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Ebionites, or Ebionaioi, is a patristic term referring to a Jewish Christian movement that existed during the early centuries of the Christian Era. They regarded Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah while rejecting his divinity and insisted on the necessity of following Jewish law and rites. The Ebionites used only one of the Jewish Gospels, revered James the Just and rejected Paul of Tarsus as an apostate from the Law. Their name suggests that they placed a special value on voluntary poverty. Since historical records by the Ebionites are scarce, fragmentary and disputed, much of what is known or conjectured about the Ebionites derives from the Church Fathers, who wrote polemics against the Ebionites, whom they deemed heretical Judaizers. Consequently, very little about the Ebionite sect or sects is known with certainty, and most, if not all, statements about them are conjectural. Many scholars distinguish the Ebionites from other Jewish Christian groups, e.g., the Nazarenes; others consider them identical with the Nazarenes.
The Nuttall Encyclopedia
a sect that in the 2nd century sought to combine Judaism and the hopes of Judaism with Christianity, and rejected the authority of St. Paul and of the Pauline writings; they denied the divinity of Christ, and maintained that only the poor as such were the objects of salvation.
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