Evidence for first-century Nazareth?

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
outhouse
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Re: Evidence for first-century Nazareth?

Post by outhouse » Mon Oct 20, 2014 8:34 pm

DCHindley wrote:With regard to "year round" springs and the likelihood of settlement in such a place, I suppose the existence of large number of water cisterns throughout the region, including many that had been "perforated" by tunnels, thus rendering some of them less effective or useless as water holding facilities, suggests that collected rainwater was the dominant source of drinking water, and that there was plenty of it.
There are 3 rock cut channels going from the spring to terrace land for agrarian needs there. These may go back to the first century or before.

This is a very good source of water, that would be easier to access for the common peasant then possible owned water. Correct?

ficino
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Re: Evidence for first-century Nazareth?

Post by ficino » Tue Oct 21, 2014 5:17 am

Steven Avery wrote:
When my friend Kevin Kleutz studied and found the two sites, one of which is likely the real Nazareth, there was no interest in the skeptic stuff. Which mostly came later, as a public brouhaha. There was a concern that Luke, the precision historian, had written very specifically:

Luke 4:16
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up:
and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day,
and stood up for to read.

Luke 4:28-29
And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,
And rose up, and thrust him out of the city,
and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built,
that they might cast him down headlong.

And there was simply no way to reconcile this with the 4th century Helena identity of Nazareth.
Hello Steve, interesting suggestion that the NT Nazareth lies under Nitai. I can't comment on that. Is this conclusion the result of an argument like the following?
1. Luke describes Nazareth as being a "city" in Galilee on the brow of a hill
2. Nitai is a location in Galilee on the brow of a hill
3. therefore Nitai is likely to be the ancient Nazareth
ficino wrote:I note that Matthew's and Luke's use of the word πόλις to designate Jesus' home town is hard to square with attempts of Christian apologists to account for the paucity of evidence by saying that Nazareth was "just a bump on the road."

The word πόλις (polis), is used by Luke for Bethlehem, Capernum, Nain, Gadara, Bethsaida, Nazareth, Jerusalem and Arimethea, in Acts Damascus, Joppa, Lystra and Derbe, Philippi, Thyatira, Thessalonica, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Tyre, Tarsus and Lasea.

κώμη kōmē is used by Luke for Bethany (10:38) and Emmaus.

"Josephus uses πόλις and κώμη almost interchangeably"
http://www.biblicalcyclopedia.com/T/town.html

Considering the wide range of size of πόλις, and its dominance in specifying specific locales, I do not see any difficulty. The unusual situation is to refer to a specific town as κώμη.

Steven Avery
I'm sure we're both aware that under Roman rule, a municipality could have legal "polis" status conferred upon it. For the NT writers we're talking about "polis" as a colloquial, not a legal, designation. I think we should resist the argument that: 1) 1st century koine used "polis" and "kwme" almost interchangeably, and therefore 2) a "bump on the road" can be called a "polis".

Back in January I did a word study of places in the NT called πόλις and also tried to contrast that usage with κώμη. FWIW I got slightly different results for "polis" in Luke/Acts from what you offer above: Luke: add "city of David" Acts: add Caesarea, Iconium, Nea Polis, and Pisidian Antioch. Also FWIW, Wikipedia says there is no record of the existence of Arimathea other than the NT (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arimathea). Tscherikover writes that it may have been a dependency of Jerusalem, but if so, it could not be a "polis." ("Was Jerusalem a 'Polis'? V. A. TCHERIKOVER, Israel Exploration Journal Vol. 14, No. 1/2 (1964), pp. 61-78) Tscherikover here is concerned with legal "polis" status, though.

Leaving out Nazareth as the place under discussion, I'd offer Nain as a puzzle. One might get away with contending that Nain was both a "bump on the road" and a "polis." Its gate is mentioned in Luke 7:11-12. What I've read suggests it was so small as not to have walls. So we're faced with the familiar situation in the NT, whether we should say that the author doesn't know Palestinian geography or that he does know the geography and chooses to employ a word under a different meaning than its normal meaning. E.e. that "gate" at Nain doesn't designate a gate but "probably the opening between the houses by which the road entered the town," W. Ewing in ISBE quoted at:
http://classic.net.bible.org/dictionary.php?word=Nain

It's easy to make up stuff and call it "probable." But what do I know? I wasn't there. I am skeptical.

Anyway, it's hard to square the "bump in the road" theory about 1st cent. Nazareth as a "polis" with Josephus' statement that in Galilee, even the smallest κώμη had more than 15,000 inhabitants (BJ 3.43). Τhe referent of τὴν ἐλαχίστην is τῶν κωμιῶν.

Then there's Luke's apparent conceptual distinction between "polis" and "kwme", reflected at 13:22 "cities and villages", 8:1 "city and village" 9:12 villages and fields. One might say that Luke does the old "doubling" thing that we find in psalms and prophets, but that would seem a stretch. Going around to the "cities and villages" pretty clearly has to refer to travel to municipalities big and small.

All this perhaps is relevant to the question, is Luke inerrant, and not to the question, was Nazareth a municipality/settlement at the time of Jesus.

I could write more but have to get breakfast ready! Thanks for seeking to push the ball further downfield.
Last edited by ficino on Tue Oct 21, 2014 6:16 am, edited 2 times in total.

Steven Avery
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Christian presence in Galilee

Post by Steven Avery » Tue Oct 21, 2014 5:38 am

Hi,
Robert Tulip wrote:illustrating how Empress Helena was treated to a Potemkin Village experience ... when she visited Israel to find the holy places.

If she ever visited Nazareth.

Maybe I can get a little assistance with this history:

Archaeology and Infallibility (1906)
Ethelred Luke Taunton
http://books.google.com/books?id=knQjAQAAMAAJ&pg=PA700

After the taking of Jerusalem, when the remnant of the Jewish nation concentrated themselves in Galilee under the civil and religious government of the priesthood, they obtained the privilege that only Jews should live in their territory. It was not until 329 that this law was broken down. During this long period, when Christians were not allowed to set foot in Nazareth, it is difficult to see how the memory of the spot where Our Lady's house had stood could have been retained. By the Jews who hated Christianity? This is altogether unlikely. By Christians? They were not there for at least 193 years. The legend that Helena built at Nazareth a church at the place of the Salutation comes from the Byzantine Nicephorus who, in the fourteenth century, contradicts the contemporary statement of Eusebius of Cesarea. There is no real evidence that she was ever at Nazareth at all, still less that she built a church there. The first mention of a church at Nazareth is in the sixth century...

Is Taunton right about only Jews in (some part of) Galilee? Was there such a directive? Is there indication of it being endoced? And if there was such a policy, over what area? And would have it begun after the Bar Kochba rebellion?

Thanks.

Steven Avery

Steven Avery
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Christian presence in Galilee - Epiphanius

Post by Steven Avery » Tue Oct 21, 2014 11:03 am

Hi,
Steven Avery wrote:...After the taking of Jerusalem, when the remnant of the Jewish nation concentrated themselves in Galilee under the civil and religious government of the priesthood, they obtained the privilege that only Jews should live in their territory. It was not until 329 that this law was broken down. ..

Is Taunton right about only Jews in (some part of) Galilee? Was there such a directive? Is there indication of it being endoced? And if there was such a policy, over what area? And would have it begun after the Bar Kochba rebellion?
More on the lack of a Christian presence in Nazareth, one source is Epiphanius:

======

The Christian Remembrancer, Volumes 27-28 (1854)
Holy House of Loreto
http://books.google.com/books?id=1SrErvsyUSIC&pg=PA341

Ephiphanius ... Haeres xxx.11...before the time of the Count Joseph, Nazareth was one of the places where it had hitherto been found impracticable to have churches built, owing to its exclusive occupation by the Jews.

======

The Panarion of Ephiphanius of Salamis: Book I (sects 1-46) (1987)
Frank Williams, translator
http://books.google.com/books?id=s9-utOHPLfEC&pg=PA128

Josephus asked nothing of the emperor but this very great favor—'permission by imperial rescript to build Christ's churches in the Jewish towns and villages where no one had ever been able to found churches, since there are no Greeks, Samaritans or Christians among the population. This <rule> of having; no gentiles among them is observed especially at Tiberias, Diocaesarea, Sepphoris, Nazareth and Capernaum.

============================

Here is referenced a similar report, apparently from Irenaeus, rather puzzling in some ways, is there anything that can be made out of this?

The Sanctuaries of the Holy Land—their Traditions. (1890)
http://books.google.com/books?id=gjk7AQAAMAAJ&pg=PA494

Nazareth lies about eighty miles to the north of Jerusalem. Tradition points out two sanctuaries in the city: the site of the Annunciation, and that where the Holy Family have resided during the thirty years of Christ's life previous to the commencement of His mission. St. Treueus of <sic> speaks of the tradition pointing out those places; but he adds that then no Christian was allowed to "dwell" in Nazareth.

============================

Steven Avery

Steven Avery
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Evidence for first-century Nazareth?

Post by Steven Avery » Tue Oct 21, 2014 11:41 am

HI,
ficino wrote:Hello Steve, interesting suggestion that the NT Nazareth lies under Nitai. I can't comment on that. Is this conclusion the result of an argument like the following?
1. Luke describes Nazareth as being a "city" in Galilee on the brow of a hill
2. Nitai is a location in Galilee on the brow of a hill
3. therefore Nitai is likely to be the ancient Nazareth

Greetings, ficino.

And I would call it research, more than an argument, research from a "Bible and Spade" perpective. One that considers Luke as the superb historian, per the William Mitchell Ramsay analysis, and follow-up by later studies.

And respects the NT fully. (For the harumphs about Mark's geography, understand that those are all in the ultra-minority Westcott-Hort recension, which I have no use for, with additions from the ultra-corrupt Sinaiticus. Not in the majority historic, traditional Bible.) And then looks to match the ground with the book.

(Note: we went around the mill with this on the old IIDB, including the obligatory issues like census and Lysanias, and clearly on this forum YMMV.)

Luke 4:28-29
And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath,
And rose up, and thrust him out of the city,
and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built,
that they might cast him down headlong.

1) city on the top of the mountain - yet not right up to the edge -
2) steep cliff (a reputation for execution would make sense) on that mountain
3) synagogue in the city

So far rolling hills Nazareth is 0 for 3, and the most you could hope for is a synagogue. And Nitai/Arbel is the only really good fit. And this is putting aside the paucity of results from rolling hills Nazareth for a general city archaeology. However, that weakness had little to do with the initial search, which was largely 1-2-3 above. Read the Bible, find the place.

There is also the general sense of the locales of New Testament geography, in a time of walking. Where Nitai/Arbel is a better fit by sense. There may be a verse that also fits better as well in terms of the movements and timing of Jesus.

A match with the Caesarea Maritima inscriptions is also a point to be studied. ie. If rolling hills Nazareth is out of place geographically with the 70 AD list of cities, that is an additional factor.
ficino wrote:I note that Matthew's and Luke's use of the word (polis) designate Jesus' home town is hard to square with attempts of Christian apologists to account for the paucity of evidence by saying that Nazareth was "just a bump on the road."
And I appreciate your study on this, I don't even see a problem with rolling hills Nazareth. It looks to me that the very act of specifying a town would affect which word is used. Like the city of Bethlehem.

However, the issue is even more remote until we pin down the size of the actual Nazareth, rather than Pfann-Salm Nazareth.

Steven Avery

outhouse
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Re: Evidence for first-century Nazareth?

Post by outhouse » Tue Oct 21, 2014 1:12 pm

Steven Avery wrote:However, the issue is even more remote until we pin down the size of the actual Nazareth

200-400 is the typical well educated modern guess.

Steven Avery
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Re: Evidence for first-century Nazareth?

Post by Steven Avery » Tue Oct 21, 2014 3:10 pm

outhouse wrote:200-400 is the typical well educated modern guess.

I actually meant the location :).

Which can help with the size.

outhouse
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Re: Evidence for first-century Nazareth?

Post by outhouse » Tue Oct 21, 2014 5:21 pm

Steven Avery wrote:
outhouse wrote:200-400 is the typical well educated modern guess.

I actually meant the location :).

Which can help with the size.
Unknown. And you already know the educated guesses.

Steven Avery
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Re: Evidence for first-century Nazareth?

Post by Steven Avery » Tue Oct 21, 2014 8:44 pm

Hi,
outhouse wrote:Unknown. And you already know the educated guesses.

I know of one guess, around the Stephen Phann area. And I will conjecture that your other "educated" guesses fan out from there, without much fanfare, to find a cliff that could do some harm. However that is all one general locale. (An ultra-skeptic might add Bethlehem, or some spot in Judea, confused by Codex Sinaiticus.)

Nitai/Arbel is not a guess, it is reasoned analysis consistent with the book. However, with Nitai we definitely do not know the size since there has not been any excavations.

Steven Avery

outhouse
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Re: Evidence for first-century Nazareth?

Post by outhouse » Wed Oct 22, 2014 6:04 pm

Steven Avery wrote:without much fanfare, to find a cliff that could do some harm
I don't read it that literally.

I happen to follow the unknown authors were far removed from any actual event, the more detail, the less credibility I place.

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