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Old 06-09-2013, 05:36 PM   #1
ApostateAbe
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Default Abe's Case for the Historical Jesus (Part 2: Nazareth)

Previous thread: Abe's Case for the Historical Jesus (Part 1: Patterns of Cults)

Nazareth

According to the earliest biographical sources of Jesus (Mark and Q), Jesus came from the town of Nazareth. It was apparently a small rural town in the highlands of Galilea of no significance to history, never mentioned except in the gospels (with many different Greek spellings as though they never heard of it elsewhere), though we recently have archaeological evidence of dwelling places dating to the time period of Jesus (archaeology.org.il), and the town is now a large city with the same name.

Later Christian writings (M and L), however, found this town of origin to be inconvenient. They would rather that Jesus came from the city of Bethlehem, the predicted origin of the messiah per their clumsy interpretation of Micah 5:2 (Nazareth was the head of a clan, not a town). So, per the gospel of Luke, the parents of Jesus had to go to Bethlehem for a census because that is their claimed town of ancestry (an extremely improbable requirement for a census). The gospel of Matthew has Jesus born in Bethlehem with no explanation.

Matthew goes as far as to apparently make up a prophecy in 2:23 to justify the town of origin: "He will be called a Nazarene," a prophecy that is not found in the Old Testament nor any other ancient source, and it is flatly contradicted by the Gospel of John 1:46, quoting a doubting Jew: "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?"

What is the best explanation for this? Mythicists have many explanations, ranging from the bizarre to the very bizarre. Some mythicists claim that Nazareth was really a retorical mixup with the ancient Jewish sect of "Nazir" or "Nazirites," with seemingly no evidence but the analogous pronunciation. Others believe that the town of Nazareth didn't exist at all in the first century, a claim that is made without the least seeming respect for either plausibility or evidence. The most probable explanation seems to be the plainest: Jesus really was from Nazareth, all Christians knew that, they didn't like it, so each early Christian group dealt with that fact in their own separate manner.

Next thread: Abe's Case for the Historical Jesus (Part 3: Baptism by John)
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Old 06-09-2013, 06:43 PM   #2
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Interesting. You are citing a source that no one has ever seen.

The evidence for a settlement at "Nazareth" is hardly compelling at the beginning of the first millenium AD. A few broken oil lamps found in tombs does not a "city" make.
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Old 06-09-2013, 07:39 PM   #3
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Quote:
Q)
Interesting. You are citing a source that no one has ever seen.

The evidence for a settlement at "Nazareth" is hardly compelling at the beginning of the first millenium AD. A few broken oil lamps found in tombs does not a "city" make.
I think there is a good argument for Q, but belief in Q isn't essential for this topic. It would be just as well with whatever hypothetical sourcing you would presume for Matthew and Luke.
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Old 06-09-2013, 07:42 PM   #4
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The archaeological evidence would contribute, but I think even without the archaeology there is only one plausible conclusion that would follow from an account mentioning Nazareth (even if the account is completely fictional) and Nazareth apparently existing soon afterward. Nazareth existed at the time it was accounted. It is simply not plausible that it was founded in light of the fiction.
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Old 06-09-2013, 07:43 PM   #5
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Q)
Interesting. You are citing a source that no one has ever seen.

The evidence for a settlement at "Nazareth" is hardly compelling at the beginning of the first millenium AD. A few broken oil lamps found in tombs does not a "city" make.

Most of the scripture ever written is said to be lost to time for various reasons.

It does not mean that wars, natural disasters, and purposeful destruction never took a single document you don't know about.


The first five books of the bible were nothing more then collections of collections that were redacted for centuries. Yet none exist.

No one argues about these compilations nor redactions.
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Old 06-09-2013, 08:01 PM   #6
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The archaeological evidence would contribute, but I think even without the archaeology there is only one plausible conclusion that would follow from an account mentioning Nazareth (even if the account is completely fictional) and Nazareth apparently existing soon afterward. Nazareth existed at the time it was accounted. It is simply not plausible that it was founded in light of the fiction.

Correct.

One only has to look at the whole picture to realize Nazareth makes sense.

With Antipas construction projects in Galilee, and the need for farm land to feed the incoming people. Native Jews of Galilee, Zealots, would have been forced off their lands by these Hellenistic landlords working hand in hand with their oppressors.

They would not have formed villages in these cities that catered to the wealthy.

These people for the most part were agrarian peasants forced off their land and would have banded together where ever they could. The springs in Nazareth are as good as any for Jewish peasants who helped to rebuild Sepphoris after it fell. Funny, this is exactly when Joseph and Mary are roughly said to have came back to their village. I don't trust the birth narratives but oh well ill take a poke.


There was a need in the area for

A work force
Jewish peasants to help rebuild Sepphoris.
Jewish peasants forced off their land that needed a place to stay.
Agrarian peasants to grow the extra food needed.


What's wrong with a Jewish work camp for Sepphoris that set up over a place where people had been living off and on for centuries due to its springs?
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Old 06-09-2013, 09:19 PM   #7
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Why does Abe keep trying to sell this bullshit? It's as though he has nothing better to do in those spare evenings than to reheat the third failed attempt to find a historical Jesus? We've just had the tranquility here to deal with some of the mythicist craziness and here we go again with another true believer in the historicity of Jesus. Abe seems to think recycling this stuff has some sort of use, but it's just old hat. For example, here we are once again dealing with the nonsense about Nazareth.

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Originally Posted by ApostateAbe View Post
According to the earliest biographical sources of Jesus (Mark and Q), Jesus came from the town of Nazareth.
It is simply, factually wrong to say that Q mentions Nazareth at all. Q knows neither Nazareth nor "Nazarene", though some more desperate scholars insinuate Nazara into Q because they don't want to try other explanations as to why this place name crept into two gospels based on Mk.

Mk on the other hand mentions Nazareth (1:9), yet neither Mt nor Lk bear witness to that one single mention. In fact, Mk mentions at least two home traditions for Jesus, 2:1 tells that Jesus was at home in Capernaum (using a Greek idiom that precisely means "at home" rather than some of the other tendentious translations found in the verse), while in 6:1ff we find the unnamed home country where Jesus w/could do no miracles.

Mt's witness to Mk 1:9 is quite interesting
Mk 1:9
And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in the Jordan.

Mt 3:13
Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him.
(According to the earliest witnesses P70, Origen & Eusebius) Mt has just mentioned Nazara in 2:22f
he withdrew into the parts of Galilee, and came and dwelt in a city called Nazara
Both Galilee and Nazara have just been mentioned, so that Nazara has been established, yet Mt 3:13 reverts to choosing Galilee and forgetting Nazara, a rather strange choice. The fact that Mt uses Nazara twice (2:23 & 4:13) suggests that the writer is disposed towards such a place name for the home of Jesus, so the presence in Mk could not have seemed inconsequential. If the place name had been Nazareth in Mk, one could have expected one of two things: either Mt might change Nazara to Nazareth and accepted the Marcan source or adjusted the erroneous Nazareth to the preferred form. As neither was done, it would help to indicate that Nazareth was not present in Mk 1:9 when Mt used it as a source.

Mk 1:9 contains the only reference to Nazareth in that gospel, for the examples seen in the earlier translations are actually a gentilic adjective (words like Herodian and Gadarene), "Nazarene", so it might be derived from a place name or it might not. The most interesting use of this gentilic is in Mk 1:24 when it is in the mouth of demons:
What have you to do with us, Jesus Nazarene? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.
Referring to some one-cow village in the middle of nowhere as though it were of significance to the demons is hard to fathom, but the phrase "holy one of god" is a strong clue to helping us understand the term "Nazarene", as the only place such a phrase occurs in the LXX is Jdg 13:7, which translate the Hebrew word for "Nazirite" (נזיר, NZYR). The Alexandrian form in a similar statement in 13:5 is Ναζειραιον. In the Greek of Mk 1:24 we have two forms that translate the one Hebrew word, "Nazarite". The verse in Judges deals with Samson the Nazirite for life, the marrying carousing Nazarite, who would save Israel, just as Jesus would save his people (Mt 1:21).

While the presence of Nazareth in Mk 1:9 is suspect, the gentilic "Nazarene" points not to a place name but to an earlier savior, Samson, the Nazirite for life. Using Mt 3:13 which testifies against the presence of Nazareth in Mk 1:9 and the parallel between "Nazarene" and "holy one of god", which argues against "Nazarene" being derived from a place name in Mk, it seems only reasonable to think that the writer of Mk knew nothing about Nazareth and had other traditions about the home of Jesus.

This indicates that Nazareth was neither in Mk nor Q and is a late addition to the gospel narrative.

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Originally Posted by ApostateAbe View Post
It was apparently a small rural town in the highlands of Galilea of no significance to history, never mentioned except in the gospels (with many different Greek spellings as though they never heard of it elsewhere), though we recently have archaeological evidence of dwelling places dating to the time period of Jesus (archaeology.org.il), and the town is now a large city with the same name.

Later Christian writings (M and L), however, found this town of origin to be inconvenient.
As usual the press secretary for the Jesus Seminar is faithful to the cause, trying to sell the tendentious nonsense about "inconvenience". But if we look at the evidence again, we don't find "inconvenience" but competition. Already noted in Mk are the competing claims of Capernaum and the unnamed home country. Mt accepts these traditions without much analysis and adds two more, for when Mt was finished it also talked about both Bethlehem and Nazara (eventually finding one mention of Nazareth at 21:11). Mt moves Jesus from Bethlehem via Egypt to a new home in Nazareth and ultimately to Capernaum, yet maintains the unnamed home country!

Lk on the other hand clearly rejects Capernaum, rewrites the unnamed home country to refer to Nazara, then places the scene--which refers back to Capernaum--prior to the first mention of Capernaum, so intent on trying to diminish Capernaum that an anachronism was created. Later in the evolution of Lk the birth narrative was added in which both Bethlehem and Nazareth are mentioned.

What we see in comparing the three synoptic gospels is an evolution of the home town tradition in which we see, once the dust of the competing traditions has settled, the final theological choice of Nazareth as the home of Jesus.

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Originally Posted by ApostateAbe View Post
They would rather that Jesus came from the city of Bethlehem, the predicted origin of the messiah per their clumsy interpretation of Micah 5:2 (NazarethBethlehem was the head of a clan, not a town).
ApostateAbe is trying to enter into the psyche of the writers when he says "would rather", preferring not to look at the evidence but to divine guilt and fudging to end up with the conclusion "so Jesus just had to be historical, so there!" But, of course, these silly criteria (such as embarrassment) that christian scholars have eked out to stave off reality are sadly unfalsifiable and worthless.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ApostateAbe View Post
So, per the gospel of Luke, the parents of Jesus had to go to Bethlehem for a census because that is their claimed town of ancestry (an extremely improbable requirement for a census). The gospel of Matthew has Jesus born in Bethlehem with no explanation.
But Abe gave an explanation from Mt above, a "clumsy" one involving Micah 5:2.

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Originally Posted by ApostateAbe View Post
Matthew goes as far as to apparently make up a prophecy in 2:23 to justify the town of origin: "He will be called a Nazarene," a prophecy that is not found in the Old Testament nor any other ancient source, and it is flatly contradicted by the Gospel of John 1:46, quoting a doubting Jew: "Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?"
Now we get the assertion that Mt apparently makes up stuff! It could be true of course, but it is unfalsifiable rubbish. Worse, though we can establish a chronological relationship between Mk and the other synoptics, Abe pulls Jn out of his... imagination, which he has no way of relating directly to the other gospels and produces a contradiction, dum-dum-dum-daaaa! At least we learn from Abe how not to do historical research.

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Originally Posted by ApostateAbe View Post
What is the best explanation for this?
We know this is a rhetorical question, but we know what Abe is capable of. So, let's hear it from the Jesus Seminar...

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Originally Posted by ApostateAbe View Post
Mythicists have many explanations, ranging from the bizarre to the very bizarre.
Ooops, we're not at the Jesus Seminar yet. This is just Abe frothing at the mouth about "mythicists", as though they are somehow relevant to what he is trying to deal with.

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Originally Posted by ApostateAbe View Post
Some mythicists claim that Nazareth was really a retorical mixup with the ancient Jewish sect of "Nazir" or "Nazirites,"...
I wonder which mythicists exactly Abe thinks claim that, hmm??

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Originally Posted by ApostateAbe View Post
...with seemingly no evidence but the analogous pronunciation.
And what is he trying to say with this? No evidence? Perhaps that is Abe admitting that he doesn't know what he is talking about.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ApostateAbe View Post
Others believe that the town of Nazareth didn't exist at all in the first century, a claim that is made without the least seeming respect for either plausibility or evidence. The most probable explanation seems to be the plainest: Jesus really was from Nazareth, all Christians knew that, they didn't like it, so each early Christian group dealt with that fact in their own separate manner.
After showing he hasn't actually looked at the evidence, he comes to a foregone conclusion: "Jesus really was from Nazareth", though Nazareth is the last of the hometown traditions to enter the gospel narrative. It would seem that contrary to Abe's statement that "all Christians knew that", nobody seemed to know it until the religion had dealt with the earliest indications in Mk of Capernaum and "Nazarene". Nazara and Bethlehem came later and finally in Marcan material in Mt 21 Nazareth is added, as it is added in the birth narrative in Lk. It would seem that no christians knew about Nazareth at the time of Mk and Q.

And far from Abe's nonsense that the gospel writers "would rather that Jesus came from the city of Bethlehem", they seem to have had to deal with competing traditions, which Mt and Lk resolved differently. Mt starting Jesus's family off in Bethlehem, moving him to Nazara and then on to Capernaum, while Lk starts his family off in Nazareth, takes a winter vacation in Bethlehem, then back to Nazara, forgetting about living in Capernaum completely.

Now naturally one can assert that Nazara and Nazareth are one and the same, but the tradition history shows that Nazara was the earliest form according to the manuscripts and is a lectio difficilior, ie harder to explain, thus more likely to be textually original. While Nazareth is the winning form, it is clearly not well attested in the synoptics, reduced to the birth narrative in Lk and an insertion in Marcan material in Mt 21:11.

While Mk shows no indication of Nazara, if one took the gentilic "Nazarene" to have been derived from a place name, the obvious choice would be from "Nazara", as "Gadarene" came from "Gadara" and "Damascene" from Damascus. The old bible and spade bunch went through contortions trying to derive "Nazarene" from "Nazareth" and were naturally able to convince themselves, but fail miserably regarding the phonology of the name. Nazarene, Nazorean, Nazara and Nazareth all contain a zeta, while the Semitic town name contains not the equivalent zayin, but a tsade, which overwhelmingly is transliterated into Greek as a sigma. F.C. Burkitt (The Syriac Forms of New Testament Proper Names, read at the British Academy, London, in 1912) showed a hundred years ago that tsade to zayin, which can be found in remarkably few cases, is best seen as an anomaly, not representing any normal linguistic development. He was so impressed by the evidence that he had to look elsewhere to explain the change. G.F. Moore tried to argue a "so what" case without success. W.F. Albright ignored the evidence and H.H. Schaeder seems not to have read Burkitt, but quoted all his examples of tsade to zayin to show that there was no reason it couldn't happen.

We are left with no reasonable explanation for the phonological form of "Nazareth" if it were derived from a Semitic original, which should through consistency be *"Nasareth", but this form is never found. It's as though the Semitic form was inconsequential. However, returning to Mk 1:24 and its use of Jdg 13:7, the name Nazarene can be seen as preserving the zayin found in Nazirite.

To sum up, there were competing claims for the home of Jesus. Nazareth seems to have been the last in the tradition development, after Capernaum (& the unnamed home country), Nazara and Bethlehem. This means that probably no christians knew the place name until late, perhaps when no Nazara could be found but a נצרת could. Instead of a transliteration (Nasareth) being given, a compromise was derived between Nazara and נצרת. When we go back to Mk 1:24 we find the gentilic term "Nazarene" being related through "holy one of god" to the Nazirite Samson.

It is not strange therefore that despite the eventual victory of Nazareth, the writers Tertullian and Eusebius looked to forms derived from נזר, while acknowledging the relevance of נצרת, to explain Nazareth. (See my blog entry on this.)
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Old 06-09-2013, 09:21 PM   #8
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"Early Roman period

" In 55BC, 8 years after conquered by the Romans, the city [Sepporis/Tzippori] was declared as the capital of the Galilee. In 47BC Herod the Great conquered the city and made it his Galilean capital. After Herod's death in 4BC the Jewish citizens seized the city but the Romans, under Verus, re-conquered the city, burnt it and sold the Jewish rebels to slavery. Herod's son, Herod Antipas, rebuilt and fortified the city." [rebuilt ~3/4BC to 3/4AD/CE presumably without any Jews]
http://www.biblewalks.com/Sites/Sepphoris.html

It was renamed Autocratis.

Quote:
The inhabitants of Autocratis did not join the resistance against Roman rule in the Great Jewish Revolt of 66 CE. Rather, they signed a pact with the Roman army and opened the gates of the city to the Roman general Vespasian upon his arrival in 67 CE. They were rewarded for this allegiance by having their city spared from the destruction suffered by many other Jewish cities, including Jerusalem. Coins minted in the city at the time of the First Revolt carried the inscription Neronias and Eirenopolis, "City of Peace." After the revolt, symbolism used on the coins was little different from other surrounding pagan city coins with depictions of laurel wreaths, palm trees, caduceus', and ears of barley.

Just prior to the Bar Kokhba revolt, the city's name was changed to Diocaesarea. Following the Bar Kokhba revolt in 132–135, many Jewish refugees settled there, turning it into the center of religious and spiritual life in the Galilee. Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi, one of the compilers of the Mishnah, a commentary on the Torah, moved to Tzippori, along with the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish religious court. Before moving to Tiberias by 150, Jewish academies of learning, yeshivot, were also based there. Diocaeserea, so named in honor of Zeus and the Roman Emperor, became not only a center of spiritual and religious study, but also a busy metropolis of trade because of its proximity to important trade routes through Galilee.

Diocaesarea was destroyed by the Galilee earthquake of 363, but rebuilt soon afterwards, and retained its importance in the greater Jewish community of the Galilee, both socially, commercially, and spiritually. Jews and pagan Romans lived peacefully alongside one another during the Byzantine period, and the city welcomed a number of Christians as well.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tzippori#Early_history
Perhaps Nazareth was established as such after the Galilee earthquake of 363?

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The theater that everyone assumes was built in the time of Jesus or in the time of Antipas, in my opinion and I think now in the opinion of all of the excavators of the site, was not begun until the second half of the century, if not the beginning of the second century, C.E....

So Antipas beautified the city, but it was not yet a great city of the Roman East. I'm absolutely certain of this. This happened later when the theater is erected and when Roman Legionnaires and soldiers come and establish their presence and make themselves known at the beginning of the second century. There's one other clue that tells us very much about the character of first century Sepphoris. And that surprisingly, comes from the bones that we find in these houses and in these villas. We have virtually no pig bones attested in the early Roman period at Sepphoris. Occasionally, we find an odd bone here or there of swine, but virtually none. When we go up to other centuries, even the second century, we find a significant increase, up to 8 or 10 percent of the bones are pigs, and no doubt these are being presented, by virtue of the presence of the Roman Army. And by the fourth century when there are Christians there we've got 18 percent, 20 percent pig bones....
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontl...sepphoris.html
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Old 06-09-2013, 09:31 PM   #9
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The existence or non-existence of Nazareth cannot determine that there was an historical Jesus just like the city of Rome does not determine that Romulus and Remus did exist.

It is completely illogical to argue that Nazareth existed therefore Jesus did.

It is claimed that Superman lives and is employed in the USA.
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Old 06-09-2013, 09:41 PM   #10
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"Early Roman period

" In 55BC, 8 years after conquered by the Romans, the city [Sepporis/Tzippori] was declared as the capital of the Galilee. In 47BC Herod the Great conquered the city and made it his Galilean capital. After Herod's death in 4BC the Jewish citizens seized the city but the Romans, under Verus, re-conquered the city, burnt it and sold the Jewish rebels to slavery. Herod's son, Herod Antipas, rebuilt and fortified the city." [rebuilt ~3/4BC to 3/4AD/CE presumably without any Jews]
http://www.biblewalks.com/Sites/Sepphoris.html


Anything more modern for a source?

At the time of Jesus this is said to be a Jewish city.



Historical References:





(a) Mishna - Babylonian Talmud - Arachin page 32, 1



This text, in the 5th C AD Jewish book, tells us the Sepphoris/Zippori was a walled city at the times of the Israelite conquest:



"...Houses surrounded by walls from the times of Joshua Ben Nun such as the old city of Zippori..."



(b) Josephus Flavius



The historian Josephus Flavius, the commander of the Jewish revolt, writes about the city in many references.
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