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14 - The Nazoreans: living at the boundary of Judaism and Christianity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 March 2010

Graham N. Stanton
Affiliation:
King's College London
Guy G. Stroumsa
Affiliation:
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
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Summary

Patristic literature testifies to the existence of a number of Jewish-Christian groups (e.g., Ebionites, Elchasaites). In this essay, I want to pay some attention to one such group known from the ancient sources, the Nazoreans (Ncc∧copocToi), to see what light this group may shed on the formation of boundaries between Jews and Christians in the ancient world, from the first century onwards. The primary source for our knowledge of the Nazoreans is the Church Father Epiphanius (Panarion 29.7), though there are some others as well, particularly Jerome (c.342–420) whose life and career overlapped with that of Epiphanius (c.315–403) in the late fourth century GE. Epiphanius and Jerome seem to have had independent access to sources or information about the Nazoreans, though, according to Klijn and Reinink, ‘they had no first-hand knowledge of their beliefs.’

THE NAZOREANS IN THE CHURCH FATHERS

In her recent survey of scholarship on Jewish Christianity, Joan E. Taylor writes that the Nazoreans are the only group, ‘among all those described in patristic literature, which appears to have a good case for being an early Jewish Christian church’. What the Church Fathers, primarily Epiphanius and Jerome, say about other supposed Jewish-Christian groups (especially Ebionites and Elchasaites) is comparatively much more confused and unreliable.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1998

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