|"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 2:23|
|This seems like a plausible statement from the Gospel according to Matthew. Yet, religious scholars have searched the Old Testament with a fine tooth comb and have never unearthed this prophesy. At least we know that he was called a Nazarene because he must have lived in a city called Nazareth. Let us see what Christian scholars have to say about that:
"If our reasoning is correct, they [the Essenes] were not left out [of the Gospels], but appeared under the name nazoraioi, a word which has been mistakenly assumed to refer to the little town of Nazareth in Galilee (and never mentioned in the Old Testament)...Accordingly, Jesus of Nazareth' would be a mistranslation of 'Jesus the Nazorean' or grecicised, Jesus the Essene."—(Ellegard, 1999, p. 241)
"There is no such place as Nazareth in the Old Testament or in Josephus' works, or on early maps of the Holy Land."—(Holley, 1994, p. 190)
"...[people in Nazareth were] living in wretched caves...from about 900 BC to about 600 AD."—(Keller, 1980, p. 337)
"The prophecy [that Jesus is a Nazarene from Nazareth] is based on Matthew's total misunderstanding of a passage from Isaiah (11:1), where the Messiah is called a nezer (branch); in other words, a branch from Jesse's (father of David) "stump". Matthew reads into "nezer" the city of Nazareth..."—(Uta Ranke-Heinemann , 1994, p. 22)
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"There is, in fact, no record of Narazeth's existence at that [Jesus'] time...Nazareth is not to be found in any book, map, chronicle or military record of the period so far discovered."—(Gardner, 2007, p. 53)|
While living at Japha, Josephus resided 2000 meters from what eventually became the center of late Roman Nazareth, yet in his later survey of the area he makes no mention of the town. Origen lived within a day's journey of the future site of Nazareth for many years but was unable to find such a city, eventually concluding that the Gospel references to Nazareth should be interpreted figuratively or mystically.
There exists no epigraphic or archaeological evidence that a city called Nazareth even existed prior to 60 or 70 CE at the earliest, and even if a tiny village did exist, would residence there be what the prophets had in mind to fulfill a messianic prophesy. "It was a tiny rural hamlet. The problem is that it wasn't known by that name. It was actually a tiny, unnamed collection of about a dozen huts near the town of Gat-Hyefer, and was never known by the name of Nazareth until it was picked by a fifth-century Christian Roman emperor to be Nazareth, because he was embarrassed by the fact that no town by that name actually existed."–Scott Bidstrup, "The Case Against 'The Case for Christ'."
It is clear from the scriptures that the Greek word for city, (polis), is used here as it is used more than two dozen times in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Both of these authors seem very aware of the Greek word for village, (kome) which they also use. It must be noted that Mark, the first gospel penned, refers to Jesus as Jesus the Nazorean and makes no reference to Jesus of Nazareth. Even if there were such a village then a resident would have been either a Nazarethenos or Nazarethaios from the Greek and if it were in Hebrew then Nazareth would be Nazrat and a person from Nazareth is then a Nazrati, but never a Nazarene or Nazorean. Even if the town was called Nazareth which it was not, it was called that because it was home to the Nazoreans. If you believe that Jesus was called the Nazorean because he was the netzer or shoot, then by whom was he called this. Certainly not the Pharisee.
Likewise, archaeological records have shown that during the Herodian period there appears to have been nobody living in Bethlehem. Therefore, there was no room at the inn because there was no inn because there was no one living in Bethlehem. So, the two places claimed by scripture to be the birthplace of Jesus were uninhabited during his lifetime. However, Nazareth and Bethlehem are not the only geographical problems with the gospel Jesus.
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