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Ebionites

(477 words)

Author(s): Merkel, Helmut
From the time of Irenaeus (d. ca. 200), “Ebionites” was the term used for Jewish Christians in the lists of heretics drawn up by the church fathers. Originally it was the self-designation of a specific group that, adopting OT and postbiblical ideas, gave itself the title “the poor” (Heb. ʾebyônı̂m). From the time of Hippolytus (d. ca. 236) the Hebrew word was taken to refer to a supposed founder of the sect called Ebion. Besides the judgments of the Fathers, seven fragments of an Ebionite gospel have been preserved, which show similarity to the…

Nazarene

(581 words)

Author(s): Merkel, Helmut
1. The term ho Nazarēnos occurs in the NT in apposition to the name “Jesus” to show that the Jesus meant is the man of Nazareth (Mark 1:24; 10:47; 14:67; 16:6). Matthew does not have the term but replaces it by ho Nazōraios in 26:71, also using that term in 2:23. We find both terms in Luke (the former in 4:34; 24:19; the latter in 18:37), but only the latter in Acts (6 times). John uses the latter term, but only in the passion story (18:5, 7; 19:19). The idea that this form of the name derived from a supposedly pre-Christian sect (the Nazaraioi) is mistaken, as is the idea that …

Hellenism

(1,674 words)

Author(s): Merkel, Helmut
1. Problems In the days of J. G. Droysen (1808–84), “Hellenism” was a term used for Greek culture and thought, and more specifically for nonclassical biblical Greek. Droysen, however, applied it to the epoch of the fusion of Greek and Near Eastern patterns, which began with Alexander the Great (336–323 b.c.). For him the postclassical age was no longer one of decay but a time of transition from Greek to Christian culture. He also saw a development in the Greek world itself to a rational view of th…

Jewish Christians

(1,552 words)

Author(s): Merkel, Helmut | Baumann, Arnulf
1. Biblical and Patristic Period 1.1. Term The loose term “Jewish Christians” takes on sharp contours only when it is used in agreement with patristic sources. It is used for Christians who link ¶ their confession of Christ to a theology and lifestyle of Jewish structure (M. Simon, G. Strecker). 1.2. Sources and Spread The early Christian fathers from the time of Irenaeus (d. ca. 200) describe Jewish Christians. There are quotations from perhaps three Jewish-Christian gospels (Apocrypha 2.1.2), and there is a reference to Jewish Christians in the Pseudo-Cl…

Charisma

(1,333 words)

Author(s): Merkel, Helmut | Wallis, Roy
1. The NT 1.1. Term The term “charisma” occurs in Hellenistic Jewish writings only in textually uncertain passages. It finds broad attestation for the first time in Paul and in works influenced by him. It is rare in secular Greek, being used only from the second century a.d. in the basic sense of “gift,” “present,” or “charitable act.” 1.2. Paul 1.2.1. Basic Meaning We occasionally find the basic meaning “gift” in Paul (Rom. 1:11; 6:23). More specifically, we also find the sense “gift that comes from God’s act of salvation” (e.g., 1 Cor. 1:7; 2 Cor. 1:11; Rom. 5:15–16). This usage echo…

Jude, Epistle of

(347 words)

Author(s): Merkel, Helmut | Hultgren, Arland J.
The author of the Epistle of Jude calls himself “a servant of Jesus Christ” and “brother of James” but does not tell us to whom he is writing (vv. 1–2). The cause of writing is the intrusion of false teachers into an unknown community. These teachers promote licentiousness and, in fact, deny Christ (vv. 3–4). Their judgment is depicted (vv. 5–19) in terms taken from examples in the OT and the Apocrypha (vv. 5–7, 9, 11) and by means of pre-Christian and early Christian prophecy (vv. 14–18). The recipients are admonished to cling to their “most holy faith” (v. 20), the faith “once for all entru…

Lord’s Prayer

(2,034 words)

Author(s): Merkel, Helmut | Hultgren, Arland J.
1. The Different Versions 1.1. The NT contains two versions of the Lord’s Prayer. The form used in most liturgies is that of Matt. 6:9b–13, which begins with the invocation “Our Father, [you] who are in the heavens” (lit. trans.). Three petitions follow in reference to God (“your name … your kingdom … your will”), and four in reference to those who are praying (“our bread … our debts … lead us not … deliver us”). The oldest MSS omit the doxology. The shorter form in Luke 11:2b–4 opens with the simple address “Father.” It has two you-petitions (“your name … your kingdom”) and thr…