The mythological Nazareth
|Samson and Lions, Rome 350-400 CE. He was to be a Nazirite from birth.|
Nazareth is not mentioned in pre-Christian texts and appears in many different Greek forms in the New Testament. There is no consensus regarding the origin of the name.
The first non-Christian reference to Nazareth is an inscription on a marble fragment from a synagogue found in Caesarea Maritima in 1962. This fragment gives the town's name in Hebrew as "נצרת" (n-ṣ-r-t). The inscription dates to c. AD 300 and chronicles the assignment of priests that took place at some time after the Bar Kokhba revolt, AD 132-35. (See "Middle Roman to Byzantine Periods" below.) An 8th-century AD Hebrew inscription, which was the earliest known Hebrew reference to Nazareth prior to the discovery of the inscription above, uses the same form.Much archaeology study has been invested in the area of the later Nazareth:
Archaeological research has revealed that a funerary and cult center at Kfar HaHoresh, about two miles (3.2 km) from current Nazareth, dates back roughly 9000 years to the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B era. The remains of some 65 individuals were found, buried under huge horizontal headstone structures, some of which consisted of up to 3 tons of locally produced white plaster. Decorated human skulls uncovered there have led archaeologists to identify Kfar HaHoresh as a major cult centre in that era.Fr. Bagatti uncovered pottery dating from the Middle Bronze Age (2200 to 1500 BC) and ceramics, silos and grinding mills from the Iron Age (1500 to 586 BC) which indicated substantial settlement in the Nazareth basin at that time. However, lack of archaeological evidence for Nazareth from Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Hellenistic or Early Roman times, at least in the major excavations between 1955 and 1990, shows that the settlement apparently came to an abrupt end about 720 BC, when the Assyrians destroyed many towns in the area.James F. Strange, an American archaeologist, notes: "Nazareth is not mentioned in ancient Jewish sources earlier than the third century CE."In 2009 Israeli archaeologist Yardenna Alexandre excavated archaeological remains in Nazareth that might date to the time of Jesus in the early Roman period. Alexandre told reporters, "The discovery is of the utmost importance since it reveals for the very first time a house from the Jewish village of Nazareth."A tablet at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, dating to 50 CE, was sent from Nazareth to Paris in 1878. It contains an inscription known as the "Ordinance of Caesar" that outlines the penalty of death for those who violate tombs or graves. However, it is suspected that this inscription came to Nazareth from somewhere else (possibly Sepphoris). Bagatti writes: “we are not certain that it was found in Nazareth, even though it came from Nazareth to Paris. At Nazareth there lived various vendors of antiquities who got ancient material from several places.”Although mentioned in the New Testament gospels, there are no extant non-biblical references to Nazareth until around 200 CE, when Sextus Julius Africanus, cited by Eusebius (Church History 1.7.14), speaks of “Nazara” as a village in "Judea" and locates it near an as-yet unidentified “Cochaba.”
For the Very First Time: A Residential Building from the Time of Jesus was Exposed in the Heart of Nazareth (12/21/09) An archaeological excavation the Israel Antiquities Authority recently conducted has revealed new information about ancient Nazareth from the time of Jesus. Remains of a dwelling that date to the Early Roman period were discovered for the first time in an excavation, which was carried out prior to the construction of the “International Marian Center of Nazareth” by the the Association Mary of Nazareth, next to the Church of the Annunciation.
"From the few written sources that there are..."Even the Israeli Antiquities Authority justifies its own dig there (right) with unmentioned ancient sources, which I understand as this Africanus, so let us look at this a bit closer.
Little of Julius's life is known and all dates are uncertain.He wrote a history of the world...The history, which had an apologetic aim, is no longer extant, but copious extracts from it are to be found in the Chronicon of Eusebius, who used it extensively in compiling the early episcopal lists. There are also fragments in George Syncellus, Cedrenus and the Chronicon Paschale.In short, we have nothing certain either of this source, or by him. Though he may have been based on some historical character, who that may have been is unknown; he is just another 'ghost' of the fraudulent textual tradition. Neither the IAA, nor anyone else, has any early source for Nazareth - all the experts are caught in that glittering web of false assumptions.
So when these bright archaeologists write their reports on the place - the place with no name in the 1st century - and talk about the home of Jesus, they are just more unicorns farting rainbows, signifying nothing.
Let us therefore now proceed to the serious scholarship on this question; how did IS Chrest - the divine man who actually appeared in the original New Testament texts - become known as the Nazirite?
In the Hebrew Bible, a nazirite or nazarite, (in Hebrew: נזיר, nazir), refers to one who voluntarily took a vow described in Numbers 6:1-21. "Nazarite" comes from the Hebrew word nazir meaning "consecrated" or "separated".In Modern Hebrew the word "nazir" is commonly used for monks, both Christian and Buddhist - this meaning having largely displaced the original Biblical meaning.As a parody, the New Testament is aimed at the authors' enemies. The original authors are Chrestians; their broad objective in Judea was to eradicate messianic Judaism; their specific target was the leadership of this faith, first John the Baptiser and after he was killed, James, the next Righteous Teacher (also killed, 62 CE).
The Teacher of Righteousness (in Hebrew: מורה הצדק Moreh ha-Tzedek) is a figure found in some of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran, most prominently in the Damascus Document. This document speaks briefly of the origins of the sect, probably Essenes, 390 years after the Babylonian exile and after 20 years of 'groping' blindly for the way. "God... raised for them a Teacher of Righteousness to guide them in the way of His heart".This monastic community settled at Qumran. I have described this here:
The Teacher is extolled as having proper understanding of the Torah, qualified in its accurate instruction, and being the one through whom God would reveal to the community “the hidden things in which Israel had gone astray”.
The Chrestian parody has largely been described by Professor Robert Eisenman:
As Hans-Joachim Schoeps had already surmised, the stoning of Stephen has in precisely the same way supplanted the stoning of James (actually a conflation of James' ultimate stoning at the command of Annanus and an earlier assault by Saul on the temple steps preserved as a separate incident in the Recognitions). The name Stephen has been borrowed from a Roman official beaten by Jewish insurgents whom Josephus depicts ambushing him outside the city walls. Why this name? Because of a pun: Stephen means "crown" and was suggested both by the long hair of the Nazirite (which James was, according to early church writers) and by the crown of martyrdom. To Stephen has been transferred James' declaration of the Son of Man at the right hand of God in heaven, as well as James' "Christlike" prayer for his persecutors. We read that a young man named Saul was playing coat check for the executioners of Stephen and, his taste for blood whetted, immediately began to foment persecution in Jerusalem and Damascus. This has been drawn, again from the lore of James as well as Josephus. The clothing motif was suggested by the final blow to James' head with a fuller's club, while just after his own account of James' death, Josephus tells of the rioting started by a Herodian named Saulus in Jerusalem!
Robert Eisenman's James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls, Viking Penguin, 1997. Reviewed by Robert M. Price
And more recently:
Put in another way, like Paul - we shall reserve judgement about James - they too were interested in non-Jewish converts but, for them, 'circumcision' was a sine qua non, not only for conversion, but even to discuss questions pertaining to the Law. No wonder certain 'Zealots' (in particular, those Acts 21:21 denotes as the greater part of James' 'Jerusalem Church' adherents), 'Sicarii', or 'Nazirites' wished to kill Paul.We can therefore see how - whether Nazareth, or Nazarene - Chrestians wrote in parody and this parody has since been used by Chrestians, Christians and Buddhists.
As already remarked, this issue of 'abstaining from things sacrificed to idols' is the backbone of James' directives to overseas communities at the close of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15:25 and 15:29. It is reiterated in Acts 21:26 when Paul is sent into the Temple by James for a Nazirite-style penance because the majority of James' supporters are - even in the language of Acts 21:21 - 'Zealots for the Law.'
'Sicarii Essenes,' 'Those of the Circumcision,' and Qumran by Robert Eisenman, 25 May 2014