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The Nazareth Issue




Nazareth Winepress

 

Note: A significant amount of this content has been used in one of my degree essays which passed assessment.



Church history presents the official story that Nazareth was the hometown of Jesus. The location is given in the New Testament in the gospels of ‘Matthew’ (2:23); ‘Luke’ (1:26, 2:3-7, 2:39-40), and 'John’ (1:45-47); the Gospel of ‘Mark’ does not state the name, the location is assumed. The writings of ‘Tertullian’, ‘Origen’, ‘Eusebius’, ‘St. Jerome’ and ‘Sextus Julius Africanus’ are all cited as later evidence for the existence of  ‘Nazareth’ and the origin of the term ‘Christian’ as coming from the term ‘Nazarene’;[1] My next publication will present evidence showing how these individuals were descended from the Piso and Flavian families, but their identities do not affect the archaeological evidence investigated here.

The location and name of Jesus’ supposed home certainly creates heated debate between Christians and atheists, but what proof do we currently have that Nazareth existed as a town/village/city in the first century when Jesus is supposed to have lived? There is no proof that Nazareth existed as a town/city/village in the early first century, the only physical evidence of activity in the area before the 300s CE is that of agricultural, burial, and hiding places used by the Jews during the brutal occupation by Rome.

            Today Nazareth acts as a tourist destination with multiple sites of interest, including ‘Nazareth Village’, a living history farm and village claiming to provide the experience of what life was like when Jesus and Mary lived there. But the finds uncovered in the area known as the ‘Nazareth Village Farm’, approximately 1.9 miles from the Sisters of Nazareth Convent, a site which will be examined shortly, are agricultural and are to do with creating a vineyard. Professor Joan E. Taylor, who conducted investigations at the sites in question here (see p. xii of the Preface in her Christians and The Holy Places book), recorded the findings in her article ‘Missing Magdala And The Name of Mary ‘Magdalene’.’ On p. 210 of Taylor’s article, it reads:

 

Towers were built as look-outs. In the parable of the wicked tenants, Jesus describes the process of setting up a vineyard: “A person planted a vineyard, and set a boundary around it, and dug a pit for the wine-press and built a tower” (Mark 12.ia // Matt 21.33, cf. Luke 20.9); the construction of a watchtower is considered a normative part of preparing a vineyard, and in fact this exact scenario—towers, wine press and pit (= vat)—has been uncovered in the University of the Holy Land excavations in Nazareth Village Farm (Pfann, Voss and Rapuano 2007).”[2]

 

 

The name ‘Nazareth’ was grafted on to the current location when Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine ‘the Great’, discovered a well now called ‘Mary’s Well’. This well is another advertised tourist site because of the claim that the angel Gabriel visited Mary there. But Helena’s purported pilgrimage to the Holy Land was one aspect of Emperor Constantine’s process of beginning to establish Christianity as the official religion of the Roman Empire.

Stating that ‘Nazareth’ did not exist as described in the New Testament is very controversial. However, any individuals stating the above and presenting evidence to support such statements are often met with ad hominem attacks from Biblical scholars and archaeologists, which is unacceptable and very unprofessional. Those attacks arise because the evidence for Jesus’ historicity and the current accuracy of the recorded evidence for early first-century domestic habitation (houses) in Nazareth is questioned.[3][4]

But why is the mention of Nazareth in the New Testament and its location an issue? The first thing to note is the awkwardness of the location itself and the New Testament claim that Jesus was the Messiah. According to Micah 5:2, found in the Book of Micah in the Old Testament, Bethlehem was to be the place of origin of the Messiah, as a descendant of David. Therefore a logical argument can be made that Nazareth was a hamlet/village/town/city as described in Matthew 2:23 and Luke 2:3-7, because why else would this location be mentioned, creating a location issue, if it did not exist?

Matthew 2:1 has Jesus being born in Bethlehem whilst his parents were living there. The family then fled to Egypt until the death of Herod the Great and then settled in Nazareth (2:19-23). In Luke 2:1-5 Jesus is born in Bethlehem after his parents travelled there from their home in Nazareth. The reason given in ‘Luke’ for Jesus’ parents going to Bethlehem is because of the Census of Quirinius, who we read served as the governor of Syria until 12 CE. This census required Joseph to return to his ancestral home, apparently, because he was of the house and lineage of David, and then go back to Nazareth. However, the census only covered Judea, not Galilee, and there is no evidence to suggest people were required to return to a location based on an ancestral connection, which was logistically impossible at that time (for more on this see Sanders, E.P. 1993: The Historical Figure of Jesus, London, The Penguin Press, p. 86).

The next aspect of the Nazareth issue to note is that the New Testament does not specify where Nazareth is. The only information we have comes from the Gospel of ‘Luke’, “...and having risen up they cast him out of [the] city, and led him unto the brow of the mountain upon which their city had been built” (Luke 4:29). From this description we get a picture that the ‘city’ of Nazareth was on the “brow of a mountain”. But when reading and comparing the archaeological reports of Nazareth, both past and current, the evidence we have for the area that has been considered as the location of the New Testament village/city/town does not show domestic habitation (first-century houses). What the evidence does show, as already stated, but I feel is worth repeating, is the remains of structures built for agricultural uses, burials, and hiding places.

Nazareth’s description as a ‘city’ in ‘Luke’ cannot be considered an accurate one, and this is because the Greek word polis is used. This word is Greek for a ‘town’ or ‘city’, but it cannot be considered as having been used precisely because the term polis is used in the Gospels to describe both larger cities and smaller settlements; also ‘Josephus’ uses this term to describe smaller settlements and towns. In essence, the way the term polis is used cannot help with understanding how big or small Nazareth may have been.

But why is this important? Well, the inaccurate use of the above term directly relates to the claims made about the archaeological remains uncovered in excavations in different parts of the Nazareth location. Those claims, based on what has been found, are that the archaeological remains present evidence for first-century domestic activity on the hill, the slope of the hill, and on the ‘level’ ground during the time of Jesus.

For example, the latest person to report on the findings in Nazareth in book form is a man called Ken Dark, a visiting professor at King’s College London. Dark has concluded in his publication Archaeology of Jesus’ Nazareth that Nazareth “served as a local centre, that is a ‘small town’/village acting as a central place in the landscape.[5] Dark has also stated that the remains of a structure under the Sisters of Nazareth Convent, which is situated on the hillside that is considered the ‘heart of old Nazareth’, are those of a ‘courtyard house’; as expected, the media produced hyperbole reports that the 'courtyard house' was possibly the house of Jesus, of course, there is no way to know this.

In the ‘heart of old Nazareth’, the ‘Venerated area’, there are three first-century structures that have been documented by archaeologists. Those structures were concluded in the past to be domestic houses, those of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus. The locations of the structures are as follows: 1) Under the Church of Annunciation (which one legend states was the location of Mary’s house, as according to Matthew 1:18, she had her own home when she became the ‘virgin’ Mary). 2) Under the Sisters of Nazareth Convent (the supposed location of the ‘model courtyard house’ of Mary where Jesus was brought up). 3) The Church of St. Joseph (under which the supposed house of Joseph is located, in reality, it is an agricultural structure.)[6]

Below is a reproduction of an image from Dark’s book (p. 51) showing where the ‘Venerated area’ is in Nazareth and the locations of kokh tombs that are dated to after 70 CE; only wealthier Jews would have been able to afford rock-cut tombs.[7]



Nazareth

The above image is labelled as follows: The Church of the Annunciation (A). A Roman-period rock-cut tomb (B). Franciscan Casa Nova hostel (C). The Sisters of Nazareth Convent (D). ‘Synagogue Church’ (E). Maronite church (F). Mensa church (G). Orthodox Christian episcopal building, with undated artificial caves (H). Mary’s Well (I). The Orthodox Church of the Annunciation (J). The dashed lines represent the locations of where Roman period and /or pottery have been found and the locations of the kokh-type tombs are shown by the black dots.

The most recent conclusion regarding the structure underneath the tourist site of the Church of the Annunciation is that it was an agricultural settlement rather than the ‘house of Mary.’ Of the Church of Annunciation, Professor Dark states:

 

“...what was found at the Church of the Annunciation is less exotic than might be supposed. The evidence of artificial caves cannot be taken to indicate that this was a settlement of cave dwellers. These were probably stables, storage, and working spaces rather than dwellings, but a few may have been used for human occupation. The presence of such features is, then, best interpreted as evidence for an agricultural settlement.[8]

 

 

He further states on pages 44-45 of his publication:

 

This evidence suggests that the Church of Annunciation site was part of a substantial Early Roman-period community...These rock-cut tunnels are clearly later than the agricultural features. Some cut through the walls of rock-cut pits or water cisterns in ways that it would be hard to imagine would have allowed their continued use for their original purpose. Narrow rock-cut tunnels of this sort are found at other sites. There, they are typical of the hiding places associated with the First Jewish Revolt, which ended in Galilee in ad 70. Such hiding places have a distinctive set of characteristics. These include narrow tunnels of the sort found at the Church of the Annunciation, and locking and blocking devices are also found on the site. Most of these hiding places reused pre-existing agricultural features, including cisterns, presses, and pits within villages. The rock-cut tunnels connected those underground spaces in a way which made them easy to defend and inaccessible except by crawling into them...Finds of pottery and lamps, therefore, support the interpretation that someone was living at the site in the Late Hellenistic period and early first century ad. There is no archaeological reason to doubt that this site could have been in continuous use from the second century BC until the period of the First Jewish Revolt.”

 

Dark’s mention of pottery and lamps as evidence of someone living at the site in the Hellenistic period (323 BCE-31 BCE) and early first century will be shown to not be conclusive at all. The oil lamps found in Nazareth are the main moveable findings used to date the activity there.

But the above may only indicate domestic habitation nearby and not directly where Christian history needs it to be. It is important to also be aware that the findings of pottery, lamps, glass, iron, personal and everyday items (cooking pots, jars, storage jars) coins, spindles, and looms are all found in agricultural and burial sites, for example, lamps were used to illuminate graves.[9] Furthermore, the site has been subject to much disturbance over time, and tombs and an extensive cemetery dating to the middle-late Roman period exist in the area. The above findings cannot be considered for certain as belonging to the early first century, and later it will be shown that the lamps date from the mid-late part of the first century.

            Taking into account that past claims have been made stating that the archaeological remains are those of the houses of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus shows how uncritical and premature the conclusions of the past have been. Nazareth today is a large densely built area and any statements that concern the finds or not-finds in Nazareth must keep this in mind. The central part has produced pottery and oil lamps from earlier and later periods, approximately Iron Age and Middle-Late Roman. But the majority of the artefacts have been found in the kokh tombs that date to the later part of the first century, after 70 CE.

The reality of the situation in Nazareth is that large-scale scientific excavations can only be made in a few areas. This, then, causes issues for both sides of the argument for the existence of Nazareth. For those wanting to find evidence of early-first-century houses, it seems a special effort is made to label any remains as Hellenistic, Early Roman, and domestic and being connected to Jesus. But for both sides, only the evidence that has been uncovered can be assessed.

 

 

Current Evidence

 

 

To begin, I am not going to make the argument that the hill slopes of the ‘Venerated Area’ are too steep to build houses, as I consider that a moot point. The point is moot because as will be shown the archaeological remains are not those of early-first-century houses, the remains are of agricultural structures.[10]

But to be able to assess the current evidence it is very important to understand the conclusions of past archaeological efforts in Nazareth. Many Biblical scholars will cite the excavation report by the twentieth-century Italian archaeologist and Catholic priest Bellarmino Bagatti.[11] The Bagatti-Testa school defined a hypothetical group of Jewish-Christians who lived in Palestine. This hypothetical group was responsible for, according to the Baggatti-Testa school, venerating certain sites of Christian importance, including the ‘Virgin Mary’s House’ in Nazareth.

   A deductive approach was used by this school to assert that their theory was true and set about fitting the evidence into the theory. This led to errors of identification being made, for example, the elaborate forgery of the ‘Jewish-Christian’ funerary stelai of Khirbet Kilkish.[12] Professor Joan E. Taylor wrote a book in which she presented her conclusions on, among other things, the work of Baggatti.[13] The statements by Taylor that are of interest are those concerning the same areas that Dark covers in his book, those being the sites occupied by the Sisters of Nazareth Convent and Church of Annunciation. On p. 125 of his publication Dark states regarding the remaining first-century features in the Cellar under the Sisters of Nazareth Convent:

 

Whichever of these interpretations is correct, there is evidence for a first-century domestic building—that is, a house—at the Sisters of Nazareth site. We can say something about its ‘architecture’, construction methods, and the associated, or probably associated, objects. It is also possible to recognize that it [the structure] was disused before burial took place on the site. When the tomb builders arrived, the site was a quarry rather than a dwelling. But all this had happened within the first century, and that probably implies that we should assign the structure—however, we reconstruct it—to earlier in that century rather than later. Our work had, therefore, succeeded in recording the visible features in the Cellar to twenty-first-century standards and sorted out the surviving records and finds from earlier work. One consequence of this was to show that there was a first-century house at the site, and probably occupation of a similar date on the hilltop above it.

 

But on p. 230 of Taylor’s publication, for which she won an Irene Levi-Sala Award in Israel’s archaeology, she stated concerning the same remains:

 

Bagatti began his examination of the archaeology of the region around the so-called Shrine, or Grotto, of the Annunciation by examining the rock-cut features which stretch over an area measuring 75 by 85 metres, and possibly beyond (see Figure 20 and Plate 3). These are: Middle Bronze Age tombs, silos from the Iron Age onwards, a wine-press installation, an olive pressing installation, holes for holding storage jars, and bell shaped cisterns. There are also uniform depressions which indicate where the foundations of walls were laid. One can add that under the site now occupied by the Sisters of Nazareth, 100 metres west of the present Basilica of the Annunciation, and under the Church of St Joseph, to the north, there are caves containing cisterns from the Roman period. The remains indicate that the entire area was used for agricultural processing activity. Domestic buildings may have been constructed over the complexes. The remains bring to mind the words of the Piacenza Pilgrim, who stated that Nazareth’s grain, wine, oil, and apples were of superior quality [Itineraria et alia geographica, Corpus Christianorum series Latina, Volume 175].”[14]

 

Taylor also provides us with images of the agricultural remains on pages 231-232 which she labels Figure 20 and Plate 3 (below):



Nazareth

 


Nazareth

 

An important question that needs to be asked is whether the archaeological remains under the Sisters of Nazareth site have changed significantly since Taylor published her conclusions. From reading Dark’s latest publication the conclusion has to be no; indeed, in an interview for History First, where Dark discusses his latest book, he states that from the remains the exact form of the building remains uncertain.[15] Therefore I cannot see how Dark can assert with confidence that a first-century house has been found at the site. Furthermore, Dark states on p. 125 of his book that the remains under the Sisters of Nazareth site could be those of a quarry worker’s hut, but, based on the present evidence he finds it difficult to choose between the two possibilities.

Another archaeologist who has directed excavations in Nazareth, Yardenna Alexandre, has also produced reports claiming to have unearthed an early-Roman-period house at another tourist site. The site in question is The International Marian Center (IMC), or Mary of Nazareth Center, only a very short distance from the agricultural remains of the Church or Basilica of the Annunciation. Alexandre has also excavated near ‘Mary’s Well’ and reported finds of Late Hellenistic pottery and coins. However, these finds cannot be conclusively connected to the Nazareth area during the Late Hellenistic and Roman periods, as Dark states on p. 47 of his book. Concerning Alexandre’s excavation at the IMC, below is an image showing where the excavation took place, it is a reproduction of an image from her report found on p. 27:



Nazareth

 


 

The image is labelled as follows: A = The excavation at the Mary of Nazareth Center. B = Sisters of St. Joseph Convent. C = Mary’s Well. D = Franciscan Church of Annunciation. E = Franciscan Convent of Terra Santa. F = Franciscan Church of St. Joseph. G = Sisters of Nazareth Convent. H = Iron Age burial cave. J = Iron Age burial cave. The triangles represent the locations of kokhim burial caves.

Alexandre’s report called ‘The Settlement History of Nazareth in the Iron Age and Early Roman Period’ provides a plan of the area on p. 30 and a photo (below) of the ‘house’ on p. 39:



Nazareth House

 


On p. 48 of Dark’s book it states, “A series of superimposed rock-cut storage pits had been dug below some of the floors of the building. These closely resemble those at the Church of the Annunciation site. This resemblance, and the accompanying finds—on which more is said below—support the interpretation of the building as a house.”


But when the photos provided by Alexandre and Taylor are compared, the same agricultural features can be seen, for example, storage pits, the mouth of a wine cellar and cup mark (box 1), a wine collecting vat (box 2), and remnants of the treading floor (box 3), and they would not be located in a house. The large thick wall in the centre of the picture above dates to the Mamluk period (fifteenth century CE). It is also important to note that based on the findings in the areas surrounding Alexandre's excavation, those covered by Dark and Taylor, we can logically conclude that more agricultural features would be uncovered if Alexandre's excavation area was widened. But the ground also slopes at a, “gradient about 17%, descending about 2m over a distance of 12m” to use Alexandre’s words on p. 29 of her report. This degree of slope is consistent with a wine-making installation. Taylor describes typical wine-pressing complexes in Palestine as consisting of:

 

...a treading area, which was a square or rectangular slightly sloping floor, and a collecting vat connected to it either by an open channel or a closed pipe. In between, there was often a settling vat or a straining depression. In Galilee the intermediary pit was small. The two Nazareth basins under consideration here have certain features typical of collecting vats, most especially the steps and depression in the corners. The plastered space in the basin no. 12 under mosaic 1b (see Figure 24) [p. 245] is typical of the straining depressions in Galilean wine-presses. The basalt stone fitted into the mosaic in the basin in the Church of St Joseph (Plate 6) [p. 249] was to break the flow of juice so that it would not damage the mosaic. The entire area was, during the Roman period, a hive of agricultural activity...Only 20 metres away from basin no. 12 (Figure 20) [p. 231-the image shown previously in this article] there is a wine-pressing zone with a small sloping treading area (no. 34: in the ‘Kitchen of the Virgin’), about 3 metres square and 40 centimetres deep, and an underground fermenting vat (no. 35) to which the juice ran through a hole. As was stated above, this complex was connected to the Grotto of the Annunciation (no. 31) by a tunnel (e), so that it is safe to assume that the cave formed part of the complex.[16]

           

The synopsis of Alexandre’s report states:

 

A small-scale excavation carried out next to the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation [or Mary of Nazareth Center] compound in Nazareth exposed the remains of three building strata [levels]: Stratum III, from Iron IIA-B (tenth-early eighth centuries BCE); Stratum II, from the late Hellenistic to the Early Roman period (late second century BCE-first third of the second century CE); and Stratum I, from the Crusader to Mamluk periods (twelfth-fifteenth centuries CE). The late Hellenistic to Early Roman-period dwelling incorporated a three-level complex of subterranean pits or silos. Within the pits, many potsherds were discarded, perhaps attesting to the Jewish practice of ritual defilement of ceramic vessels that were rendured impure. Similar findings were documented at other Jewish villages of the Early Roman period in Galilee.”

Silos, cisterns, basins, and large caves are associated with agricultural installations; the structure also slopes steeply from north to south. As Taylor states on p. 251 of her Christians And The Holy Places publication, “The natural ground level can be seen south of the basin; it slopes down. Therefore, one can presume that this slope continued upwards north of the basin before the mosaic came to be laid, and that the area was then an ideal site for a treading area.” Therefore, again, according to the previous statements above, this does not indicate a house.

Also on p. 81 of her report, Alexandre correctly states, “Two square plastered pools with narrow steps, one in the area of the Church of the Annunciation and the other with a mosaic floor in the area of the Church of St. Joseph, were interpreted as pre-Byzantine baptismal basins (Bagatti 1969:116–122, 228–232, Figs. 72, 188), but were actually winepressing installations (Taylor 1993:244–251).” So both Joan Taylor and Alexandre have corrected Bagatti’s interpretation.[17]

 

 

Moveable Finds

 

 

 

The unearthing of first-century oil lamps in Nazareth, labelled as ‘Herodian’, are currently stated by Dark and Alexandre as having been created during the reign of Herod the Great. But the type of lamp in question was created some 40 years later, in approximately 70 CE, and was used until approximately 135 CE. The lamps did not illuminate any first-century houses in Nazareth. They illuminated the tombs and likely the hiding places of Jewish nationals who hid from Roman imperial invaders after Jerusalem and the Second Temple were destroyed.

The finding of Kefar Hananya-type pottery sherds at this site is given as evidence of the site being the location of an ‘Early Roman-period house.’ But the Early Roman period extends into the second century CE and Kefar Hananya-type pottery continued to be used through Roman times. Oil lamps, pottery, and glass perfume bottles have been found in kokh tombs in Nazareth, and the earliest the tombs can be dated to is after 70 CE. Archaeologist Andrea M. Berlin published an article in 2005[18] in which she states on pages 464-66:

 

First, cemeteries and tombs do exist around Jewish villages in the lower Galilee. All are comprised of rock-cut burial caves whose interior plans and finds conform precisely to those from Jerusalem and Judea, even to the use of ossuaries. These include burial caves at Dabburiyya, Gush Halav, I’billin, Kafr Kanna, Kafr Reina, and Nazareth. The earliest that any of these tombs can be dated is the late first century C.E., i.e., after the destruction of Jerusalem. Perhaps villagers shifted their burial grounds and earlier tombs are yet to be discovered. Perhaps these cemeteries largely belonged to Judean refugees, moving north after the war. In any event, the fact that these later Galilean burial caves are exactly like their earlier Judean counterparts indicates that familial funerals with their understated “pious rites” continued to be standard practice.” 

 

On a previous page of her article (p. 43) she says, “I do not intend to spin a detailed argument from silence; burials will certainly be found eventually. I will, however, venture to comment on two aspects of the current picture.” If pre-70 CE burials are found in Nazareth, it would go some way to putting this issue to rest.

But Berlin’s conclusions are supported by the conclusions of the German specialist archaeologist in Galilee, Hans-Peter Kuhnen, and by Morechai Aviam, Director of the Institute for Galilean Archaeology at Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee.[19] Kuhnen concludes that kokh tombs were not known outside the Jerusalem region until approximately the middle of the first century CE. But it has been suggested in the past that the tombs in Nazareth are of an earlier period and that Kuhnen has only pointed to sites in the very north of Upper Galilee as being late adopters of kokh tombs, in the mountains close to modern Lebanon, approximately 344km north of the Nazareth location. That is not correct, as on p. 255 of Kuhnen’s publication ‘Palästina in griechisch-römischer Zeit’ he also lists sites to the south of Galilee, in the region of Samaria. Therefore, he concludes that kokhim tomb usage also spread to Samaria well after the time they became common around Jerusalem.

Something can also be said concerning the finding of lamps specifically in the kokh tombs in Nazareth. The lamps may not seem important, but they provide evidence of migration to Galilee when Jerusalem was destroyed. Knife-pared oil lamps found at the site are labelled as ‘Herodian,’ but the intention seems to be to place the lamps in the early part of the Early Roman period, but, as stated above, these lamps were produced until approximately 135 CE; previously Professor Robert Houston Smith concluded that a certain type of lamp post-dated approximately 50 CE, the lamps in question are those found in ‘Nazareth.’[20]

            Concerning this, the work of Varda Sussman is very important. Her research and conclusions are used by scholars working in Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Jordan. Sussman is a specialist in the study of artificial lighting from antiquity and Curator for the Israel Department of Antiquities in Jerusalem. In her publication Roman Period Oil Lamps in the Holy Land she stated on p. 90 that the overall dating conclusions of Smith based on his division and typology are still valid.[21] In a publication by Renate Rosenthal and Renee Sivan called Ancient Lamps in the Schloessinger Collection, it states on p. 80:

 

“Herodian Lamp”
This Lamp received its name from the fact that its appearance coincided with the reign of Herod the Great. Although recent excavations have cast doubt on its date, the name continues in use... The “Herodian” lamp is a local development with a restricted geographical distribution. It is most common in Judea and rarer in the north and Tranjordan...There have been attempts by Kahane (1961) and Smith (1961) to divide the Herodian lamps into chronological and typological groups. The latest excavations, however, seem to indicate that all the variations occur simultaneously.

 

The above, then, does appear to place the ‘Herodian’ lamps in the early First Century CE. However, a further statement by Sussman on p. 91 of her publication, states:

 

“Types 4 and 5 (Fig. 60, #992-#995): These are box-shaped lamps, without a rim, made of darker, reddish clay. They are found abundantly in the northern part of the country, around Nazareth and in the Western Galilee, in burial caves that were also in use in the second century CE. One lamp was found in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, and four at Masada and typologically these lamps are close to mould-made lamps. No doubt the lamps were in use from around 70 CE to 135 CE – the end of the Bar Kokhba Revolt. Such lamps were discovered in Transjordan like at Amman.

 

On a previous page of the same publication, p. 77, Sussman records and discusses different types of lamps:

 

“Date
"Most of these lamps were found in burial caves together with Herodian lamps. The date of the burials in Jerusalem does not exceed 70 CE, as is the case for Gamla. The resemblance of the lamp’s shape and nozzle to the Bet Zur type of the second–first century BCE, their resemblance to the Ephesus oil lamps with a collar, dated to the end of the first century BCE–first half of the first century CE, and the fashioning of its ‘bowl’ and knee-shaped handles, known from other pottery vessels, cups and small cooking pots of the Early Roman period- all help us date these lamps to the end of the first century BCE–70 CE. They are probably of the same time as the early Herodian lamps (Fig 57:3). The question of the identity of the group of people for whom these lamps were fashioned – such as ‘Jewish-Christians’, if such an entity existed in that early period – remains unanswered. The kokhim burial caves around Nazareth in which such lamps were found, also contained a mixed variety of oil lamps: Herodian RWH3, Northern decorated oil lamps RH3 and Provincia Syria-Palaestina; R26 lamps, which are known to have been in use at least to 135 CE (mid-second century CE). The burial customs in these tombs reveal them to have been Jewish - Lamp #697 was found among the debris of the sunken boat discovered in the Lake of Galilee attributed to Jesus Christ.”

 

 

Concerning the Herodian RWH3 oil lamp mentioned above, Sussman states that these lamps are “dated according to Masada to the late first century CE”.[22]

From recent excavations at Shikhin, which is located in Lower Galilee, evidence has been provided for how ‘Herodian’ lamps became popular in Galilee. An article called ‘Shedding Light on Judean Refugees’[23] states that this type of lamp was manufactured in Shikhim and it reads, “The most likely explanation for how Herodian lamps became popular in Galilee is that pilgrims who visited Jerusalem during Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Weeks/Pentecost), and Sukkot (Tabernacles/Booths) brought back both lamps and lamp-making knowhow.

The article also mentions three specific types of lamps: a well-known wheel-made ‘Herodian’ knife-pared lamp and two types of mold-made lamps developed from the Herodian type - the Northern Undecorated lamp, similar to the Herodian lamp, and the Darom (Southern) lamp, dated to approximately 70-135 CE.[24] The article also states that Sussman speculated that all three lamps above were created in a workshop near Nazareth,[25] now it appears Shikhin was the location of that workshop. The report being spoken about in the article is called ‘Shihin Excavation Project: Oil Lamp Production at Ancient Shihin’ and on p. 68 it states concerning Sussman’s Roman Period Oil Lamps book:

 

In 2012, Sussman speculated that a Roman lamp workshop near Nazareth produced Herodian lamps and two types of mould-made lamps from 70 to at least 135 CE (2012, 92). These two new mould-made types developed from the well known Herodian wheel-made lamp type with a spatulated, knife-pared nozzle.”

 

The above, therefore, tells us that the ‘Herodian’ knife-pared lamp cannot be used as evidence of the illumination of early-first-century houses in the time of Jesus. I will also note that ‘Herodian’ or ‘bow-spouted' lamps have also been used to indicate domestic habitation during the time of Jesus. But, again, on p. 79 of the above article, it says:


Regarding the development of Northern Darom lamps from earlier styles, several examples of knife-pared bow- or ax-shaped nozzles from mould-made lamps have been found at Shihin. So far as we know, this practice is unknown in Galilee before 67 CE.”

Below is an image showing the ‘Herodian’ and ‘bow-spouted’ lamps as shown on p. 72 in the above article:



Nazareth Lamps


But what is interesting to note is that neither Ken Dark, in his latest publication, nor Yardenna Alexandre have used or cited the work of Varda Sussman or Hans-Peter Kuhnen. Alexandre does cite Andrea M. Berlin concerning pottery in Gamla of the Second Temple Period. Dark cites the work of Mordechai Aviam, but only concerning the Judean agricultural practices introduced into Galilee in the Late Hellenistic period.

 

 

 

A Marble Fragment Forgery

 

 

 

A discovery in 1962 at an excavation in Caesarea has been declared as proof of the existence of Nazareth from non-Christian sources. The discovery was of a marble fragment that is claimed to present the word ‘Nazareth’. It is included as part of an inscription called the ‘Caesarea inscription’ and was found by a man called Dr. Jerry Vardaman, who taught Biblical Archaeology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; two other marble fragments from the 1962 Caesarea excavations were also found. The fragments were apparently part of an inscription detailing the twenty-four priestly courses (families) that were located in various villages in Galilee after migrating there most likely after the Bar Kochba Revolt.

A book was published in 1939 in Hebrew by scholar Samuel Klein more than twenty years before these discoveries.[26] This book contained Klein’s theoretical reconstructions of inscriptions on ancient synagogues. For his reconstructions, Klein used the work of Rabbi Yehouda Shelomoh Rapoport (1790-1867) of the nineteenth century.[27] In the publication in the footnote just given, Klein says that Rapoport noted a man called Eleazar ha-Kalir, a celebrated and ancient Jewish liturgical (public worship) poet, had provided a residence-list for the priestly families in Galilee of the Second Temple Period.

In Kalir’s Lamentation for the 9th Ab (Anniversary of the Jerusalem temple’s destruction in the year 70 CE ), the 18th stanza (group of lines) of ha-Kalir’s Lamentation reads, “And to the ends of the earth was dispersed, the priestly class of Natsareth.” Kalir’s mention of Nazareth was the oldest non-Christian one, but this information and the theoretical reconstruction by Klein is the reason the eighteenth line of the ‘Caesarea inscription’ has been reconstructed by a professor of archaeology at the University of Jerusalem called Avi Yonah to read, “The 18th course Hapizzez NAZARETH”.[28]

But certain incidents concerning the ‘Nazareth’ marble fragment make its discovery suspicious. The first critical issue that must be acknowledged is the fact that Dr. Jerry Vardaman was caught lying when claiming to have found ‘microletters’, or ‘micrographic letters’, on first-century coins in the British Museum, The letters, according to Vardaman, provided ‘proof’ of Jesus’ year of birth as 12 BC, but as Richard R. Racy stated:

 

Unfortunately, there have been attempts by modern apologists to defend Luke’s account and reconcile the two that have crossed over from even sincere amateurishness to outright foolishness and fraud. Probably the worst of these is the case of the coins of Vardaman...The defectiveness of these outrageous claims are too numerous to list here, but a few will make the point. First, the coins exist in the British Museum and have no such markings. Second, such tiny lettering (about 1/50 of an inch high as Vardaman represented them...would have been impossible in the first century because the technology to have inscribed them didn’t exist until the late Industrial Age, maybe the 1700’s. Third the coins are so worn that the original bold image has lost all its detail, so such tiny lettering would have disappeared centuries ago. Fourth, the letters are all in Latin but appear on a coin cast in an area of the world that only used Greek letters, and Vardaman also sees such Latin letters as “J” and “W” that were non-existent in ancient Latin...Vardaman never produced hard evidence for his claims, never invited technical examination of the coins..." [29]

 

But Vardaman’s suspicious character and activities continued to cause problems and he was stopped from excavating in Caesarea by the Israeli authorities and made to leave on the very same day he ‘discovered’ the marble ‘Nazareth’ fragment. This is mentioned by the late George Ernest Wright, who was a leading biblical archaeologist. In May 1972, Wright wrote a very concerned letter to Dean William Hall of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary urging that a proposed excavation of Jerry Vardaman not take place. Wright states that Vardaman was a disaster when he tried out for archaeological training in 1957 and that Vardaman did not have the judgment, temperament, nor essential honesty to be trusted with any work in the Near East. Wright goes on to say that Vardaman’s attempt to dig a second time at Caesarea, a dig that Vardaman arranged to be largely funded by the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, was stopped when word was passed to the appropriate Israeli authorities. The letter by Wright was apparently in the public domain and available through the American Schools of Oriental Research archives, but that appears to no longer be the case.[30]

            The ‘Nazareth’ fragment, which measured 2.4 cm thick, 15.3 cm high, and 12.4 cm wide, was only ‘discovered’ when Vardaman, at a specific point in the dig, directed a worker to pay close attention to debris that he had put into his wheelbarrow. Furthermore, on inspection of the Nazareth fragment, it appears that the letters on it are bigger than the other two fragments of the Caesarea inscription and the fragment does not match the other two.[31] In essence, then, currently, there are no inscriptions that can be used as evidence for Nazareth, not even the so-called ‘Nazareth Inscription’ which is another artefact claimed to be connected to early Christian reports of Jesus’ empty tomb.

The story behind the 'Nazareth Inscription' begins with a man named Wilhelm Froehner leaving a small note saying the inscription was ‘sent from Nazareth’; it is nothing of the sort. The edict does not mention Nazareth at all and scientific analysis has proven it has no connection to Jesus’ supposed place of origin, as the stone came from the Greek island of Kos.[32]  But even Ken Dark on p. 39 of Archaeology of Jesus’ Nazareth states that there are no inscriptions that shed light on any settlement in first-century Nazareth. 

 

 

A More Accurate Picture

 

 

The evidence currently available does not show the presence of early first-century houses in the area where Jesus’ village/town/city is currently claimed to have been. The evidence only shows the entire area was used for agricultural activity for that period.

But archaeologists have only excavated in the particular ‘Nazareth’ area because of the tradition, as mentioned, that states Emperor Constantine’s mother, Helena, supposedly identified the area as the location of Jesus’ childhood home after discovering ‘Mary’s Well’; it has also been logically conjectured, but without evidence, that locals must have told Helena that the particular area was called ‘Nazareth.’

As previously mentioned, the New Testament does not specify where ‘Nazareth’ was located and none of the traditions, before the fourth-century, are of value; the site began to be venerated from the fourth-century. But descriptions of Helena finding anything in Nazareth come first from the Byzantine historian Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos (1256-1335) in his Ecclesiasticae Historiae, an account that contradicts the contemporary account of ‘Eusebius’ who says nothing.[33] Nikephoros tells us that Helena went to Nazareth and, “found the House of the Angelic Salutation”.[34]

But the impression to be implied from earlier sources is that nothing substantial was to be seen in Nazareth, for example, see The Pilgrimage Of The Holy Paula by ‘St. Jerome’.[35] There is certainly no mention of a house the size of which is said to be now based in Loreto, the Basilica della Santa Casa. The Santa Casa building in Loreto that supposedly houses the ‘Virgin Mary’s House’ is thirty-six feet long, by thirteen feet wide, a house that big would not have gone unnoticed by a pilgrim such as ‘St. Jerome’ or for that matter Helena or 'Eutropia'. The first mention of any significant buildings is in the sixth century.[36] Indeed, Joan Taylor in the synopsis for her book made the following conclusion:

 

From a detailed examination of literature and archaeology, the present author finds no evidence that Christians of any kind venerated ‘holy places’ before the fourth century...the origins of Christian pilgrimage to holy places rests with the emperor Constantine, who established four basilicas in Palestine in c. 325 and provided two imperial matrons, Helena and Eutropia, as examples of a new kind of pious pilgrim.”

 

Taking the above into account, the current location of Nazareth becomes suspicious when it is acknowledged that the location is the same as that of Japhia, where Titus Caesar Vespasianus, the eldest son of Emperor Vespasian, had his first battle in Galilee. I cannot see this second point as a mere coincidence. The current evidence supports the conclusion that domestic settlement happened in the area between 70-135 CE, or perhaps shortly before 70 CE, and the houses were likely built on the valley floor which is currently unexcavated.

The Bronze and Iron Ages saw significant settlement in the region but the Assyrians destroyed it in approximately 700-730 BCE. If Japhia was also destroyed by the Assyrians, it must have been rebuilt but later destroyed by the Romans. ‘Josephus’ called it a city and also the greatest, strongest, and one of the most populous villages in Galilee (Vita, 45; BJ, 2.20.6). In The Jewish War, Book 3, p. 659 (LCL) it reads:

 

In the course of these days Vespasian dispatched Trajan [Emperor Trajan’s father], the commander of the tenth legion, with a thousand horse and two thousand foot, against a town in the vicinity of Jotapata, called Japha...

 

The margin note for the above passage reads ‘Capture of Japha by Trajan and Titus.’ The accompanying note for the above passage in the Loeb Classical Library version states:


"Japhia of the O.T. (Josh. 19.12), modern Yafa, some ten miles south of Jotapata and two miles south-west of Nazareth, here called a "city", but elsewhere described as "the largest village in Galilee", Vita 230; at one time the headquarters of Josephus (ib. 270)".

Furthermore, Japhia is mentioned in the Bible (Josh. 19.12) and the Egyptian Amarna letters of 14 BCE. The important parallel shows Titus' battles and Jesus' ministry began at the same location in the Sea of Galilee. In essence, Titus started in Japhia,[37] the battles Jesus has in Nazareth in the gospels are in the same location.

            Considering the above, a question that needs to be asked is why there is a special effort being made to label current archaeological structural remains as houses. Again, one of the peer reviewers had this to say, "The Israeli Antiquities Law obliges contractors to pay for rescue excavations in case their building project touches an antiquities site. This is true for ecclesiastical investments as well as for municipal or state building. On the other hand archaeology is a factor of tourism, especially in Israel where pilgrimage and other forms of religious motivated tourism play an important economic role. Already in 1921 Gustaf Dalman in his „Orte und Wege Jesu“ blamed the Franciscan fathers for falsifying Christian traditions of the Holy Land in favour of pilgrimage revenues."

But I agree with a statement found in the introduction of Joan Taylor's book, a statement that answers the question perfectly:

 

The origin of the Christian holy places is a controversial subject. It is beneficial to the Christian communities in charge of existing sites if all of them are thought in some way to be genuine. The greater the claim for a given site’s authenticity, the more likely it is that Christian tourists will be attracted to visit and thus provide a source of revenue for the community which owns it...[38]

 

 

The Name ‘Nazareth’

 

 

The Oxford professors of the Encyclopedia Biblica brought into question the name ‘Nazareth’,[39] and I show in my book Creating Christianity that words and the meanings behind words were used to create new names and words. I believe the same was done with the ‘Nazareth’ name, a word, with variants, used purposely a sufficient number of times that considering the word an error is impossible.

An argument for the origin of this name is that it is meant to describe Jesus as being from an early ‘Jewish Christian’ group (sect) the Nazarenes (or Nazaoreans). But ‘Jewish Christian’ is a neologism, a newly coined term that no one is called in ancient sources. The term ‘Nazarene’ (Nazoraios/Nazarenos) is first used to describe Jesus in Mark 1:24, and ‘Nazarenes’/’Nazaoreans’ is first used in Acts 24:5, where ‘Paul’ is described as “a leader and of the Nazareans”. The man we know as ‘Epiphanius’ is the first writer who explicitly refers to a Christian group as Nazarenes.[40]

But I believe the word ‘Nazareth’ ΝΑΖΑΡΕΤ/Ναζαρετ,[41] first appearing in the New Testament, was created in two parts, just like the name Ves (Vas)-Pasius (Pacius) was for Emperor 'Vespasian', and the word Nazareth incorporated Hebrew and Greek and was not a purely Hebrew or Aramaic place-name; variations of the word are: ‘Naz-areth’ (more voiced ending), ‘Naz-aret’ (harder stop ending)[42] and ‘Naz-ara’ (without voiced ending).[43]

‘Naz’ can be viewed as meaning the Hebrew netzer/netser, that is, the branch or shoot of messianic lineage, but can also mean ‘truth,’ as in ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life,’ according to the New Testament. But ‘Naz’ can also be viewed as ‘nazir’, meaning ‘separated,’ ‘consecrated’, or ‘holy one’, but the word is also applied to the royal crown of the Kings of Israel (2 Sam. 1.10; 2 Kgs. 11.12; Zech. 9.16), that is the royal priesthood.

Some may argue that because the Greek words Ναζαρηνος/Nazarenos (Mark and Luke) and Ναζωραιος/Nazoraios (Matthew) both use the Greek letter zeta ζ, but ‘Nazareth’ would, supposedly, use the Hebrew letter tsade צ, the former two cannot come from the same root as ‘Nazareth’. The first thing to note is that there were/are no hard rules for how Semitic words were transliterated into Greek. For example, Judges 8 contains the name Zalmunna, the Midianite king, whose name is transliterated with a sigma in the Septuagint, but in ‘Josephus’ the name is spelled with a zeta.[44] But I show in Creating Christianity multiple examples of the New Testament authors’ fluid use of ‘rules’ used in ancient languages.

But it may also be argued Jesus is not called a ‘Nazarite’, so ‘Naz’ cannot be referring to the ‘root’ and ‘branch’. But the ‘root and branch’ were Judaic metaphors used to indicate the messianic lineage and is found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. It is a continuation of its use by the prophet Isaiah in Isaiah 11.1-10 concerning the coming Messiah, which reads like the Gospel of Luke (3:9), and the ‘root’ and ‘branch’ metaphor is continued in the New Testament; [45] some scholars argue the genealogies are not factual, which they are not.[46]

Concerning the ‘aret’ part of ‘Naz-aret’, the word ‘aret’ connects to the aristocracy and is derived from the Greek word ‘arete’. This word means excellence or moral virtue, and was a term used to define the aristocracy, that is, as exemplary of arete, a model of excellence; it was also used to describe things that were not human and self-sacrifice.[47] Furthermore, the root of the word aret is the same as the word aristo or aristos, used plurally to indicate nobility.

Something can also be said of the ‘ara’ part of the unvoiced ‘Naz-ara’ from of the word ‘Nazareth’. ‘Ara’ is a Hebrew word for lion; a derivative of the verb ara is ari, meaning lion, and in ancient history, and in current times, the lion is a symbol of royalty.

Therefore, based on the evidence of the context in which the New Testament was written (war) and the sufficient motive and education of the elite in Rome to create a new religion, I argue the name ‘Naz-areth’ was created to connect the character of Jesus to the elite authors in Rome, for those ‘in the know’. Mark 1:9 and Matthew 21:11 can therefore be read as stating that ‘Jesus’ was “from [the] root [of the] aristocracy/nobility’; ‘Jesus from [the] holy/consecrated/separated aristocracy.




Conclusion



Is the existence of a city/town/village in the Nazareth area in the early first century CE important concerning the historicity of Jesus? Judging by the heated discussions that have taken place, and still do take place, over the evidence, yes, I think so. This is because Nazareth is used to support the case for the New Testament character's historicity. But the above understanding concerning the Nazareth name, and the current archaeological evidence just examined, provides a logical reason for why Nazareth was not mentioned outside the New Testament until approximately 200 CE.

As for the archaeological evidence itself, a reasoned conclusion would be that the current evidence supports the area being occupied by a family farm, a single family, in the early first century, not a village, city, or town with multiple houses. Later, after Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 CE, the Jews migrated to Galilee and settled in the area, which explains the later kokh tombs and hiding places. 

 

 

 

 


[1] Against Marcian, Book 4 (IV), Chapter 8; Against Celsus, Book 7 (VII), Chapter 18, 23; Onomasticon; Demonstration 7.2.46-51; Liber De Situ Et Nominibus Locorum Hebraicorum (On the Locations and Names of Hebrew Places), Nazareth; A supposedly lost work quoted by ‘Eusebius’ in his Ecclesiastical History, Book 1 (I), Chapter 7, Verse 14. 

[2] Taylor, Joan E. 2014: Missing Magdala and the Name of Mary ‘Magdalene’, PEQ, Volume 146, 3 (2014), p. 210; also see (1993) Christians and the Holy Places, p. 230; Kopp, Clemens (1963) The Holy Places of the Gospels, ‘Nazareth’, pages 49-86.

[3] An individual who has received much verbal abuse and has done much investigation into the archaeological reports on Nazareth is a gentleman called Rene Salm, who can be considered a lay archaeologist. His work, although quite polemical, was supported by the late Professor Philip R. Davis and I assume still is supported by Hans-Peter Kuhnen, a German specialist archaeologist in Galilee – more can be read at https://independent.academia.edu/ReneSalm 

[4] Davies, Philip R. Did Jesus Exist? The Bible and Interpretation, 2012. In his article Davies concluded that the gospels cannot be trusted and the letters of ‘Paul’ are the best early evidence for Jesus. In my forthcoming book, it will be shown that ‘Paul’ was a pseudonym and that the ‘Pauline Epistles’ cannot be trusted either and they were not written when Biblical scholars think they were.

[5] See his publication p. 161.

[6] Taylor, Joan E. 1993: Christians And The Holy Places, The myth of Jewish-Christian origins, p. 248 (Oxford University Press).

[7] Ossuaries and the Burials of Jesus and James, Journal of Biblical Literature, Volume 124, Number 1, pages 121-154 (121 specifically).

[8] Dark, Ken 2023: Archaeology of Jesus’ Nazareth, p. 42. (Oxford University Press).

[9] Hachlili, Rachel, 2005: Jewish Funerary Customs, Practices and Rites in the Second Temple Period, pp. 25, 385-390, 445, 460, 513, 519-storage places are also recorded on pp. 55, 60, 243, 303, 455-6, courtyards on pp. 8-10, 36, 52, 56-61, 69, 109, 147, 175, 237, 239, 260, 263, 268, 274, 287, 295, 382-7, 449-53, 480, 513-15, 520-25-comments regarding agricultural usage within burial areas can be found on p. 2.

[10] For those interested in reading more about steep hill argument see: Salm, Rene (2015) Nazareth Gate.

[11] Bagatti, Bellarmino, Excavations in Nazareth (Jerusalem), translated by E. Hoade of Gli scavi di Nazaret (Jerusalem, 1967).

[12] Shoemaker, Stephen J. 2006: Ancient Traditions of the Virgin Mary’s Dormition and Assumption, p. 230 (Oxford University Press).

[13] Taylor, Joan E. 1993: Christians and the Holy Places: The Myth of Jewish-Christian Origins (Oxford Univeristy Press).

[14] Also see p. 250 of Taylor’s publication.

[15] Archaeology at Nazareth reveals context of Jesus’ ‘missing years’, Mark Bridge, History First, April 6, 2023.

[16] Taylor, Joan E. 1993: Christians And The Holy Places, The myth of Jewish-Christian origins, p. 250 (Oxford University Press) – also see ‘Installations of the Israelite Vineyard’ in Walsh, Carey Ellen (2000) The Fruit of the Vine, Harvard Semitic Monographs, Volume 60, BRILL; E. Ayalon, R. Frankel and A. Kloner (eds) (2009) Oil and Wine Presses in Israel from the Hellenistic, Roman and Byzantine Periods, BAR Publishing, Oxford.

[17] For Rene Salm’s investigative work concerning this area see his Nazareth Gate publication, under ‘The winemaking installation’, p 207.

[18] Berlin, Andrea M., Jewish Life Before The Revolt: The Archaeological Evidence, Journal for the Study of Judaism, XXXVI, 4.

[19] Aviam, M. 2004: ‘First Century Jewish Galilee: an archaeological perspective’ – in Edwards, D.R.  (ed.), Religion and Society in Roman Palestine. Old Questions, New Approaches. New York and London, pages 7-27; Jews, Pagans and Christians in the Galilee: 25 Years of Archaeological Excavations and Surveys – Hellenistic to Byzantine Periods; see also Keddie, Anthony, 2019: Class and Power in Roman Palestine: The Socioeconomic Setting of Judaism and Christian Origins; Kuhnen, Hans-Peter, Palästina in griechisch-römischer Zeit. (Handbuch der Archäologie. Vorderasien II, 2.) München: 1990: pages 254-55.

[20] (dating) The ‘Herodian’ Lamp of Palestine: Types and Dates, Berytus, volume 14, pp. 53–65 (specifically p. 64); The Household Lamps of Palestine in New Testament Times, The Biblical Archaeologist, volume 29, No.1, pp. 1-27 (specifically p. 15).

[21] Sussman, Varda (2012) Roman Period Oil Lamps in the Holy Land, BAR Publishing, Oxford.

[22] See p. 88 of her publication Roman Period Oil Lamps in the Holy Land.

[23] Shedding Light on Judean Refugees, James Riley Strange, Biblical Archaeology Society, Spring 2020.

[24] Shihin Excavation Project: Oil Lamp Production at Ancient Shihin, Strata 35 (2017), p. 67.

[25] Sussman, Varda (2012) Roman Period Oil Lamps in the Holy Land, p. 92.

[26] Klein, S. (1939), Sefer ha-Yishouv, Jerusalem.

[27] Klein, S. (1909) Barajta der vierundzwanzig Priesterabteilungen: Beiträge zur Geographie und Geschichte Galiläas, Kirchhain, p. 8.

[28] Avi-Yonah, M. (1962) ‘A List of Priestly Courses from Caesarea’, Israel Exploration Journal, Volume 12, Number 2, pages 137-139.

[29] Racy, Richard R. (2007) Nativity: The Christmas Story, Which You Have Never Heard Before, Bloomington,, pages 50-51 – also see Vardaman’s claim that the ‘microletters’ on one of the coins read, “Year one of Jesus of Nazareth in Galilee” (Vardaman, J. (1989) Chronos Kairos Christos I, Winona Lake, p. 72.)

[30] The letter can be viewed here

[31] For a detailed report on this see Tuccinardi, Enrico, Nazareth, the Caesarea Inscription, and the hand of God; Salm, Rene (2015) The 1962 Forgery of the “Caesarea Inscription”, Academia.edu.

[32] Establishing the provenance of the Nazareth Inscription: Using stable isotopes to resolve a historic controversy and trace ancient marble production in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports 30 (2020)

[33] See also: Garratt, William, 1895: Loreto the New Nazareth and its Centenary Jubilee, p. 94; Taunton, Ethelred Luke, The Fortnightly Review, Volume 86, 1906, p. 701.

[34] Nikephoros Kallistos, Ecclesiasticae Historiae, Volume 8 (viii), CAPUT 30 (XXX).

[35] St. Jerome, The Pilgrimage Of The Holy Paula, Introduction, VI, p. 14, Translated by Aubrey Stewart, M. A. 1887 – also see the mention only of a cave and well/spring outside the village in the 380’s CE by a Late Roman pilgrim called Egeria in Wilkinson, John (1981) Egeria’s Travels to the Holy Land, p. 193 (Revised Edition).

[36] The Holy House of Loretto, The Catholic Layman, Volume 4, No. 41, 1855, pages 49-51; Archaeology and Infallibility, The Fortnightly Review, Volume 86, 1906, p. 701; Bitton-Ashkelony, Brouria, Encountering the Sacred, p. 28 (University of California Press); Wilkinson, John, 1977: Jerusalem Pilgrims, pages 79-80.

[37] Japha/Jaffa/Joppa/Japho/Yafia.

[38] Also see: The Protestant-Jewish Conundrum, Studies in Contemporary Jewry, Institute of Contemporary Jewry The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Volume 24, p. 148; Another interesting statement can be found in Reed, Jonathan L. (2002) Archaeology and the Galilean Jesus: A Re-Examination of the Evidence, p. 103: “The growing archaeological evidence unearthed in and around Galilee is, unfortunately, only taken into consideration in an ad hoc manner, to bolster claims about the historical Jesus...”

[39] Volume 3, column 3358, 3360.

[40] Epiphanius, Panarion, 29.

[41] Mark 1:9; Matthew 21:11; Luke 1:26, 2:4, 2:39, 2:51; Acts 10:38 – Berry, George Ricker (1976) The Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, (King James Version), Zondervan Publishing.

[42] Mark 1:9, Matthew 2:23; John 1:45, 1:46.

[43] Matthew 4:13; Luke 4:16.

[44] Other examples include Zoar, the place-name in Genesis 13:10, and the name of the cliff in 1 Samuel 14:4 Bozez. There is also Uz and Buz in Genesis 22:21, where the Septuagint uses zeta and ‘Josephus’ uses a zeta in the first word and sigma in the second.

[45] Further examples Matthew 1:1-17; Luke 3; Acts 13.23; Romans 11.17; 15.12; John 15.1-8.

[46] Borg, M. and Crossan, J 2007: The First Christmas: what The Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’ Birth, p. 95.

[47] Jaegar, Werner (1933-1947) Paideia; die Formung des griechischen menschen, 3 Volumes. Translated by Gilbert Highet as Paideia; The Ideals of Greek Culture, Volume 1, p. 5, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1939-1944.

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