“”Having been united, (conjunctus), to the Nazarenes, each, (Ebionite), imparted to the other out of his own wickedness, and decided that Christ was of the seed of a man”, writes Epiphanius. And if they did, we must suppose they knew more about their contemporary prophet than Epiphanius 400 years later.
Theodoret, as shown elsewhere, describes the Nazarenes as Jews who “honor the Anointed as a just man”, and used the evangel called “According to Peter.” Jerome finds the authentic and original evangel, written in Hebrew, by Matthew the apostle-publican, in the library collected at Caesarea, by the martyr Pamphilius. “I received permission from the Nazaraeans, who at Beroea of Syria used this, (gospel), to translate it”, he writes toward the end of the fourth century. “In the evangel which the Nazarenes and Ebionites use”, adds Jerome, “which recently I translated from Hebrew into Greek, and which is called by most persons the genuine Gospel of Matthew”, etcetera.
That the apostles had received a “secret doctrine” from Jesus, and that he himself taught one, is evident from the following words of Jerome, who confessed it in an unguarded moment. Writing to the Bishops Chromatius and Heliodorus, he complains that “a difficult work is enjoined, since this translation has been commanded me by your Felicities, which St. Matthew himself, the Apostle and Evangelist, DID NOT WISH TO BE OPENLY WRITTEN. For if it had not been SECRET, he, (Matthew), would have added to the evangel that which he gave forth was his; but he made up this book sealed up in the Hebrew characters, which he put forth even in such a way that the book, written in Hebrew letters and by the hand of himself, might be possessed by the men most religious, who also, in the course of time, received it from those who preceded them. But this very book they never gave to anyone to be transcribed, and its text they related some one way and some another.”
And he adds further on the same page: “And it happened that this book, having been published by a disciple of Manichaeus, named Seleucus, who also wrote falsely The Acts of the Apostles, exhibited matter not for edification, but for destruction; and that this book was approved in a synod which the ears of the Church properly refused to listen to.” He admits, himself, that the book which he authenticates as being written “by the hand of Matthew”; a book which, notwithstanding that he translated it twice, was nearly unintelligible to him, for it was arcane or a secret.
Nevertheless, Jerome coolly sets down every commentary upon it, except his own, as heretical. More than that, Jerome knew that this original Gospel of Matthew was the expounder of the only true doctrine of Christ; and that it was the work of an evangelist who had been the friend and companion of Jesus. He knew that if of the two Gospels, the Hebrew in question and the Greek belonging to our present Scripture, one was spurious, hence heretical, it was not that of the Nazarenes; and yet, knowing all this, Jerome becomes more zealous than ever in his persecutions of the “Haeretics”.
Why? Because to accept it was equivalent to reading the death-sentence of the established Church. The Gospel according to the Hebrews was but too well known to have been the only one accepted for four centuries by the Jewish Christians, the Nazarenes and the Ebionites. And neither of the latter accepted the divinity of Christ. If the commentaries of Jerome on the Prophets, his famous Vulgate, and numerous polemical treatises are all as trustworthy as this version of the Gospel according to Matthew, then we have a divine revelation indeed.”
H. P. Blavatsky