NAZARENES (Naq'copaIoc), an obscure Jewish-Christian sect, existing at the time of Epiphanius (fl.
5) and geographical position of the sect, lead to the conclusion that the Nazarenes of the 4th century are, in spite of Epiphanius's distinction, to be identified with the Ebionites.
The origin of the Nazarenes or Ebionites as a distinct sect is very obscure, but may be dated with much likelihood from the edict of Hadrian which in 135 finally scattered the old church of Jerusalem.
Though there is insufficient justification for dividing the Ebionites into two separate and distinct communities, labelled respectively Ebionites and Nazarenes, we have good evidence, not only that there were grades of Christological thought among them, but that a considerable section, at the end of the 2nd century and the beginning of the 3rd, exchanged their simple Judaistic creed for a strange blend of Essenism and Christianity.
It circulated among the Nazarenes in Syria, and was composed, according to Zahn (op. cit.