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Elkesai lived about 100. It is not clear whether he was an Ebionite* who developed particular views, or whether he came from a common background. He stressed the Law, though cutting out the false pericopes, rejected sacrifices and Paul, and taught vegetarianism. His Christology seems to have been Ebionite. In addition he claimed a special revelation given him by an angel (the Son of God) and a feminine being (the Holy Spirit). There is a common background for many of his concepts and the Shepherd of Hermas. Though strongly ascetic, there was an insistence on marriage and a great stress on baptism. Because his teaching was somewhat more orthodox than that of the Ebionites and showed more Gnostic tendencies, it spread to Alexandria and Rome. We know details largely through quotations in Hippolytus and Epiphanius.

See fragments of the “Book of Elkesai” in Hilgenfeld; its main points are given by J. Daniélou, The Theology of Jewish Christianity (1964).

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