2020-05-21

Nazareth

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by Neil Godfrey

I’ve updated our archives to include an annotated page of links to all Vridar posts on the Nazareth question. Most are about the archaeology of the early first century period, but some address other questions such as the historical likelihood of Jesus being identified as “from Nazareth” and the supposed embarrassment behind the authors of the gospels of Matthew and Luke creating different narratives to explain how Nazareth entered the life of Jesus.

Check the right-hand column here and look under ARCHIVES by TOPIC. Look fo Nazareth under that heading.

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26 thoughts on “Nazareth”

  1. Neil, your post, yersterday, about “But” read only by our moderns in translations, has made me remember the following passage:

    After the two days he left [the SAMARIA] for Galilee. For Jesus himself had pointed out himself that a prophet has no honor in his own country.When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him.
    (John 4:43-45)

    I don’t know English language enough to realize if the English readers interpret “for” as adversative. But if it is not so, then the conclusion can only be: the Galilee is not “his own country”. Hence Nazareth was placed in Samaria, according to the Fourth Gospel.

    1. That’s an interesting passage (John 4:43-45). I tried to find out what some of the specialists have had to say about it and came across a discussion in Thomas Brodie’s The Gospel According to John (p.228).

      At first sight the verses which lead into the second Cana scene may seem contradictory. Jesus testifies that in his own country (patris, “fatherland,” “country”) a prophet is not honored. Yet in Galilee, presumably his own country (cf. Matt 13:57, Luke 4:24, and esp, John 7:41,52), he is welcomed. Even as far back as Origen, the apparent contradiction led to considerable debate, and it has been suggested that responsibility lies with an editor (cf. Brown, 186-87).

      But, as a number of writers have variously indicated (e.g., Hoskyns, 252; and Barrett, 246), when John speaks of Jesus’ own patris he seems to be referring not to Galilee but to Judea, the focal point of Judaism and of Jesus’ own Jewish heritage, the center of his cultural and spiritual patrimony. In other words he is taking patris not in a purely physical sense, the sense of the flesh, but in a more spiritual sense, in so doing he is building consistently on the various other ambiguities of chaps. 3 and 4, especially the flesh-Spirit ambiguities which had been put before Nicodemus and the woman of Samaria—concerning different forms of birth and of living water (3:3-8. 4:10-15). Bultmann (204-5) does not accept this explanation; yet, as Barrett (246) insists, it makes sense. Furthermore, it accords with the idea mentioned in discussing the gospel’s space-based structure (Introduction, chapter 4) that “Galilee” is not just a geographic term; it symbolizes acceptance.

      That the place which rejects Jesus is Judea and not Galilee is borne out by the larger text concerning Jesus’ arrival in Galilee. Apart from saying that the Galileans welcomed him, it sets his Galilee arrival in the context of a journey from Judea, a journey which was occasioned by some form of rejection by Judaism’s leaders, the Pharisees (4: l–3,43–45,54).

      . . .

      Jesus’ Judaic compatriots showed him no honor; but the Galileans — intimating the reaction of the Gentiles — welcomed him.

      I am reminded of the prologue in John 1 which seems to imply that Judea and Jews are “his own” people to whom he came.

      As Brodie points out above, a number of scholars have understood John’s use of geographical terms is symbolic. Recall that in the post at https://vridar.org/2020/04/24/symbolic-characters-3-mary-personification-of-the-jewish-people-re-virgined/ we saw the view that Cana and Galilee are symbolic of the Gentiles being added to the Church which began with just the Jews. (Cana = adding; Galilee = (land) of the gentiles). I think the Gospel of Mark also uses place names symbolically, but John does too, though with different meanings.

      As for Samaria, I don’t think we are meant to see Samaria as Jesus’ hometown because in John 4:4 we read that Jesus had no choice but to pass through Samaria to go from Judea to Galilee. In John 4:45 we may be reminded that Jesus is on his way from Judea to Galilee.

  2. I would once again (try to) simply state that if the historical Jesus was so firmly established in the middle of the “first century” . . . and if the religion quickly spread “like wildfire” all the way to Rome as the Catholic Church has always claimed. . . then it should have been even more firmly established by the middle of the “second century” so as to be completely unassailable in historical terms.

    So how does Marcion of Pontus come along a full century after the death of Jesus with a “completely new” iteration of Jesus (not born of woman, etc) which by all accounts became wildly popular and was an instant success. Instead Marcion should have been laughed out of town, as it were.

    For Marcion to have been that successful suggests that there was already a vast (within Christian circles) and well-informed audience for his version of Jesus. An audience that goes all the way back to the time of Paul.

    From here on in I will be mostly stealing from Carrier. Paul even names the inventor of Jesus. Cephas. Cephas has visions and revelations of a celestial not historical Jesus. He gathers around him others who claim the same visions, including eventually Paul. This is a very esoteric sect which suggests it was Zadokite or an offshoot. The Zadokites created the Dead Sea scroll called The Last Jubilee which is simply a blueprint for a Messiah still to come. For it to have been buried as late as 140 AD suggests they were still waiting for this Messiah. If the Messiah, namely Jesus, had come there would have been no reason to bury it!

    There is a consistency between two of Paul’s epistles and The Last Jubilee scroll, although this consistency appears among the epistles said to be forgeries of Paul. The scroll said the Messiah would come from the priestly line of Melchizedek. “Paul” twice ascribes Jesus to that priestly line. Is this just a matter of both satisfying a requirement of Old Testament prophecy, or is there more at work here? Based on the language and the overall presentation we can at least suggest that all this stuff came out of the same group or coalition of splinter groups. Needless to say, the Christian authorities have chosen never to note the similarity between the scroll and Paul, much as they would have loved to have found evidence of Jesus in the Dead Sea scrolls. All of this instead works to destroy their case.

    So Paul joins the group after his own “revelation” turning traitor to the Pharisees etc. Was this in fact in the end some kind of political decision? Was all this “vision and revelation” nonsense just a wink and a nod among those who were merely inventing a savior as a means of divorcing themselves from the strict Judeans who had conquered them just a few centuries prior

    (they even debated whether the new sect should be limited to the circumcised. Paul argued to include the uncircumcised).

    We also know from unfiltered Paul this was a very esoteric sect which believed in different levels of reality. Celestial figures mixing with historical ones in what we now comprehensively call allegory. Marcion later just picks up where Paul left off, with his Jesus not born of woman coming down fully formed at Capernaum to argue against the Judean law. It also prefigures the later arguments between the largest Christian sects over who should be blamed for crucifying Jesus, the Romans or the Jews.

    Paul never names Mary and Joseph, his Jesus is clearly some Fronkensteen experiment by God on the sperm of David by way of an un-named woman. In other words (the again fully-formed) Jesus had to be human enough to die for the human race. The celestial Jesus sects and “gnostic” sects always insisted that Jesus would not have taken on corrupt human flesh.

    These Pauline sects clearly went underground later to emerge around the time near the death of Josephus. If Josephus did make brief mention of Christians that later had to be both covered up and added to, he would be writing of these early sects taking their instruction from Paul and not history. Somewhere up the line comes the Gospel of Mark, which obviously is recently being re-evaluated as another (like Marcion) strictly Pauline update given there is no history of Jesus and again we have Jesus arriving fully formed at the outset.

    Is this when Christian converts arriving later on the scene begin to mistakenly or deliberately begin adding historical elements to the story. Of course some of this was about changing the religion while addressing disparate groups, because the religion could only grow via conversion. This explains why Matthew and Luke disagree on so much, because they were addressing different audiences. Matthew was addressing the jews, which is why he and only he adds the Moses motif of the Slaughter of the Innocents. This crucial difference between Luke and Matthew is another indication that Jesus is just a story of which ultimately 20 or more disparate Christian sects had their own quite different versions, and BTW many of them still adhering to the Pauline celestial Jesus line. Luke (no slaughter of innocents, no flight to Egypt) and Matthew can’t both be correct, one has to be a lie and they both could be a lie.

    So it’s very possible and in fact very likely that the celestial Jesus came first and the historical Jesus evolved from that, either mistakenly or deliberately.

    I would argue the latter because ultimately these factions were vying for both commercial and political power.

    Marcion’s father converted to Christianity later in life and became a bishop in the emerging historical church.

    (the Wikipedia article on Marcion deliberately or not leaves the impression that the historical church was the “established” one which eventually attempted to silence and then excommunicate Marcion, but ultimately you’re talking just a circle of people exercising power within their own select group. As previously mentioned, history proves there were as many as 20 disparate Christian sects)

    Also along the way more proof of no established story arrives with Papias saying Judas survived the hanging to be killed by a rampaging oxcart, and Irenaeus and perhaps also Papias calling Luke heresy claiming Jesus after the resurrection lived to a very old age and died in bed.

    It would be amusing to think Marcion departs from his father’s view based on a type of teenage rebellion and invents his own Jesus (Marcion’s family was very rich and was the Onassis shipping dynasty of their day). Hopefully by now I’ve established there is no way inventing a brand new version out of nothing could have become that successful, bucking one hundred years of established history.

    Marcion instead for whatever reason chose the version of Jesus that had already long existed, the ORIGINAL celestial Jesus envisioned by Cephas and later taken over by Paul. Which in fact after the layers of lies and coverups are peeled away is much closer to the more “gnostic” versions of Jesus later exterminated. Even many centuries later, among the Cathars and Templars who were willing to die for their versions of Jesus.

    After centuries of Christian destruction of documents, ironically we know of Marcion’s Jesus thanks to the vehement arguments of later Church Fathers against him. The vehemence and extent of these arguments demonstrate just how popular and dangerous — to them — Marcion actually was.

    Tertullian described Marcion’s Jesus as “not born of woman, not a Jew, not even a man, but (celestial figure) came down fully formed at Capernaum to argue against the Judean law”

    1. Just one query at this point, and it relates to a detail I have never fully investigated: you write,

      and Irenaeus … calling Luke heresy claiming Jesus after the resurrection lived to a very old age and died in bed.

      I was not aware the claim was that Jesus lived to old age “after his resurrection”. Can you give us a source for this detail?

      Thanks.

      1. I inferred after his resurrection, I have not read all of Against Heresies more relying on excerpts. DB provided the link below to prove Irenaeus really did write about Jesus dying of old age in bed. Elsewhere I’ve read that Irenaeus lived during the time period that more historicizing versions of the story were being published and distributed. He was castigating how they differed from the oral traditions early Christians previously relied upon, and this is why he calls Luke heresy.

        the link sometimes doesn’t redirect correctly, so you might have to multiple attempt

        https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Ante-Nicene_Fathers/Volume_I/IRENAEUS/Against_Heresies:_Book_II

        and this is the overall link to the works of the Ante-Nicene Fathers (the Council of Nicaea being among the councils that finally “confirmed” the historical Jesus, making all other forms of Christianity heretical)

        https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Ante-Nicene_Fathers

        If Irenaeus didn’t believe in the resurrection, then I assume he believed Jesus just straight up survived the crucifixion. I’ve often wondered how christians deal with Irenaeus and Papias. The link is to an 1885 translation. Do the Christians regard them as forgeries or deliberate mistranslations? I ran across one Christian at a chat board arguing in favor of the existence of Jesus who had never even heard of Irenaeus and Papias. These things were much talked about in the 19th century when Christianity was being seriously questioned and setting the stage for the same things that are still being argued today.

        In fact such arguments go back to before the American Founding Fathers many of whom straight-up disdained Christianity and saying so directly in their correspondence to one another. Most of them preferred nature-based Deism. Thomas Jefferson did cling to Christianity but he eventually denied that Jesus was divine. He reconstituted the New Testament for his personal use, taking out all the miracles and the resurrection while describing Christianity as the most ethical system ever created by humanity. This also reminds me of a saying attributed to St. Augustine, “absent the miracles I would not be (there is no point in being) a Christian” (paraphrasing).

        I’m 63 years of age and I’ve never seen mention of Irenaeus and Papias in any mainstream media.

        The Wikipedia article on Papias displays the scholium written by Apollinaris of Laodicea which states Papias said Judas was crushed by an oxcart after surviving the hanging.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papias_of_Hierapolis

        and in speaking of Papias, Apollinaris cites some version of the Acts of the Apostles to validate what Papias was saying. Papias was another extremely important church father, but the later Church chose not to preserve his five volume work Exposition of the Sayings of the Lord. Probably safe to infer that there was too much in Papias that conflicted with later church doctrine.

        1. The works of Irenaeus are well-known in academic circles where early Christianity is of particular interest. Papias is known from accounts of later “fathers” (especially Eusebius) and his reported statements are of special interest also, especially as evidence to be considered in questions of our canonical gospel origins and developments.

          Church Fathers like Irenaeus and Tertullian and Origen are also of significance for questions relating to what our NT texts originally said: are their quotations the same as what we read today?

          I always understood Irenaeus’s statement about Jesus being 50 years as nothing more than a statement that Jesus was around that old at the time of his death (and subsequent resurrection).

  3. “Since it pleaseth thee, who hast created the Jewish nation, to depress the same, and since all their good fortune is gone over to the Romans, and since thou hast made choice of this soul of mine to foretell what is to come to pass hereafter, I willingly give them my hands,

    Josephus, Flavius. Wars of the Jews or Jewish War or the History of the Destruction of Jerusalem (mobi) (Kindle Locations 4301-4303). MobileReference. Kindle Edition.

    Josephus a prophet without honor in his own country and welcomed in Galilee. Chosen by God to write what is known as the New Testament, a Prophecy concerning the destruction of the Jewish Temple.

    1. Three of Josephus’ friends were being, he said, unjustly crucified. So he got permission from the Romans to take them down. One survived, he said somewhere.

      1. If you place the crucifixion at the popular dates of 33 or 36 CE, Josephus would not have had the power to save Jesus from the cross. . . because Josephus wasn’t born yet! (born 37 CE)

        Most people don’t know that the father of Josephus was a Jerusalem temple priest during the exact supposed time of these supposed events, would have been fully witness to the Jesus events, and most definitely would have passed this history on to his eventually illustrious historian son. So if these things had in fact happened, Josephus would have written much more than a sentence and a short paragraph about Jesus.

        In my earlier post I note that if Josephus just before the publication of his Antiquities had come across some wandering Christians, they could very well have been the possibly original variety which believed in a Jesus not born of woman as such etc etc (what are today generalized as “gnostics”)

        (the same version of Jesus as also noted we could also reasonably attribute to Paul after all the later coverups, forgeries and lies are removed from Paul)

        If Josephus indeed wrote a very short something about what at the time amounted to a very small splinter sect that did not believe in the Jesus as later formulated by third century church doctrine . . . obviously that is a reason to simultaneously use Josephus to “confirm history” while needing to both obscure and add to whatever he really said.

        Josephus’s work of history defies so many things in the New Testament account. For instance Josephus details all of the crimes of Herod, but never mentions the Slaughter of the Innocents. Very likely if such a thing had actually occurred, the populace would have risen up and at least attempted to remove Herod from power. Josephus mapped his country extensively and Nazareth does not appear on it, even though Josephus stayed at nearby Japha for a long period of time.

        It’s at least possible that the actual Christian authors reading Josephus stole his description of saving someone from the cross and adapted it for their own use, as they are accused of stealing other things from Josephus even though as mentioned the whole of Josephus does not jibe with Christianity at all. Another for instance, Josephus calls a Roman emperor the savior of the Jews (Messiah)

    2. If Josephus wrote all of the New Testament was it too much to ask for him to be consistent throughout, not make geographical mistakes in areas where he would know better, and why would he write so many gospels under different names? If you read my post above, obviously the crucial difference between Matthew and Luke is regarding the birth of Jesus.

      In Matthew Herod slaughters the innocents hoping to kill the recently born-Messiah (which is just a regurgitation of the Moses myth hoping to convert a Judean audience) and the family flees to Egypt.

      In Luke the family stays put the whole time, even after Jesus is taken to the temple and declared Messiah, with no action against them by Herod and no flight to Egypt.

      The two can’t even agree on when Jesus was born. Matthew obviously places it before the death of Herod. Luke places the birth of Jesus at the famous census, but from actual history we know Herod was dead before that happened.

      Both stories can’t be true, one has to be a lie, and both stories could be lies.

      1. Good point. That would make a “Josep” at most the originator or father of PART of the NT.

        Some indeed say that different stories of Jesus’ origins and territorial leanings, similarly suggest different authors, from different regions, religions.

        1. I responded to your comment about the three crucified so here could just merely repeat that the Christians in inventing Jesus eventually stole elements from Josephus like they stole from everywhere else (including even Plato).

          So only in that way could Josephus be the father of a religion which had many fathers, but this what can only be considered conspiratorial focus on Josephus just completely ignores Paul writing epistles on Jesus in the 50s CE.

          Paul even names the inventor of Jesus. Cephas, who was or could have been creating a figure out of his own revelations and visions of a celestial not historical Jesus . . . which could even have been a matter of politics, since all of these people were using the Diaspora as a means of rejecting the Judean religion which had conquered them a century or so earlier.

          Only crazy people can have it both ways on Josephus. If he was truly a hero to the Galileans as someone has mentioned above. there was nothing to stop him by the end of the century (died 100 CE) of writing much more explicitly about Jesus than the couple of sentences that we have. Been fairly well proven that the other mention of Jesus and James were referring to other people named Jesus and James. The Testimonium, experts on all sides of the question agree it was tampered with later by Eusebius for whatever Eusebius was trying to both promote and at the same time hide.

          Then there is the “problem” of Marcion of Pontus. Not to be confused with Mark, and Mark is currently being re-evaluated as an essentially Pauline “update” that also does not say anything about the historical birth or childhood of Jesus. To repeat, Paul’s remarks on the birth of Jesus are very strange and he does not mention Mary or Joseph. Paul seems to be saying Jesus was created in the heavens by God experimenting on the semen of David by way of an un-named woman. Which means we’re once again in the realm of outright fiction or allegory

          as is being posited by modern scholars much more educated than I, such as most recently Richard Carrier, though this argument long predates Carrier.

          Additionally I don’t know enough of the history of the Pauline epistles to say if the following is true or not, but it has been claimed that there is no evidence of the Pauline epistles until Marcion publishes them as part of HIS New Testament (the first New Testament ever published, sometime around 140 CE, and in three languages).

          Marcion has even been accused of writing some or all of these ten Pauline epistles. Marcion claimed to have found the epistles at the Jesus School in Antioch.

          NOW FROM TERTULLIAN a later church father, and other later church fathers, we know that Marcion’s Jesus was “not born of woman, not a Jew, not even a man but came down fully formed (a celestial figure) at Capernaum to argue against the Judean law.”

          Marcion’s New Testament consisted of his Gospel of the Lord and ten Pauline epistles. For Marcion to include these epistles to “back up” his version of Jesus obviously means that Marcion is confirming Paul was writing of a celestial not human (and thus for our purposes not historical) Jesus.

          As I more laboriously stated previously, there is no way Marcion could just make up a new Jesus and have it accepted, celebrated and ultimately attacked to the extent that it was. If there had already been an established historical Jesus for a century or nearly a century, his Jesus tale would have been soundly rejected, not embraced. Just more evidence that the original Jesus was mythical, not historical.

          Additionally, what in modern times we lump together as gnostics always claimed that Jesus would never have taken on corrupt human flesh. After the fourth century councils and Constantine, such beliefs were branded heretical and violently rooted out, and it took centuries to do so. All the way up to the much later Cathars and Templars.

          1. I wouldn’t be suprised if Marcion wrote or heavily redacted the epistles attributed to “Paul”. What “Paul” says about his back story pretty much can’t have happened when folk assume it did, if true it can only have happened prior to 72BC. Someone wrting several generations and three genocidal Jewish wars after when they think Paul lived might well not be aware of the error. I don’t know why we bother; whichever way you come at the story; its tripe.

      2. “Both stories can’t be true, one has to be a lie, and both stories could be lies.”

        The Gospel of John tells us that the birth record of Jesus is a lie. But the birth narratives contain other information that is confirmed by Josephus. This is why Herod and all were troubled

        “by Divine inspiration, they foretold how God had decreed that Herod’s government should cease, and his posterity should be deprived of it; but that the kingdom should come to her and Pheroras, and to their children. These predictions were not concealed from Salome, but were told the king; as also how they had perverted some persons about the palace itself; so the king slew such of the Pharisees as were principally accused, and Bagoas the eunuch, and one Carus, who exceeded all men of that time in comeliness, and one that was his catamite. He slew also all those of his own family who had consented to what the Pharisees foretold; and for Bagoas, he had been puffed up by them, as though he should be named the father and the benefactor of him who, by the prediction, was foretold to be their appointed king; for that this king would have all things in his power, and would enable Bagoas to marry, and to have children of his own body begotten.”

        Josephus , Flavius . Antiquities of the Jews (Kindle Locations 18058-18065). Kindle Edition.

        1. But the birth narratives contain other information that is confirmed by Josephus. This is why Herod and all were troubled

          Only one birth narrative (singular) speaks of Herod’s alarm. Luke allows no room for Matthew’s narrative. A little more reading will alert us to a simple fact: kings being warned of usurpers and turning their paranoid rage against them and other innocent bystanders is one of the most common motifs in fictional and historical literature, ancient as well as modern.

          Only confirmation bias will prompt us to jump to any conclusion that one of the gospel authors was influenced by Josephus in this instance. One only has to compare other even closer parallels that Matthew is uncontroversially known to have used.

          The most we can say is that “Matthew” may have had that Josephan passage in mind but he also certainly had other sources in mind that were even more specific influences. Maybe, possibly, is a long step from probably and that is still another jump from certainty. At best we have a suggestive curiosity.

          1. So our prophet Josephus is telling two birth stories just as Genesis has two stories. Matt’s is on the “wise” a secret threat to Herod and Jerusalem, a Jesus that will die for his people and Luke’s is all joy to the world a Savior for all people and the census of Caesar Augustus.

            But both stories are linked back to Josephus antiquities where the same Pharisees that plotted against Herod had refused to swear allegiance to Caesar. And swearing to Caesar was the purpose of the census.(silver jubilee of Caesar Augustus)

            These are those that are called the sect of the Pharisees, who were in a capacity of greatly opposing kings. A cunning sect they were, and soon elevated to a pitch of open fighting and doing mischief. Accordingly, when all the people of the Jews gave assurance of their good-will to Caesar, and to the king’s government, these very men did not swear, being above six thousand;

            Josephus , Flavius . Antiquities of the Jews (Kindle Locations 18054-18056). Kindle Edition.

            One birth is fiction the other is historical. One is dying for the sins of his people the the other bringing salvation to those that swear allegiance.

            1. And swearing to Caesar was the purpose of the census.(silver jubilee of Caesar Augustus)

              Where does that come from? I think someone just made it up. It is certainly not true.

              There’s nothing whatever to link Pharisees in Josephus to the gospel birth narratives. The reasoning is a creative way to make the assumptions and inferences and remote associations “prove” a point — not unlike conspiracy theory “joining of dots”.

              1. ” So, what then was Luke referring to when he recorded that Caesar Augustus took a worldwide tax? Actually, other translations use a better English word for the Greek in this case than the King James offers. The Greek word apographo (G583) and apographe (G582) should be translated enrolled and enrollment respectively. What, then, was the world census / enrollment of Caesar Augustus, and when did it take place? In 2 BCE Augustus celebrated his silver jubilee and this coincided with the 750th anniversary of Rome. It was a year of great celebration in the Empire, and the Roman senate decided to honor Caesar by bestowing upon him the title, Pater Patriae or “Father of the Country”. In doing this, a worldwide census was taken in 3 BCE whereby every citizen of the Roman Empire swore allegiance to Caesar, and a notice stating this was presented to Caesar Augustus in February of 2 BCE.” https://coffeehouseapologetics.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/the-world-census-of-caesar-augustus/

                Luke 2 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

                Chapter 2
                The Birth of Jesus. 1 [a]In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus[b] that the whole world should be enrolled. 2 This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 So all went to be enrolled,

              2. So you cite apologists who make up their own historical facts to support the gospels. I am only interested in serious history — and the occasional humorous spoof. But the fabrications of apologists hold no interest for me at all and have no place here. See our comments policy.

            2. Sorry didn’t know, but they did list their sources. I was trying to find where Josephus got his info on swearing an oath to Augustus. Easier said than done

              1. I should not have been so harsh. I feared you were another apologist creeping in with subtlety. 😉

                There is no evidence for Augustus declaring a world-wide census requiring people to return to their original home-towns. Some apologists attempt to create evidence for such an event by extrapolating inferences from scattered data from other times and places. Their conviction that the Bible must be true gives them complete confidence in their imaginary reconstructions of the evidence.

                If you have any specific questions about details of what you have read I or other readers might be able to comment.

              2. The requirement to return to one’s place of birth for the census, enrollment, or whatever, would have been implausible enough, but the narrative makes it even sillier. According to Luke, Joseph had to go to Bethlehem “because he belonged to the house and line of David” (NIV). So the requirement was not that you go to your own original home, but the home of your ancestors. Bureaucratic stupidity at its worst could not explain that.

              3. but they did list their sources.

                One thing Tim and I have learned since our critical engagement with biblical scholarship especially: never let a source go unchecked. So very often we find that citations seem to be added to impress readers but check them out and too often one finds they lead to nothing relevant or even to blatant misuse. On the other hand, one can gain an entirely new education by following up footnotes. It’s a lesson we, and no doubt so many others, have come to learn after years of being taught to “trust authorities”.

              4. No I’m not an apologist. But I do think there is something to the Josephus did it! And not that he was actually ordained by God 🙂

                Thanks, enjoy reading your articles and comments

  4. “Many fathers”: quite a few scholars assert that the Biblical Jesus is a “composite”,of many earlier persons, legends. None of whom are entirely reliable.

    For me Josephus is interesting as one of dozens of partly unreliable origins. Who, if he was ever accurate, was subsequentl y garbled by his later readers.

    Interesting though, that the Bible at times questions itself. Possibly misunderstanding of Joseohus was one question noted.

    My own reading suggests that the conventional Jesus dates ARE wrong; lots of figures were sources. From 120 BC – and much earlier too, if you include a rewritten OT as the origin of much of the NT. And then later as well; the Bible is still being rewritten today, in various new “editions.”

    The Bible itself accordingly questions a “Joseph” as the “father” of Jesus.
    Possibly that is one place it addressed the unreliability of the Josephus source. Whose name is just “Joseph” with a Greek “eus” ending.

    Of course the other unreliable sources include those you mention as well.

    It’s not “either/or”; it is “both/and.”

    IMHO

    Meanwhile? I’m exploring the possibility that the word “Nasareth” meant a mere nase- or nose-like promentory, and lookout point, over the plain. Not a city at all.

  5. quite a few scholars assert that the Biblical Jesus is a “composite”,of many earlier persons, legends

    I don’t know what scholars you have in mind, exactly, but I suspect those who do hold such views are merely stating that the mythical details about Jesus were borrowed from other legendary or mythical persons. I don’t believe they would be inferring that Jesus himself was not historical.

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