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(possibly Aramean, ebionia, poor men)

Term used to designate two early Christian sects infected with Judaistic and Gnostic errors.

(1) Judaistic Ebionites upheld the observance of the Jewish Law; denied the Divinity and virgin birth of Christ; considered Saint Paul an apostate; and used only a Gospel according to Saint Matthew.

(2) Ebionite Gnostics taught that matter is external, and an emanation of the Deity, that it conatitutes, as it were, God's body. Creation, therefore, is but the transformation of preexisting material. God thus "creates" the Universe by the instrumentality of His wisdom. They also held that the universe is divided into two realms, that of good and that of evil. The Son of God rules over the former, and the Prince of Evil over the latter. Both teachings were confined to the East and made no definite impression upon the philosophy of their time. Nothing is known of their founders.

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