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Dr. Brian Swain

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In 377 AD, Epiphanius of Salamis wrote the Panarion. In the Panarion he labeled 80 religious sects as heretics. Among those groups was a Jewish-Christian sect called the Nazarenes. The Nazarenes believed that there is one God, that Jesus was the Son of God and the Messiah, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, and that both the Old and New Testaments were to be used as Scripture. For Epiphanius, the only fault of this sect was in their continued observance of the Law of Moses. It is important to explain why Epiphanius concluded that they were heretics. I argue that Epiphanius thought that the Torah observance of the Nazarenes undermined his replacement theology. To Epiphanius, the Church replaced the Jews as God's chosen people and that the Mosaic covenant was discontinued. Any group that claimed to believe in Jesus but continued to follow the Law of Moses blurred the line between the Jewish nation and the Church. This resulted in Epiphanius condemning them as heretics to show that their lifestyle was not acceptable and to protect his theological position.