). This is not a proper isnad and would automatically be declared weak as you have an 1 break in the chain and an unknown (Jesus(as)<Apostle John <his scribe/translator<Elder John?<Polycarp) AND no proof Polycarp and John bin Zebedee even met let alone studied together. Eusebius would have been young and wrote this about Polycarp over 30 years later.

    As for Papias he has even bigger issues:
    “In one of the most famous passages quoted by Eusebius, Papias indicates that instead of reading about Jesus and his disciples in books, he preferred hearing a “living voice.” He explains that whenever knowledgeable people came to visit his church, he asked them what they knew. Specifically he spoke with people who had been “companions” of those whom he calls “elders” who had earlier been associates with the disciples of Jesus. And so Papias is not himself an eyewitness to Jesus’s life and does not know eyewitnesses. Writing many years later (as much as a century after Jesus’s death), he indicates that he knew people who knew people who knew people who were with Jesus during his life. So it’s not like having firsthand information, or anything close to it.” (Jesus before the Gospels pg.64)

    He did not consider written accounts useful and has stories such as Judas did not die the way he is said to have in the Bible (meaning he didn't find Matt’s account correct) Also in his quotes of Matt and Mark appears to show they weren’t using your books. Papias says that they were composed of Just Jesus’s sayings in Hebrew (further strengthening my theory that the Injeel are the parables in Aramaic) and Matt and Mark are not just sayings books today. He could have believed the books you have were composed originally in Hebrew when the weren’t but that further harms your position of him being an eyewitness. He also says Mark was not in order (while Matt is and the narratives are similar) and that ALL of Peter’s memories were contained within. Mark is not that long of a book and can be completed in a day of lite reading.

    So appealing to Papias brings some serious issues. Either he doesn’t believe your books are any good, he lied, or wasn’t an eye witness and thus your isnad is further broken. Early Christians didn’t appreciate his work and Eusebius basically says he’s a moron. So this isnad is (Jesus(as)<Apostle Peter<his scribe/translator< his companion< “the Elder”<Polycarp)

    And poof just like that there goes half of your 4 tiny chains. This is NOT how our books look and it's an insulting comparison quite frankly.

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