The Myth of Nazareth: The Invented Town of Jesus

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Salm points to what he considers a lack of certain Late Hellenistic pottery from Nazareth. Before one can establish its absence from the record and that is not, of course, the same as absence from the settlement then one must set out what would, identifiably, constitute the presence of Late Hellenistic ceramics there.

The Myth of Nazareth. The Invented Town of Jesus. Scholar's Edition, 2008

What Dark means here is that sometimes a Jewish community chose not to use ceramics of a non-Jewish provenance. Because there is a non-correspondence between the diagrams and the descriptions [or Bagatti], however, we are in an impossible position. Dark sidesteps the problem Salm is raising and that arises because the pottery shards are so fragmentary and few, and that they do not correspond to their verbal descriptions by Bagatti.

How can we determine their real nature from such contradictory and scanty evidence alone? I remain open to all and any scholarly reports and discussions about the archaeological study of Nazareth. One summary of one set of these discussions is still available at message As for the relevance of the study, I cannot go so far as to see the existence or non-existence of Nazareth in the early first century c. Astronomical and biological sciences have not undermined the faith.

But if it can be established that Nazareth was not settled as a village until after the fall of Jerusalem, then there would be implications for dating the gospels. This would appear to be symptomatic of the problem of trying to prove a Christian Bible Nazareth. The archaeology of Nazareth seems to me to be bedevilled with the same sort of Albrightianism that has undermined the study of the broader area b.

There is no known extant writing Origen could have used to know the location of the Biblical Nazareth. Have I proven that Origen did not know where Nazareth was? But I have indicated that the evidence he did not is better than the evidence he did. So I have demonstrated it likely that Origen did not have a clue where exactly Nazareth was. Helen shows in fact that the location was not known.

I think my reference to Crosstalk2 was wrong. I have since found the Rene Salm engagements with biblical scholars on the Nazareth question on the original Crosstalk site: here. Our group of about 20 octo- and nona-generians include many Ph.

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If the remarks of some people here are to be taken seriously, they should first examine their smug dismissal of Mr. The glorification of credentials, while not completely without merit after all, I like to parade my Ph. I was almost denied the opportunity to earn a Ph. Your email address will not be published. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Leave this field empty. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. In fact, Godfrey is extremely well read and his librarian skills have brought many important academic works to my attention.

Raphael Lataster — August This oversight has been corrected. Looking forward to more segments. Thank you for this careful and engaged reading of my work — much appreciated! I know of no other site which offers a wide range of topics related to careful critical analysis of historically and scripturally related issues. This post is going straight to the March Biblical Studies Carnival.

There are intelligent, thoughtful comments and commenters regularly offering productive discussion. Please carry on. It reflects well on you.

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But I have often been impressed with their grasp of logic and analysis of scholarship. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Email Address. Vridar Musings on biblical studies, politics, religion, ethics, human nature, tidbits from science. This survey began: For nearly two decades, the University of the Holy Land UHL and its subsidiary, the Center for the Study of Early Christianity CSEC , has laboured to lay the academic foundation for the construction of a first-century Galilean village or town based upon archaeology and early Jewish and Christian sources.

Having set out a detailed backdrop of an error-laden, incompetent work, without any supporting references because these are not what he will address , Dark delivers a few direct kicks: This review will not draw attention to. Salm is alerting readers to evidence that Bagatti knew he was being less than fully candid with his report: We note, first of all, the incorrect English grammar. Such is the disingenuity with which Ken Dark begins his review. Is it logically possible to show Nazareth did not exist at the time of Jesus? Dark notes that hill-side settlements are known elsewhere in Galilee, and so are not theoretically impossible at the time of Jesus in the locale of Nazareth: Structures on terraces and rock-cut hill-slope structures — recently discussed as a type of construction by Richardson — have been published from excavated Roman period Jewish settlements elsewhere in the Galilee.

Site of the Church of the Annunciation on tombs? Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence Ken Dark echoes a recent U. The following two tabs change content below. Bio Latest Posts. Neil is the author of this post.

Village re-creates life at the time of Jesus

To read more about Neil, see our About page. Latest posts by Neil Godfrey see all. Share this:. Our facilities can accommodate visitors and conventioneers alike The evidence for an interregional Roman road from Sepphoris to Jerusalem through the central hill country and past Nazareth is late or post-Hadrianic and dates after the Bar Kochba Revolt. They come from caves in the vicinity of the Church of the Annunciation.

They were found in various 'silos' cavities in the ground and 'from other places' unspecified nearby. These remains include 5 vases, as well as jugs and jars mostly fragments. The remains from this period possibly include oil lamps. But they may date as late as AD. Of these, 4 are from Tomb 70 near the Church of the Annunciation , 2 were found under the Church's 'grottos', and 4 are from nearby places. Seven lamps from the same two tombs as above.

From a late-Roman building, some plastered stones, remnants of a mosaiced floor, and a Roman coin of the mid-4th century. Pottery and other 'movable' evidence glass, etc. The 7 lamps all come from one and the same tomb No. They were not spread out over an area suggesting the multiple locations associated with a 'village'. The cave dwellings discovered in the 'village' could have been used by later squatters. Edict of an unnamed Caesar warns of trial and death penalty for desecration of tombs. Provenance of the slab is unknown it was sent from the town of Nazareth in but could have been found anywhere and is typical of decrees issued throughout the imperial period.

Nothing links the slab with Christianity let alone the godman — though determined apologists insist it confirms the Resurrection! Visitors to Nazareth, reported the pilgrim of Piacenza, were shown the book in which Christ printed his alphabet and the bench on which he used to sit with other children. Local Jews affected not to be able to move the bench, though Christians, as if by a miracle, moved it about without difficulty.

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Gordon , Holy Land, Holy City , p A deplorable modern Christian tradition is to call an attention-grabbing press conference in the days before the Christmas holiday. The intent is to garner maximum publicity for some sensational "Jesus discovery". In it was a " Jesus-era house ", located conveniently close to the Church of the Annunciation. The finds that captured the international headlines in December, were uncovered months earlier and more prosaically reported as "two rock-cuttings in the bedrock and the remains of a large building dated to the Mamluk period.

By the holiday, they had become " the first house from the time of Jesus ", and a hidden pit, interpreted as " Jewish preparations for the impending war with Rome ". The fact that the archaeologist, Yardenna Alexandre — involved at "Mary's Well" in — was sponsored by the Nazareth Municipality and the Israeli Tourist Board, clearly had no influence on her gushing "breaking news".

Nor was it pertinent that the site was within a new international Christian centre being funded by French Roman Catholics. What , stoop to the level of cheap sensationalism to keep the circus on the road? In it was the purported " James brother of Jesus " ossuary that for a time was hailed by the world's press as the "first evidence of Jesus".

It was subsequently exposed as a forgery. In the late s a Christian gift shop owner discovered an Ottoman bathhouse below his shop near Mary's Well. Subsequently, parts of the site were re-dated to the Crusader period, and by certain worthies were ready to declare that the find was " a bathhouse from the time of Jesus ". Of course, the Romans occupied Palestine for several hundred years so the identification with Jesus is a tad tenuous!

But if you want to contribute a few dollars to the "continuing work" and the owner's plans to turn the site into a "nice, small 'boutique' hotel" here's the link. For those who don't care whether their history is authentic or manufactured in the 21st century, the Nazareth Village theme park brings you the faith-building experience. If you have your credit card handy you can support the scam right now. Houlden Jesus - A Question of Identity , p The Lost City. Luke 1. And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: And he came and dwelt in a CITY called Nazareth : that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

Matthew 2. And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him. Luke 2. The Book of Joshua Rabbi Solly's epistles real and fake mention Jesus times, Nazareth not at all. It is first noted at the beginning of the 4th century. In his histories, Josephus has a lot to say about Galilee an area of barely square miles. During the first Jewish war, in the 60s AD, Josephus led a military campaign back and forth across the tiny province. Josephus does, however, have something to say about Japha Yafa, Japhia , a village just one mile to the southwest of Nazareth where he himself lived for a time Life A glance at a topographical map of the region shows that Nazareth is located at one end of a valley, bounded on three sides by hills.

Natural access to this valley is from the southwest. Before the first Jewish war, Japha was of a reasonable size. In that war, it's inhabitants were massacred Wars 3, 7.

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Josephus reports that 15, were killed by Trajan's troops. A one-time active city was completely and decisively wiped out. Now where on earth did the 1st century inhabitants of Japha bury their dead? In the tombs further up the valley! With Japha's complete destruction, tomb use at the Nazareth site would have ended. The unnamed necropolis today lies under the modern city of Nazareth.

The new hamlet was based on subsistence farming and was quite unrelated to the previous tomb usage by the people of Japha. None of this would matter of course if, rather like at the nearby 'pagan' city of Sepphoris, we could stroll through the ruins of 1st century bath houses, villas, theatres etc. Yet no such ruins exist. Credulous believers sometimes suggest that Jesus may have worked with his father! Contrariwise, others suggest that the "Torah-abiding Jesus" avoided the town because of its corrupting Hellenism. These mutually exclusive explanations are feeble attempts to solve the "puzzle" of why the gospels fail to mention the "capital" of Galilee.

In reality, in the early 1st century, Sepphoris was no larger than several acres, an erstwhile Herodian palace-town destroyed by Varus, the Roman governor of Syria, in 4 BC. Sepphoris reemerged as an ill-planned townlet during the time of Antipas. Only in the late 1st and 2nd centuries, particularly after the Jewish wars, did a vibrant, Romanised Sepphoris emerge, with theatres, bath houses and all the other amenities of pagan civilisation. Yet if we are speaking of such an obscure hamlet the 'Jesus of Nazareth' story begins to fall apart.

For example, the whole 'rejection in his homeland' story requires at a minimum a synagogue in which the godman can 'blaspheme. In reality, such a small, rustic community could never have afforded its own holy scrolls, let alone a dedicated building to house them. As peasant farmers almost certainly they would have been illiterate to a man.

Presumably, they had heard his pious utterances for years. Moreover, if the chosen virgin really had had an annunciation of messiah-birthing from an angel the whole clan would have known about it inside ten minutes. Just to remind them, surely they should also have known of the 'Jerusalem incident' Luke 2. Why would they have been outraged by anything the godman said or did? Had they forgotten a god was growing up in their midst?


And what had happened to that gift of gold — had it not made the 'holy family' rich? But would anyone outside of Galilee have recognized the name? Would the superman really have been frog-marched so far before ' passing through the midst of them' and making his escape? Of course, all these incongruities exist because the 'Jerusalem incident' and the whole nativity sequence were late additions to the basic messiah-in-residence story. Be that as it may, was there even a tiny village?

The archaeological evidence? The world has been blessed by the fact that excavation at Nazareth has been conducted by Catholic archaeologists. In an earlier age they may well have "found" sandals neatly inscribed with "property of Jesus Christ". As it is, they diligently extract every last drop of sanctity from some pretty meagre findings.

Yet for all their creative interpretations even the Franciscans cannot disguise the fact that the lack of evidence for a pre-Jesus village at the Nazareth site is virtually total. Not that the Franciscans have lacked the opportunity to find what they want to find; they have, in fact, been in Palestine for several centuries , official custodians of the 'Holy Land' as a result of Papal Bulls 'Gratias agimus' and 'Nuper charissimae' issued by Clement VI in During the Crusaders' wars, Nazareth had changed hands several times.

Reviewing a Scholarly Review of Rene Salm’s The Myth of Nazareth

At one point the Norman-Sicilian adventurer Tancred had set up a 'principality of Galilee' with Nazareth as his capital. But the Christians were repeatedly kicked out until finally, in , Nazareth was completely devastated by Sultan Baibars and the whole area left desolate for nearly years. They reoccupied the remains of the crusader fort but found Greek monks still in possession of 'Mary's Well'. With funds flowing in they took over the town administration and in built a church over the Grotto. The demolition of this structure in paved the way for 'professional' archaeology, and the 'discovery' of the Biblical Nazareth in the very grounds of the Church itself!

Christian Hero No 1. Beneath his own church and adjoining land, Bagatti discovered numerous caves and hollows. Some of these caves have obviously had a great deal of use, over many centuries. Most are tombs, many from the Bronze Age. Others have been adapted for use as water cisterns, as vats for oil or as 'silos' for grain. Apparently, there were indications that Nazareth had been 'refounded' in Hasmonean times after a long period when the area had been deserted.

Yet overwhelmingly, archaeological evidence from before the second century is funerary. Obliged to admit a dearth of suitable evidence of habitation, none the less, Bagatti was able conclude that 1st century AD Nazareth had been 'a small agricultural village settled by a few dozen families.

The finds were consistent, in fact, with isolated horticultural activity, close to a necropolis of long-usage. Rather conveniently for the Catholic Church, questionable graffiti also indicated that the shrine was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, no less! Yet one point is inescapable: the Jewish disposition towards the 'uncleanliness' of the dead.

The Jews, according to their customs, would not build a village in the immediate vicinity of tombs and vice versa. Tombs would have to be outside any village. Looking at their locations on the plans drawn up by Bagatti 1. Crossan, The Historical Jesus. But just how small can we get before giving up on a 'village'?

The presence of numerous rock-cut tombs that close to the 'grotto' is evidence that, in the 1st century, in that area, there was no village. The area was not inhabited, even if it was used. Christian Hero No 2. Pfann Franciscan School of Theology digs at Nazareth.

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What Pfann and his crew came up with was a vaguely-dated winepress, described as 'ancient'. Potsherds were also found on the surface of the terraces, dating from various periods 'beginning with the early to late Roman periods. An archaeological survey of the surface of the land adjacent to Nazareth Hospital was conducted between February and May by Pfann and a team, all from the Center for the Study of Early Christianity. Two distinct areas were identified which are defined by the type of terracing found there.

Yet dating by traditional stratification was not possible. With typical Christian zeal Pfann was able to conclude that 'Nazareth was tiny, with two or three clans living in 35 homes spread over 2. It was just unfortunate that all evidence of the homes was razed by later invaders. Excavations by Michael Avi-Yonah at Caesarea in :. History and archaeology actually begin to coincide with the discovery of a fragment of dark gray marble at a synagogue in Caesarea Maritima in August Dating from the late 3rd or early 4th century the stone bears the first mention of Nazareth in a non -Christian text.

It names Nazareth as one of the places in Galilee where the priestly families of Judea migrated after the disastrous Hadrianic war of AD. Such groups would only settle in towns without gentile inhabitants, which ruled out nearby Sepphoris. Apparently, the priests had been divided from ancient times into twenty-four 'courses' that took weekly turns in Temple service. The restored inscription reads:. Crossan The Historical Jesus. A few Jewish priests and their families made up a small settlement in the southeast of the valley until the 4th century.