In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul writes:
1 Now I make known to you, my brothers, the Good News that I proclaimed to you, and
[that] you received, and in which you stand,
2 And by which, you have Life. By the Way of the Word I proclaimed to you;
remember, unless you have believed in vain.
3 For I committed to you from the first, according to what I received: that the Messiah
died for our sins, as it is written,
4 And that He was buried and rose after three days, as it is written.
5 And He appeared to Kefa: and after him, to the twelve,
6 And after that, He appeared to more than five hundred brothers together; many of
whom remain until now, though some of them sleep.
7 And after these, He appeared to Ya'akov, and after him to all the emissaries.
8 And at the end of all these, He appeared to me also, as one of untimely birth.
(1Cor. 15:1-8 HRV)
So where in the Scriptures do we read about the resurrected Yeshua’s appearance to Ya’akov Ha’Tzadik?
In his Jewish New Testament Commentary David Stern answers this question, saying:
The appearance to Ya'akov (James), ...is not mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament but is reported in one of the apocryphal books, the Gospel according to the Hebrews...
(Jewish New Testament Commentary by David Stern 1Cor. 15:7)
What is the Gospel according to the Hebrews?
The Gospel according to the Hebrews was a Gospel which was once used by the Nazarenes (and Ebionites).
The Nazarenes were the original Jewish followers of Yeshua as the Messiah (Acts 24:5). The “church father” Jerome (4th Cent.) described these Nazarenes as those “…who accept Messiah in such a way that they do not cease to observe the old Law.” (Jerome; On. Is. 8:14).
Elsewhere he writes:
Today there still exists among the Jews in all the synagogues of the East a heresy which is called that of the Minæans (1), and which is still condemned by the Pharisees; [its followers] are ordinarily called ‘Nazarenes’; they believe that Messiah, the son of God, was born of the Virgin Miriam, and they hold him to be the one who suffered under Pontius Pilate and ascended to heaven, and in whom we also believe.”
(Jerome; Letter 75 Jerome to Augustine)
(1) “Minæans” apparently Latinized from Hebrew MINIM (singular is MIN) a word which in modern Hebrew means “apostates” but was originally an acronym for a Hebrew phrase meaning “Believers in Yeshua the Nazarene”.
The fourth century “church father” Epiphanius gives a more detailed description:
But these sectarians… did not call themselves Christians–but “Nazarenes,” … However they are simply complete Jews. They use not only the New Testament but the Old Testament as well, as the Jews do… They have no different ideas, but confess everything exactly as the Law proclaims it and in the Jewish fashion– except for their belief in Messiah, if you please! For they acknowledge both the resurrection of the dead and the divine creation of all things, and declare that G-d is one, and that his son is Yeshua the Messiah. They are trained to a nicety in Hebrew. For among them the entire Law, the Prophets, and the… Writings… are read in Hebrew, as they surely are by the Jews. They are different from the Jews, and different from Christians, only in the following. They disagree with Jews because they have come to faith in Messiah; but since they are still fettered by the Law–circumcision, the Sabbath, and the rest– they are not in accord with Christians…. they are nothing but Jews…. They have the Goodnews according to Matthew in its entirety in Hebrew. For it is clear that they still preserve this, in the Hebrew alphabet, as it was originally written. (Epiphanius; Panarion 29)
Now concerning the Gospel according to the Hebrews, the so-called “Church Fathers” write:
“And among them [doubted books] some have placed
the Gospel according to the Hebrews which is
the especial delight of those of the Hebrews
who have accepted Messiah.”
(Eusebius; Eccl. Hist. 3:25:5)
And as Jerome frequently mentions:
In the Gospel according to the Hebrews,
which is written in the Chaldee and Syrian language,
but in Hebrew letters, and is used by the Nazarenes
to this day…
(Jerome; Against Pelagius 3:2)
And in the Gospel according to the Hebrews,
which the Nazarenes are accustomed to read,…
(Jerome; Commentary on Ezek. 18:7)
The actual document has been lost to history, but about fifty quotations and citations of this document are preserved in quotations and citations from the so-called “Church Fathers” and other commentators even into the middle ages.
The so-called “Church Father” Jerome cites the relevant passage from the Gospel according to the Hebrews, saying:
Also the gospel called according to the Hebrews, recently translated by me into Greek and Latin, which Origen often uses, says after the resurrection of the Savior:
Now the Lord, when he had given the cloth to the servant of the priest, went to Ya’akov and appeared to him.
(for James had sworn that he would not eat bread from that hour in which he had drank the Lord’s cup until he should see him risen from among them that sleep). A little further on the Lord says, “Bring a table and bread.”And immediately it is added, He took bread and blessed and broke and gave it to Ya’akov HaTzadik and said to him, My brother, eat your bread, for the Son of Man is risen from among them that sleep.”
(Jerome; On Illustrious Men, 2)
In his 1937 book According to the Hebrews, Hugh Schonfield concludes:
The Gospel according to the Hebrews is a literary outlaw with a price on its head; but in spite of the scholarly hue and cry it still evades capture. Neither monastic libraries nor Egyptian rubbish heaps have so far yielded up a single leaf of this important document....
For behind Hebrews lies the unknown potentialities of the Nazarene tradition, which may confirm or contradict some of the most cherished beliefs of Orthodox Christianity. It is useless for certain theologians to designate Hebrews as "secondary" on the evidence of the present fragmentary remains preserved in quotation. ...
Judged by ancient testimony alone it is indisputable that Hebrews has the best right of any Gospel to be considered a genuine apostolic production;...
Here is obviously a most valuable witness, perhaps the most valuable witness to the truth about [Yeshua]... whom even a jury composed entirely of orthodox Christians could not despise, and who ought to be brought into court. But the witness is missing, and all that we have is a few reported statements of his taken long ago...
...it may be argued that there has been dependence not of 'Hebrews' on the Synoptics but vice versa-- that 'Hebrews' was one of the sources on which one or more of them drew. (According to the Hebrews; 1937; Hugh J. Schonfield; pp. 13-18)
And near the end of the book he concludes:
It is a great temptation to conclude an investigation of this kind with an attempted reconstruction of Hebrews. We believe that ere long it will be possible for such an attempt to be made on the lines of the connections and associations which have been set out in the foregoing pages. It is even now possible to restore conjecturally considerable passages from the indications which we have discovered of their contents.
(According to the Hebrews; 1937; Hugh J. Schonfield; p. 268)
It has been more than seventy five years since Schonfield wrote these words, and the time has now come that the long lost Gospel according to the Hebrews can be reconstructed and published to the world. Although the book has only survived through about fifty quotations in the so-called “Church Fathers, a reconstruction of the Gospel according to the Hebrews in English drawn from all of the available documents, has been created by James Scott Trimm.
To get the reconstruction of the Gospel according to the Hebrews, CLICK HERE.
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