Apocrypha: Gospel of the Nazaraeans
[Extracted from Gospel Parallels, Ed. Burton H. Throckmorton, Jr.; ]
The following is a listing of all known fragments of the Hebrew Gospel called the Gospel of the Nazaraeans. Those items that I have emphasized are in boldface with italics and underlined; all others are by the editor of the above book. I have placed the Scripture (as in the KJV) to which the fragment refers above the fragment and, in places, written a brief commentary. There can be no doubt that the original “Matthew” was written in the Hebrew language, that Jerome and Eusebius, both, had copies of it and that the two together translated it into the Latin and Greek languages. Eusebius apparently translated it into the Greek, while Jerome translated it into the Latin and incorporated it (in his own words, even changing some of them) into the Latin Vulgate from which the English versions (including KJV) are now derived. In the Scriptures, the words in italics are added to the text by the translators (as poetic license, and to make complete sense of the Scripture). Everything that is underlined is my own emphasis. It is clear that the original gospel was that attributed to Matthew, which some of the earliest scholars say was being recorded even while Yahshua (Jesus) was ministering. It is also obvious since there is historical evidence that it was the first Hebrew gospel that Mark and Luke were derived from it. Luke makes this admission in his first paragraph: “Forasmuch as many have taken in hand to set forth in order a declaration of those things [thus there were many others who were gathering information to write in a "book" also] which are most surely believed among us, even as they delivered them unto us [Luke took his account from many other "books"], which from the beginning were eyewitnesses [Luke's admission that he was not an "eyewitness" but received this information from others], and ministers of the word; it seemed good to me also [Luke wanted to write about this, too], having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write unto thee in order, most excellent Theophilus [obviously Luke's patron], that thou mightest know the certainty of those things, wherein thou hast been instructed.”
Luke’s second treatise to Theophilus, originally appended to the first was the book of Acts, a continuation of his explanation to his patron, yet the “church fathers” canonized it separately from the first book of Luke. If one reads Luke and then Acts, he might have a more complete understanding of what Luke has been saying, for the one naturally and logically follows the other. The book of John should not have been placed fourth in order. Luke states in Acts 1:1-2, making this clear: “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilius, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost [Spirit] had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen”.
Another thing to keep in mind as you read this study is that the early church fathers regarded anything the Hebrew wrote as “heresies” and called many of the Jews “gnostics”; however, it is quite clear from the writings of Shaul (Paul), from Yahshua himself, and from the apostolic letters (called the “general epistles”, the ones written in Hebrew and were disputed by the church fathers) that “gnosticism” was a prevalent religious concept in both Judaism and the Primitive Congregation of Yahshua. These “gnostics” (any first century Jew writing in the Hebrew language about the concept of “good and evil”) were considered heretical. The reason for this is that the latter “church” (from 70 C.E. onward) was steeped in Babylonian mysticism due to so many of its members being former pagans who promulgated the “savior god” or the “man-god” of the Babylonian and Egyptian pantheons.
It is also clear that the earliest list of books written about Yahshua was recorded by Marcion (who was sharply criticized and called a “heretic”). There were many other lists that were developed prior to the canonization of the “New Covenant”, the books on which were generally circulated among the earliest messianic believers in Yahshua. For instance, the Gospel of Peter, criticized and labeled today as “gnostic” was read regularly in the earliest assemblies.
Jerome, who even changed some of the words of Yahshua in his Latin Vulgate, was quite smug in his own interpretations. Here are a few quotes from Testament by John Romer.
“Jerome was yet a man of whom it has been said that he was canonized not for his qualities of saintliness, but for the services he rendered the Roman church. Hot-tempered, outspoken, passionately devoted to his work and his friends, Jerome is certainly one of the most extraordinary figures in church history. And doubtless, it is due to his special temperament that his Latin Bible has come to be regarded by many people almost as if it were the unmediated word of God himself” [p. 234].
“For Augustine had written to tell him that the Christian congregation of a nearby town, Tripoli, rioted when Jerome’s new translation of the Book of Jonah had been read at the Sunday service! So indignant had they become that some of the members had gone into the Jewish quarter of the town to ask Hebrew readers their opinion of the true meaning of the words of the text. At that time Jerome had been meeting Jewish scholars for some twenty years and surely knew exactly where the truth of the matter lay. What Jerome had done was to replace the traditional reading of the Hebrew word qiqqayon, changing it from the Latin cucurbita meaning a gourd, to hedera meaning ivy, and this had brought into question a favourite image of the artists of his day, the gourd bower of Paradise” [p. 236].
As to the “gourd bower” referred to, it was a pagan motif well-known among the pagan religions of the world. “The Christian artists have teken these images of Paradise directly from the pagan world…so one of the pagan fish is a sea monster, the whale that swallows Jonah the biblical prophet, while in another part of the scene, in suspended time, another fish spews him out. Even the putti [Egyptian motif] fishing traditionally in these Egyptian-style scenes seem to have been turned into Christians – into fishers of men. Appearing once again, Jonah sits serenely in his Paradise under a bower of gourds.” The image, however, actually shows the “ivy” of Jerome [p. 235].
“It was the new translation of Job which in 403 had brought on the riot in Tripoli. In his letter Augustine wondered whether or not Jerome should have translated those texts. Though they were probably quite incorrect in their older versions – Augustine says that he himself could not judge as he had little Greek and no Hebrew – they had served the faithful well enough. Less sensitive critics simply questioned Jerome’s right to tamper with the sacred words at all, especially with the traditional translations of the words of Jesus, some of which he had changed considerably” [p. 240].
Jerome, in his arrogance, makes this statement: “Why not, he asks, go back to the original Greek and correct the mistakes introduced by inaccurate translators and the blundering alterations of confident but ignorant critics and, further, all that has been inserted or changed by copyists more asleep than awake? [p. 240]” He assumes that the Greek is error-ridden. Of the fact that he changed the original Hebrew there can be no doubt, for he, by his own admission, translated that original Hebrew gospel into a more “suitable” gospel for the “church”. Eusebius, likewise, makes this admission. The evidence is found in the gospel fragments below.
Matthew 2:15: “And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.”
To Matt. 2:15 cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans, (in Jerome, On Illustrious Men 3)–”Out of Egypt have I called my son” and “For he shall be called a Nazaraean.” Cf. Also margin of codex 1424 — This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called my son . . .”
The original text of “Matthew” (whose name was appended to the present gospel) had “for he shall be called a Nazaraean”; Jerome left this out when translating, but makes mention of it later in his own works.
Matthew 4:5: “Then the devil taketh him up into the holy city, and setteth him on a pinnacle of the temple…”
To Matt. 4:5 cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans: The Jewish Gospel has not to the holy city, but to Jerusalem.
The acknowledgment that there was a Jewish Gospel written prior to the Greek versions is clear. Naturally, the name of the most important city in the world would be stated. The phrase “the holy city”, depending on who is reading the text, might refer to the Samaritan “holy city” (where the Samaritans were known to have built a copy of the Jewish Temple).
Matthew 6:11: “Give us this day our daily bread.”
To Matt. 6:11 cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans (in Jerome, Commentary on Matthew 6:11)–In the so-called Gospel according to the Hebrews, for “bread essential to existence” I found “mahar,” which means “of tomorrow”; so the sense is: our bread for tomorrow, that is, of the future, give us this day.
Note Jerome’s admission of the Hebraic gospel. I believe the original gospel verse is correct, since Yahshua was preaching the coming “Kingdom of God”.
Matthew 7:5: Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
To Matt. 7:5 cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans: The Jewish Gospel reads here: “If you be in my bosom and do not the will of my Father who is in heaven, I will cast you away from my bosom.”
You will note that this is an addition to the text we presently have that was, apparently, deleted from Jerome’s version.
Matthew 10:16: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”
To Matt. 10:16 cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans — The Jewish Gospel: [wise] more than serpents.
The sense of “wise” here appears to be caution, not cunning.
Matthew 11:12: “And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.”
To Matt. 11:12 cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans: The Jewish Gospel has: [the kingdom of heaven] is plundered.
The words have been changed, thus damaging the original sense of the phrase. What is being said here appears to be that the death of John the Immerser was a great blow to the testimony for the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 11:25: “At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.”
To Matt. 11:25 cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans: The Jewish Gospel has: I am grateful to thee.
Even though the words have been altered, the context is the same.
Matthew 12:10: “And, behold, there was a man which had his hand withered. And they asked him, saying, Is it lawful to heal on the sabbath days? That they might accuse him.”
To Matt. 12:10 cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans (in Jerome, Commentary on Matthew 12:13)–In the Gospel which the Nazarenes and the Ebionites use, which we have recently translated from Hebrew to Greek, and which most people call the authentic [Gospel] of Matthew, the man who had the withered hand is described as a mason who begged for help in the following words: “I was a mason, earning a living with my hands; I beg you, Jesus, restore my health to me, so that I need not beg for my food in shame.”
Here is the admission by Jerome that “most people” call the original Hebrew gospel (that the Nazarenes and Ebionites – sects of messianism – use the authentic (original) gospel. He also tells us here that he translated it from Hebrew to Greek (thus the additions, deletions, etc. that we now have in our New Covenant).
Matthew 12:40: “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”
To Matt. 12:40b cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans: The Jewish Gospel does not have: three days and three nights.
The alteration of this verse is quite significant, for it alters what Yahshua said. He, apparently, had said that the only sign given to the people would be the “sign of Jonah” — that is, Jonah was sent to declare YHVH’s judgment against the people of Nineveh if they did not repent. Likewise, Yahshua was sent to declare YHVH’s judgment against the people of Israel, yet they would not repent. Thus, the verse probably read: “For as Jonas was in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth”. Of course, Yahshua was comparing himself and his situation to Jonah’s in every sense. The “heart of the earth” and the “whale’s belly” were known to have represented “Leviathan”, or figuratively, the “grave” and “death”, because it is also associated with the word “yam”, the “sea”, or the “abyss”. The Encyclopedia of Jewish Symbols states: “these sea-monsters have many names: “Tannim” (dragon); “rahav” (expanse) and “yam” (se”, but the most common name is Leviathan, known in Jewish legend as the King of the Sea” [p. 96]. In the book of Revelation, Leviathan is called Abaddon, the King of “destruction” (or corruption), who comes up from the abyss or “Sea”; Abaddon is the “beast of the sea”, that “old serpent” whose abode is an “expanse” (the grave).
Matthew 15:5: “But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me…”
To Matt. 15:5 cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans: The Jewish Gospel has: Corban is what you should gain from us.
Corban (or korban) is the gift of a child to his parents in their old age, sort of like a pension, by which they are provided for when they are no longer able to work or care for themselves.
Matthew 16:2-4: “He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye said, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to-day: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” …A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.
To Matt. 16:2 cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans: What is marked with an asterisk [i.e., from "When it is evening" to the end of v. 3] is not found in other manuscripts, and is not found in the Jewish Gospel.
In other words, what we have here is an addition to the text, one that Jerome apparently wanted to elaborate on with another chance to call the Jews “hypocrites”. In reply to the question posed to Yahshua, he simply stated that they would receive no sign except the sign of Jonah.
Matthew 16:17: “And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jo-na: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”
To Matt. 16:17 cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans: The Jewish Gospel has: “son of John” [for "Bar-Jona"].
This is telling us that Simon (Peter) is the son of Yohanan (John), not Jonah or Yonah.
Matthew 18:21-22: “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”
Luke 17:3-4: “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against thee seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to thee, saying, I repent; thou shalt forgive him.”
To Matt. 18:21-22 (Luke 17:3-4) cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans (in Jerome, Against Pelagius, III.2)–He says, “If your brother has sinned by a word, and repented, receive him seven times a day.” Simon, his disciple, said to him, “Seven times a day?” The Lord answered, “Yes, I tell you, as much as seventy times seven times! For in the prophets also, after they were anointed by the Holy Spirit, a word of sin [sinful speech?] was found.”
Sinning by a “word” simply implies that any man might sin in his speech; thus, if he realizes his error and turns from it (i.e. learns from his mistake), then he should be received by his brothers as many times as is necessary. This is called “regeneration”, a honing process by which one learns the path to YHVH.
Matthew 18:22: “Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”
To Matt. 18:22 cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans: The Jewish Gospel has, immediately after “seventy times seven”: For in the prophets also, after they were anointed by the Holy Spirit, a word of sin [sinful speech?] was found in them.
Even the prophets were not free of sin even though they were the “oracles” of Elohim.
Matthew 19:16-24: “And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet? Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you , That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”
To Matt. 19:16-24 cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans (in Origen, Commentary on Matt. 15:14 in the Latin version) The second of the rich men said to him, “Teacher, what good thing can I do and live?” He said to him “Sir, fulfil the law and the prophets.” He answered, “I have.” Jesus said, “Go, sell all that you have and distribute to the poor; and come, follow me.” But the rich man began to scratch his head, for it did not please him. And the Lord said to him, “How can you say, I have fulfilled the law and the prophets, when it is writtten in the law: You shall love your neighbor as yourself; and lo, many of your brothers, sons of Abraham, are covered with filth, dying of hunger, and your house is full of many good things, none of which goes out to them?” And he turned and said to Simon, his disciple, who was sitting by him, “Simon, son of Jonah, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.”
This verse is found in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Since the Gospel of the Nazaraeans was written first in Hebrew, Mark and Luke had to have taken their own renditions from it. Mark, although purportedly written first, follows the Hebrew original here. See the following:
Mark 10:18: “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God.”
Luke 18:19: “And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? None is good, save one, that is, God.”
To Mark 10:18 and Luke 18:19 cf. Gospel of the Naassenes [perhaps a reference to the Gospel of the Nazaraeans] (in Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, V.7.26)–”Why do you call me good? One there is who is good — my Father who is in heaven — who makes his sun to rise on the just and on the unjust, and sense rain on the pure and on sinners.” (Cf. Also Matt. 5:45).
Special mention must be made of this verse. It is found in all three gospels. Here, Yahshua is making a plain and clear statement: that he is not God and refuses to be called “good”, that there is only one God, his Father – Yahvah! Since it is in the Hebrew gospel, the original, we must conclude that Mark and Luke both copied it specifically from that source in the Hebrew that was the original of what has known to have become the book of “Matthew”.
Matthew 20:22: “But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.”
To Matt. 20:22 cf. Gospel of the Naassenes [believed to be a gloss for Nazaraeans] (in Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, V.8.11)–”But” he says, “even if you drink the cup which I drink, you will not be able to enter where I go.”
Yahshua is telling the disciples that even though they might die with him, they would not yet sit at the Father’s right hand; that event is for a future time, after Yahshua has “prepared” a place for them.
Matthew 21:12: “And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, and the seats of them that sold doves…”
To Matt. 21:12 cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans, quoted in a marginal note of a thirteenth century manuscript [thus if this is true, and there are other sources that also seem to have had access to the Hebrew gospel at that time, then this Hebrew Gospel was available even in the 13th century] of the Aurora by Peter of Riga — In the Gospel books which the Nazarenes use it is written: From his eyes went forth rays which terrified them and put them to flight.
First of all, the word “temple” here does not refer to the interior of the Temple, but to the “heiron” or precincts of the Temple. These precinct buildings were both on the hill of Ophel, on the Bridge of the Red Heifer, and on the Mount of Olives where the family of Hanan (Annas) had a dove aviary and sold doves to pilgrims (who gathered on the Mount of Olives at festivals to await the opening of the doors of the Temple at midnight). This area was referred to as Beth Pagi in the Talmud. Beth Pagi, however, was both within and without the Sabbath Limit. Where the boundary of Bethphage left off, the boundary of Beth Hini (or Bethany) began. The combined area was called Beth Pagi. The elders would have to go to the area outside the Sabbath Limit in order to judge a rebellious elder, or to add to the City Limits of Jerusalem. Thus there were moneychangers, vendors of all sorts, and the dove aviary of Annas (the Vice President of the Sanhedrin who was called the Ab bet din, or Father of the Court) before whom Yahshua would have been taken for the accusatory process (by Jewish law). This is why Yahshua was first taken to Annas, who either would have written (legally it could have been oral) the charges against him. His office (and home) would have been in the area of Beth Pagi on the Mount of Olives. There is overwhelming evidence of this fact. The second high priest (literally called the High Priest) was the “President” of the Beth Din. The real power, however, lay in the hands of the “Father of the Court”, Annas (Hanan), who was called by Josephus the “ancientest of the priests”, and the patriarch of an assimilated family: Boethus, Kimchit, Hanan, and Phiabi (Fabus), who operated the government of Israel from the time of King Herod until the fall of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. The Talmud and Tosefta speak of these families as “serpents”; therefore, it is no wonder that John the Immerser and Yahshua referred to them in those terms (vipers, serpents, etc.). These families were intermarried with the “Herodians” who were, in fact, instrumental to them as “spies”. For more complete information on this family, see A Book of Evidence at http://members.tripod.com/~nkuehl/index.html — in particular, “The Night of Watching” and “The Jewish Trial”.
Matthew 23:27: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness.”
To Matt. 23:27 cf. Gospel of the Naassenes [again, probably a reference to Nazaraeans] (in Hippolytus, Refutation of All Heresies, V.8.23)–”You are whitewashed tombs filled within with dead men’s bones,” that is, there is not within you the living man.
There were a multitude of tombs around Jerusalem. During festival periods, they were whitened so that the public might not touch them and become defiled, which would prevent them from “eating the passover” (in particular), or entering the Temple grounds. This was probably, however, a reference to the “Tombs of the Prophets”, believed to have been built during the first century to memorialize the “prophets”. These are the same prophets that Yashua refers to as having been killed by the ancestors of the people who built them.
Matthew 23:35: “That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zach-a-ri-as son of Bar-a-chi-as, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.”
To Matt. 23:35 cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans (in Jerome, Commentary on Matthew 23:35)–In the gospel which the Nazarenes use, for “son of Barachiah” we find written, “son of Jehoiada.” Cf. Also — And Zechariah the son of Jehoiada said, “For he was of two names” — Peter of Laodicea Commentary on Matthew 23:35 ed. Heinrici V.267.
Jehoiada was the father of Zechariah the prophet, a high priest [2 Chronicles 24:20]. There can be no doubt that Jerome replaced this name with “Barachiah”, for it was clearly in the Hebrew original as Jehoiada.
Matthew 25:22: He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.”
To Matt. 25:22ff. Cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans (in Eusebius, Theophany on Matt. 25:14f.)–But the Gospel [written] in Hebrew letters which has reached our hands [Eusebius, by his own admission, claims that there was a gospel written in the Hebrew] turns the threat not against the man who had hid [the talent], but against him who had lived dissolutely–for it told of three servants: one who wasted his master’s possessions with harlots and flute-girls, one who multiplied his gains, and one who hid the talent; and accordingly, one was accepted, one was only rebuked, and one was shut up in prison.
A different version of the same parable.
Matthew 26:74: Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew.”
To Matt. 26:74 cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans: The Jewish Gospel has: And he denied, and he swore [i.e., took an oath], and he cursed.
This is interesting, for here we understand clearly that Peter not only cursed [bitterly cursed, or execrated Yahshua], but he also denied knowing him, and most importantly, he “took an oath” that he did not know him. Taking an “oath” or sheba [seven] is the most serious self-condemnation that he committed. This is literally a swearing of truth between Yahvah and man. It is like standing before Yahvah and denying adamantly knowing Yahshua. Yahvah is the Elohim of the Oath, thus of Complete and Perfect Truth. No wonder he cried bitterly. He knew he had lied to Yahvah.
Matthew 27:16: “And they had then a notable prisoner, called Barabbas.”
To Matt. 27:16 cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans (in Jerome, Commentary on Matthew 27:16)–In the Gospel according to the Hebrews Barabbas is interpreted as “son of their master (teacher?).” He had been condemned because of insurrection and murder.
This makes complete sense. Barabbas, means literally “son of the father” (or in the philosophical sense “teacher” or “master”). He was probably a leader of the Zealot faction who were then attempting to do away with Roman administration in Jerusalem. He might well have been associated with Judas the Galilean, the head of the Zealot movement.
Luke 23:34: “Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.”
To Luke 23:34 cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans (in Haimo of Auxerre, Commentary on Isaiah 53:12)–As it is said in the Gospel of the Nazarenes: At this word of the Lord, many thousands of Jews standing around the cross, believed.
Just prior to a Jewish execution, the accused is asked to confess (not his crime, but his sin) so that he might be forgiven by Yahvah and be allowed to enter the World Without End. The Mishnah is quite clear about this: “[When] he was ten cubits from the place of stoning (beth haseqilah or execution site, which was on the Mount of Olives at Beth Pagi) they say to him, “Confess,” for it is usual for those about to be put to death to confess. For whoever confesses has a share in the world to come” [Mishnah, Sanhedrin 6:2]. The reason given for this is that Joshua asked Achan to confess his transgression before the congregation put him to death. Yahshua did not confess as they wanted him to; instead, he prayed that the Father (Yahvah) might forgive them for their sin. The second thing about this Scripture in the Hebrew that we must note is that the word “cross” did not exist during the first century in the Hebrew language. Therefore, the Jews who wrote that original Hebrew gospel would not have used the Greek word “stauros” – stake or pole – but the word ‘ets – “tree” (it is always translated in the apostles, and Peter, in particular, as xulon — living tree, or “green tree”). The Jewish people had to adapt another word in order to come up with the modern Hebrew word tslav for “cross”.
Matthew 27:51: “And behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent…”
To Matt. 27:51 cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans (in Jerome, Letter 120 to Hedibia and Commentary on Matthew 27:51): In the Gospel that is written in Hebrew letters we read, not that the curtain of the temple was torn, but that the astonishingly large lintel of the temple collapsed.
Again, here is a notation by Jerome that this gospel was written in Hebrew. The “lintel” to which Jerome is here referring was not a lintel over the Sanctuary House of the Temple. It was the lintel over the inner Nicanor Gate, and it was this lintel (held in place by a 60-foot high wall around the Sanctuary) from which hung the first veil. The Holy Place of the Temple was inside the Sanctuary area, not exclusively in the House. It was restricted to all Israelites (per Josephus) by this 60-foot high wall; thus, no one might be able to see into the Court of the Priests nor the altar area. The wall carving at Dura Europa of the Temple clearly shows this Nicanor Gate with its veil hanging in place, and behind we see the smoke from the altar and the blue veil hanging over the Holy of Holies.
The Nicanor was the “Great Gate” of the Temple referred to in Mishnah, Middot 4:2. “A golden vine was standing at the entrance of the sanctuary, trained over the posts. Whoever gave a leaf or a berry or a cluster brings it and hangs it on it. Said R. Eleazar bar Sadoq, ‘There was an incident, and three hundred priests were appointed [to clear it since it was too heavy'" [Mishnah, Middot 3:8]. The “Great Gate” was seventy-five feet in height, and its doors were sixty feet high. It would have taken this “Great Gate” in order to hold up the great stone lintel holding the veil at the entrance of the Sanctuary. (Note, the Sanctuary is the complete interior courtyard of the priests, including the building of the House of Yahvah. It includes the Court of Priests, the Altar, the Porch and Steps and the House, as well as the priestly offices on either side of the building and its underground offices).
Matthew 27:65: “Pilate said unto them, Ye [i.e. the Sanhedrin of the Temple have their own police force or "watch"] have a watch: go your way, make it as sure as ye can.”
To Matt. 27:65 cf. Gospel of the Nazaraeans, as recorded in a marginal note of some mss: The Jewish Gospel has: And he delivered armed men to them, that they might sit opposite the cave and guard it day and night.
Note something here: there were never Roman centurians who guarded the Tomb of Yahshua — there were only Temple police guards present at the tomb. Thus this is the reason they reported to Caiaphas the events of that morning. Roman guards would never have fallen asleep on the job, lest they be put to death; neither would they have reported to Caiaphas who would have had no control over them. For more evidence on this, see A Book of Evidence at http://members.tripod.com/~nkuehl/index.html — in the chapter entitled “The Lamp of the World”. The “marginal note” is questionable. Pilate clearly told the Sanhedrin to send its own men, and it did.