Over the next few weeks I will be reading several non-canonical documents to gain some familiarity regarding the content, message, and history behind those text rejected by the early church. This is not a scholarly review, but merely the summary of a novice:

According to Ron Camerson “The Gospel of the Hebrews” is a “syncretistic, Jewish-Christian document, composed in Greek, which presents traditions of Jesus’ preexistence and coming into the world, his baptism and temptation, some of his sayings, and the report of a resurrection appearance of his brother, James the Just.”[1] Interestingly enough scholars argue that it has no connection with other Jewish-Christian gospels, such as Matthew and Mark. It was likely developed from an independent tradition by a writer near Alexandria, Egypt.[2]

Early Christian figures such as Papias, Hegesippus, Eusebius, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Cyril of Jerusalem, and Jerome all appear to have been aware of this document. [3] At one point this document was only three hundred lines shorter than the Gospel of Matthew at two-thousand two hundred lines (according to Nicephorus, Bishop of Constantinople, around 806-818 CE).[4] The content that has survived is much shorter now and it is accessible only through quotations in other writings.

It appears that the author of this work highly favored James the Just, the brother of Jesus. James is said to be the first person to see the risen Jesus (Jerome, De viris inlustribus 2).[5] It appears that he is said to have been at the Last Supper of Jesus, since he drinks from the cup and he later receives bread at the table from Jesus. This tradition differs from the canonical gospels which indicate that Jesus’ brother showed no positive interest in his messianic claims during his earthly ministry.[6]

To read more about The Gospel of the Hebrews go here.

[1] Barnstone, William. “The Gospel of the Hebrews” in The Other Bible. San Francisco, CA:Harper, 2005 P. 333

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid. Pp. 333-334

[5] Ibid. Pp. 335.

[6] See Mt. 13:57; Mk. 3:21; Jn 7:1-9