It is time for the weekly Readers’ Mailbag. I am keeping a list of questions readers have asked, and I add to it all the time. If you have a question you are eager to hear me answer in a couple of paragraphs or so, simply ask! One convenient way to do so is simply to make a comment/question on this post. Here are three questions for today.
QUESTION: The Wikipedia entry on the gospel of the Nasorenes mentions your work on the similarities between it and the Gospel of Matthew, could you briefly tell me what this is about?
RESPONSE: There are three Gospels that are frequently called the “Jewish-Christian Gospels,” because they were – according to the writings of the church fathers – used by Christians who self-identified as being, also, Jewish (e.g., by keeping the Jewish law and, possibly, insisting that to be a follower of Jesus a male had to be circumcised and males and females needed to keep the Sabbath, observe kosher food laws, and so on). We do not have any of these three Gospels intact in a manuscript – we only have mentions of them and occasional quotations of them in the church fathers (who were opposed to the views these books set forth). And so to know what was in them we have to patch them together from these quotations.
You can see English translations of these three Gospels in my book (done with my colleague Zlatko Plese) The Other Gospels. The Gospels are called by ancient sources “The Gospel according to the Hebrews,” “The Gospel of the Ebionites,” and the “Gospel of the Nazareans.” The evidence for these Gospels is very complex and confusing, so much so that some scholars think there were only two of them and that different church fathers called them different things at different times.
But the standard view is that the Gospel according to the Hebrews had….
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