Nazareth, the neverending story?

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spin
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Nazareth, the neverending story?

Post by spin » Thu Feb 04, 2016 7:15 pm

Many of you will recall my research into the significance of Nazareth and related terms. You'll know that it was my intention to write a scholarly paper on the matter and I've had various formulations of said paper over the years, so much so that it might be seen by some as a smokedream. I thought I would here post the current conclusion of the work, as it might be of interest to other issues discussed on the forum. First though, here are the section titles to the paper:

1. Hometowns in Mark
2. Nazara
3. Nazareth
4. Nazarene & Nazorean
5. Chronology (relating to the use of the terms)
6. Philology
7. Notzri
8. Naziritism

The conclusion:

Jesus as a Nazirite for life is not consciously stated in the synoptic gospel tradition, though it underpins the earliest thought on Jesus, as the independent references to Samson and Samuel demonstrate. Jesus as Nazirite marks the start of an evolution of ideas that first leads to the Marcan reference to Ναζαρηνος (through the connection made in Mk 1:24 to Jdg 13:5 & 7). The appearance of this as an apparent gentilic provides context for the next development on record, the manifestation of a place called Nazara—as “Gadarene” is derived from Gadara and “Magdalene” from Magdala, so obviously “Nazarene” by analogy comes from “Nazara”. Prior to the emergence of Nazara, the Matthean literary tradition had lost the Marcan references to Ναζαρηνος for there would be little reason to remove them on accepting the toponym Nazara. At the same time the Matthean tradition received Nazara it also received Ναζωραιος, whose ascendancy later caused it to leach its way into Luke through scribal fatigue. Last to appear in this evolutionary story is Nazareth, to be found only in the birth narrative in Luke and the unique Matthean description of Jesus as “the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee” (21:11). So, while the phrase “Jesus of Nazareth” has been extremely successful as the principal reference to the central figure of Christianity, it does not reflect the earliest thought seen from close analysis of the synoptic gospels.

Perhaps more importantly, if the few chronological changes I’ve described are correct, there are signs of an evolutionary development of gospel materials that may reflect a wider trend in the production of the gospels. The well-known movement through the redaction of Mark to both Matthew and Luke may be grand indications of many more smaller steps involved in the production of the gospels. There may be a layering effect which tends to hide previous tradition developments, such that earlier theological ideas are reformulated, perhaps even obfuscated or obliterated and, if preserved in the current state of the literary tradition, may now be opaque and ritualized, making some or all attempts to extract historical information from these literary texts fishing expeditions at darkened water holes. Can we for instance say anything of historical significance about John the Baptist and his role in the gospels or has this figure been transformed into a purely literary one that fulfills a theological role as an Elijah figure prophecied to be a precursor to the messiah? If so was the development a single step or were there intermediary steps?

The historicizing trend of modern biblical studies which sees a profusion of historical Jesus figures in scholarly texts is a modern phenomenon that requires the gospels to be the sorts of (semi-inscrutable) historical sources that they cannot be shown to be. We have to face the epistemological issue of how we can know the real world significance of literary content, content full of allusions and references to the past, content that has been reworked in such a manner as to have possibly obscured the significance of earlier formulations of itself. Scholars have the task of lifting the veil from the gospels in order to uncover what lies beneath, but it would seem that what lies beneath may itself be further veiled by generations of redactional activity whose aim is to clarify or improve the narrative for the audience of the day. Just how much evolutionary change has been shrouded by each redaction. There may have been very little and the Nazareth/Nazarene evidence may be an aberration.

I won't be discussing the material content of the analysis of the range of terminology I deal with in the paper, though some of you will have seen my dealings with various aspects of the chronological movement from the Marcan use of Nazarene to adoption of Nazareth. My analysis requires no existence of Nazareth, though the town named Natzrat probably did exist & aided the final form in Greek that gave us Nazareth, rather than the earlier Nazara. However, the existence of the town is not meat for this thread.

I'm posting this conclusion both as a sign that the project is still alive and as a means of critiquing simpler approaches to the gospel material, such as the "lone penman" theory.

How do you consider the synoptic gospels (I deal only with the synoptic tradition, as there is no way of relating John to the others) got to be in the state underlying our translations? The answer will affect your approach to your understanding of the materials you talk about!
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Nazareth, the neverending story?

Post by Ben C. Smith » Thu Feb 04, 2016 8:02 pm

spin wrote:Many of you will recall my research into the significance of Nazareth and related terms.
Indeed, I recall. And there are several matters from our debate(s) on the topic that I, for one, have changed my mind about since then; you were (probably) right about them, and I was (probably) wrong. I would be very interested to read your finished paper.

Ben.
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Re: Nazareth, the neverending story?

Post by Giuseppe » Thu Feb 04, 2016 11:25 pm

Excuse my off topic, but the unexpected divergences (found in our Gospels) on possible names of Nazareth may be another strong clue that prof.Vinzent is right when he says:
When we look further, however, into details of what happens between Marcion, Luke, Mark and Matthew, we will discover a general rule that can be supported by a series of examples: more clearly than here with Luke very often where Marcion is missing, our three Synoptics are at variance, either entirely, or almost entirely as in the birthstories, but as soon as we know of verses which are attested for in Marcion, the Synoptics not only start getting closer, but they are often literally identical - following Marcion word by word, sometimes only with minimal, theological corrections. As soon as Marcion's texts end, however, our Synoptics begin to diverge again.
(M. Vinzent, Marcion and the Dating, p. 263, my bold)


So Marcion:
And it so happened that as Chrestos drew near to Jericho, a certain blind man sat begging by the roadside. Having heard that a crowd was passing by, he asked what was happening. They told him, "Isu is passing by." And he called out, saying, "Isu, have mercy on me!" Those who were in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent, but he cried out even more, "Have mercy on me!" And having stopped, Isu commanded that he be brought to him. When he drew near, Isu asked him, "What would you like me to do?" He said, "Lord, let me see again." And Isu said to him, "Receive sight! Your faith has healed you." And immediately, he received sight and followed him, glorifying the Good Stranger. All of the people, having seen this, praised God.
And so Luke reads:
As Jesus was approaching Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the road begging. Now hearing a crowd going by, he began to inquire what this was. They told him that Jesus of Nazareth was passing by. And he called out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Those who led the way were sternly telling him to be quiet; but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and commanded that he be brought to Him; and when he came near, He questioned him, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And he said, “Lord, I want to regain my sight!” And Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and began following Him, glorifying God; and when all the people saw it, they gave praise to God.
If Luke (or Mark, for that question), precedes Mcn, then what was of so simple behind the implication, in the 'eyes' of Bartimeus:


Jesus being from 'Nazaret' -------> Jesus being 'son of David'
???
whatever is your answer to this question (yes or no), you you will come impliciter to the conclusion that Nazareth did not exist in the first century.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: Nazareth, the neverending story?

Post by spin » Fri Feb 05, 2016 2:13 am

No, non ti scuso. La tua aggiunta non tocca il discorso del O.P., cio'e' come si spiega lo stato dei vangeli sinottici e come sonno raggiunti quello stato. Ho specificamente escluso il discorso in questo luogo della non-esistenza della Nazaret: "However, the existence of the town is not meat for this thread."

Non apprezzo lo sfrutto del "thread" per avere l'opportunita' di fare le prove con il tuo copione.

---

Peter, can you please shift the above Giuseppe post somewhere else and this my post to oblivion?
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Re: Nazareth, the neverending story?

Post by JoeWallack » Fri Feb 05, 2016 10:22 am

spin wrote:
The conclusion:

Jesus as a Nazirite for life is not consciously stated in the synoptic gospel tradition, though it underpins the earliest thought on Jesus, as the independent references to Samson and Samuel demonstrate. Jesus as Nazirite marks the start of an evolution of ideas that first leads to the Marcan reference to Ναζαρηνος (through the connection made in Mk 1:24 to Jdg 13:5 & 7).

JW:
Interesting stuff spin. So the starting point is the likely original key word of 1:24?:

Ναζαρηνος
  • 1) Is there textual variation here?

    2) "Ναζαρηνος" is the proper Greek form for a gentilic (so to speak) with a source location of "Nazara"?

Joseph

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MrMacSon
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Re: Nazareth, the neverending story?

Post by MrMacSon » Fri Feb 05, 2016 3:23 pm

Are there indications in later Christian writings?

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Re: Nazareth, the neverending story?

Post by spin » Sat Feb 06, 2016 4:13 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:I would be very interested to read your finished paper.
Thanks, I'm a lot closer to getting there. I've written drafts of all sections. But I still have some A-covering to do. It's a touchy subject.
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StephenGoranson
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Re: Nazareth, the neverending story?

Post by StephenGoranson » Sat Feb 06, 2016 7:47 am

The Conclusion's first sentence:
"Jesus as a Nazirite for life is not consciously stated in the synoptic gospel tradition, though it underpins the earliest thought on Jesus, as the independent references to Samson and Samuel demonstrate."
"Jesus as a Nazarite for life..." Who do you claim would have noticed (if he were one) and who would not?
"...not consciously stated..." Do you claim it is non-consciously stated?
"...underpins the earliest thought on Jesus..." How do you claim to know?
"...references to Samson and Samuel indicate." What do you claim the references indicate?
If anyone wishes to read some of my thoughts on "Nazarenes," see Anchor Bible Dictionary (1992), which apparently was copied (with some transliterations messed up) online, including in the old forum.

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Re: Nazareth, the neverending story?

Post by Adam » Sat Feb 06, 2016 11:44 am

Yes, those were my thoughts too, but I'm no expert on the subject.

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Re: Nazareth, the neverending story?

Post by spin » Sat Feb 06, 2016 1:43 pm

StephenGoranson wrote:The Conclusion's first sentence:
"Jesus as a Nazirite for life is not consciously stated in the synoptic gospel tradition, though it underpins the earliest thought on Jesus, as the independent references to Samson and Samuel demonstrate."
"Jesus as a Nazarite for life..." Who do you claim would have noticed (if he were one) and who would not?
"...not consciously stated..." Do you claim it is non-consciously stated?
"...underpins the earliest thought on Jesus..." How do you claim to know?
"...references to Samson and Samuel indicate." What do you claim the references indicate?
Such questions require you to read the finished paper. Inshallah. (Oh and thanks for making me think about "not consciously". It may need either changing or explaining.)
StephenGoranson wrote:If anyone wishes to read some of my thoughts on "Nazarenes," see Anchor Bible Dictionary (1992), which apparently was copied (with some transliterations messed up) online, including in the old forum.
For completeness I did read it a long time ago while I was surveying the literature. One has to try to read all these things. Though I cite it, I haven't used any of its content. It is a little too short to be able to go into anything with any depth. Schaeder's Kittel entry on Nazarhnos… has far more substance for a dictionary. Wise's in Dict. Jesus & the Gospels is also able to deal more at length with the material. (And while I did find the Kartir tangent interesting it was space that could have been used for more analytical content.)

My greatest complaint about the article is that it makes few chronological efforts at dealing with the more substantial aspects of the material and renders the various forms of names a mishmash of inconsistencies. You are certainly right when you conclude, "The development of these names merits further study."
Last edited by spin on Sat Feb 06, 2016 2:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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