Early Christians, living in Jerusalem, and called the ‘sect of the Nazarenes’, fled in 66/67 AD when Rome invaded Jerusalem, and settled in Pella (Pella is about 70 kilometers north and west of Jerusalem, on the east side of the Jordan river), and thrived there until the fourth century.
This is noteworthy when we consider the transformation that occurred between the first century and the fourth century; namely, that Christianity gradually rejected circumcision, the Sabbath, the Festivals of the Lord, and other early Christian practices, and the adoption of syncretic observances such as making Sunday the day of worship and the observance of Easter.
From Epiphanius, Adversus Haereses, 29, 7, PG 42, 402.
The sect orginated after the flight from Jerusalem, when the disciples were living in Pella, having left the city according to Christ’s word and migrated to the mountains because of its imminent siege. Therefore in this manner it arose when those of whom we spoke were living in Perea. From there the heresy of the Nazarenes first began.
From M. Simon (fn. 57), pp. 47-48.
They are characterized essentially by their tenacious attachment to Jewish observances. If they became heretics in the eyes of the Mother Church, it is simply because they remained fixed on outmoded positions. They well represesnt, though Epiphanius is energetically refusing to admit it, the very direct descendants of the primitive community, of which our author knows that it was designated by the Jews by the same name of Nazarenes.
From Epiphanius, Adversus Haereses, 29, 7, PG 41, 402.
The Nazarenes do not differ in any essential thing from them [i.e. Jews], since they practice the custom and doctrines prescribed by the Jewish law, except that they believe in Christ. They believe in the resurrection of the dead and that the universe was created by God. They preach that God is one and that Jesus Christ is his Son. They read the law.. Therefore they differ both from the Jews and from the Christians; from the former, because they believe in Christ; from the true Christians because they fulfill till now Jewish rites as the circumcision, the Sabbath and others.
As Samuel Bacchiocci (Sabbath to Sunday, pp 157) so aptly notes, ‘the possibility exists therefore that the Nazarenes represent the survival of both the ethnic and theological legacy of primitive Jewish Christianity’.
This is important to reflect on, in the light of other articles you will find here and elsewhere regarding how Christianity was transformed over a few hundred years from a sect of Judaism into a new religion, absent nearly all the practices which Jesus and His disciples kept.
As we shall elsewhere, this transformation was the result of cultural and theological tensions between early Christians and Jews, Roman persecution of the Jews (and anyone who worshipped on Saturday was linked to Judaism, and thus responsible to pay a tax to Rome known as Ficus Judaicus), and the day of worship sanctioned by Rome being Sunday.
The question we have to ask ourselves, if we are honest, is how is it that Christiandom, with this knowledge of the history of events, is still walking in this error two thousand years later?