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Jewish Christianity in Alexandria

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  • Sakari Häkkinen
    I am preparing a paper on Ebionites in Alexandria to be presented at SBL international meeting in Rome next summer. In my opinion the main evidence comes from
    Message 1 of 12 , Mar 4, 2001
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      I am preparing a paper on Ebionites in Alexandria to be presented at SBL international meeting in Rome next summer. In my opinion the main evidence comes from Origen. However, I would like to anchor the brief notes by Origen to a larger background. I have access to Pearson & Goehring (ed.), The Roots of Egyptian Christianity, which I consider as a good introduction to the issue. I would be very pleased if someone who is familiar to this area could recommend me other useful literature (off-list).

      Best wishes,

      Sakari
    • Bob Schacht
      ... And I would be very pleased if they would do so *on* -list. If there is anything from your paper that you d be willing to share on this list, I d be very
      Message 2 of 12 , Mar 5, 2001
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        At 09:15 AM 3/5/01 +0200, you wrote:
        >I am preparing a paper on Ebionites in Alexandria to be presented at SBL
        >international meeting in Rome next summer. In my opinion the main evidence
        >comes from Origen. However, I would like to anchor the brief notes by
        >Origen to a larger background. I have access to Pearson & Goehring (ed.),
        >The Roots of Egyptian Christianity, which I consider as a good
        >introduction to the issue. I would be very pleased if someone who is
        >familiar to this area could recommend me other useful literature (off-list).
        >
        >Best wishes,
        >
        >Sakari

        And I would be very pleased if they would do so *on* -list. If there is
        anything from your paper that you'd be willing to share on this list, I'd
        be very interested. Also, have you been looking at the papyrus material
        being published in recent years? It seems like there has been a fair amount
        published in the past ten years, but I don't know much about the
        non-canonical material or the variant editions of GMatthew, etc. that might
        be worth looking at.

        Thanks,
        Bob


        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • willker@chemie.uni-bremen.de
        ... at SBL international meeting in Rome next summer. What about: Acts 18:24-25 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and
        Message 3 of 12 , Mar 8, 2001
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          --- In crosstalk2@y..., Sakari Häkkinen <sakari.hakkinen@s...> wrote:
          > I am preparing a paper on Ebionites in Alexandria to be presented
          at SBL international meeting in Rome next summer.

          What about:

          Acts 18:24-25 "And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria,
          an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus
          This man was instructed in the way of the Lord [Codex D adds: "in his
          own country"]; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught
          diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John."

          Best wishes
          Wieland
        • Sakari Häkkinen
          ... Yes. What about it? I am searching for the evidence for Ebionites living in Alexandria. This passage does not support my thesis. At best it could be taken
          Message 4 of 12 , Mar 9, 2001
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            Wieland wrote:

            > What about:
            >
            > Acts 18:24-25 "And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria,
            > an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus
            > This man was instructed in the way of the Lord [Codex D adds: "in his
            > own country"]; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught
            > diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John."
            >

            Yes. What about it? I am searching for the evidence for Ebionites living in Alexandria. This passage does not support my thesis. At best it could be taken as a proof that there were such Jews living in Alexandria who had knowledge of some Jewish baptism movement, probably John´s.

            BTW Wieland, thank you for referring to the book by Griggs: Early Egyptian Christianity - From its Origins to 451 CE. This is already the 3rd edition of the book. I ordered it recently and will discuss with you when I have the book. Do folks have interest to follow this on-line or should we have it off-line?

            Sakari

            Sakari Hakkinen, PhD
            University of Helsinki
            Department of Biblical Studies
            sakari.hakkinen@...
          • Bob Schacht
            ... Sakari, ON-LINE, PLEASE! Bob [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            Message 5 of 12 , Mar 9, 2001
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              At 03:24 PM 3/9/01 +0200, Sakari Häkkinen wrote:
              >Wieland wrote:
              >
              > > What about:
              > >
              > > Acts 18:24-25 "And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria,
              > > an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus
              > > This man was instructed in the way of the Lord [Codex D adds: "in his
              > > own country"]; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught
              > > diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John."
              > >
              >
              >Yes. What about it? I am searching for the evidence for Ebionites living
              >in Alexandria. This passage does not support my thesis. At best it could
              >be taken as a proof that there were such Jews living in Alexandria who had
              >knowledge of some Jewish baptism movement, probably John´s.
              >
              >BTW Wieland, thank you for referring to the book by Griggs: Early Egyptian
              >Christianity - From its Origins to 451 CE. This is already the 3rd edition
              >of the book. I ordered it recently and will discuss with you when I have
              >the book. Do folks have interest to follow this on-line or should we have
              >it off-line?
              >
              >Sakari

              Sakari,
              ON-LINE, PLEASE!

              Bob


              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • goranson@duke.edu
              ... Well, of course, it has been so argued. Here, I merely offer that the question is not necessarily an either/or question, and that groups may have more than
              Message 6 of 12 , Mar 10, 2001
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                Quoting Sakari H�kkinen <sakari.hakkinen@...>:

                > {....]
                > In the light of these it is not possible to argue
                > that the DSS community were Ebionites. [....]

                Well, of course, it has been so argued. Here, I merely offer that the
                question is not necessarily an either/or question, and that groups may
                have more than one name, and that Keck's articles are perhaps not
                ideal. In other words, a generic term, e.g., in Psalms, eventually
                became, in the eyes of some, a specific name of a disapproved group. In
                Qumran text (edat havionim), we may have a use somewhere in between a
                generic and specific group name. Therefore, the question of possible
                Qumran (and other Essene) influence on Ebionites remains open and may
                be investigated on other grounds. I do not wish another long exchange
                on this topic we have discussed before; I merely remind that some
                things that are attested after 70 have roots before 70, and that
                imagining Ebionites began in the second century encounters difficulties.
                best,
                Stephen Goransonnson
              • charles scott
                ... searching for the evidence ... ============================================== Please do share your findings on line. I am preparing readings for clergy to
                Message 7 of 12 , Mar 10, 2001
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                  --- Sakari_H�kkinen <sakari.hakkinen@...> wrote:
                  > Wieland wrote:
                  >
                  > > What about:
                  > >
                  > > Acts 18:24-25 "And a certain Jew named Apollos,
                  > born at Alexandria,
                  > > an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures,
                  > came to Ephesus
                  > > This man was instructed in the way of the Lord
                  > [Codex D adds: "in his
                  > > own country"]; > Yes. What about it? I am
                  searching for the evidence
                  > for Ebionites living in Alexandria. This passage
                  > does not support my thesis. At best it could be
                  > taken as a proof that there were such Jews living in
                  > Alexandria who had knowledge of some Jewish baptism
                  > movement, probably John�s.
                  > <SNIP>
                  > Do folks have
                  > interest to follow this on-line or should we have it
                  > off-line?
                  >
                  > Sakari
                  >
                  > Sakari Hakkinen, PhD
                  > University of Helsinki
                  > Department of Biblical Studies
                  > sakari.hakkinen@...
                  >
                  >
                  >
                  ==============================================
                  Please do share your findings on line. I am
                  preparing readings for clergy to continue their
                  education and am interested in your research.

                  Charles Scott
                  St. Paul's Anglican Church
                  Cincinnati, Ohio, U.S.A.
                • Sakari Häkkinen
                  Karel, ... So far I agree with you. It is an anachronism to call most of the Jesus movements Christians. However, when a scholar wants to understand the
                  Message 8 of 12 , Mar 10, 2001
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                    Karel,

                    > I believe the terms "Jewish Christianity" and "Jewish Christians" are quite confusing. for the first century. I myself prefer to designate Jews of the first century with the help of a Grecism "Judean" [ioudaios], not because I have a better idea of the various and diverse movements within the Judaism of that
                    > period, but precisely because historically we know so very little, even less then the average Greek, Roman or Egyptian citizen of that period.

                    So far I agree with you. It is an anachronism to call most of the "Jesus' movements" Christians. However, when a scholar wants to understand the phenomena of those groups that belong to Judaism and at the same time count on Jesus as some special sent by God, one needs such a definition like "Jewish Christianity" or "Judaic-Christianity". This is a complex issue.

                    > How about designating the Ebionites as 'Aramaic speaking Christian Judeans'

                    No way. The language of the Ebionites we have evidence of is Greek. They were not Judeans, if you mean by "Judeans" those living in Judaea. And most probably they did not call themselves Christians (nor did anyone else, since they were heretics).

                    >and the leading majority among the readers of Mark and Matthew as 'Greek speaking Christian
                    > Judeans'?

                    Again, why "Judeans"? I disagree.

                    I prefer calling Ebionites just Ebionites. If you want to label them as belonging to a larger group, let it be Jewish Christians or Judaic Christians, although that designation is an anachronism. However, I wouldn't call (all) Jewish Christians "Ebionites".

                    best wishes,

                    Sakari

                    Sakari Hakkinen, PhD
                    University of Helsinki
                    Department of Biblical Studies
                    sakari.hakkinen@...
                  • Sakari Häkkinen
                    Jack, ... You are not alone. I have had to do compromises. ... I disagree. In Gal 2,10 as in Rom 15,26 the word PTWXOI is not used as a designation but
                    Message 9 of 12 , Mar 10, 2001
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                      Jack,

                      > After 40 years of interest and study in early Christianity, I still have a
                      > problem with definitions.

                      You are not alone. I have had to do compromises.

                      > Ebionites or "Evyonim" meaning "poor ones." This appears to have been not
                      > only a self-designation
                      > for the disciples and followers of Jesus (Gal 2.10, Js 2:3-5)

                      I disagree. In Gal 2,10 as in Rom 15,26 the word PTWXOI is not used as a designation but referring to the real poverty of the first Christians in Jerusalem. Paul is not using the Hebrew designation transcribed in Greek as EBIWNAIOI like the Church Farthers did. Also in Js 2,3-5 it is quite clear that the author refers to poor members of the community that consisted of both wealthy and poor people. In the NT we do not find the term Ebionites and it is not right to interpret all the passages where PTWXOS is used as some kind of an organized group who had this kind of designation, nor Hebrew version of it which the author has translated to his own language as "the Poor". In my opinion there were poor people in the early Christian community in Jerusalem, but they did not call themselves "the Poor" thus willing to separate themselves from the other Christians. They could have sometimes called themselves "poor ones" as willing to point out the old promises that God helps the poor and humble. The same is true to DSS community.

                      > but is pervasive through the DSS corpus,
                      > particulary the pesharim and the War Scroll.

                      There is only one passage in the DSS, where Ebionim is used as a designation of a group (with the definite article: HAEBIONIM): 4QpPs 37. However, the DSS corpus includes several different such "designations". In the light of these it is not possible to argue that the DSS community were Ebionites. See Leander E. Keck: "The Poor Among the Saints in the New Testament" (ZNW 56, 100-129) and idem, "The Poor Among the Saints in Jewish Christianity (ZNW 57, 54-78).

                      >I assume, correct me if I am wrong, we are looking for the
                      > correspondence between
                      > the "Qehali" in Jerusalem to the significant Jewish community in Alexandria.

                      Who are "we"? I am just looking for clear evidence that there were such people living in Alexandria who were known as "Ebionites".

                      > Does the Pseudo-
                      > Clementine community of Alexandria correspond with the "Ebionites" of
                      > Jerusalem as perhaps
                      > the Therapeutae (some believe) corresponds with the Judean Essenes?

                      What makes you so convinced that there was some Pseudo-Clementine community in Alexandria -- and an Ebionite one in Jerusalem? The common traditions between Ebionites (I mean only those we have some evidence of) and the Pseudo-Clementines are extremely interesting to me. It is not at all clear whether the two correspond. PsCl contains so many tradition units from different ages that it is quite difficult to use the term Pseudo-Clementine community unless you mean by that only the community that used the entire corpus. And also Ebionites might not always be a very homogenic group.


                      > It appears to me that Alexandria or Egypt has connections to every one of
                      > the early sects
                      > associated with Jewish AND Gentile Christianity.

                      That is true. Egypt seems to have been a center of all kind Christianity after the fall of Jerusalem and before Rome became even more important (at least in Western traditions). Also Syriac Christianity was much more influential than many scholars ever have thought, but I am not sure if there was such a center in Syria like Alexandria in Egypt.

                      All the best,

                      Sakari Hakkinen, PhD
                      University of Helsinki
                      Department of Biblical Studies
                      sakari.hakkinen@...
                    • David C. Hindley
                      ... Christians. However, when a scholar wants to understand the phenomena of those groups that belong to Judaism and at the same time count on Jesus as some
                      Message 10 of 12 , Mar 10, 2001
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                        Sakari Hakkinen said:

                        >>It is an anachronism to call most of the "Jesus' movements"
                        Christians. However, when a scholar wants to understand the phenomena
                        of those groups that belong to Judaism and at the same time count on
                        Jesus as some special sent by God, one needs such a definition like
                        "Jewish Christianity" or "Judaic-Christianity".<<

                        >>The language of the Ebionites we have evidence of is Greek. They
                        were not Judeans, if you mean by "Judeans" those living in Judaea.<<

                        >>I prefer calling Ebionites just Ebionites. If you want to label them
                        as belonging to a larger group, let it be Jewish Christians or Judaic
                        Christians, although that designation is an anachronism. However, I
                        wouldn't call (all) Jewish Christians "Ebionites".<<

                        I think that we run into a problem the moment we start using "Jewish"
                        and "Christian" in the same label. All sorts of problems then arise.
                        When we think of "Christian" we are usually thinking of followers of
                        the savior figure we know from the NT and Greek Christian writers. If
                        by "Christian" we mean "followers of the/a Messiah" then why limit
                        that to mean only followers of Jesus?

                        Assuming that Jesus was real, and had followers, and that they
                        included both Jews and Gentiles, it seems that when we encounter the
                        word "Christian(s)" in the NT, the earlier church fathers, Tacitus or
                        Suetonius, and among modern commentators, the group so designated
                        could fall under any of these 10 categories (and most likely more if
                        we want to subdivide the categories "Jew(ish)" and "Gentile(s)" to
                        include converts and apostates who cross categories, etc., which might
                        be necessary when discussing the topic of "Ebionites"):

                        1) a. Jewish followers of a Jewish teacher named Jesus
                        b. Jewish followers of a Jewish messiah figure named Jesus
                        c. Jewish followers of a Jewish messiah figure other than Jesus
                        d. Jewish advocates of Jewish messianist ideas in general
                        e. Jews who believe Jesus to be a savior figure surnamed "Christ"

                        2) a. Gentile followers of a Jewish teacher named Jesus
                        b. Gentile followers of a Jewish messiah figure named Jesus
                        c. Gentile followers of a Jewish messiah figure other than Jesus
                        d. Gentile advocates of Jewish messianist ideas in general
                        e. Gentiles who believe Jesus to be a savior figure surnamed "Christ"

                        Perhaps we really need to create labels for all these potential groups
                        so that we can be as precise as possible when discussing subjects like
                        this. I am not trying to be cute, or speak tongue-in-cheek, when I
                        suggest this. For example, if you make a statement that uses the
                        phrase "Jewish Christian" with implied meaning 1e, and I reply
                        thinking of implied meaning 1a, then we may appear to be having a
                        dialogue when we really are not.

                        Regards,

                        Dave Hindley
                        Cleveland, Ohio, USA
                      • Bob Schacht
                        ... Sakari, I think you are quite correct, and this is a little understood phase of early Christian development. We owe this lack of understanding in part to
                        Message 11 of 12 , Mar 10, 2001
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                          At 07:39 PM 3/10/01 +0200, Sakari Häkkinen wrote:
                          >Jack,
                          >
                          >...
                          > > Ebionites or "Evyonim" meaning "poor ones." This appears to have
                          > been not
                          > > only a self-designation
                          > > for the disciples and followers of Jesus (Gal 2.10, Js 2:3-5)
                          >
                          >I disagree. In Gal 2,10 as in Rom 15,26 the word PTWXOI is not used as a
                          >designation but referring to the real poverty of the first Christians in
                          >Jerusalem. Paul is not using the Hebrew designation transcribed in Greek
                          >as EBIWNAIOI like the Church Farthers did. Also in Js 2,3-5 it is quite
                          >clear that the author refers to poor members of the community that
                          >consisted of both wealthy and poor people. In the NT we do not find the
                          >term Ebionites and it is not right to interpret all the passages where
                          >PTWXOS is used as some kind of an organized group who had this kind of
                          >designation, nor Hebrew version of it which the author has translated to
                          >his own language as "the Poor". In my opinion there were poor people in
                          >the early Christian community in Jerusalem, but they did not call
                          >themselves "the Poor" thus willing to separate themselves from the other
                          >Christians. They could have sometimes called themselves "poor ones" as
                          >willing to point out the old promises that God helps the poor and humble.
                          >The same is true to DSS community....I am just looking for clear evidence
                          >that there were such people living in Alexandria who were known as
                          >"Ebionites"....
                          > > It appears to me that Alexandria or Egypt has connections to every one of
                          > > the early sects
                          > > associated with Jewish AND Gentile Christianity.
                          >
                          >That is true. Egypt seems to have been a center of all kind Christianity
                          >after the fall of Jerusalem and before Rome became even more important (at
                          >least in Western traditions)....

                          Sakari,
                          I think you are quite correct, and this is a little understood phase of
                          early Christian development. We owe this lack of understanding in part to
                          the Luke(Acts)-Paul emphasis on European Christianity and the almost
                          complete absence in Acts of anything about the growth of Christianity in Egypt.

                          The role of Egypt is pivotal, I think, for this simple reason: Papyrus
                          technology lowered the price of making manuscripts (I am taking as my point
                          of departure Crossan's chapter in The Birth of Christianity on Gospels and
                          Sources [Chapter 9]). Even if the Ebionim were only a small sect of Jewish
                          Christianity, there were many Christians, as you point out above, who
                          merited the descriptor, "poor". Manuscripts written on leather parchment
                          were fairly expensive, at the cost of anything from a single sheep to a
                          whole flock, depending on the length of the manuscript. Papyrus, by
                          comparison, was cheap. My guess is that this simple fact made Egypt the
                          center of production for Christian manuscripts for the first several
                          centuries. It may also help us make sense of Papias:

                          >At 04:12 7/17/97 +0000, Thomas Kopecek wrote:
                          > >Papias DOES prefer oral tradition to writings. If he can be seen as
                          > >grinding an axe, perhaps that is it. He says, "For I did not suppose
                          > >that things from books would help me as much as things from a living and
                          > >surviving voice"--apud Eusebius, HE 3:39:4 (this comes right after the
                          > >passage where he talks about inquiring about the words of the "elders"
                          > >when he encountered people who knew them).
                          >[...]
                          > >To repeat, one could argue that since religiously Papias prefers
                          > >unwritten tradition to written documents, what he has to say about the
                          > >latter gains in credibility.

                          The distinction may not be merely between written and unwritten
                          sources, but between North and South: Perhaps when Papias mentions
                          "written documents" he has in mind those produced in distant Egypt, and
                          when he mentions "the words of the elders," he is referring to sources
                          close at hand.

                          Bob


                          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                        • Sakari Häkkinen
                          ... I fully agree. ... I would like to know why you say so. What goes wrong with Keck? ... I like your distinction between a generic term and a specific
                          Message 12 of 12 , Mar 12, 2001
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                            Stephen:
                            > > In the light of these it is not possible to argue
                            > > that the DSS community were Ebionites. [....]
                            >
                            > Well, of course, it has been so argued. Here, I merely offer that the
                            > question is not necessarily an either/or question, and that groups may
                            > have more than one name

                            I fully agree.

                            > and that Keck's articles are perhaps not
                            > ideal.

                            I would like to know why you say so. What goes wrong with Keck?

                            > a generic term, e.g., in Psalms, eventually
                            > became, in the eyes of some, a specific name of a disapproved group.

                            I like your distinction between "a generic term" and "a specific name". That helps me to present more clearly what I mean. I have done investigation on the group that had a specific name "Ebionites" and that was a disapproved group by the church fathers.

                            > In Qumran text (edat havionim), we may have a use somewhere in between a
                            > generic and specific group name.

                            That's right. I think that was something also Keck pointed out.

                            > Therefore, the question of possible
                            > Qumran (and other Essene) influence on Ebionites remains open and may
                            > be investigated on other grounds.

                            So far I have done not much investigation on Qumran and other Essene influence on Ebionites. It is a different thing to see some influence between two groups and to equate them.

                            > I do not wish another long exchange
                            > on this topic we have discussed before; I merely remind that some
                            > things that are attested after 70 have roots before 70, and that
                            > imagining Ebionites began in the second century encounters difficulties.

                            I hope no one has understood that I have argued that Ebionites as a movement started suddenly from nothing in the second century. That is not my point of view. I find it quite natural that they had their roots in the time before 70. They wanted especially to highlight that their origins extend to apostolic time - like almost every "Christian" movement of that time did. What I have found misleading is the view of some scholars that Ebionites were a movement which existed as a specific group already before 70. We do not have firm evidence on that (like we have some evidence on Nazoreans). What we know for certain is that in the late second century there was a "sect" called Ebionites that was disapproved by the Fathers. If someone knows of a group that clearly used the designation "Ebionites" or was known by that specific name before late second century, let me know where I can find the evidence. The only passage in Qumran does not yet convince me, because it leaves so much open.

                            Best wishes,

                            Sakari Hakkinen, PhD
                            University of Helsinki
                            Department of Biblical Studies
                            sakari.hakkinen@...
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