A comment by VinnyJH has led me to rethink and plan to add a paragraph to my recent post on Nazareth. Of course, Nazareth is a significant factor in the historical Jesus debate. True, it is not necessary for Nazareth to have been settled to support Richard Carrier’s “minimalist historical Jesus” figure that he uses in his hypothesis for the unlikelihood for the historicity of Jesus. But in the wider culture, it does have a very strong significance. Witness the tourist industry related to Nazareth, the holy sites historically preserved there, for starters. Even in mainstream scholarly circles, we can find the argument presented that the “criterion of embarrassment” “proves” the historical Jesus came from Nazareth. It is a prominent feature of mainstream historical Jesus scholarship that the authors of both the gospels of Matthew and Luke supposedly tied their narrative in knots just to work out a way to get Jesus from Bethlehem (where he had to be born to fulfill the messianic prophecy) to Nazareth (from where “oral tradition” was so insistent as the place he was known to come from). The same scholarship is very clear: it posits that the Nazareth association was so important in the wider knowledge about Jesus that the evangelists somehow felt compelled to write contradictory and convoluted narratives to explain how that “general knowledge” came about.
It is no wonder that some mainstream historical Jesus scholars choose to respond to René Salm’s research with insult than engage in an intellectually honest way with the evidence he has published.
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7 thoughts on “Once more on Nazareth, Relevance and Salm versus Carrier”
I thought this was all put to bed! Nazareth probably did exist in 1CE albeit not as described in the gospels. Nobody associates the town with the godman until Matthew in c.90CE, Mark’s one use of the word believed to be a much later insertion, see Turton: Commentary on the Gospel of Mark. Matthew put Jesus there not because of any oral tradition about the town but because of the word Nazorean which has been given a few meanings but definitely not: citizen of Nazareth! I am not sure about how Matthew came across this word but for me Nazareth has no bearing on historicity one way or the other. It does however cast serious shade on the criteria of dissimilarity, used in shoddy way by scholars who should know better! Looking at you Bart Ehrman……
You are thinking quite logically. I agree. Unfortunately, the “real world” — not only the general public but the mainstream of biblical scholarship — has thinks differently.
Nazorean = Nasara = Batanea -somewhere-
The only relevant town in Galilee outside of Tiberius (and Gamala, Paneas, which are accounted for) is Sepphoris. Is Jesus from Sepphoris? There’s an academic discussion. “Nazareth” is wholly irrelevant.
Jesus could not have come from Bethlehem since the ENTIRE nativity story is a retelling of the Adonis myth, and we see the prominent Adonis shrine in the spring-cave upon which the Church of the Nativity was built. Adonis-of-Bethlehem and his mother Pege (Anobret of Bethlehem) was incorporated into David. No wonder it was recycled into Jesus.
This taking the gospels at face value is insulting. They’re recycled myth. If history is there, it’s buried in code or parable. I.e.: Lazarus and the Rich man, the two brothers, the wedding feast, the prodigal son, the “honest” tax collector, Barabbas, etc.
Jesus as a unique, historical, poor, itinerant innovator who led a group of poor, uneducated Galileans who then spread out his message and thence Christianity is one of the most absurd and speculative and insulting theories ever conceived.
If Nazareth was historically real, it was Nasara of the Dead Sea Scrolls, which was probably Bathrya AKA “Ecbatana” the hill next to Nawa, Syria which we should assume was settled by Essenes and Oniad Judeo-Egyptian mercenaries in the Roman era and governed by a dynasty of Babylonian Jews. A perfect explanation for Jesus and Christianity and fitting the historical context. Why historians can’t go there? Maybe overly attached to the Bible as history, and the Christian narrative.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem because prophecy! Jesus was from Nazareth because prophecy! Jesus did a ton of stuff because prophecy! Maybe the story was about prophecy fulfilment, not mundane facts about a man’s history.