Of Nazirites & Naṣoraeans.

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Ben C. Smith
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Of Nazirites & Naṣoraeans.

Post by Ben C. Smith »

On this thread I gather evidence relevant to the Nazirites, the Nazerini, the Nazarenes, the Nazoraeans, the Naṣaraeans, and/or the Naṣoraeans (take your pick), as well as, necessarily, the town of Naṣareth or Nazareth.

There is a tendency, at least in English, to flip back and forth between any or all of these names at will, but there is actually a fairly impressive linguistic wall between (at least) two different sets of relevant names or titles: those spelled with a Semitic ṣade or Greek sigma on the one hand, and those spelled with a Semitic zayin or Greek zeta on the other.

It was FRDB/IIDB user spin who first put me onto this trail more than a decade ago, and he has written about it since, as well:
spin wrote: Sat Feb 08, 2014 7:51 amThe facile connection between "Nazarene" and "Nazareth" may function in English and Greek, but the town name is spelled differently in Hebrew (נצרת NCRT): there is no equivalent to the zeta/zed, so we cannot easily connect the Greek to the Hebrew, though we have a strong connection between "Nazirite" and "Nazarene" via Mk 1:24. The second letter in the Hebrew town name is tsade, which is almost always transliterated as a sigma in Greek. In fact one scholar a century ago, F.C. Burkitt, could only find ten examples of tsade -> zeta in the entire Hebrew/Greek corpus, most of which he put down to error. When scholars comment on the anomalous zeta, they always unknowingly point to a few of Burkitt's examples without considering how empty-handed they are. The Nazirite connection explains the fact that every form in Greek contains a zeta rather than the preferred sigma for a נצרת source. Obviously, these terms are not derived from the Hebrew name of Nazareth. And that's a bullet to the head of the usual explanation of all these terms.
There is a linguistic wall between Naṣareth and Nazareth, between Naṣoraean and Nazarene or Nazoraean, which must be accounted for.

And yet, it is indisputable that at least some of those Greek terms with zeta and at least some of those Hebrew or Aramaic terms with ṣade correspond to one another and mean the same thing in various texts (in Syriac and Greek versions of the same Christian texts, for example). How is this fact to be explained? Only a presentation of the relevant evidence stands any chance of suggesting any explanation worth considering.

But I will be keeping the key consonants, zayin/zeta and ṣade/sigma, separate for the sake of clarity.

Zz Ζζ ז (Zeta/Zayin):
Ṣṣ Σσ צ (Sigma/Ṣade):
Ṣṣ Σσ צ (Sigma/Ṣade) + Zz Ζζ ז (Zeta/Zayin):
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Fri Oct 30, 2020 1:06 pm, edited 9 times in total.
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Of Nazirites & Naṣoraeans.

Post by Ben C. Smith »

Zz Ζζ ז (Zeta/Zayin) — The Meaning of NZR and the Nazirite Vow

A Nazirite, in Hebrew, is a נְזִיר. The Semitic root NZR has to do with consecration or being set apart. There are several instances of this word in the Hebrew scriptures: Genesis 49.26; Leviticus 25.5, 11; Numbers 6.2, 13, 18, 19, 20, 21; Deuteronomy 33.16; Judges 13.5, 7; 16.17; Lamentations 4.7; Amos 2.11, 12.

In Leviticus 25.5, 11 the word refers to untrimmed vines (hinting at its reference to unshorn vowkeepers in other passages).

Two of the passages from the list comprise the (literarily connected) Jacobian and Mosaic blessings on Joseph:

Genesis 49.22-26: 22 “Joseph is a fruitful bough, a fruitful bough by a spring; its branches run over a wall. 23 The archers bitterly attacked him, and shot at him and harassed him; 24 but his bow remained firm, and his arms were agile, from the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob (from there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel), 25 from the God of your father who helps you, and by the Almighty who blesses you With blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lies beneath, blessings of the breasts and of the womb. 26 The blessings of your father have surpassed the blessings of my ancestors up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills; may they be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of the one consecrated among his brothers [וּלְקָדְקֹד נְזִיר אֶחָיו, καὶ ἐπὶ κορυφῆς ὧν ἡγήσατο ἀδελφῶν, Vulgate et in vertice Nazarei inter fratres suos].”

Deuteronomy 33.13-17: 13 Of Joseph he said, “Blessed of Yahweh be his land, with the choice things of heaven, with the dew, and from the deep lying beneath, 14 and with the choice yield of the sun, and with the choice produce of the months; 15 and with the best things of the ancient mountains, and with the choice things of the everlasting hills, 16 and with the choice things of the earth and its fullness, and the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush. Let it come to the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of the one consecrated among his brothers [וּלְקָדְקֹד נְזִיר אֶחָיו, καὶ ἐπὶ κορυφῆς δοξασθεὶς ἐν ἀδελφοῖς, Vulgate et super verticem Nazarei inter fratres suos]. 17 As the firstborn of his ox, majesty is his, and his horns are the horns of the wild ox; with them he will push the peoples, all at once, to the ends of the earth. And those are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and those are the thousands of Manasseh.”

That Joseph is called a nazir strikes right at the heart of my ongoing interest in the Messiah ben Joseph motif and its possible connection to Jesus Christ, since in rabbinical texts Joseph is, based on his designation as a nazir, thought to have taken a vow to abstain from wine until he should be reunited with his brothers, whereas in the gospels Jesus is said to have vowed to abstain from wine until he should be reunited with his disciples:

Roger David Aus, “Jesus as a Nazirite in Mark 14:25,” in Searching the Scriptures: Studies in Context and Intertextuality, edited by Craig A. Evans & Jeremiah J. Johnston, page 95: Genesis Rabbah Vayyigash 93/7 first comments on the five portions of Benjamin noted above. It then continues regarding Gen 43:34b, “And they drank, and they became intoxicated with him”: R. Isaac of Magdala said in the name of R. Yehudah ha-Nasi: “From the day that Joseph was separated (פֵּרֵישׁ) from his brothers, they drank no wine until that day, for they all abstained (נזרו) from wine. Joseph too drank no wine until that day, but abstained (נזר) from wine, as it says: ‘And on the crown of the head of him who was a Nazirite (נְזִיר, construct) through his brothers’ (49:26).”

Matthew 26.29: 29 “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in the kingdom of My Father.”

Mark 14.25: 25 “Truly I say to you, I will never again drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

The LXX does not transliterate the Hebrew term; rather, it translates it in terms of his leadership over them.

An entire chapter of the Law is dedicated to the temporary vow:

Numbers 6.1-21: 6 Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘When a man or woman makes a difficult vow, the vow of a Nazirite to dedicate himself [נָזִיר לְהַזִּיר, ἀφαγνίσασθαι ἁγνείαν κυρίῳ] to the Lord, 3 he shall abstain from wine and strong drink; he shall drink no vinegar, whether made from wine or strong drink, nor shall he drink any grape juice nor eat fresh or dried grapes. 4 All the days of his dedication [נִזְרוֹ, τῆς εὐχῆς] he shall not eat anything that is produced by the grape vine, from the seeds even to the skin. 5 All the days of his vow of dedication no razor shall pass over his head. He shall be holy until the days are fulfilled for which he dedicated himself to the Lord; he shall let the locks of hair on his head grow long. 6 All the days of his dedication to the Lord he shall not go near to a dead person. 7 He shall not make himself unclean for his father or for his mother, for his brother or for his sister, when they die, because his dedication to God is on his head. 8 All the days of his dedication he is holy to the Lord. 9 But if a man dies very suddenly beside him and he defiles his dedicated head of hair, then he shall shave his head on the day when he becomes clean; he shall shave it on the seventh day. 10 Then on the eighth day he shall bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons to the priest, to the doorway of the tent of meeting. 11 The priest shall offer one for a sin offering and the other for a burnt offering, and make atonement for him concerning his sin because of the dead person. And that same day he shall consecrate his head, 12 and shall dedicate to the Lord his days as a Nazirite [וְהִזִּיר לַיהוָה֙ אֶת־יְמֵי נִזְרוֹ], and shall bring a male lamb a year old for a guilt offering; but the former days will be void because his dedication was defiled. 13 Now this is the Law of the Nazirite [תּוֹרַת הַנָּזִיר]. When the days of his dedication are fulfilled, he shall bring the offering to the doorway of the tent of meeting. 14 He shall present his offering to the Lord: one male lamb a year old without defect for a burnt offering and one ewe lamb a year old without defect for a sin offering and one ram without defect for a peace offering, 15 and a basket of unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil and unleavened wafers spread with oil, along with their grain offering and their drink offering. 16 Then the priest shall present them before the Lord and shall offer his sin offering and his burnt offering. 17 He shall also offer the ram for a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord, together with the basket of unleavened cakes; the priest shall likewise offer its grain offering and its drink offering. 18 The Nazirite shall then shave his dedicated head of hair at the doorway of the tent of meeting, and take the dedicated hair of his head and put it on the fire which is under the sacrifice of peace offerings. 19 The priest shall take the ram’s shoulder when it has been boiled, and one unleavened cake out of the basket and one unleavened wafer, and shall put them on the palms of the Nazirite after he has shaved his dedicated hair. 20 Then the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the Lord. It is holy for the priest, together with the breast offered by waving and the thigh offered by lifting up; and afterward the Nazirite may drink wine.’ 21 This is the law of the Nazirite who vows his offering to the Lord according to his separation, in addition to what else his hand can reach; according to his vow which he takes, so he shall do according to the law of his separation.”

Again, the Greek text does not transliterate the Hebrew term; rather, it translates it in terms of a purity vow.

Three of the instances on the list have to do with Samson:

Judges 13.1-25: 1 Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of Yahweh, so that Yahweh gave them into the hands of the Philistines forty years. 2 There was a certain man of Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had not borne. 3 Then the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold now, you are barren and have not borne, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son. 4 Now therefore, be careful not to drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. 5 For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be [ἔσται τὸ παιδάριον] a Nazirite of God [נְזִיר אֱלֹהִים, Ναζειρ θεοῦ, Alexandrinus ἡγιασμένον Ναζιραῖον... τῷ θεῷ, Aquila & Symmachus ἀφωρισμένον τῷ θεῷ] from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” 6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, “A man of God came to me and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. And I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name. 7 But he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and now you shall not drink wine or strong drink nor eat any unclean thing, for the boy shall be [ἔσται τὸ παιδάριον] a Nazirite of God [נְזִיר אֱלֹהִים, ἅγιον θεοῦ, Alexandrinus Ναζειραῖον θεοῦ] from the womb to the day of his death.’” 8 Then Manoah entreated Yahweh and said, “O Lord, please let the man of God whom You have sent come to us again that he may teach us what to do for the boy who is to be born.” 9 God listened to the voice of Manoah; and the angel of God came again to the woman as she was sitting in the field, but Manoah her husband was not with her. 10 So the woman ran quickly and told her husband, “Behold, the man who came the other day has appeared to me.” 11 Then Manoah arose and followed his wife, and when he came to the man he said to him, “Are you the man who spoke to the woman?” And he said, “I am.” 12 Manoah said, “Now when your words come to pass, what shall be the boy’s mode of life and his vocation?” 13 So the angel of Yahweh said to Manoah, “Let the woman pay attention to all that I said. 14 She should not eat anything that comes from the vine nor drink wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing; let her observe all that I commanded.” 15 Then Manoah said to the angel of Yahweh, “Please let us detain you so that we may prepare a young goat for you.” 16 The angel of Yahweh said to Manoah, “Though you detain me, I will not eat your food, but if you prepare a burnt offering, then offer it to Yahweh.” For Manoah did not know that he was the angel of Yahweh. 17 Manoah said to the angel of Yahweh, “What is your name, so that when your words come to pass, we may honor you?” 18 But the angel of Yahweh said to him, “Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?” 19 So Manoah took the young goat with the grain offering and offered it on the rock to Yahweh, and He performed wonders while Manoah and his wife looked on. 20 For it came about when the flame went up from the altar toward heaven, that the angel of Yahweh ascended in the flame of the altar. When Manoah and his wife saw this, they fell on their faces to the ground. 21 Now the angel of Yahweh did not appear to Manoah or his wife again. Then Manoah knew that he was the angel of Yahweh. 22 So Manoah said to his wife, “We will surely die, for we have seen God.” 23 But his wife said to him, “If Yahweh had desired to kill us, He would not have accepted a burnt offering and a grain offering from our hands, nor would He have shown us all these things, nor would He have let us hear things like this at this time.” 24 Then the woman gave birth to a son and named him Samson; and the child grew up and Yahweh blessed him. 25 And the Spirit of Yahweh began to stir him in Mahaneh-Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.

Judges 16.15-17: 15 Then she said to him, “How can you say, ‘I love you,’ when your heart is not with me? You have deceived me these three times and have not told me where your great strength is.” 16 It came about when she pressed him daily with her words and urged him, that his soul was impatient to the point of death. 17 So he told her all that was in his heart and said to her, “A razor has never come on my head, for I have been a Nazirite of God [נְזִיר אֱלֹהִים, ἅγιος θεοῦ, Alexandrinus Ναζειραῖος θεοῦ] from my mother’s womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will leave me and I will become weak and be like any other man.”

In these passages the Greek does transliterate the Hebrew, though not consistently between the two principal versions (designated A and B, or Alexandrinus and Vaticanus):

Stuart Chepey, Nazirites in Late Second Temple Judaism: A Survey, page 31: In the case of LXX Judg., the two primary MS families representing two very distinct readings have survived: the fifth-century codex Alexandrinus (LXXA) and the fourth-century codex Vaticanus (LXXB), both of which are printed in parallel fashion in Rahlfs’ modern critical edition. Scholars differ in their dating of the two readings. Most recently, Bodine has substantiated Barthélemy’s theory that LXXB Judg. represents part of an early recension of LXX dating back to the turn of the era, popularly referred to as the καίγε-recension. LXXA, on the other hand, represents a much later version similar in character to Origen’s Hexaplaric recension of the third century AD.

If Bodine, Barthélemy, and Chepey are correct, then the tendency seems to have been for the Greek to have translated the Hebrew term at first, and then later transliterated it as the term itself, Nazirite, began to make inroads into the surrounding languages and cultures.

So the earlier Greek text, B/Vaticanus, transliterates once as Ναζιρ θεοῦ ("Nazirite of God," Judges 13.5) and translates twice as ἅγιος θεοῦ ("holy one of God," Judges 13.7; 16.17), while the later Greek text, A/Alexandrinus, transliterates thrice as Ναζιραῖος θεοῦ (or τῷ θεῷ, "Naziraean of/to God," Judges 13.5, 7; 16.17).

The translation, "holy one of God," on the one hand, seems to lie behind a few of our gospel passages:

Mark 1.23-24: 23 Just then there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 24 saying, “What to us and to You, Jesus the Nazarene [Ἰησοῦ Ναζαρηνέ]? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are — the Holy One of God [ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ]!”

Luke 4.33-34: 33 In the synagogue there was a man having a spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Let us alone! What to us and to You, Jesus the Nazarene [Ἰησοῦ Ναζαρηνέ]? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are — the Holy One of God [ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ]!”

John 6.66-69: 66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” 68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. 69 We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God [ὁ ἅγιος τοῦ θεοῦ].”

Notice the presence of the term Nazarene, of course, in Mark, though it may be absent from Marcion and secondary in Luke:

Tertullian, Against Marcion 4.7.9: 9 And thus He either will have to be acknowledged as being of Him, in accordance with whom He taught, or else will have to be judged to be a prevaricator, if He taught in accordance with Him against whom He had come. In the same passage “the spirit of a demon” exclaims, “What is it to us and to You, Jesus? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are — the Holy One of God.” / 9 Atque ita aut eius erit agnoscendus, secundum quem docuit, aut praevaricator iudicandus, si secundum eum adversus quem venerat docuit. exclamat ibidem spiritus daemonis, «Quid nobis et tibi est, Iesu? venisti perdere nos? scio qui sis, sanctus dei.» [Link.]

The transliteration, "Naziraean," on the other hand, is probably what lies behind a famously garbled reference to the prophets, probably also under the influence of one of the "call his name" prophecies:

Matthew 2.19-23: 19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appears in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, and said, 20 “Get up, take the Child and His mother, and go into the land of Israel; for those who sought the Child’s life are dead.” 21 So he got up, took the Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. 22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, 23 and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets, that “He shall be called a Nazarene [Ναζωραῖος κληθήσεται].”

Ναζιρ θεοῦ (Judges 13.5 Vaticanus); Ναζιραῖον... τῷ θεῷ (Judges 13.5 Alexandrinus).
ἅγιον θεοῦ (Judges 13.7 Vaticanus); Ναζιραῖον θεοῦ (Judges 13.7 Alexandrinus).
ἅγιος θεοῦ (Judges 16.17 Vaticanus); Ναζιραῖος θεοῦ (Judges 16.17 Alexandrinus).
Ναζιραίους (1 Maccabees 3.49).
Ναζιραῖοι (Lamentations 4.7).

Judges 13.5-7: 5 “For behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and no razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be [ἔσται τὸ παιδάριον] a Nazirite of God [נְזִיר אֱלֹהִים, Ναζειρ θεοῦ, Alexandrinus ἡγιασμένον Ναζιραῖον... τῷ θεῷ, Aquila & Symmachus ἀφωρισμένον τῷ θεῷ] from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” 6 Then the woman came and told her husband, saying, “A man of God came to me and his appearance was like the appearance of the angel of God, very awesome. And I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name. 7 But he said to me, ‘Behold, you shall conceive and give birth to a son, and now you shall not drink wine or strong drink nor eat any unclean thing, for the boy shall be [ἔσται τὸ παιδάριον] a Nazirite of God [נְזִיר אֱלֹהִים, ἅγιον θεοῦ, Alexandrinus Ναζειραῖον θεοῦ] from the womb to the day of his death.’”

Isaiah 7.14: 14 “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign. Behold, a maiden will be with child and she will bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel [καὶ τέξεται υἱόν καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Εμμανουηλ].”

Matthew 1.20-21: 20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for that which has been begotten in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 But she will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus [τέξεται δὲ υἱὸν καὶ καλέσεις τὸ ὄνομα αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦν], for He will save His people from their sins.”

One may as well get used to this confusion of Nazoraean as a demonym for the town of Naṣareth and Nazoraean as a reference to Jesus in some way being a Nazirite, or Holy One of God; it is going to persist.

Only two Masoretic instances of the Hebrew word remain, but there is another scriptural instance which derives from a scroll of 1 Samuel from Qumran:

Amos 2.6-16: 6 Thus says the Lord, “For three transgressions of Israel and for four I will not revoke its punishment, because they sell the righteous for money and the needy for a pair of sandals. 7 These who pant after the very dust of the earth on the head of the helpless also turn aside the way of the humble; and a man and his father resort to the same girl in order to profane My holy name. 8 On garments taken as pledges they stretch out beside every altar, and in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined. 9 Yet it was I who destroyed the Amorite before them, though his height was like the height of cedars and he was strong as the oaks; I even destroyed his fruit above and his root below. 10 It was I who brought you up from the land of Egypt, and I led you in the wilderness forty years that you might take possession of the land of the Amorite. 11 Then I raised up some of your sons to be prophets and some of your young men to be Nazirites [לִנְזִרִים, εἰς ἁγιασμόν, Vulgate Nazaraeos]. Is this not so, O sons of Israel?” declares the Lord. 12 “But you made the Nazirites [הַנְּזִרִים, τοὺς ἡγιασμένους, Vulgate Nazaraeis] to drink wine, and you commanded the prophets saying, ‘You shall not prophesy!’ 13 Behold, I am weighted down beneath you as a wagon is weighted down when filled with sheaves. 14 Flight will perish from the swift, and the stalwart will not strengthen his power, nor the mighty man save his life. 15 He who grasps the bow will not stand his ground; the swift of foot will not escape, nor will he who rides the horse save his life. 16 Even the bravest among the warriors will flee naked in that day,” declares the Lord.

1 Samuel 1.9-11: 9 Then Hannah rose after eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She, greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. 11 She made a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him [OG + δοτόν, as given] to the Lord all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.”

1 Samuel 1.22: 22 But Hannah did not go up, and she said to her husband, “Not until the child is weaned. Then I will bring him to appear before Yahweh and to stay there forever [4QSamuela + שנתתיהו נזיר על עולם, and I will give him as a Nazirite forever].”

Lamentations 4.7: 7 Her Nazirites [נְזִירֶיהָ, Ναζιραῖοι αὐτῆς, Symmachus ἀφωρισμένοι αὐτῆς] were purer than snow; they were whiter than milk; they were more ruddy in body than corals; their polishing was like lapis lazuli.

Christophe Lemardelé, “The Hebrew Word נזָיִר in Greek: From the Septuagint to the Christian Authors,” page 2: 2 According to Septuagint specialists, Amos, 1 Samuel, and Judges were translated during the 2nd century BCE, before the book of Lamentations.

Thus the Qumranites, at least, thought of Samuel as a Nazirite. The OG transliterates the instance from Lamentations, while Symmachus translates it.

The Hebrew version of another book will repay attention:

Wisdom of Sirach 46.13 (slightly modified from Chepey, based on the Hebrew version): 13 Beloved by the people and pleasing to his Creator was he who was dedicated from his mother’s womb [המשׁואל מבטן אמו], a Nazirite of Yahweh [נזיר ייי, Syriac נזיר only] in prophecy [בנבואה], Samuel, judge and priest; by the word of Yahweh he instituted the kingdom.

Wisdom of Sirach 46.13 (RSV, based on the Greek version): 13 Samuel, beloved by his Lord, a prophet of the Lord [προφήτης κυρίου], established the kingdom and anointed rulers over his people.

Interesting that the Greek omits the Hebrew term; apparently either Junior did not agree with his father about Samuel being a Nazirite or he was not sure what to do with it in Greek; recall that this translation would have been early, before the Greek transliteration would have been made common.

And there is an instance in the Maccabean books:

1 Maccabees 3.46-49: 46 So they assembled and went to Mizpah, opposite Jerusalem, because Israel formerly had a place of prayer in Mizpah. 47 They fasted that day, put on sackcloth and sprinkled ashes on their heads, and rent their clothes. 48 And they opened the book of the law to inquire into those matters about which the Gentiles were consulting the images of their idols. 49 They also brought the garments of the priesthood and the firstfruits and the tithes, and they stirred up the Nazirites [Ναζιραίους, Sinaiticus Ναζειραίους, Vaticanus Ναζαραίους] who had completed their days.

Of course, we have inscriptions:

Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae & Palaestinae 1, volume 1 of Jerusalem, pages 114-116:

70. Ossuary of Ḥananiya son of Yehonatan the Nazirite with Aramaic and Hebrew inscription, 1 c. BCE - 1 c. CE....

חנניה בר יהונתן הנזר

Translit.: ḥnnyh br yhwntn hnzr

Ḥananiya son of Yehonatan the Nazirite (= Hananiah son of Jonathan the Nazirite).


72. Ossuary of Shalom wife of Ḥananiya son of the Nazirite with Aramaic and Hebrew inscription, 1 c. BCE - 1 c. CE....

שלום אנתת חנניה בר הנזיר

Translit.: šlwm ʾntt ḥnnyh br hnzyr

Shalom wife of Ḥananiya son of the Nazirite. (= Shalom wife of Hananiah son of the Nazirite).

[Refer also to N. Avigad, “The Burial-Vault of a Nazirite Family on Mount Scopus,” in the Israel Exploration Journal, volume 21, number 4 (1971), pages 185-200.]

It is unclear whether these men considered themselves lifelong Nazirites or whether they had simply taken the temporary vow at some point in their lives.

Philo does not use a transliteration for the Hebrew term. Rather, he seems to follow the LXX/OG translations:

Philo, The Special Laws 1.45-46.247-254: 45.247 Having given these commandments about every description of sacrifice in its turn, namely, about the burnt offering, and the sacrifice for preservation, and the sin offering, he adds another kind of offering common to all the three, in order to show that they are friendly and connected with one another; and this combination of them all is called the great vow [εὐχὴ μεγάλη] (= Numbers 6.2 LXX, μεγάλως εὔξηται εὐχήν); 248 and why it received this appellation we must now proceed to say. When any persons offer first fruits from any portion of their possessions, wheat, or barley, or oil, or wine, or the best of their fruits, or the firstborn males of their flocks and herds, they do so actually dedicating those first fruits which proceed from what is clean, but paying a price as the value of what is unclean; and when they have no longer any materials left in which they can display their piety, they then consecrate and offer up themselves, displaying an unspeakable holiness, and a most superabundant excess of a disposition of loving God, on which account such a dedication is fitly called the great vow; for every man is his own greatest and most valuable possession, and this even he now gives up and abandons. 249 And when a man has vowed this vow the law gives him the following command; first of all, to touch no unmixed wine, nor any wine that is made of the grape, nor to drink any other strong drink whatever, to the destruction of his reason, considering that during this period his reason also is dedicated to God; for all which could tend to drunkenness is forbidden to those of the priests who are employed in the sacred ministrations, they being commanded to quench their thirst with water; 250 in the second place they are commanded not to show their heads, giving thus a visible sign to all who see them that they are not debasing the pure coinage of their vow; thirdly, they are commanded to keep their body pure and undefiled, so as not even to approach their parents if they are dead, nor their brothers; piety overcoming the natural good will and affection towards their relations and dearest friends, and it is both honorable and expedient that piety should at all times prevail. 46.251 But when the appointed time for their being released from this vow has arrived (= Numbers 6.14), the Law then commands the man who has dedicated himself to bring three animals to procure his release from his vow, a male lamb, and a female lamb, and a ram; the one for a burnt offering, the second for a sin offering, and the ram as a sacrifice for preservation; 252 for in some sense the man who has made such a vow resembles all these things. He resembles the sacrifice of the entire burnt offering, because he is dedicating to his preserver not only a portion of the first fruits of other things, but also of his own self. And he resembles the sin offering, inasmuch as he is a man; for there is no one born, however perfect he may be, who can wholly avoid the commission of sin. He resembles also the offering for preservation, inasmuch as he has recorded that God the Savior is the cause of his preservation, and does not ascribe it to any physician or to any power of his; for those who have been born themselves, and who are liable to infirmity, are not competent to bestow health even on themselves. Medicine does not benefit all persons, nor does it always benefit the same persons; but there are times even when it does them great injury, since its power depends on different things, both on the thing itself and also on those persons who use it. 253 And a great impression is made on me by the fact that of three animals offered up in these different sacrifices, there is no one of a different species from the others, but they are every one of the same kind, a ram, and a male lamb, and a female lamb; for God wishes, as I said a little while ago, by this commandment to point out that the three kinds of sacrifice are nearly connected with and akin to one another; because, both the man who repents is saved, and the man who is saved from the diseases of the soul repents, and because both of them hasten with eagerness to attain to an entire and perfect disposition, of which the sacrifice of the whole burnt offering is a symbol. 254 But since the man has begun to offer himself as his first fruits, and since it is not lawful for the sacred altar to be polluted with human blood, but yet it was by all means necessary that a portion should be consecrated, he has taken care to take a portion, which, being taken, should cause neither pain nor defilement; for he has cut off the hair of the head (= Numbers 6.18), the superfluities of the natural body, as if they were the superfluous branches of a tree, and he has committed them to the fire on which the meat of the sacrifice offered for preservation will be suitably prepared (= Leviticus 6.13), in order that some portion of the man who has made the vow, which it is not lawful to place upon the altar, may still at all events be combined with the sacrifice, burning the fuel of the sacred flame.

Philo, On the Unchangableness of God 19.86-90: 86 But what is the meaning of the sentence, “Noah found grace in the sight of the Lord God” (= Genesis 6.8)? Let us now consider this: for those who find anything, some are finding what they formerly had and have lost, and some are discovering what they never had before and now possess for the first time. Accordingly, those men who occupy themselves with the investigation of appropriate names are accustomed to call the latter kind finding and the former kind refinding. 87 Of the former species we have a conspicuous example afforded us in the injunctions given about the great vow [μεγάλης εὐχῆς] (= Numbers 6.2). Now a vow is a request for good things from God, and the spirit of the great vow is to believe that God himself is the cause of good things from himself, without anyone else ever cooperating with him, of the things which may appear to be beneficial, neither the earth as fruitful nor the rain as helping to promote the growth of seeds and plants, nor the air as calculated to nourish man, nor agriculture as the cause of production, nor the skill of the physician as the cause of health, nor marriage as the cause of the procreation of children. 88 For all these things receive changes and alterations through the power of God to such a degree and in such a way as often to have effects contrary to their usual ones. Moses, therefore says that this man is “holy who nourishes the hair of his head” (= Numbers 6.5), the meaning of which is that he is holy who promotes the growth in the principal portion of himself of the principal shoots of the doctrines of virtue, and who in a manner prides himself and takes delight in these doctrines. 89 But sometimes he loses them, a sort of whirlwind, as it were, suddenly darting down upon the soul, and carrying off everything that was good out of it; and this whirlwind is an involuntary change which pollutes the mind in a moment, which Moses calls death (= Numbers 6.9). 90 But nevertheless, when he has afterwards gotten rid of this and become purified, he recovers and recollects again what for a time he had forgotten and finds what he had lost, so that the days of his former change are not included in the computation (= Numbers 6.12), either because such change is a matter which cannot be reduced to calculation, inasmuch as it is inconsistent with right reason and has no partnership with prudence, or because it does not deserve to be taken into calculation; “for of such things,” some ancient writer says, “there is no account nor calculation taken.”

Philo, On Dreams 1.43.252-2544: 252 For this reason, after mentioning the dedication of the pillar, God adds that, “You vowed a vow to me” (= Genesis 31.13). Now a vow also is, to speak properly, a dedication [ἀνάθεσις], since he who makes a vow is said to offer up as a gift to God, not only his own possessions, but himself likewise who is the owner of them; 253 for the scripture says, “The man is holy who nourishes the locks of the hair of his head, who has vowed a vow” (= Numbers 6.5). But if he is holy he is undoubtedly an offering [ἀνάθημα] to God, no longer meddling with anything unholy or profane; 254 and there is an evidence in favor of my argument in the conduct of the prophetess and mother of a prophet, Hannah, whose name being translated signifies “grace,” for she says that she gives her son, Samuel, “as a gift [δῶρον] to the Holy One” (= 1 Samuel 1.11, 28), not dedicating him more as a human being than as a disposition full of inspiration and possessed by a divinely sent impulse; and the name Samuel, being interpreted, means “appointed to God.”

Philo, On Drunkenness 35.143-36.144: 35.143 And it is an especial property of law and of instruction to distinguish what is profane from what is holy and what is unclean from what is clean, as, on the other hand, it is the effect of lawlessness and ignorance to combine things that are at variance with one another by force and to throw everything into disorder and confusion. 36 On this account the greatest of the kings and prophets, Samuel, as the sacred scriptures tell us, drank no wine or intoxicating liquors to the day of his death (= 1 Samuel 1.14), for he is enrolled among the ranks of the divine army which he will never leave in consequence of the prudence of the wise captain. 36.144 But Samuel was perhaps in reality a man, but he is looked upon not as a compound animal, but as mind rejoicing only in the service and ministrations of God. For the name Samuel, being interpreted, means “appointed to God,” because he looked upon all such actions as are done in accordance with vain and empty opinions to be shameful irregularity.

But Josephus does transliterate:

Josephus, War 2.15.1 §309-314: 309 About this very time king Agrippa was going to Alexandria to congratulate Alexander upon his having obtained the government of Egypt from Nero. 310 But as his sister Bernice was come to Jerusalem, and saw the wicked practices of the soldiers, she was sorely affected at it, and frequently sent the masters of her horse and her guards to Florus and begged of him to leave off these slaughters. 311 But he would neither comply with her request nor have any regard either to the multitude of those already slain, or to the nobility of her that interceded, but only to the advantage he should make by this plundering. 312 Nay, this violence of the soldiers broke out to such a degree of madness that it spent itself on the queen herself; for they did not only torment and destroy those whom they had caught under her very eyes, but indeed would have killed herself also, unless she had prevented them by flying to the palace and stayed there all night with her guards, which she had about her for fear of an insult from the soldiers. 313 Now she dwelt then at Jerusalem, in order to perform a vow which she had made to God; for it is usual with those that had been either afflicted with a distemper, or with any other distresses, to make vows, and for thirty days before they are to offer their sacrifices to abstain from wine and to shave the hair of their head, 314 which things Bernice was now performing, and she stood barefoot before Florus’ tribunal, and besought him. Yet could she neither have any reverence paid to her, nor could she escape without some danger of being slain herself. [Link.]

Stuart Chepey, Nazirites in Late Second Temple Judaism: A Survey of Ancient Jewish Writings, the New Testament, Archaeological Evidence, and Other Writings from Late Antiquity, page 60: 60 .... Taking this description of Bernice into consideration with the other behavioral elements incorporated in the vow, particularly the thirty-day observance period, the vow is reminiscent of similar patterns of behavior witnessed in the Jewish rite of mourning known from rabbinic sources as the Shloshim, (שׁלשׁים), “thirty days.” During the Shloshim, a mourner abstained from cutting the hair and nails, wore rent clothing, and for at least a portion of the thirty-day period abstained from drinking wine. The similarities between the two customs are rather striking and may demonstrate some common relationship between them. The thirty-day period for the temporary Nazirite vow, together with the custom of undertaking the vow during a time of illness or other affliction, abstaining from wine, and demonstrating such a status through other outward means, may indicate that the significance of the thirty days lies in an amalgamation of features shared with late Second Temple mourning rites.

Josephus, Antiquities 4.4.4 §70-72: 70 Moreover, it was but just to offer to God the firstfruits of the entire product of the ground, and they should offer the firstborn of those quadrupedal beasts which are appointed for sacrifices, if it be a male, to the priests to be slain, so that they and their entire families may eat them in the holy city; 71 but the owners of those firstborn which are not appointed for sacrifices in the laws of our country should bring a shekel and a half in their stead, but for the firstborn of a man, five shekels; and they should also have the firstfruits out of the shearing of the sheep, and when any grain is baked into bread loaves they should give somewhat of what they had baked to them. 72 Moreover, when any have made a sacred vow — I mean those who are called Nazirites, who suffer their hair to grow long and use no wine — when they consecrate their hair, and offer it for a sacrifice, they are to allot that hair for the priests. / 70 ἔτι δὲ ἀπαρχὰς τὸν λαὸν δίκαιον τῷ θεῷ πάντων τῶν ἐκ τῆς γῆς φυομένων καρπῶν ἐπιφέρειν, καὶ τῶν τετραπόδων δὲ τῶν εἰς τὰς θυσίας νενομισμένων τὸ γεννηθὲν πρῶτον, ἂν ἄρσεν ᾖ, καταθῦσαι παρασχεῖν τοῖς ἱερεῦσιν, ὥστε αὐτοὺς πανοικὶ σιτεῖσθαι ἐν τῇ ἱερᾷ πόλει. 71 τῶν δ᾽ οὐ νενομισμένων ἐσθίειν παρ᾽ αὐτοῖς κατὰ τοὺς πατρίους νόμους τοὺς δεσπότας σίκλον καὶ ἥμισυ αὐτοῖς ἀναφέρειν, ἀνθρώπου δὲ πρωτοτόκου πέντε σίκλους, εἶναι δὲ ἀπαρχὰς αὐτοῖς καὶ τῆς τῶν προβάτων κουρᾶς, τούς τε πέττοντας τὸν σῖτον καὶ ἀρτοποιουμένους τῶν πεμμάτων αὐτοῖς τινα χορηγεῖν. 72 ὅσοι δ᾽ ἂν αὑτοὺς καθιερῶσιν εὐχὴν πεποιημένοι, Ναζιραῖοι δὲ οὗτοι καλοῦνται, κομῶντες καὶ οἶνον οὐ προσφερόμενοι, τούτους δὲ ὅταν τὰς τρίχας ἀφιερῶσιν ἐπὶ θυσίᾳ τε δρῶσι τὰς κουρὰς νέμεσθαι πρὸς τοὺς ἱερέας.

Josephus, Antiquities 5.8.1-12 §275-317: Samson. [Link.]

Josephus, Antiquities 5.10.1-4 §338-351: Samuel. [Link.]

Josephus, Antiquities 19.6.1 §292-294: 292 Now Claudius Caesar, by these decrees of his which were sent to Alexandria, and to all the habitable earth, made known what opinion he had of the Jews. So he soon sent Agrippa away to take his kingdom, now he was advanced to a more illustrious dignity than before, and sent letters to the presidents and procurators of the provinces that they should treat him very kindly. 293 Accordingly, he returned in haste, as was likely he would, now lie returned in much greater prosperity than he had before. He also came to Jerusalem, and offered all the sacrifices that belonged to him, and omitted nothing which the law required; 294 on which account he ordained that many of the Nazirites should have their heads shorn. And for the golden chain which had been given him by Caius, of equal weight with that iron chain wherewith his royal hands had been bound, he hung it up within the limits of the temple, over the treasury, 2 that it might be a memorial of the severe fate he had lain under, and a testimony of his change for the better; that it might be a demonstration how the greatest prosperity may have a fall, and that God sometimes raises up what is fallen down. / 292 Τούτοις μὲν δὴ τοῖς διατάγμασιν εἰς Ἀλεξάνδρειάν τε καὶ τὴν οἰκουμένην πᾶσαν ἀποσταλεῖσιν ἐδήλωσεν ἣν περὶ Ἰουδαίων ἔχοι γνώμην Κλαύδιος Καῖσαρ: αὐτίκα δὲ Ἀγρίππαν κομιούμενον τὴν βασιλείαν ἐπὶ τιμαῖς λαμπροτέραις ἐξέπεμψε τοῖς ἐπὶ τῶν ἐπαρχιῶν ἡγεμόσιν καὶ τοῖς ἐπιτρόποις διὰ γραμμάτων ἐπιστείλας ἐράσμιον ἄγειν αὐτόν. 293 ὁ δ᾽, ὡς εἰκὸς ἦν τὸν ἐπὶ κρείττοσιν τύχαις ἀνερχόμενον, μετὰ τάχους ὑπέστρεψεν, εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα δ᾽ ἐλθὼν χαριστηρίους ἐξεπλήρωσε θυσίας οὐδὲν τῶν κατὰ νόμον παραλιπών. 294 διὸ καὶ Ναζιραίων ξυρᾶσθαι διέταξε μάλα συχνούς, τὴν δὲ χρυσῆν ἅλυσιν τὴν δοθεῖσαν αὐτῷ ὑπὸ Γαΐου ἰσόσταθμον τῇ σιδηρᾷ, ᾗ τὰς ἡγεμονίδας χεῖρας ἐδέθη, τῆς στυγνῆς εἶναι τύχης ὑπόμνημα καὶ τῆς ἐπὶ τὰ κρείττω μαρτυρίαν μεταβολῆς τῶν ἱερῶν ἐντὸς ἀνεκρέμασεν περιβόλων ὑπὲρ τὸ γαζοφυλάκιον, ἵν᾽ ᾖ δεῖγμα καὶ τοῦ τὰ μεγάλα δύνασθαί ποτε πεσεῖν καὶ τοῦ τὸν θεὸν ἐγείρειν τὰ πεπτωκότα.

Josephus, Antiquities 20.2.1-5 §17-53: Helena. [Link.]

Moses of Chorene, History of Armenia, summary of chapter 35 in volume 8 of the ANF series (more about Helena):

Sanadroug, being on the throne, raises troops with the help of the brave Pacradouni and Ardzrouni, who had exalted him, and goes to wage war upon the children of Abgar, to make him self master of the whole kingdom. Whilst Sanadroug was occupied with these affairs, as if by an effect of divine providence vengeance was taken for the death of Attæus; for a marble column which the son of Abgar was having erected at Edessa, on the summit of his palace, while he was underneath to direct the work, escaped from the hands of the workmen, fell upon him and crushed his feet.

Immediately there came a message from the inhabitants of the town, asking Sanadroug for a treaty by which he should engage not to disturb them in the exercise of the Christian religion, in consideration of which, they would give up the town and the king’s treasures. Sanadroug promised, but in the end violated his oath. Sanadroug put all the children of the house of Abgar to the edge of the sword, with the exception of the daughters, whom he withdrew from the town to place them in the canton of Hachdiank. As to the first of Abgar’s wives, named Helena, he sent her to his town at Kharan, and left to her the sovereignty of the whole of Mesopotamia, in remembrance of the benefits he had received from Abgar by Helena’s means.

Helena, pious like her husband Abgar, did not wish to live in the midst of idolaters; she went away to Jerusalem in the time of Claudius, during the famine which Agabus had predicted; with all her treasures she bought in Egypt an immense quantity of corn, which she distributed amongst the poor, a fact to which Josephus testifies. Helena’s tomb, a truly remarkable one, is still to be seen before the gate of Jerusalem.


Does Plutarch refer obliquely to the Nazirite vow as if it were a punishment??

Plutarch, Quaestiones Convivales 4.6.2: 2 .... Nor would it be absurd were any one to say that the name Sabbath [σάββατον] was imposed upon this feast from the agitation and excitement [σόβησιν] which the priests of Bacchus indulged in. The Jews themselves testify no less; for when they keep the Sabbath they invite one another to drink till they are drunk; or, if they chance to be hindered by some more weighty business, it is the fashion at least to taste the wine. Some perhaps may surmise that these are mere conjectures. But there are other arguments which will clearly evince the truth of what I assert. The first may be drawn from their High Priest, who on holidays enters their temple with his miter on, arrayed in a skin of a hind embroidered with gold, wearing buskins, and a coat hanging down to his ankles; besides, he has a great many little bells hanging at his garment which make a noise as he walks the streets. So in the nightly ceremonies of Bacchus, as the fashion is amongst us, they make use of musical instruments, and call the nurses of the god χαλκοδρυσται. High up on the wall of their temple is a representation of the thyrsus and timbrels, which surely can belong to no other God than Bacchus. Moreover, they are forbidden the use of honey in their sacrifices, because they suppose that a mixture of honey corrupts and deadens the wine. And honey was used for sacrificing in former days, and with it the ancients were wont to make themselves drunk, before the vine was known. And at this day barbarous people who want wine drink metheglin, allaying the sweetness of the honey by bitter roots, much of the taste of our wine. The Greeks offered to their gods these sober offerings, or honey offerings, as they called them, because that honey was of a nature quite contrary to wine. But this is no inconsiderable argument that Bacchus was worshipped by the Jews in that, amongst other kinds of punishment, that was most remarkably odious by which malefactors were forbidden the use of wine for as long a time as the judge was pleased to prescribe. Those thus punished.... [Book 4 cuts off at this point.]

Might be a stretch.

There are other references to vows or conditions which may or may not be Nazirite:

Luke 1.8-17: 8 Now it happened that while he was performing his priestly service before God in the appointed order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priestly office, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were in prayer outside at the hour of the incense offering. 11 And an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the altar of incense. 12 Zacharias was troubled when he saw the angel, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will call his name John. 14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. 17 It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children’ (= Malachi 4.6), and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” [Also, Mary breaks out into song in Luke 1.46-51 after learning she would impossibly give birth (as a virgin) to a child, just as Hannah breaks into song in 1 Samuel 2.1-10 after improbably giving birth (as a barren woman) to Samuel, whose upbringing she has already painted in Nazirite terms in 1 Samuel 1.9-11.]

Acts 18.18: 18 Paul, having remained many days longer, took leave of the brethren and put out to sea for Syria, and with him were Priscilla and Aquila. In Cenchrea he had his hair cut, for he was keeping a vow.

Christophe Lemardelé, “The Hebrew Word נזָיִר in Greek: From the Septuagint to the Christian Authors,” page 3: 3 .... When Paul made a vow in the port of Corinth, cutting his hair on this occasion (Acts 18,18), it was neither to pronounce a Nazirite vow as we usually think, nor to fulfill this type of vow. Indeed, according to the Jewish rite, the shaving had to be made only in the Jerusalem temple, accompanied by three offerings of fulfillment (Num 6,13-20). Moreover, Paul did not cut his hair like a Nazirite, as is clear from the verb keirô (instead of xuraomai): he did not actually shave his hair. More likely, Paul pronounced an ordinary vow to have a good crossing, as other travelers who made spontaneous vows in the boat during a tempest.*

* See the Roman poets Juvenal, Satires 12, 81-82, and Petronius, Satyricon 103-105; or, in the Bible, Jonah 1,15- 16: “So they [the sailors] picked Jonah up and threw him into the sea; and the sea ceased from its raging. Then the men feared Yhwh even more, and they offered a sacrifice to Yhwh and made vows.” In Corinth, the goddess Isis received public vows and was offered a boat for the sake of having a good navigation (Apuleius, Metamorphoses 11, 16-17).

Acts 21.17-26: 17 After we arrived in Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. 18 And the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 After he had greeted them, he began to relate one by one the things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it they began glorifying God; and they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law; 21 and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. 22 What, then, is to be done? They will certainly hear that you have come. 23 Therefore do this that we tell you. We have four men who are under a vow; 24 take them and purify yourself along with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads; and all will know that there is nothing to the things which they have been told about you, but that you yourself also walk orderly, keeping the Law. 25 But concerning the Gentiles who have believed, we wrote, having decided that they should abstain from meat sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from fornication.” 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, purifying himself along with them, went into the temple giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them.

Pseudo-Clement of Rome, Epistle 2 on Virginity 9.1: 1 Have you not heard concerning Samson the Nazarite [Σαμψὼν τοῦ Ναζιραίου], “with whom was the Spirit of the Lord” (= Judges 13.25), the man of great strength? And a woman brought such a man to ruin with her wretched flesh and her vile passion.

Jerome, On Famous Men 2: 2 Evangelium quoque quod appellatur secundum Hebraeos, et a me nuper in Graecum Latinumque sermonem translatum est, quo et Origenes saepe utitur, post resurrectionem salvatoris refert: «Dominus autem cum dedisset sindonem servo sacerdotis, ivit ad Iacobum et apparuit ei. iuraverat enim Iacobus se non comesturum panem ab illa hora quia biberat calicem domini donec videret eum resurgentem a dormientibus». Rursusque post paululum: «Afferte, ait dominus, mensam et panem». statimque additur: «Tulit panem et benedixit, ac fregit, et dedit Iacobo iusto, et dixit ei: Frater mi, comede panem tuum, quia resurrexit filius hominis a dormientibus». / Also the gospel which is named according to the Hebrews, and which was recently translated by me into Greek and Latin, which also Origen often used, refers after the resurrection of the savior: “But the Lord, when he had given the shroud to the servant of the priest, went to James and appeared to him. James indeed had sworn that he would not eat bread from that hour when he had drunk the chalice of the Lord until he saw him risen from among those who sleep.” And again after a little bit: “Bear forth, said the Lord, a table and bread.” And immediately is added: “He bore bread and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to James the just, and said to him: My brother, eat your bread, because the son of man has resurrected from among those who sleep.”

My original reason for tracking down references to the Rechabites was, because of the reference to the Rechabites in Hegesippus' account of the martyrdom of James (quoted in full on that thread), to fill out information about the Nazirite vow, which the Rechabite lifestyle resembles in some particulars.

An entire tractate of the rabbinical literature is dedicated to the Nazirite vow; I quote only a handful of interesting references:

Mishnah, Nazir 2.3: 3 If a cup of wine is poured for a man and he says, “I am a Nazirite [נָזִיר] from it,” he becomes a Nazirite [נָזִיר]. It once happened that a cup of wine was poured for a woman who was inebriated and she said, “I am a Naziritess [נְזִירָה] from it.” The Sages said that her intention was only to prohibit it upon herself as a korbon [קָרְבָּן].

Mishnah, Nazir 3.6: 6 If one takes upon himself a longterm Naziriteship [נְזִירוּת], and completes it, and then comes to the Land, the House of Shammai says, “He is a Nazirite [נָזִיר] for thirty days,” but the House of Hillel says, “He is a Nazirite [נָזִיר] as if from the beginning again.” It once happened with Queen Helena that when her son went out for war she said, “If my son returns from the war in peace I shall be a Naziritess [נְזִירָה] for seven years.” When her son returned she was a Naziritess [נְזִירָה] for seven years. At the end of those seven years she went up to the Land, and the House of Hillel ruled that she must be a Naziritess [נְזִירָה] for another seven years. At the end of those seven years she became defiled, and so she was a Naziritess [נְזִירָה] for a total of twenty-one years. Rabbi Yehudah said, “She was a Naziritess [נְזִירָה] for only fourteen years.”

Babylonian Talmud, Nazir 20a: 20a .... «It once happened with Queen Helena,» and the rest. Did she contract impurity, in which case the statement concurs with the House of Shammai, or does he deny that she contracted impurity, in which case the statement concurs with the House of Hillel? Come and hear. «She went up to the Land, and the House of Hillel ruled that she must be a Naziritess [נזירה] for another seven years,» and the rest. Now if you assume that she did contract impurity, and that he concurs with the House of Shammai, then the text should read, “R. Judah said, ‘She was a Naziritess [נזירה] for fourteen years and thirty days,’” instead of fourteen years! It has also been taught in the same sense that R. Judah, quoting R. Eliezer, said that the implication of the verse, “And this is the Law of the Nazirite [תורת הנזיר]” (= Numbers 6.13), is that the Torah says that, if he contracts ritual defilement on the day of his fulfilment, he is to be given the Law of a Nazirite [תורת נזיר].

There is much more in the Talmud, naturally, since it comments on the Mishnah.
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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Of Nazirites & Naṣoraeans.

Post by Ben C. Smith »

Zz Ζζ ז (Zeta/Zayin) — Pliny, the Nazerini, Alexander Polyhistor, and Nazaratus

I freely admit that I am not sure what to make of Pliny yet with regard to a certain people group he reports as living in Syria:

Pliny, Natural History 5.19 §81-82 (English translation slightly formatted from John Bostock): 81 We must now speak of the interior of Syria. Coele Syria has the town of Apamea,1 divided by the river Marsyas from the Tetrarchy of the Nazerini;2 Bambyx, the other name of which is Hierapolis,3 but by the Syrians called Mabog,4 (here the monster Atargatis,5 called Derceto by the Greeks, is worshipped); and the place called Chalcis on the Belus, from which the region of Chalcidene, the most fertile part of Syria, takes its name. We here find also Cyrrhestice, with Cyrrhum, the Gazatae, the Gindareni, the Gabeni, the two Tetrarchies called Granucomatae, the Emeseni, the Hylatae, the nation of the Ituraei, and a branch of them, the people called the Baetarreni; the Mariamitani, 82 the Tetrarchy known as Mammisea, Paradisus, Pagrae, the Pinaritae, two cities called Seleucia, besides the one already mentioned, the one Seleucia on the Euphrates, and the other Seleucia on the Belus, and the Cardytenses. The remaining part of Syria (except those parts which will be spoken of in conjunction with the Euphrates) contains the Arethusii, the Beroeenses, and the Epiphanaeenses; and on the east, the Laodiceni, who are called the Laodiceni on the Libanus, the Leucadii, and the Larissaei, besides seventeen other Tetrarchies, divided into kingdoms and bearing barbarous names. / 81 Nunc interiora dicantur. Coele habet Apameam, Marsya amne divisam a Nazerinorum tetrarchia, Bambycen, quae alio nomine Hierapolis vocatur, Syris vero Mabog — ibi prodigiosa Atargatis, Graecis autem Derceto dicta, colitur — Chalcidem cognominatam Ad Belum, unde regio Chalcidena fertilissima Syriae, et inde Cyrresticae Cyrrum, Gazetas, Gindarenos, Gabenos, tetrarchias duas quae Granucomatitae vocantur, Hemesenos, Hylatas, Ituraeorum gentem et qui ex his Baethaemi vocantur, Mariamnitanos, 82 tetrarchiam quae Mammisea appellatur, Paradisum, Pagras, Penelenitas, Seleucias praeter iam dictam duas, quae Ad Euphraten et quae Ad Belum vocantur, Tardytenses. reliqua autem Syria habet, exceptis quae cum Euphrate dicentur, Arethusios, Beroeenses, Epiphanenses ad Orontem, Laodicenos, qui Ad Libanum cognominantur, Leucadios, Larisaeos, praeter tetrarchias in regna discriptas barbaris nominibus XVII.

1 Now Kulat-el-Mudik, situate in the valley of the Orontes, and capital of the province of Apamene. It was fortified and enlarged by Seleucus Nicator, who gave it its name, after his wife Apama. It also bore the Macedonian name of Pella. It was situate on a hill, and was so far surrounded by the windings of the Orontes, as to become a peninsula, whence its name of Chersonesus. Very extensive ruins of this place still exist.

2 It is suggested that these are the Phylarchi Arabes of Strabo, now called the Nosairis, who were situate to the east of Apamea. The river Marsyas here mentioned was a small tributary of the Orontes, into which it falls on the east side, near Apamea.

3 This was situate in Cyrrhestica, in Syria, on the high road from Antioch to Mesopotamia, twenty-four miles to the west of the Euphrates, and thirty-six to the south-west of Zeugma; two and a half days’ journey from Beroea, and five from Antioch. It obtained its Greek name of the “Sacred City” from Seleucus Nicator, owing to its being the chief seat of the worship of the Syrian goddess Astarte. Its ruins were first discovered by Maundrell.

4 In the former editions it is “Magog;” but Sillig’s reading of “Mabog” is correct, and corresponds with the Oriental forms of Munbedj, Manbesja, Manbesjun, Menba, Manba, Manbegj, and the modern name, Kara Bambuche, or Buguk Munbedj.

5 Astarte, the semi-fish goddess.

Pliny, Natural History 5.21 §86a: 86a Arabia, above mentioned, has the cities of Edessa,1 formerly called Antiochia, and, from the name of its fountain, Callirhoë,2 and Carrhae,3 memorable for the defeat of Crassus there.

1 In the district of Osrhoëne, in the northern part of Mesopotamia. It was situate on the Syrtus, now the Daisan, a small tributary of the Euphrates. Pliny speaks rather loosely when he places it in Arabia. It is supposed that it bore the name of Antiochia during the reign of the Syrian king, Antiochus IV. The modern town of Orfahor Uufah is supposed to represent its site.

2 “The beautiful stream.” It is generally supposed that this was another name of Edessa.

3 Supposed to be the Haran, or Charan, of the Old Testament. It was here, as alluded to by Pliny, that Crassus was defeated and slain by the Parthian general, Surena. It was situate in Osroëne, in Mesopotamia, and not far from Edessa. According to Stephanus, it had its name from Carrha, a river of Syria, and was celebrated in ancient times for its temple of Luna, or Lunus.

Plutarch, Life of Antony 37.1: 1 And now Phraates put Hyrodes his father to death and took possession of his kingdom, other Parthians ran away in great numbers, and particularly Monaeses, a man of distinction and power, who came in flight to Antony. Antony likened the fortunes of the fugitive to those of Themistocles, compared his own abundant resources and magnanimity to those of the Persian kings, and gave him three cities, Larissa, Arethusa, and Hierapolis, which used to be called Bambycé. / 1 Ἐπεὶ δὲ Φραάτου κτείναντος Ὀρώδην τὸν πατέρα καὶ τὴν βασιλείαν κατασχόντος, ἄλλοι τε Πάρθων ἀπεδίδρασκον οὐκ ὀλίγοι, καὶ Μοναίσης ἀνὴρ ἐπιφανὴς καὶ δυνατὸς ἧκε φεύγων πρὸς Ἀντώνιον, τὰς μὲν ἐκείνου τύχας ταῖς Θεμιστοκλέους εἰκάσας, περιουσίαν δὲ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ καὶ μεγαλοφροσύνην τοῖς Περσῶν βασιλεῦσι παραβαλών, ἐδωρήσατο τρεῖς πόλεις αὐτῷ, Λάρισσαν καὶ Ἀρέθουσαν καὶ Ἱερὰν πόλιν ἣν Βαμβύκην πρότερον ἐκάλουν.

The people group at issue would be, of course, the Tetrarchy of the Nazerini. We can compare and contrast Pliny's treatment of this geographical area with that of Strabo (who, however, does not mention the Nazerini):

Strabo, Geography 2.5.32 (English translation slightly formatted from H. C. Hamilton & W. Falconer): 32 Next these on this side the Taurus are the mountaineers of Paropamisus, and various tribes of Parthians, Medes, Armenians, Cilicians, with the Lycaonians, and Pisidians. After these mountaineers come the people dwelling beyond the Taurus. First amongst these is India, a nation greater and more flourishing than any other; they extend as far as the Eastern Sea and the southern part of the Atlantic. In the most southerly part of this sea opposite to India is situated the island of Taprobana, which is not less than Britain. Beyond India to the west, and leaving the mountains on the right, is a vast region, miserably inhabited, on account of the sterility of its soil, by men of different races, who are absolutely in a savage state. They are named Arians, and extend from the mountains to Gedrosia and Carmania. Beyond these towards the sea are the Persians, the Susians, and the Babylonians, situated along the Persian Gulf, besides several smaller neighbouring states. On the side of the mountains and amidst the mountains are the Parthians, the Medes, the Armenians, and the nations adjoining these, together with Mesopotamia. Beyond Mesopotamia are the countries on this side the Euphrates; videlicet, the whole of Arabia Felix, bounded by the entire Arabian and Persian Gulfs, together with the country of the Scenitae and the Phylarchi, who are situated along the Euphrates and in Syria. Beyond the Arabian Gulf and as far as the Nile dwell the Ethiopians and Arabians, and next these the Egyptians, Syrians, and Cilicians, both those styled Trachiotae and others besides, and last of all the Pamphylians. / 32 ἐφεξῆς δὲ τοῖς ἐντὸς τοῦ Ταύρου οἵ τε τὰ ὄρη κατέχοντες Παροπαμισάδαι καὶ τὰ Παρθυαίων τε καὶ Μήδων καὶ Ἀρμενίων καὶ Κιλίκων ἔθνη καὶ Κατάονες καὶ Πισίδαι. μετὰ δὲ τοὺς ὀρείους ἐστὶ τὰ ἐκτὸς τοῦ Ταύρου. πρώτη δ᾽ ἐστὶ τούτων ἡ Ἰνδική, ἔθνος μέγιστον τῶν πάντων καὶ εὐδαιμονέστατον, τελευτῶν πρός τε τὴν ἑῴαν θάλατταν καὶ τὴν νοτίαν τῆς Ἀτλαντικῆς. ἐν δὲ τῇ νοτίᾳ ταύτῃ θαλάττῃ πρόκειται τῆς Ἰνδικῆς νῆσος οὐκ ἐλάττων τῆς Βρεττανικῆς ἡ Ταπροβάνη· μετὰ δὲ τὴν Ἰνδικὴν ἐπὶ τὰ ἑσπέρια νεύουσιν, ἐν δεξιᾷ δ᾽ ἔχουσι τὰ ὄρη χώρα ἐστὶ συχνή, φαύλως οἰκουμένη διὰ λυπρότητα ὑπ᾽ ἀνθρώπων τελέως βαρβάρων οὐχ ὁμοεθνῶν· καλοῦσι δ᾽ Ἀριανούς, ἀπὸ τῶν ὀρῶν διατείνοντας μέχρι Γεδρωσίας καὶ Καρμανίας. ἑξῆς δέ εἰσι πρὸς μὲν τῇ θαλάττῃ Πέρσαι καὶ Σούσιοι καὶ Βαβυλώνιοι καθήκοντες ἐπὶ τὴν κατὰ Πέρσας θάλατταν καὶ τὰ περιοικοῦντα τούτους ἔθνη μικρά, πρὸς δὲ τοῖς ὄρεσιν ἢ ἐν αὐτοῖς τοῖς ὄρεσι Παρθυαῖοι καὶ Μῆδοι καὶ Ἀρμένιοι καὶ τὰ τούτοις πρόσχωρα ἔθνη καὶ ἡ Μεσοποταμία. μετὰ δὲ τὴν Μεσοποταμίαν τὰ ἐντὸς Εὐφράτου· ταῦτα δ᾽ ἐστὶν ἥ τε εὐδαίμων Ἀραβία πᾶσα, ἀφοριζομένη τῷ τε Ἀραβίῳ κόλπῳ παντὶ καὶ τῷ Περσικῷ, καὶ ὅσην οἱ Σκηνῖται καὶ οἱ Φύλαρχοι κατέχουσιν οἱ ἐπὶ τὸν Εὐφράτην καθήκοντες καὶ τὴν Συρίαν· εἶθ᾽ οἱ πέραν τοῦ Ἀραβίου κόλπου μέχρι Νείλου, Αἰθίοπές τε καὶ Ἄραβες, καὶ οἱ μετ᾽ αὐτοὺς Αἰγύπτιοι καὶ Σύροι καὶ Κίλικες οἵ τε ἄλλοι καὶ οἱ Τραχειῶται λεγόμενοι, τελευταῖοι δὲ Πάμφυλοι.

Strabo, Geography 16.1.27 (English translation slightly formatted from H. C. Hamilton & W. Falconer): 27 Between the Tigris and the Euphrates flows a river, called Basileios, and about Anthemusia another called the Aborrhas. The road for merchants going from Syria to Seleuceia and Babylon lies through the country of the Scenitae, {now called Malii,} and through the desert belonging to their territory. The Euphrates is crossed in the latitude of Anthemusia, a place in Mesopotamia. Above the river, at the distance of four schoeni, is Bambyce, which is called by the names of Edessa and Hierapolis, where the Syrian goddess Atargatis is worshipped. After crossing the river, the road lies through a desert country on the borders of Babylonia to Scenae, a considerable city, situated on the banks of a canal. From the passage across the river to Scenae is a journey of five and twenty days. There are owners of camels, who keep resting places, which are well supplied with water from cisterns, or transported from a distance. The Scenitae exact a moderate tribute from merchants, but do not molest them: the merchants, therefore, avoid the country on the banks of the river, and risk a journey through the desert, leaving the river on the right hand at a distance of nearly three days' march. For the chiefs of the tribes living on both banks of the river, who occupy not indeed a fertile territory, yet one less sterile than the rest (of the country), are settled in the midst of their own peculiar domains, and each exacts a tribute of no moderate amount for himself. And it is difficult among so large a body of people, and of such daring habits, to establish any common standard of tribute advantageous to the merchant. Scene is distant from Seleuceia by eighteen schoeni. / 27 μεταξὺ δὲ τοῦ Εὐφράτου καὶ τοῦ Τίγριος ῥεῖ καὶ ἄλλος ποταμὸς Βασίλειος καλούμενος, καὶ περὶ τὴν Ἀνθεμουσίαν ἄλλος Ἀβόρρας· διὰ δὲ τῶν Σκηνιτῶν, {ὑπὸ τῶν Μαλίων νυνὶ λεγομένων,} καὶ τῆς ἐκείνων ἐρημίας ἡ ὁδὸς τοῖς ἐκ τῆς Συρίας εἰς Σελεύκειαν καὶ Βαβυλῶνα ἐμπορευομένοις ἐστίν. ἡ μὲν οὖν διάβασις τοῦ Εὐφράτου κατὰ τὴν Ἀνθεμουσίαν ἐστὶν αὐτοῖς, τόπον τῆς Μεσοποταμίας· ὑπέρκειται δὲ τοῦ ποταμοῦ σχοίνους τέτταρας διέχουσα ἡ Βαμβύκη, ἣν καὶ Ἔδεσσαν καὶ Ἱερὰν πόλιν καλοῦσιν, ἐν ᾗ τιμῶσι τὴν Συρίαν θεὸν τὴν Ἀταργάτιν. διαβάντων δὲ ἡ ὁδός ἐστι διὰ τῆς ἐρήμου ἐπὶ τοὺς τῆς Βαβυλωνίας ὅρους μέχρι Σκηνῶν, ἀξιολόγου πόλεως ἐπί τινος διώρυγος ἱδρυμένης. ἔστι δ᾽ ἀπὸ τῆς διαβάσεως μέχρι Σκηνῶν ἡμερῶν πέντε καὶ εἴκοσιν ὁδός. καμηλῖται δ᾽ εἰσί, καταγωγὰς ἔχοντες τοτὲ μὲν ὑδρείων εὐπόρους τῶν λακκαίων τὸ πλέον, τοτὲ δ᾽ ἐπακτοῖς χρώμενοι τοῖς ὕδασι. παρέχουσι δ᾽ αὐτοῖς οἱ Σκηνῖται τήν τε εἰρήνην καὶ τὴν μετριότητα τῆς τῶν τελῶν πράξεως, ἧς χάριν φεύγοντες τὴν παραποταμίαν διὰ τῆς ἐρήμου παραβάλλονται, καταλιπόντες ἐν δεξιᾷ τὸν ποταμὸν ἡμερῶν σχεδόν τι τριῶν ὁδόν. οἱ γὰρ παροικοῦντες ἑκατέρωθεν τὸν ποταμὸν φύλαρχοι, χώραν οὐκ εὔπορον ἔχοντες, ἧττον δὲ ἄπορον νεμόμενοι, δυναστείαν ἕκαστος ἰδίᾳ περιβεβλημένος ἴδιον καὶ τελώνιον ἔχει, καὶ τοῦτ᾽ οὐ μέτριον. χαλεπὸν γὰρ ἐν τοῖς τοσούτοις καὶ τούτοις αὐθάδεσι κοινὸν ἀφορισθῆναι μέτρον τὸ τῷ ἐμπόρῳ λυσιτελές. διέχουσι δὲ τῆς Σελευκείας αἱ Σκηναὶ σχοίνους ὀκτωκαίδεκα.

A map might help (and I have underlined many of the place names mentioned by Strabo or by Pliny):

Mesopotamia & Syria Resized.png
Mesopotamia & Syria Resized.png (984.74 KiB) Viewed 14044 times

Strabo writes of Bambyce, which is called by the names of Edessa (probably a mistake) and Hierapolis, where the Syrian goddess Atargatis is worshipped. Pliny writes of Apamea, divided by the river Marsyas from the Tetrarchy of the Nazerini, and also of Bambyx, the other name of which is Hierapolis, but by the Syrians called Mabog, where the monster Atargatis, called Derceto by the Greeks, is worshipped. We are obviously in the same basic area with both authors.

Ray A. Pritz writes that Pliny cannot mean anything to do with Christianity, since his information comes from Marcus Agrippa and is thus too early. I am not willing to let the matter rest at that, since I am willing to countenance that the standard picture of Christian origins may be skewed, and it is theoretically possible that some group which lent its name to the Christian movement may predate the time frame which we associate Jesus the Nazarene. But Pritz does make some good points about being too hasty to equate various groups, and I will quote both him and two previous authors whom he references:

Ray A. Pritz, Nazarene Jewish Christianity, pages 17-18:

17 .... While treating the name of the sect, we may deal here with a short notice by Pliny the Eider which has caused some confusion among scholars. In his Historia Naturalis, Book V, he says: Nunc interiora dicantur. Coele habet Apameam Marysa amne divisam a Nazerinorum tetrarchia, Bambycen quae alio nomino Hierapolis vocatur, Syris vero Mabog. This was written before 77 A.D., when the work was dedicated to Titus. The similarity of the name with the Nazareni has led many to conclude, erroneously, that this is an early (perhaps the earliest) witness to Christians (or Nazarenes) by a pagan writer. Other than this, be it noted, there is no pagan notice of Nazarenes.

The area described is quite specifically located by Pliny. It is south of Antioch and east of Laodicea (Latakiya) on the River Marysas (Orontes) below the mountains known today as Jebel el Ansariye (a name which may preserve a memory of this sect). The town of Apamea was a bishopric in the time of Sozomen and an archbishopric in the medieval period. A fortress was erected there during the first Crusade. Today the region is inhabited by the Nuṣairi Moslem sect (which believes that women will not be resurrected, since they do not have souls).

If to the Nazerini and Nuṣairi and Nazoraioi/Nazareni we add the Nasaraioi 18 of Epiphanius and the Nazorei of Filaster, we have all the ingredients for a scholastic free-for-all.

The confusions may have started quite early. At the turn of this century, R. Dussaud noted a passage in the Ecclesiastical History of Sozomen (VII 15) in which he teIls of some “Galileans” who helped the pagans of Apamea against the local bishop and the Christians. Dussaud rightly called into question the likelihood that the Galileans — that is, Jewish Christians — would side with the pagans in a dispute over the keeping of idols, and he suggested that the people referred to were “certainly either Nuṣairi or Nazerini, whom Sozomen has confused with the Nazarenes.” Sozomen’s source here is unknown. Dussaud further suggested that the writer Greg. Aboulfaradj (Chron. Syr. I 173) in the year 891 confused the Nuṣairi with the Mandaeans (נּאצורייא Natzoraia) and was followed by others.

Can Pliny’s Nazerini be early Christians? The answer depends very much on the identification of his sources, and on this basis the answer must be an unequivocal No. It is generally acknowledged that Pliny drew heavily on official records and most likely on those drawn up for Augustus by Marcus Agrippa (d. 12 B.C.).* Jones has shown that this survey was accomplished between 30 and 20 B.C. Any connection between the Nazerini and the Nazareni must, therefore, be ruled out, and we must not attempt to line this up with Epiphanius’ Nazoraioi. One may, however, be allowed to see the Nazerini as the ancestors of today’s Nuṣairi, the inhabitants of the ethnic region captured some seven centuries later by the Moslems.

* Pritz cites Benjamin W. Bacon and A. H. M. Jones, the relevant passages from which are given here below, right after I quote the passage from Sozomen to which he refers.

Sozomen, History of the Church 7.15.11-15: 11 There were still pagans in many cities, who contended zealously in behalf of their temples; as, for instance, the inhabitants of Petraea and of Areopolis, in Arabia; of Raphi and Gaza, in Palestine; of Heriopolis in Phoenicia; 12 and of Apamea, on the river Axius, in Syria [Σύρων δὲ μάλιστα οἱ τοῦ νομοῦ Ἀπαμείας τῆς πρὸς τῷ Ἀξίῳ ποταμῷ]. I have been informed that the inhabitants of the last named city often armed Galilean men [Γαλιλαίων ἀνδρῶν] and the peasants of Lebanon in defense of their temples; and that at last, they even carried their audacity to such a height, as to slay a bishop named Marcellus. 13 This bishop had commanded the demolition of all the temples in the city and villages, under the supposition that it would not be easy otherwise for them to be converted from their former religion. Having heard that there was a very spacious temple at Aulon, a district of Apamea, he repaired there with a body of soldiers and gladiators. 14 He stationed himself at a distance from the scene of conflict, beyond the reach of the arrows; for he was afflicted with the gout, and was unable to fight, to pursue, or to flee. Whilst the soldiers and gladiators were engaged in the assault against the temple, some pagans, discovering that he was alone, hastened to the place where he was separated from the combat; they arose suddenly and seized him, and burnt him alive. 15 The perpetrators of this deed were not then known, but, in course of time, they were detected, and the sons of Marcellus determined upon avenging his death. The council of the province, however, prohibited them from executing this design, and declared that it was not just that the relatives or friends of Marcellus should seek to avenge his death; when they should rather return thanks to God for having accounted him worthy to die in such a cause.

Benjamin W. Bacon, Studies in Matthew, pages 163-164: 163-164 One other link remains connecting the factor N with the Nazarenes of northern Arabia. Epiphanius, a resident for many years of Syria, is explicit in distinguishing the Nazarene Christians of Aleppo, his contemporaries, from a pre-Christian sect of Nassoreans (Νασαραίοι), who would seem to correspond to the Nussairi of the mountain region between Antioch and Apamea of today. The spelling of the name differs as respects the second consonant, but Pliny, who is very accurate in his geographical data for this region, probably deriving them from official reports of Agrippa, also uses the z (Nazareni). He thus amply confirms the statement of Epiphanius as regards the pre-Christian origin of the Nussairi, at the same time introducing the same confusion of names which we find in the New Testament between Nazarenes (Ναζαρηνοί) and Nazoreans (Ναζωραῖοι). The former is uniform with Mk and seems to be understood to mean “native of Nazareth.” In Lk it occurs but once, viz., Lk 4:34, which transcribes unchanged Mk 1:24. Elsewhere in Lk-Acts we have uniformly “Nazorean,” as also in Mt and Jn. In Acts 24:5 the “Nazoreans” are referred to as a “sect” (αἷρεσις). But it is highly improbable that a sect should take its name from a village, least of all the believers in the Galilean Messiah, since notoriously his fellow-townsmen at Nazareth had disbelieved. Had the Christians received their designation from the reputed birthplace of their Master they would have become known as “Bethlehemites,” or from the region whence his disciples were recruited “Galileans.” The connection of the term “Nazarene” (Ναζωραῖος) in Mt 2:23 with the village of Nazareth is therefore probably a mistake due to Mk’s use of the designation NafapT/ws as if it meant “native of Nazareth.” Perhaps this Ναζαρηνός should be counted as one more of the “Latinisms” for which Mk is noted. At all events we must look to Mk as the source of the mistaken derivation of Nazoreans from Nazareth, and regard the attempt of Rmt to explain how Jesus, though born in Bethlehem was “called a Nazorean,” as resting upon this Markan false etymology. [Link.]

A. H. M. Jones, The Cities of the Eastern Roman Provinces, pages 262-264: 262 Our knowledge of northern Syria at the beginning of the reign of Augustus is derived from the official lists of the time. These have been partly preserved, in a very mangled form, in Pliny. Pliny gives two lists, both arranged in alphabetical order, one of which he heads ‘Coele Syria’, the other ‘the rest of Syria’. The names in the second list are certainly all derived from an official register; they are all given in the ethnic. .... The alphabetical order is certainly Pliny’s, for he places Bambyce under B, whereas its official name was Hierapolis; the ‘Granucomatitae’ also are placed under G, although the name is probably a blunder for Tigranucometae; both the blunder and the place of the name in the list must then be Pliny’s. The distinction between Coele Syria and ‘the rest of Syria’ is also quite fantastic; the cities of the two lists are inextricably confused; Bambyce and Chalcis are in Coele, Beroea in ‘the rest’, Arethusa and Laodicea by Libanus are in ‘the rest’, Emesa in Coele. Furthermore, the list of Coele Syria contains some elements drawn from literary sources, such as, for instance, the notes on the Seleucid satrapies of Cyrrhestice and Chalcidene. The explanation of this muddle is probably as follows. Pliny had before him an official list of the reign of Augustus, headed ‘Syria’ simply, and various Greek literary sources, some of which used the term Coele Syria. Pliny made up a list of all the places which were placed in Coele Syria by the literary authorities; some of these were mentioned in the official list also, and these he put down sometimes in the form in which he found them in the official list, that is, in the ethnic, sometimes 263 in the literary form. Those names which he did not find in the literary sources, or which at any rate were not assigned in them to Coele Syria, he added as a separate list, ‘the rest of Syria’; ‘the rest of Syria’ therefore includes ‘seventeen tetrarchies with barbarian names’ which were naturally not noted in the literary sources. If this analysis is correct, the only names which certainly were from the official list are those in the list of ‘the rest of Syria’, and those given in the ethnic in the list of Coele Syria; other names in the Coele Syria list must be judged on their merits; they may have occurred in both the official and literary sources, or only in the literary. .... 264 .... In addition to these names Pliny quotes from the official register many others which, to the best of our knowledge, never were cities. Such are the Gazetae, the Gindareni, the Gabeni, the Hylatae, the Penelenitae, the Tardytenses. He also mentions besides the seventeen unnamed tetrarchies the tetrarchy of the Nazerini, two of the Tigranucometae (to accept the current emendation), and another called Mammisea. These are certainly from the official list; more doubtful are the races of the Ituraeans and their neighbours the Baethaemi, which may be derived from a literary source. It thus appears that northern Syria was by no means entirely occupied by the territories of the cities; a large area was occupied by village and tribal communities and small principalities. Unfortunately very few of these can be located definitely. Gindarus was a village between Antioch and Cyrrhus. The two tetrarchies of the Tigranocometae were perhaps the Arab tribes which Tigranes planted on the eastern slopes of mount Amanus. The tetrarchy of the Nazerini is stated by Pliny to have adjoined the territory of Apamea; the Nazerini must therefore be the ancestors of the modern Nusairi who inhabit the mountains behind Laodicea.

A. H. M. Jones, The Cities of the Eastern Roman Provinces, page 491: 491 It has long been recognized that Pliny derived much of his geographical information from the statistical survey of the empire carried out by Marcus Agrippa and Augustus. He explicitly acknowledges his debt for Italy only.

A. H. M. Jones, The Cities of the Eastern Roman Provinces, pages 495-496: 495 The official documents used by Pliny seem almost invariably to have been published by Augustus and Agrippa. In Italy Pliny states that he used Augustus’ survey. Internal evidence shows that the lists of the provinces which he used were at any rate considerably earlier than his own time. .... Of the official lists the majority can be dated to the 496 reign of Augustus. .... In Syria the item Hemeseni must date from before 20 B.C., for from that date till the reign of Vespasian Emesa was ruled by client princes of the Samsigeramid house.... The list of the toparchies of Judaea would best fit the period immediately following the deposition of Archelaus; it includes on the coast the toparchy of Joppa which had belonged to Archelaus’ ethnarchy, but not that of Jamnia which belonged to Salome. The only item of official information which must be post-Augustan is the number of the Lycian cities, for the Lycians were free till the reign of Claudius, and no official survey of Lycia would therefore have existed till then.

According to Bacon and especially Jones, then, it is probably safe to assume that the Nazerini belong to that part of Pliny's information which derives from Marcus Agrippa. Jones makes a good argument. All three of these authors (Pritz, Bacon, and Jones), however, wish to connect Agrippa's Nazerini with the modern Nuṣairi, or Alawites, who live in that basic region in Syria, and it is at this juncture that we hit something of a snag, since Muslim scholarship tends to dissociate the modern sect from the ancient Nazerini, whether implicitly or explicitly:

Mehmet Dalkiliç, “Nusayriyah: An Esoteric Living Religious Sect in the Secular Milieu of Turkish Republic,” in İstanbul Üniversitesi İlahiyat Fakültesi Dergisi 17 (2008), pages 50-51:

Nusayriyah, Middle Eastern religious group, is a Shi’ite sect founded by Muhamad b. Nusair al-Namiri (270/883) in 9th century. When the French occupied the region in 1920 they used the term Alawi for Nusairis. Historically they had been called Nusairis, Namiriya, or Ansariyya. Nusayri had become a term of abuse and they preferred to be called Alawis to show their reverence for Ali, the son-in-law of the prophet Muhamad. To avoid confusion, in this paper we used the historical term Nusayriyah or Nusairiya.


Regarding to the origin of the Nusayriyah title, there are various speculations. Some of them do not rely on the historical reality and are indeed fabricated. However, we can make a list like this: The name of Nusayriyah
  1. Comes from Nasrani, that is, Christian.
  2. Comes from Nazarini, that is, Christian in Latin.
  3. Comes from Nasuraya, that is, a town nearby Kufa, Iraq.
  4. Refers to the founder of the sect Muhammad b. Nusayr al-Numayri.
Among them, the one that refers to the name of the founder is well known. In fact, the followers of this sect are also named as Numeyris or Namiris. Regarding the reason for their name with this title, Ashari says: “It is reported that from Râfiziyya, the followers of al-Namiri and the sect who are called as Namiriyya believe that God is reincarnated in al-Namiri.” Ibn Nusayr claims that he was sent as a prophet by the tenth imam of Shiite-Imamiyya, Ali en-Nakî; by saying very radical ideas he advocates the faith of reincarnation. Furthermore, He claims that al-Naki is a God and he changes the rules of Islam.

Yaron Friedman, The Nuşayrī-‘Alawīs: An Introduction to the Religion, History, & Identity of the Leading Minority in Syria, pages 6-7: 6 The eponym of the Nusạyrī sect is Abū Shuʿayb Muḥammad ibn Nusạ yr al-ʿAbdī al-Bakrī al-Numayrī. His name refers to his lineage 7 from the northern Arab tribes of Banū Numayr of the ʿĀmir ibn Sạʿsạʿa (ibn Bakr) confederation. The Banū Numayr, who settled along the Euphrates, were important allies of the Banū Taghlib (Ḥamdanids in the tenth century). This tribal affiliation makes his sect’s name Numayriyya more favorable than Namīriyya , but more indications are needed. In some sources Ibn Nusạyr is called al-Basṛī, which indicates his place of living. We do not have information concerning the date of his death or his place of birth. Bakr may also refer to the name of his grandfather. Although he was called Abū Shuʿayb, we do not know if he had a son named Shuʿayb; there is information concerning only a son named Aḥmad in Shīʿī sources. It is possible that he had a son named Jaʿfar, because in one Nusạyrī source, he was also called Abū Jaʿfar. From the available sources, two figures can be drawn. For his followers, he was a charismatic leader with supernatural powers and for his rivals, a heretical imposter.

Encyclopaedia of Islam, volume 8 (Ned-Sam), pages 145-146: 145-146 NUŞAYRIYYA, a Shīˤī sect widely dispersed in western Syria and in the south-east of present day Turkey; the only branch of extreme (ghuluww) Kūfan Shīˤism which has survived into the contemporary period. .... Pliny (Hist. nat., v, 81) mentions a Nazerinorum tetrarchia in Coelesyria, situated opposite Apameia, beyond the river Marsyas (not identified; probably the right-hand tributary of the Orontes passing to the east of the town), but this name is evidently not related to that of the sect. The Nuşayriyya themselves derive the name from that of their eponym Ibn Nuşayr, which would appear to be correct. In Arab-Islamic texts, the name is not attested in Syria before the establishment of the sect at al-Lа̄dhiḳiyya in the 5th/11th century.

Wikipedia, Ibn Nuṣayr: Abū Shuʿayb Muḥammad ibn Nuṣayr al-Numayri... was a disciple of the tenth Twelver Imam, Ali al‐Hadi and of the eleventh Twelver Imam, Hasan al‐Askari, and founder of the Alawites. [Link.]

Light on the Nusayri-‘Alawi: According to Nuṣayri sources, ibn Nuṣayr (whose full name was Abū Shuʿayb Muḥammad ibn Nusạyr al-ʿAbdī al-Bakrī al-Numayrī) was the Bab and the Ism of the tenth and eleventh Imāms, ‘Alī al-Hādī and al-Ḥasan al-‘Askarī, with whom he was in contact. The Nuṣayrī sect takes its name from him. [Link.]

If the sect is named after its founder, who lived in century IX, then it can hardly be related to a group of a similar name which lived in the first century BC. Besides, Pliny spells Nazerini with a zee, corresponding to a Greek zeta, whereas the spelling of the name of the Nuṣairi ought to correspond to a Greek sigma. The span of two millennia, of course, is a long time, and names can shift, naturally. But we ought not to simply skip over the issue entirely, especially given the difficulties of tracing the sect name back past century IX in the first place.

A few months ago I thought I might have really been on to something with the Nazerini, but the whole notion came crashing down within an hour or two. I retrace my steps only to save some other poor fool from following the same dead end path.

What I thought so briefly is that the Nazerini might relate to a passage which Clement of Alexandria quotes from Alexander Polyhistor in his Miscellanies; in this passage Pythagoras is said to have been a disciple of Nazaratus, which is thought to be a reference to Zoroaster. It became almost immediately clear, upon making this connection, that I could place Zoroastrians in the same basic area as Pliny's Nazerini:

Mary Boyce & Frantz Grenet, The History of Zoroastrianism, volume 3, page 354: Similary, in North Syria veneration of the ancient gods continued widely, even though they were often disguised by Greek names and iconography. The dearth of evidence makes it impossible to trace the whereabouts of most of the descendants of Iranian colonists of Achaemenian days; but they evidently likewise continued their worship of Ahura Mazda, for still in the third century A. C. Kirder recorded finding sacred fires and magi “in the provincial capital Antioch and the province of Syria, and the districts dependent on Syria” (= Kartir inscription). One particular area where the presence of Zoroastrians may reasonably be assumed is around Damascus, for this, according to Berossos, was one of the places where Artaxerxes II had set up a statue to “Anaitis”. Under the Achaemenians various parts of Syria were governed by native rulers who were subject to the Great Kings, but at the time of Alexander’s conquest Damascus had a Persian governor; and an Iranian community, providing worshippers for its Anahit temple, may safely be presumed to have flourished there, both in the city itself and in its fertile territories, where streams fed by the snows of the Anti-Lebanon would have made it easy to find a fitting place for a sanctuary of this yazata of the waters.

If there were Zoroastrians living near the streams fed by the Anti-Lebanon near Damascus, then perhaps they were, in fact, the Nazerini, followers of Nazaratus!

But alas, no, almost certainly not. First, the relevant manuscript of Clement is notoriously unreliable:

John Ferguson, Stromateis, Books 1-3, page 15, section 29: 29 The Stromateis survives in an eleventh-century manuscript from Florence (L = Laurentianus V 3), which has been supposed to have belonged, like Parisinus 451 (preserving Protrepticus) to Arethas, Archbishop of Caesarea. It is carelessly written, with errors of names and numbers, phrases omitted and the like. The only other manuscript is the sixteenth century Parisinus Supplementum Graecum 250, which is in the direct line of descent from the earlier manuscript and of no independent value. Both manuscripts were collated by Otto Stählin for his Berlin edition, and this remains the basis for all future work. ....

Second, and even more importantly, we seem to have another witness to Alexander Polyhistor on this very matter, in the form of Cyril of Alexandria, and his text has Zara, a somewhat more reasonable name for Zoroaster:

Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies (Müller/Jacoby fragment 138a, Alexander Polyhistor): 1 But Alexander, in On the Pythagorean Symbols, records that Pythagoras was disciple to Nazaratus the Assyrian (some suppose him to be Ezekiel; but he is not, as will be shown afterward); he also wishes it to be that, in addition to these, Pythagoras was a hearer of the Galatae and the Brahmins. 1 Ἀλέξανδρος δὲ ἐν τῷ Περὶ Πυθαγορικῶν συμβόλων Ναζαράτῳ [apud Laurentianus V 3]* τῷ Ἀσσυρίῳ μαθητεῦσαι ἱστορεῖ τὸν Πυθαγόραν (Ἰεζεκιὴλ τοῦτον ἡγοῦνταί τινες, οὐκ ἔστι δὲ, ὡς ἔπειτα δηλωθήσεται)· ἀκηκοέναι τε πρὸς τούτοις Γαλατῶν καὶ Βραχμάνων τὸν Πυθαγόραν βούλεται.

* Otto Stählin prints Ζαράτῳ as an emendation, apparently on the suggestion of Pierre Daniel Huit, who considers Ναζαράτῳ to be a corruption.

Cyril, Against Julian 9 (Müller/Jacoby fragment 138b, Alexander Polyhistor): 9 .... Alexander surnamed Polyhistor, at any rate, records in On the Pythagorean Symbols that Pythagoras resorted to Zara, who was an Assyrian by race. .... / 9 .... Ἱστορεῖ γοῦν Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ ἐπίκλην Πολυΐστωρ ἐν τῷ Περὶ Πυθαγορικῶν συμβόλων Ἀσσυρίῳ τὸ γένος ὄντι τῷ Ζάρᾳ φοιτῆσαι τὸν Πυθαγόραν. ....

So it appears almost impossible that my bright idea has any merit whatsoever; Polyhistor almost certainly did not call Zoroaster by the name Nazaratus. Oh, well.

Overall, then, I am not sure what to make of the Nazerini. They do not seem to fit in very cleanly with everything else that I have already presented and will be presenting shortly.

It seems to me that the triconsonantal clusters NSR, NCR, and/or NZR may simply be overloaded roots in Semitic languages, much as BTR (ignoring the vowels as flexible, as they typically are in linguistics) might be regarded as overloaded in English (batter, butter, bitter, better, boater, booter, baiter, beater, biter). All of the following came up at one point or another in my research:
  1. Nasar, a Byzantine military leader of century IX.
  2. Nasar, a city in Iran.
  3. Nasiriyah, a city in Iraq named after Nasir al-Sadoon Pasha in century XIX.
  4. Nasr, an element of many Arabic place names.
  5. Nasr, the name of an idol in the Quran.
  6. Naz̧ār, an element of many Iranian place names.
  7. Nazarchus, a king in the Alexander Romance (Νάζαρχος).
  8. Nazartae, a nation listed in recension ε of the Alexander Romance (Ναζάρται).
  9. Nécéres, a people in Turkey referred to by the academic pilgrim Henry Maundrell.
  10. Nuşayr, relevant name of Abū Shuʿayb Muḥammad ibn Nuṣayr al-Numayri, considered the eponym of the Nuṣairi.
  11. Nuṣayrīyah/Anṣarīya, with "Jabal," a coastal mountain range in Syria.
  12. -neṣṣar, an element of Nəḇūḵaḏneṣṣar (= Nebuchadnezzar), employed in a pun linking his daughter to the Mandaean Noṣerim.
  13. -neser, an element of Shalmaneser, the name of a line of Assyrian kings.
Just because some of these items might be related to one another does not mean that they all are. Also, I started keeping track of the superfluous ones a bit late in the game, so I am probably missing a few.

It does occur to me that the existence in Syria of a people group known as the Nazerini might have contributed to the use, in Greek, of the name Nazarene for the Semitic name Naṣoraean or the like. However, I am not sure that we need such a group to influence the spelling in this manner, because the Nazirite vow might well explain it all by itself.

Refer also to Getzel M. Cohen, Hellenistic Settlements in Syria, the Red Sea Basin, and North Africa, pages 172-178.
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Fri Oct 09, 2020 6:21 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Of Nazirites & Naṣoraeans.

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Zz Ζζ ז (Zeta/Zayin) — The Earlier Greek and Latin Christian Texts

Time to examine the early Christian references. For the four canonical gospels, I have presented the instances of these terms roughly in the chronological order of Jesus’ lifetime. Parallel passages (that is, instances occurring in the same parallel pericope, at least) are presented on the same row in the table. I have underlined two instances of the term Ναζαρὰ (Nazara) at the spots (in Matthew and Luke) where most critical editions opt for that spelling of the town’s name. For the Acts, I have simply presented the instances in textual order:

--1.26 Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee, called Nazareth [Ναζαρέθ/Ναζαρέτ, entire chapter attested as absent from Marcion]....-
--2.4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth [Ναζαρέθ/Ναζαρέτ, entire chapter attested as absent from Marcion], to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David....-
2.22b And being warned by God in a dream, he departed for the regions of Galilee, 23 and came and resided in a city called Nazareth [Ναζαρέθ/Ναζαρέτ], that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, “He shall be called a Nazorean [Ναζωραῖος].”---
--2.39 And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city of Nazareth [Ναζαρέθ/Ναζαρέτ, + just as it was spoken through the prophet that he shall be called a Nazorean (Ναζωραῖος), Bezae only, entire chapter attested as absent from Marcion].-
--2.51 And He went down with them, and came to Nazareth [Ναζαρέθ/Ναζαρέτ, entire chapter attested as absent from Marcion]; and He continued in subjection to them; and His mother treasured all these things in her heart.-
-1.9 And it came about in those days that Jesus came from Nazareth [Ναζαρέθ/Ναζαρέτ] in Galilee, and was baptized by John in the Jordan.--
4.12 Now when He heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; 13 and leaving Nazara [Ναζαρά/Ναζαρέθ/Ναζαρέτ], He came and settled in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.---
--4.16 And He came to Nazara [Ναζαρά/Ναζαρέθ/Ναζαρέτ; Ναζαρέθ attested as present in Marcion?], where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.-
---1.45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth [Ναζαρέθ/Ναζαρέτ], the son of Joseph.” 46 And Nathanael said to him, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth [Ναζαρέθ/Ναζαρέτ]?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.”
-1.23 And just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit; and he cried out, 24 saying, “What do we have to do with You, Jesus the Nazarene [Ναζαρηνός]? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are — the Holy One of God!”4.33 And there was a man in the synagogue possessed by the spirit of an unclean demon, and he cried out with a loud voice, 34 “Ha! What do we have to do with You, Jesus the Nazarene [Ναζαρηνός, attested as absent from Marcion]? Have You come to destroy us? I know who You are — the Holy One of God!”-
-10.47 And when he heard that it was Jesus the Nazarene [Ναζαρηνός], he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”18.37 And they told him that Jesus the Nazorean [Ναζωραῖος/Ναζαρηνός, unattested as present in or absent from Marcion] was passing by. 38 And he called out, saying, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”-
21.11 And the multitudes were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth [Ναζαρέθ/Ναζαρέτ] in Galilee.”---
---18.5 They answered Him, “Jesus the Nazorean [Ναζωραῖος/Ναζαρηνός].” He said to them, “I am He.” And Judas also who was betraying Him, was standing with them. 6 When therefore He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back, and fell to the ground. 7 Again therefore He asked them, “Whom do you seek?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazorean [Ναζωραῖος].”
26.71 And when he had gone out to the gateway, another servant-girl saw him and said to those who were there, “This man was with Jesus the Nazorean [Ναζωραῖος].”14.66 And as Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came, 67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him, and said, “You, too, were with Jesus the Nazarene [Ναζαρηνός].”--
---19:19 And Pilate wrote an inscription also, and put it on the cross. And it was written, “Jesus the Nazorean [Ναζωραῖος], the King of the Jews.”
-16.6 And he said to them, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene [Ναζαρηνός], who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him.”--
--24.19 And He said to them, “What things?” And they said to Him, “The things about Jesus the Nazorean [Ναζωραῖος, unattested as present in or absent from Marcion], who was a prophet mighty in deed and word in the sight of God and all the people, 20 and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him up to the sentence of death, and crucified Him.”-

2.22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazorean [Ναζωραῖος], a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know — 23 this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.”
3.6 But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean [Ναζωραῖος] — walk!”
4.8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, 9 if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, 10 let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean [Ναζωραίου], whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead — by this name this man stands here before you in good health.”
6.13 And they put forward false witnesses who said, “This man incessantly speaks against this holy place, and the Law; 14 for we have heard him say that this Nazorean [Ναζωραῖος], Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.”
10.38 “You know of Jesus from Nazareth [Ναζαρέθ/Ναζαρέτ], how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him.”
22.8 “And I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazorean [Ναζωραῖος], whom you are persecuting.’”
24.5 “For we have found this man a real pest and a fellow who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazoreans [Ναζωραῖος].”
26.9 “So then, I thought to myself that I had to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus the Nazorean [Ναζωραῖος].”

All of these terms are spelled with the Greek zeta. I suspect that very early on Jesus was linked with the Nazirite vow, or with being a Holy One of God (as the OG translation goes). This is why he was called a Nazarene, with the zee/zeta. The exact form of the terms used (Nazarene, Nazoraean) I will discuss when I talk about the town of Naşareth.

The gospel of Philip gets into the act:

Gospel of Philip 20 apud NH codex 2, page 104, lines 3b-13a: 20 “Jesus” is a hidden name; “Christ” is a revealed name. For this reason “Jesus” is not particular to any language; rather he is always called by the name “Jesus,” while, as for “Christ”, in Syriac it is “Messiah,” in Greek “Christ.” Certainly all the others have it according to their own language. “The Nazarene” is he who reveals what is hidden.

R. Wilson, The Gospel of Philip, page 84: The name ‘Nazarene’ evidently caused some perplexity to the men of old, as to the modern scholars who have endeavoured to trace the origin and meaning of the various forms which occur.... Here in 104.12f it is said to be ‘the revealed in the hidden,’ which may perhaps have some connection with the cryptic words of ‘saying’ 25 (105.24-26). Schenke notes that this is based on a Hebrew etymology (natsar: hide. For this word Segal [Concise Hebrew-English Dictionary, Tel Aviv 1938] lists the following meanings: watch, guard, keep; preserve; keep secret). At 110.14 Nazara is said to mean ‘the truth,’ and Nazarene accordingly ‘he that belongs to the truth’ (the text has simply ‘the truth,’ but this seems to be the meaning required). On this Grant comments, ‘Since Nazara does not seem to mean “truth” in any human language, presumably this is a Gnostic secret — especially since a Valentinian formula reported by Irenaeus translates Jesus Nazaria as “savior of truth”’ ....

Gospel of Philip 27-28 apud NH codex 2, page 105, lines 24-28a: 27 The visible by the visible, the hidden by the hidden. There are some things hidden through those visible. 28 There is water in water, there is fire in chrism.

Gospel of Philip 51 apud NH codex 2, page 110, lines 6b-17a: 51 The apostles who were before us had these names for him: “Jesus, the Nazorean, Messiah,” that is, “Jesus, the Nazorean, the Christ.” The last name is “Christ,” the first is “Jesus,” that in the middle is “the Nazarene.” “Messiah” has two meanings, both “the Christ” and “the measured.” “Jesus” in Hebrew is “the redemption.” “Nazara” is “the truth.” “The Nazarene,” then, is “the truth.” “Christ” [...] has been measured. “The Nazarene” and “Jesus” are they who have been measured.

Gospel of Philip 57 apud NH codex 2, page 110, lines 21b-24a: 57 The eucharist is Jesus. For he is called in Syriac “Pharisatha,” which is “the one who is spread out,” for Jesus came to crucify the world.

R. Wilson, The Gospel of Philip, page 113: Schenke notes a Syriac root prs with the n1eaning ‘spread out;’ Segal (Concise Hebrew-English Dictionary, Tel Aviv 1938) gives a cognate Hebrew word with the two meanings ‘break (bread)’ and ‘spread.’ This would serve to explain the identification of Jesus and the eucharist, quite apart from anything else. But ‘spread out’ also suggests extending upon the Cross.

There is much of the same in Greek from other Christian authors, using the zeta:

Acts of Paul, fragment 8, lines 21b-37a: 21b-37a And now, brethren, a great temptation lies before us. If we endure, we shall have access to the Lord and shall receive as the refuge and shield of his good pleasure Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us, if at least you receive the word so as it is, since in these last times God for our sakes has sent down a spirit of power into the flesh, that is, into Mary the Galilean, according to the prophetic word, which was conceived and borne by her as the fruit of her womb until she was delivered and gave birth to the Christ, our King, of Bethlehem in Judea, brought up in Nazara [Ναζαρά], who went to Jerusalem and taught all Judea, “The kingdom of heaven is at hand! Forsake the darkness, receive the light, you who live in the darkness of death! A light has arisen for you!” And he did great and wonderful things, so that he chose from the tribes twelve men whom he had with him in love and in faith, as he raised the dead, healed diseases, cleansed lepers, healed the blind....

[There is a recension of the Acts of John 47 in which John raises the dead priest ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ Ναζωραίου (“in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazoraean,” Paris, Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Greek 1468).]

Justin Martyr, Dialogue 78.4: 4 Then he was afraid and did not put her away; but on the occasion of the first census which was taken in Judea, under Cyrenius, he went up from Nazareth [ἀπὸ Ναζαρέτ], where he lived, to Bethlehem, to which he belonged, to be enrolled; for his family was of the tribe of Judah, which then inhabited that region. Then along with Mary he is ordered to proceed into Egypt and to remain there with the Child until another revelation should warn them to return into Judea.

Martyrdom of Conon 4.2: 2 Conon said, “I am of the city of Nazareth of Galilee [Ναζαρὲθ τῆς Γαλιλαίας], and there is a kinship between me and Christ, whom I worship from my forebears, whom I know to be God over all.”

Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.21.3: 3 For some of them prepare a nuptial couch and perform a sort of mystic rite pronouncing certain expressions with those who are being initiated, and affirm that it is a spiritual marriage which is celebrated by them after the likeness of the conjunctions above. Others, again, lead them to a place where there is water and baptize them with the utterance of these words, “Into the name of the unknown Father of the universe, into truth, the mother of all things, into Him who descended on Jesus, into union, and redemption, and communion with the powers.” Others still repeat certain Hebrew words in order the more thoroughly to bewilder those who are being initiated, thus: “Basema, Chamosse, Baoenaora, Mistadia, Ruada, Kousta, Babaphor, Kalachthei.” The interpretation of these terms runs thus: “I invoke that which is above every power of the Father, which is called light and good Spirit and life, because You have reigned in the body.” Others, again, set forth the redemption thus: “The name which is hidden from every deity and dominion and truth with which Jesus the Nazarene [ὁ Ναζαρηνὸς] was clothed in the lives of the light of Christ, of Christ who lives by the Holy Spirit, for the angelic redemption.” The name of restitution stands thus: “Messia, Uphareg, Namempsoeman, Chaldoeaur, Mosomedoea, Acphranoe, Psaua, Jesus Nazaria [Ἰησοῦ Ναζαρία].” The interpretation of these words is as follows: “I do not divide the Spirit of Christ, neither the heart nor the supercelestial power which is merciful; may I enjoy Your name, O Savior of truth!” Such are words of the initiators, but he who is initiated replies, “I am established, and I am redeemed; I redeem my soul from this age and from all things connected with it in the name of Iao, who redeemed his own soul into redemption in Christ who lives.” Then the bystanders add these words: “Peace be to all on whom this name rests.” After this they anoint the initiated person with balsam, for they assert that this unguent is a type of that sweet odor which is above all things.

Tertullian, Against Marcion 4.8.1: 1 The Christ of the Creator had to be called a Nazarene according to prophecy; whence the Jews also designate us, by the very name, Nazerenes after Him. For we are they of whom it is written, “Her Nazarites were whiter than snow” (= Lamentations 4.7), even they who were once defiled with the stains of sin, and darkened with the clouds of ignorance. But to Christ the title Nazarene was destined to become a suitable one, from the hiding place of His infancy, for which He went down and dwelt at Nazareth, to escape from Archelaus the son of Herod. / 1 Nazaraeus vocari habebat secundum prophetiam Christus creatoris. Unde et ipso nomine nos Iudaei Nazarenos appellant per eum. Nam et sumus de quibus scriptum est: Nazaraei exalbati sunt super nivem, qui scilicet retro luridati delinquentiae maculis et nigrati ignorantiae tenebris. Christo autem appellatio Nazaraei competitura erat ex infantiae latebris, ad quas apud Nazareth descendit, vitando Archelaum filium Herodis.

Origen, Against Celsus 7.18: 18 Celsus adds, “Will they not besides make this reflection? If the prophets of the God of the Jews foretold that he who should come into the world would be the Son of this same God, how could he command them through Moses to gather wealth, to extend their dominion, to fill the earth, to put their enemies of every age to the sword, and to destroy them utterly, which indeed he himself did, as Moses says, threatening them, moreover, that if they did not obey his commands, he would treat them as his avowed enemies; while, on the other hand, his Son, the Nazoraean man [ὁ Ναζωραῖος ἄνθρωπος], promulgated laws quite opposed to these, declaring that no one can come to the Father who loves power, or riches, or glory; that men ought not to be more careful in providing food than the ravens; that they were to be less concerned about their raiment than the lilies; that to him who has given them one blow, they should offer to receive another? Whether is it Moses or Jesus who teaches falsely? Did the Father, when he sent Jesus, forget the commands which he had given to Moses? Or did he change his mind, condemn his own laws, and send forth a messenger with counter instructions?” Celsus, with all his boasts of universal knowledge, has here fallen into the most vulgar of errors, in supposing that in the law and the prophets there is not a meaning deeper than that afforded by a literal rendering of the words. He does not see how manifestly incredible it is that worldly riches should be promised to those who lead upright lives, when it is a matter of common observation that the best of men have lived in extreme poverty. Indeed, the prophets themselves, who for the purity of their lives received the Divine Spirit, “wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented, they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” (= Hebrews 11.37-38). For, as the Psalmist says, “many are the afflictions of the righteous” (= Psalm 34.19). If Celsus had read the writings of Moses, he would, I daresay, have supposed that when it is said to him who kept the law, “You shall lend unto many nations, and you yourself shall not borrow” (= Deuteronomy 15.6; 28.12), the promise is made to the just man, that his temporal riches should be so abundant, that he would be able to lend not only to the Jews, not only to two or three nations, but to many nations. What, then, must have been the wealth which the just man received according to the law for his righteousness, if he could lend to many nations? And must we not suppose also, in accordance with this interpretation, that the just man would never borrow anything? For it is written, “And you shall yourself borrow nothing.” Did then that nation remain for so long a period attached to the religion which was taught by Moses, while, according to the supposition of Celsus, they saw themselves so grievously deceived by that lawgiver? For nowhere is it said of any one that he was so rich as to lend to many nations. It is not to be believed that they would have fought so zealously in defense of a law whose promises had proved glaringly false, if they understood them in the sense which Celsus gives to them. And if any one should say that the sins which are recorded to have been committed by the people are a proof that they despised the law, doubtless from the feeling that they had been deceived by it, we may reply that we have only to read the history of the times in order to find it shown that the whole people, after having done that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, returned afterwards to their duty, and to the religion prescribed by the law.

Origen, Against Celsus 7.23: 23 From what has been said, it is clear then that Jesus, “the Nazoraean man” [ὁ Ναζωραῖος ἄνθρωπος], did not promulgate laws opposed to those just considered in regard to riches when He said, “It is hard for the rich man to enter into the kingdom of God” (= Matthew 19.23), whether we take the word “rich” in its simplest sense, as referring to the man whose mind is distracted by his wealth and, as it were, entangled with thorns, so that he brings forth no spiritual fruit, or whether it is the man who is rich in the sense of abounding in false notions, of whom it is written in the Proverbs, “Better is the poor man who is just than the rich man who is false” (= Proverbs 28.6). Perhaps it is the following passages which have led Celsus to suppose that Jesus forbids ambition to His disciples: “Whoever of you will be the greatest shall be servant of all” (= Matthew 20.26; Mark 10.43; Luke 22.26); “the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and those who exercise authority upon them are called benefactors” (= Matthew 20.25; Luke 22.25). But there is nothing here inconsistent with the promise, “You shall rule over many nations, and they shall not rule over you” (= Deuteronomy 15.6), especially after the explanation which we have given of these words. Celsus next throws in an expression in regard to wisdom, as though he thought that, according to the teaching of Christ, no wise man could come to the Father. But we would ask in what sense he speaks of a wise man. For if he means one who is wise in the wisdom of this world, as it is called, which is foolishness with God, then we would agree with him in saying that access to the Father is denied to one who is wise in that sense. But if by wisdom anyone means Christ, who is the power and wisdom of God, far from such a wise man being refused access to the Father, we hold that he who is adorned by the Holy Spirit with that gift which is called the word of wisdom, far excels all those who have not received the same grace.

Eusebius, History of the Church 1.7.1-17:

1 Matthew and Luke in their gospels have given us the genealogy of Christ differently, and many suppose that they are at variance with one another. Since as a consequence every believer, in ignorance of the truth, has been zealous to invent some explanation which shall harmonize the two passages, permit us to subjoin the account of the matter which has come down to us, and which is given by Africanus, who was mentioned by us just above, in his epistle to Aristides, where he discusses the harmony of the gospel genealogies. After refuting the opinions of others as forced and deceptive, he give the account which he had received from tradition in these words:

2 “For whereas the names of the generations were reckoned in Israel either according to nature or according to law — according to nature by the succession of legitimate offspring, and according to law whenever another raised up a child to the name of a brother dying childless; for because a clear hope of resurrection was not yet given they had a representation of the future promise by a kind of mortal resurrection, in order that the name of the one deceased might be perpetuated — 3 whereas then some of those who are inserted in this genealogical table succeeded by natural descent, the son to the father, while others, though born of one father, were ascribed by name to another, mention was made of both of those who were progenitors in fact and of those who were so only in name. 4 Thus neither of the gospels is in error, for one reckons by nature, the other by law. For the line of descent from Solomon and that from Nathan were so involved, the one with the other, by the raising up of children to the childless and by second marriages, that the same persons are justly considered to belong at one time to one, at another time to another; that is, at one time to the reputed fathers, at another to the actual fathers. So that both these accounts are strictly true and come down to Joseph with considerable intricacy indeed, yet quite accurately. 5 But in order that what I have said may be made clear I shall explain the interchange of the generations. If we reckon the generations from David through Solomon, the third from the end is found to be Matthan, who begot Jacob the father of Joseph. But if, with Luke, we reckon them from Nathan the son of David, in like manner the third from the end is Melchi, whose son Eli was the father of Joseph. For Joseph was the son of Eli, the son of Melchi. 6 Joseph therefore being the object proposed to us, it must be shown how it is that each is recorded to be his father, both Jacob, who derived his descent from Solomon, and Eli, who derived his from Nathan; first how it is that these two, Jacob and Eli, were brothers, and then how it is that their fathers, Matthan and Melchi, although of different families, are declared to be grandfathers of Joseph. 7 Matthan and Melchi having married in succession the same woman, begot children who were uterine brothers, for the law did not prohibit a widow, whether such by divorce or by the death of her husband, from marrying another. 8 By Estha then — for this was the name of the woman according to tradition — Matthan, a descendant of Solomon, first begot Jacob. And when Matthan was dead, Melchi, who traced his descent back to Nathan, being of the same tribe but of another family, married her as before said, and begot a son Eli. 9 Thus we shall find the two, Jacob and Eli, although belonging to different families, yet brethren by the same mother. Of these the one, Jacob, when his brother Eli had died childless, took the wife of the latter and begot by her a son Joseph, his own son by nature and in accordance with reason, wherefore also it is written, ‘Jacob begot Joseph’ (= Matthew 1.6). But according to law he was the son of Eli, for Jacob, being the brother of the latter, raised up seed to him. 10 Hence the genealogy traced through him will not be rendered void, which the evangelist Matthew in his enumeration gives thus: ‘Jacob begot Joseph.’ But Luke, on the other hand, says: ‘Who was the son, as was supposed’ — for this he also adds — ‘of Joseph, the son of Eli, the son of Melchi’ (= Luke 3.23-24), for he could not more clearly express the generation according to law. And the expression, ‘he begot,’ he has omitted in his genealogical table up to the end, tracing the genealogy back to Adam the son of God. This interpretation is neither incapable of proof nor is it an idle conjecture. 11 For the relatives of our Lord according to the flesh, whether with the desire of boasting or simply wishing to state the fact, in either case truly, have handed down the following account. Some Idumean robbers, having attacked Ascalon, a city of Palestine, carried away from a temple of Apollo which stood near the walls, in addition to other booty, Antipater, son of a certain temple slave named Herod. And since the priest was not able to pay the ransom for his son, Antipater was brought up in the customs of the Idumeans, and afterward was befriended by Hyrcanus, the high priest of the Jews. 12 And having been sent by Hyrcanus on an embassy to Pompey, and having restored to him the kingdom which had been invaded by his brother Aristobulus, he had the good fortune to be named procurator of Palestine. But Antipater having been slain by those who were envious of his great good fortune was succeeded by his son Herod, who was afterward, by a decree of the senate, made King of the Jews under Antony and Augustus. His sons were Herod and the other tetrarchs. These accounts agree also with those of the Greeks. 13 But as there had been kept in the archives up to that time the genealogies of the Hebrews as well as of those who traced their lineage back to proselytes, such as Achior the Ammonite and Ruth the Moabitess, and to those who were mingled with the Israelites and came out of Egypt with them, Herod, inasmuch as the lineage of the Israelites contributed nothing to his advantage, and since he was goaded with the consciousness of his own ignoble extraction, burned all the genealogical records, thinking that he might appear of noble origin if no one else were able, from the public registers, to trace back his lineage to the patriarchs or proselytes and to those mingled with them, who were called Georae. 14 A few of the careful, however, having obtained private records of their own, either by remembering the names or by getting them in some other way from the registers, pride themselves on preserving the memory of their noble extraction. Among these are those already mentioned, called Desposyni, on account of their connection with the family of the Saviour. Coming from Nazara and Cochaba, villages of Judea [ἀπό τε Ναζάρων καὶ Κωχαβα κωμῶν Ἰουδαϊκῶν], into other parts of the world, they drew the aforesaid genealogy from memory and from the book of days [τῆς Βίβλου τῶν ἡμερῶν, from דברי הימים, the Hebrew title of the books of Chronicles] as faithfully as possible. 15 Whether then the case stand thus or not no one could find a clearer explanation, according to my own opinion and that of every candid person. And let this suffice us, for, although we can urge no testimony in its support, we have nothing better or truer to offer. In any case the Gospel states the truth.”

16 And at the end of the same epistle he adds these words: “Matthan, who was descended from Solomon, begot Jacob. And when Matthan was dead, Melchi, who was descended from Nathan begot Eli by the same woman. Eli and Jacob were thus uterine brothers. Eli having died childless, Jacob raised up seed to him, begetting Joseph, his own son by nature, but by law the son of Eli. Thus Joseph was the son of both.”

17 Thus far Africanus. And the lineage of Joseph being thus traced, Mary also is virtually shown to be of the same tribe with him, since, according to the law of Moses, intermarriages between different tribes were not permitted. For the command is to marry one of the same family and lineage, so that the inheritance may not pass from tribe to tribe. This may suffice here.

Eusebius, Onomasticon, Ναζαρέθ: Nazareth [Ναζαρέθ], whence the Christ was called a Nazoraean [Ναζωραῖος], and we Nazoraeans [Ναζωραῖοι] also, of old, who are now Christians. It is even now in Galilee opposite Legeon fifteen marks toward the east near Mount Tabor. Jerome, Liber De Situ Et Nominibus Locorum Hebraicorum, Nazareth: Nazareth, unde et Dominus noster atque Salvator, Nazaraeus vocatus est. Est autem usque hodie in Galilaea viculus contra legionem in quindecimo milliario ad orientalem plagam, iuxta montem Thabor nomine Nazara. Nazareth autem intepretatur, flos aut virgultum eius, vel munditia aut separatio vel custodia.

Eusebius, Demonstration 7.2.46-51: 46 But He is said to have been brought up at Nazara, and also to have been called a Nazarene It is known that the Hebrew word “Naziraion” occurs in Leviticus in connection with the ointment which they used for unction. And the ruler there was a kind of image of the great and true High Priest, the Christ of God, being a shadowy type of Christ. 47 So there it is said about the High Priest according to the Septuagint, “And he shall not defile him that is sanctified to his God, because the holy oil of his God has anointed him,” where the Hebrew has nazer for oil. And Aquila reads, “Because the separation, the oil of God’s unction, is on him,” and Symmachus, “Because the pure oil of his God’s anointing is on him,” and Theodotion, “Because the oil nazer anointed by his God is upon him,” 48 so that nazer according to the Septuagint is “holy,” according to Aquila “separation,” according to Symmachus “pure,” and the name Nazarene will therefore mean either holy, or separate, or pure. But the ancient priests, who were anointed with prepared oil, which Moses called Nazer, were called for that reason Nazarenes; 49 while our Lord and Saviour having naturally holiness, purity, and separation from sin, needed no human unguent, yet received the name of Nazarene among men, not because He was a Nazarene in the sense of being anointed with the oil called Nazer, but because He naturally had the qualities it symbolized, and also because He was called Nazarene from Nazara, where He was brought up by His parents according to the flesh and passed His childhood. 50 And so it is said in Matthew, “Being warned of God in a dream he departed into the regions of Galilee, and came and lived in a city called Nazara, that the saying of the prophets might be fulfilled, He shall be called a Nazarene.” 51 For it was altogether necessary that He Who was a Nazarene naturally and truly, that is holy, and pure and separate from men, should be called by the name. But since, needing no human unction, He did not receive the name from the oil nazer, He acquired it from the place named Nazareth. / 46 Ἀλλὰ καὶ ἐν Ναζάροις ἀνατραφεὶς λέγεται καὶ πάλιν «Ναζωραῖος» κληθήσεσθαι. ἰστέον οὖν ὅτι καὶ τὸ ναζιραῖον ὄνομα ἑβραϊκὸν τυγχάνει ἐν Λευιτικῷ ἐπὶ τοῦ χρίσματος τοῦ παρ' αὐτοῖς χριστοῦ (ἦν δὲ οὗτος ὁ ἄρχων κατ' εἰκόνα τοῦ μεγάλου καὶ ἀληθῶς ἀρχιερέως τοῦ Χριστοῦ τοῦ θεοῦ, σκιώδη τινὰ καὶ τυπικὸν Χριστὸν ἐπιφερόμενος)· 47 ἐν οἷς γοῦν εἴρηται κατὰ τοὺς ἑβδομήκοντα περὶ τοῦ ἀρχιερέως· «καὶ οὐ βεβηλώσει τὸν ἡγιασμένον τοῦ θεοῦ αὐτοῦ, ὅτι τὸ ἅγιον ἔλαιον χριστὸν τοῦ θεοῦ αὐτοῦ,» τὸ μὲν Ἑβραϊκὸν «ὅτι ναζὲρ ἔλαιον» περιέχει, ὁ δὲ Ἀκύλας· «ὅτι ἀφόρισμα ἔλαιον ἀλ<ε>ίμματος θεοῦ αὐτοῦ ἐπ' αὐτῷ,» ὁ δὲ Σύμμαχος· «ὅτι ἄθικτον ἔλαιον τοῦ χρίσματος τοῦ θεοῦ αὐτοῦ ἐπ' αὐτῷ,» ὁ δὲ Θεοδοτίων· «ὅτι τὸ ναζὲρ ἔλαιον τὸ[ν] χριστὸν παρὰ θεοῦ αὐτοῦ ἐπ' αὐτῷ,» 48 ὥστε εἶναι τὸ ναζὲρ κατὰ μὲν τοὺς ἑβδομήκοντα «ἅγιον,» κατὰ δὲ τὸν Ἀκύλαν «ἀφόρισμα», κατὰ δὲ τὸν Σύμμαχον «ἄθικτον,» ὥστε ἐκ τούτου τὸ ναζιραῖον ὄνομα σημαίνειν ἤτοι τὸν ἅγιον ἢ τὸν ἀφωρισμένον ἢ τὸν ἄθικτον. ἀλλ' οἱ μὲν πάλαι ἱερεῖς δι' ἐλαίου σκευαστοῦ, τοῦ παρὰ Μωσεῖ ναζὲρ καλουμένου, χριόμενοι, παραγώγως ἀπὸ τοῦ ναζὲρ ἐκαλοῦντο ναζιραῖοι. 49 ὁ δὲ σωτὴρ καὶ κύριος ἡμῶν κατὰ φύσιν ἔχων τὸ ἅγιον καὶ τὸ ἄθικτον καὶ τὸ ἀφωρισμένον, οὐ δεόμενός τε χρίσματος ἀνθρωπίνου, ὅμως τῆς τοῦ ναζιραίου προσηγορίας παρ' ἀνθρώποις ἔτυχεν, οὐκ ἀπὸ τοῦ καλουμένου ναζὲρ ἐλαίου ναζιραῖος γεγονώς, ἀλλ' ὢν μὲν τῇ φύσει τοιοῦτος, κληθεὶς δὲ καὶ παρ' ἀνθρώποις Ναζιραῖος ἀπὸ τῆς Ναζαρέθ, ἔνθα παρὰ τοῖς κατὰ σάρκα γονεῦσι τὴν ἐν παισὶν ἀνατροφὴν ἔσχηκεν. 50 διὸ λέλεκται παρὰ τῷ Ματθαίῳ· «χρηματισθεὶς δὲ κατ' ὄναρ» (δῆλον δ' ὅτι ὁ Ἰωσήφ), ἀνεχώρησεν εἰς τὰ μέρη τῆς Γαλιλαίας, καὶ ἐλθὼν κατῴκησεν εἰς πόλιν λεγομένην Ναζαρά· ὅπως πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τῶν προφητῶν, ὅτι Ναζωραῖος κληθήσεται.» 51 ἔδει μὲν γὰρ αὐτόν, ἐξ ἅπαντος φύσει καὶ ἀληθείᾳ ναζιραῖον ὄντα, τοῦτ' ἔστιν ἅγιον καὶ ἄθικτον καὶ ἀφωρισμένον ἐξ ἀνθρώπων, κληθῆναι ταύτῃ τῇ προσηγορίᾳ· ἀλλ' ἐπεὶ μὴ ἐκ τοῦ ναζὲρ ἐλαίου ταύτης ἔτυχεν τῆς προσηγορίας, μὴ δεηθεὶς ἀνθρωπίνου χρίσματος, ἐκ τοῦ τόπου τῆς Ναζαρὲθ τὴν ἐπωνυμίαν ἐκτήσατο.

Leviticus 21.12: 12 Nor shall he go out of the sanctuary nor profane the sanctuary of his God, for the consecration of the anointing oil of his God is on him; I am Yahweh. / 12 וּמִן־הַמִּקְדָּשׁ֙ לֹ֣א יֵצֵ֔א וְלֹ֣א יְחַלֵּ֔ל אֵ֖ת מִקְדַּ֣שׁ אֱלֹהָ֑יו כִּ֡י נֵ֠זֶר שֶׁ֣מֶן מִשְׁחַ֧ת אֱלֹהָ֛יו עָלָ֖יו אֲנִ֥י יְהוָֽה׃ / 12 καὶ ἐκ τῶν ἁγίων οὐκ ἐξελεύσεται καὶ οὐ βεβηλώσει τὸ ἡγιασμένον τοῦ θεοῦ αὐτοῦ, ὅτι τὸ ἅγιον ἔλαιον τὸ χριστὸν τοῦ θεοῦ ἐπ᾽ αὐτῷ· ἐγὼ κύριος.

Let me also throw in Julian the Apostate: not a Christian, obviously, but drawing from Christian sources:

Julian the Apostate, Against the Galileans 1.176.4-1.177.6a: 176.4-17 Moses says that the creator of the universe chose out the Hebrew nation, that to that nation alone did he pay heed and cared for it, and he gives him charge of it alone. But how and by what sort of gods the other nations are governed he has said not a word, unless indeed one should concede that he did assign to them the sun and moon (≈ Deuteronomy 4.19). However of this I shall speak a little later. Now I will only point out that Moses himself and the prophets who came after him and Jesus the Nazarene [Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος], yes, and Paul also, who surpassed all the magicians and charlatans of every place and every time, assert that he is the God of Israel alone and of Judea, and that the Jews are his chosen people. Listen to their own words, and first to the words of Moses: “And you will say unto Pharaoh, ‘Israel is my son, my firstborn.’ And I have said to you, ‘Let my people go that they may serve me.’ But you refused 177.1-6a to let them go” (= Exodus 4.22). And a little later, “And they say unto him, ‘The God of the Hebrews has summoned us; we will go therefore a journey of three days into the desert, that we may sacrifice unto the Lord our God’” (= Exodus 4.23). And soon he speaks again in the same way, “The Lord the God of the Hebrews has sent me unto you, saying, ‘Let my people go that they may serve me in the wilderness’” (= Exodus 5.3).

Julian the Apostate, Against the Galileans 1.225.8-1.226.1: 225.8-19 However, this evil doctrine did originate with John; but who could detest as they deserve all those doctrines that you have invented as a sequel, while you keep adding many corpses newly dead to the corpse of long ago? You have filled the whole world with tombs and sepulchers, and yet in your scriptures it is nowhere said that you must grovel among tombs (≈ Plato, Phaedo 81d) and pay them honor. But you have gone so far in iniquity that you think you need not listen even to the words of Jesus of Nazareth [Ἰησοῦ τοῦ Ναζωραίου] on this matter. Listen then to what he says about sepulchers, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed sepulchers; outward the tomb appears beautiful, but within it is full of the bones of dead men and of all uncleanness” (= Matthew 23.27). If, then, Jesus said that sepulchers are full of uncleanness, how can you invoke God at them?

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Re: Of Nazirites & Naṣoraeans.

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Zz Ζζ ז (Zeta/Zayin) — The Later Greek and Latin Christian Texts, Part 1

The patristic texts after Eusebius continue along similar lines.

Gregory of Nazianzus seems to refer to a group of Christian monks who were known as Naziraeans, once again hearkening back to the idea of a Nazirite being dedicated or holy to God:

Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 18, Funeral Oration for His Father 35 (English translation slightly modified from that of Leo P. McCauley, The Funeral Orations by Saint Gregory Nazianzen and Saint Ambrose, pages 149-150): 35 Who is so far removed from our world as not to know what is last in order of his deeds but the first and greatest in significance? The same city was again in turmoil over the same matter when the bishop who had suffered honorable violence had been suddenly carried off and had departed to God, for whom he had contended so nobly and courageously in the persecutions. The agitation was as heated as it was unreasonable. Who was preeminent, as not even the sun among the stars, was not unknown; it was perfectly clear, not only to all others, but to the select and purest portion of the people, those concerned with the sanctuary, and the Naziraeans [Ναζιραίοις; McCauley offers “monks” as an alternative] among us. To them alone, or to them above all, should the right of making such appointments belong — for thus there would be no evil in the churches — instead of to the most wealthy and powerful, or to the impulse and rashness of the people, and especially to the most corrupt. But now I am almost ready to consider that civil government is more orderly than ours, to which divine grace is attributed, and that such matters are better controlled by fear than by reason. For who of sound mind could ever have approached another, ignoring your sacred and divine person, molded by the hands of the Lord, the unwedded, without possessions, all but lacking flesh and blood, who in your words come next to the Word Himself, wise among philosophers, superior to the world among the worldly, my companion and my associate, and, to speak more daringly, the sharer of my soul, the partner of my life and education? I wish I were free to speak and describe you before others and not, because of your presence, be forced to consider each point carefully and pass over most of your praises, lest I be suspected of flattery. To return to what I began to say, the Spirit knew His own, for how could it be otherwise? But envy stood in the way, and on the part of those whom I am ashamed to mention. And would that it were not possible to hear it from others, who make it a point to ridicule our affairs. But passing this by, as rivers pass by rocks in the middle of their courses, let us honor with silence what deserves to be forgotten and proceed to what comes next in our discourse.

Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 42, A Last Farewell 26: 26 Farewell, my Anastasia [Ἀναστασία], whose name is redolent of piety, for you have raised up [ἐξανέστησας] for us the word which was in contempt. Farewell, scene of our common victory, modern Shiloh (= Joshua 18.1), where the tabernacle was first fixed, after being carried about in its wanderings for forty years in the wilderness. Farewell likewise, grand and renowned temple, our new inheritance, whose greatness is now due to the Word, which once was a Jebus (= 1 Chronicles 11.4) and has now been made by us a Jerusalem. Farewell, all you others, inferior only to this in beauty, scattered through the various parts of the city, like so many links, uniting together each your own neighborhood, which have been filled with worshipers of whose existence we had despaired, not by me, in my weakness, but by the grace which was with me (= 1 Corinthians 15.10). Farewell, you Apostles, noble settlers here, my masters in the strife; if I have not often kept festival with you, it has been possibly due to the Satan which I, like Saint Paul who was one of you, carry about in my body (= 2 Corinthians 12.7) for my own profit, and which is the cause of my now leaving you. Farewell, my throne, envied and perilous height; farewell assembly of high priests, honored by the dignity and age of its priests, and all you others ministers of God round the holy table, drawing near to the God Who draws near to you (= James 4.8). Farewell, choirs of Nazaraeans [Ναζαραίων χοροστασίαι], harmonies of the Psalter, nightlong stations, venerable virgins, decorous matrons, gatherings of widows and orphans, and you eyes of the poor, turned towards God and towards me. Farewell, hospitable and dwellings loved of Christ, helpers of my infirmity. Farewell, you lovers of my discourses, in your eagerness and concourse, you pencils seen and unseen, and you balustrade, pressed upon by those who thrust themselves forward to hear the word. Farewell, emperors, and palace, and ministers and household of the Emperor, whether faithful or not to him I know not, but for the most part unfaithful to God. Clap your hands, shout aloud, extol your orator to the skies. This pestilent and garrulous tongue has ceased to speak to you, though it will not utterly cease to speak, for it will fight with hand and ink; but for the present we have ceased to speak.

Gregory of Nazianzus, Oration 43, Funeral Oration for Basil 28 (English translation slightly modified from that of Leo P. McCauley, The Funeral Orations by Saint Gregory Nazianzen and Saint Ambrose, pages 51-52): 28 A disagreement arose between Basil and his predecessor (= a bishop named Eusebius) in the government of this church. It is better to pass over in silence its origin and character, but the fact remains. The man was in many respects a man not without nobility, and remarkable for piety [εὐσέβειαν], as the persecution of that time and the opposition to him clearly indicated, yet he developed a natural antipathy for Basil. Momus [Μῶμος, Greek god of reproach] seizes not only upon the common crowd but also on the best of men, since it belongs to God alone to be completely infallible and uninfluenced by the passions. All the more select and wiser members of the Church were roused against him; since they are wiser than the multitude, they have separated themselves [χωρίσαντες ἑαυτοὺς] from the world and consecrated [καθιερώσαντες] themselves to God. I speak of the Naziraeans [Ναζιραίους; McCauley offers “monks” as an alternative] among us, who are especially zealous in such matters. They were indignant that their chief should be ignored, outraged, and set aside, and they ventured upon a most dangerous undertaking. They contemplated defection and revolt from the great and indivisible body of the Church, severing along with themselves a considerable portion of the people, including some of lowly station and others of high rank. This was quite easy for three weighty reasons. First of all, Basil was venerated, to my knowledge, as no other philosopher of our time and, if he wished, he could give encouragement to the faction. Second, his opponent was under suspicion by the city because of the tumult connected with his election, on the grounds that he had received the episcopal office not so much in a regular and canonical manner as by violence. Finally, some bishops had come from the West and drew to themselves the whole orthodox portion of the Church.

Gregory is a talented writer.

I continue with an interesting text from Philastrius, offering here my own literalistic translation, followed by that of Michele Bacci on page 118 of The Many Faces of Christ: Portraying the Holy in the East and West, 300 to 1300 (link), followed by the Latin, which is slightly formatted from Migne, Patrologia Latina 12, column 1122 (link):

Philastrius (Filastrius, Filaster), Concerning Heresies 8: [Smith:] 8 There is a heresy of the Nazaraeans, which accepts the Law and the Prophets; it affirms, however, that life is to be lived in a carnal way, and suspects all justification to consist of carnal observation. They nourish the hairs of the head, moreover, and suppose that every virtue of justice consists in it, as if presuming this for themselves, that they have been called Nazaraeans from that judge Samson from whom pagans, usurping strong men from that figure, afterward named Hercules. / [Bacci:] 8 Another heresy is that of the Jews known as ‘Nazirites,’ who accept the law and the prophets, but recommend to observe exterior cults and suppose that every action is justified by a strict ritual behavior. They leave their hair to grow freely and are convinced that this gives expression to the virtues of justice, as if they had inherited this sign from the famous judge Samson — indeed, those like him were called ‘Nazirites.’ / [Migne:] 8 Nazaraeorum haeresis est, quae Legem et Prophetas accipit. carnaliter tamen vivendum affirmat, omnemque iustificationem in carnali observantia consistere suspicatur, crines etiam nutrientes capitis, omnemque virtutem iustitiae in eo putantes consistere, quasi a Samsone illo sibi hoc praesumentes iudicii quia Nazaraei vocabantur, a quo postea pagani, fortes viros ex illius figura usurpantes, Hercules nuncuparunt.

I had my translation ready before I discovered Bacci's, with the single exception that I did not have the word iudicii translated from the clause about Samson; I had simply left it out, not knowing quite what to do with it. I have now translated it as "judge," following Bacci, but am not sure how that can be, unless it is an error for iudice (ablative singular to agree with Samsone) instead.

At any rate, this description of a sect matches virtually nothing any of the other fathers writes about any of the Jewish Christian groups. It seems to me to involve the mixture of (A) a very simplistic affirmation that (some) Jewish Christian groups followed the Law and (B) an equally simplistic assumption that, due to the name, the group must have thought of themselves as Nazirites like Samson. The connection between the name of the Nazarenes or the Nazaraeans and the Nazirite vow is never really lost in Christian lore and literature.

Next comes Epiphanius, but at this point I cite only his references to the groups bearing the Greek zeta; he also has a group bearing the sigma which I will deal with later:

Epiphanius, Anacephalaeosis 1.29[.1]-1.30.4: 29[.1] Nazoraeans [Ναζωραῖοι], who confess that Christ Jesus is Son of God, but all of whose customs are in accordance with the Law. 30.1 30. Ebionites [Ἐβιωναῖοι] are very like these Cerinthians and the Nazoraeans [Ναζωραίων]; and the sect of the Sampsaeans and Elkasaites was associated with them to a degree. 2 They say that Christ was created in heaven, also the Holy Spirit. But Christ lodged in Adam at first, and from time to time takes Adam himself off and puts him on again — for this is what they say he did at the time of his advent in the flesh. 3 Although they are Jews they have Gospels, abhor the eating of flesh, take water for God, and, as I said, hold that Christ clothed himself with a man at the time of his advent in the flesh. 4 They immerse themselves in water regularly, summer and winter for supposed purification, like the Samaritans.

Epiphanius, Panarion 29.1.1-29.9.3:

Against Nazoraeans [Ναζωραίων]. Number nine, but twenty-nine of the series.

1.1 Next after these [Cerinthians] come the Nazoraeans [Ναζωραῖοι], at the same time as they or even before them — either together with them or after them, in any case their contemporaries. I cannot say more precisely who succeeded whom. For, as I said, these were contemporary with each other, and had ideas similar to each other’s. 2 For these people did not give themselves the name of Christ (≈ Eusebius, History 2.17.4) or Jesus’ own name, but that of “Nazoraeans.” 3 But at that time all Christians alike were called Nazoraeans [Ναζωραίων]. They also came to be called “Jessaeans [Ἰεσσαίους]” (= Ἐσσαῖοι; ≈ Therapeutae; Philo, On the Contemplative Life 1.1; Eusebius, History of the Church 2.17.1-24) for a short while, before the disciples began to be called Christians at Antioch. 4 But they were called Jessaeans [Ἰεσσαῖοι] because of Jesse [Ἰεσσαί], I suppose, since David was descended from Jesse [Ἰεσσαί] and Mary was a lineal descendant of David. This was in fulfillment of sacred scripture, since in the Old Testament the Lord tells David, “Of the fruit of your belly shall I set upon your throne.”

2.1 I am afraid of <drawing the treatment> of every expression <out too long and so>, though the truth moves me to touch on the considerations for contemplation in every expression, I give this note <in> brief, not to go to great length <in giving the explanation>. 2 Since the Lord said to David, “Of the fruit of your belly shall I set upon the throne,” and, “The Lord swore unto David and will not repent” (= Psalm 110.4, 109.4 OG) it is plain that God’s promise is irrevocable. 3 In the first place, what does God have to swear by, but “by myself have I sworn, says the Lord” (= Genesis 22.16)? For “God has no oath by a greater” (= Hebrews 6.13). The divine does not swear, however, but the statement has the function of providing confirmation. For the Lord swore to David with an oath that he would set the fruit of his belly upon his throne. 4 And the apostles bear witness that Christ had to be born of David’s seed, as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ indeed was. I shall pass over the vast number of testimonies, in order, as I said, not to drag the discussion out to great length. 5 But probably someone might say, “Since Christ was physically born of David’s seed, that is, of the Holy Virgin Mary, why is he not sitting on David’s throne? For the Gospel says, ‘They came that they might anoint him king, and when Jesus perceived this he departed and hid himself in Ephraim, a city of the wilderness’ (= John 6.15; 11.54).” 6 But now that I have gotten to this passage and am asked about this text and the reason why the prophecy about sitting on David’s throne has not been fulfilled physically in the Savior’s case — for some have thought that it has not — I shall still say that it is a fact. No word of God’s holy scripture comes to nothing.

3.1 For David’s throne and kingly seat is the priesthood in the holy church. The Lord has combined this kingly and high priestly rank and conferred it on his holy church by transferring David’s throne to it, never to fail. 2 In time past David’s throne continued by succession until Christ himself, since the rulers from Judah did not fail until he came “for whom are the things prepared, and he is the expectation of the nations” (= Genesis 49.10) <as> scripture says. 3 For the rulers in succession from Judah came to an end with Christ’s arrival. Until he came <the> rulers <were anointed priests> (≈ Jerome, Chronicle 61.12-14), but after his birth in Bethlehem of Judaea the order ended and was altered (≈ Eusebius, Chronicle 160.16-17; Jerome, Chronicle 148.6-8) in the time of Alexander, a ruler of priestly and kingly stock. 4 This position died out with this Alexander from the time of Salina also known as Alexandra, in the time of King Herod and the Roman emperor Augustus. Though this Alexander was crowned also, as one of the anointed priests and rulers (≈ Jerome, Chronicle 148.11-14). 5 For when the two tribes, the kingly and priestly, were united — I mean the tribe of Judah with Aaron and the whole tribe of Levi — kings also became priests, for nothing hinted at in holy scripture can be wrong (≈ Origen, Homilies on Samuel, fragment 4: καταγνοὺς οῦν τοῦ Σαοὺλ καὶ βουλόμενος τῷ Δαυὶδ τὰ τῆς ἀρχῆς καὶ τῷ σπέρματι αὐτοῦ φυλᾶξαι τὴν βασιλείαν διὰ τὸν ἐξ αὐτοῦ τεχθησόμενον κατὰ σάρκα βασιλέα τῆς κτίσεως ἁπάσης). 6 But then finally a gentile, King Herod, was crowned, and not David’s descendants any more. 7 But with the transfer of the royal throne the rank of king passed, in Christ, from the physical house of David and Israel to the church (≈ Justin Martyr, 1 Apology 32.1-3; Dialogue 11.4; 52.2-4; 120.3-5; 126.1; Irenaeus, Against Heresies 4.10.2; Eusebius, History 1.6.1-2, 4, 8; Demonstration 7). The throne is established in God’s holy church forever, and has both the kingly and the high-priestly rank for two reasons. 8 It has the kingly rank from our Lord Jesus Christ, in two ways: because he is physically descended from King David, and because he is in fact a greater king from all eternity in virtue of his Godhead. But it has the priestly rank because Christ himself is high priest and the founder of the office [πρύτανις] of the high priests 9 since James, who was called the Lord’s brother and who was his apostle, was immediately (≈ Eusebius, History 2.1.1-2) made the first bishop.16 He was Joseph’s son by birth, but was ranked as the Lord’s brother because of their upbringing together.

4.1 For this James was Joseph’s son by Joseph’s <first> wife (≈ Jerome, On Famous Men 2), not by Mary, as I have said in many other places and dealt with more clearly for you. 2 And moreover I find that he was of Davidic descent because of being Joseph’s son, <and> that he was born a Nazirite [Ναζιραῖόν] — for he was Joseph’s firstborn, and consecrated (≈ Hegesippus apud Eusebius, History 2.23.5). And I have found further that he also functioned as (high) priest in the ancient priesthood (= Hegesippus apud Eusebius, History 2.23.6). 3 Thus he was permitted to enter the Holy of Holies once a year, as scripture says the Law directed the high priests to do. For many before me — Eusebius, Clement, and others — have reported this of him. 4 But it was also allowed to him to wear the priestly tablet upon his head [καὶ τὸ πέταλον ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς ἐξῆν αὐτῷ φορεῖν] (≈ Polycrates apud Eusebius, History of the Church 3.31.3; 5.24.2, regarding John, ὃς ἐγενήθη ἱερεὺς τὸ πέταλον πεφορεκὼς), as the trustworthy authors I mentioned have testified in those same historical writings.

5 Now our Lord Jesus Christ, as I said, is “priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (= Hebrews 5.6), and at the same time hereditary king, so that he may transfer the priesthood along with the lawgiving. 6 And since David’s seed, through Mary, is seated on the throne, <his throne endures> forever and of his kingdom there shall be no end. He should now transfer the order of the former kingship; for indeed his kingdom is not earthly, as he said to Pontius Pilate in the Gospel, “My Kingdom is not of this world” (= John 18.36). 7 For since Christ brings to fulfillment (≈ Hebrews 3.5) all the things (that have been said) in riddles, the preliminaries have reached a limit. For he who is always king did not come to achieve sovereignty. He granted the crown to those whom he appointed — lest it be thought that he advanced from a lower estate to a higher. 8 For his throne endures, of his kingdom there shall be no end, and he is seated on the throne of David and has transferred David’s kingship and granted it, together with the high priesthood, to his own servants, the high priests of the catholic church.

9 And there is much to say about this. But in any case, since I have come to the topic of the reason why those who had come to faith in Christ were called Jessaeans [Ἰεσσαῖοι] before they were called Christians [Χριστιανοὶ], we said that Jesse [Ἰεσσαὶ] was the father of David. And they had been named Jessaeans [Ἰεσσαῖοι], either because of this Jesse or from the name of our Lord Jesus [Ἰησοῦ], since, being his disciples, they were derived from Jesus; or because of the etymology of the Lord’s name. For in Hebrew Jesus [Ἰησοῦς] means “healer” or “physician” and “savior.” 10 In any case, they had got this name before they were called Christians. But at Antioch, as I have mentioned before and as is the essence of the truth, the disciples and the whole church of God began to be called Christians.

5.1 If you enjoy study and have read the passage about them in Philo’s historical writings, in his book entitled “Jessaeans” [Ἰεσσαίων], you can find that, in giving his account of their way of life and their hymns and describing their monasteries in the vicinity of the Marean marsh, Philo described none other than Christians. 2 For when he visited the area — the place is called Mareotis — and was entertained by them at their monasteries in the region, he was edified. 3 He arrived there during Passover and observed their customs, and how some of them put off (eating) throughout the holy week of Passover, though others ate every other day and others, indeed, each evening. But all this has been written by Philo on the subject of the Christians’ faith and regimen (≈ Eusebius, History of the Church 2.17.1-24). 4 So when they were called Jessaeans then shortly after the Savior’s ascension and after Mark had preached in Egypt (= Eusebius, History of the Church 2.16.1-2), in those times certain other persons, supposed followers of the apostles, seceded in their turn. I mean the Nazoraeans, whom I am discussing here. They were Jewish, were attached to the Law, and had circumcision. 5 But it was as though people had seen fire under a misapprehension. Not understanding why, or for <what> use, the persons who had kindled this fire were doing it — either to cook their rations with the fire or to burn some dead trees and brush, which are usually destroyed by fire — they kindled fire too, in imitation, and set themselves ablaze. 6 For by hearing just Jesus’ name, and seeing the miracles performed by the hands of the apostles, they came to faith in Jesus themselves. And since they found that he had been conceived at Nazareth and brought up in Joseph’s home, and for this reason is called “Jesus the Nazoraean” in the Gospel — as the apostles say, “Jesus the Nazoraean [Ναζωραῖον], a man approved by signs and wonders” (= Acts 2.22), and so on — they adopted this name, so as to be called Nazoreans. 7 Not “Nazirites” [Ναζιραίους] — that means “consecrated persons.” Anciently this rank belonged to firstborn sons and men who had been dedicated to God. Samson was one, and others after him, and many before him. Moreover, John the Baptist too was one of these same persons who were consecrated to God, for “He drank neither wine nor strong drink” (= Luke 1.15). This regimen, an appropriate one for their rank, was prescribed for such persons. 6.1 They did not call themselves Nasaraeans [Νασαραίους] either; the sect of Nasaraeans [Νασαραίων] was before Christ and did not know Christ.

2 But besides, as I have indicated, everyone called the Christians [Χριστιανούς] Nazoraeans [Ναζωραίους], as they say in accusing Paul the apostle, “We have found this man a pestilent fellow and a perverter of the people, a ringleader of the sect of the Nazoraeans [Ναζωραίων]” (= Acts 24.5). 3 And the holy apostle did not disclaim the name — not to profess these people’s heresy, but he was glad to own the name his adversaries’ malice had applied to him for Christ’s sake. 4 For he says in court, “They neither found me in the temple disputing with any man, neither raising up the people, nor have I done any of those things whereof they accuse me. But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I, believing all things in the Law and the prophets” (= Acts 24.12-14). 5 And no wonder the apostle admitted to being a Nazoraean [Ναζωραῖον]! In those days everyone called Christians this because of the city of Nazareth [Ναζαρέτ] — there was no other usage of the name at the time. And so people gave the name of <“Nazoraeans”> to believers in Christ, of whom it is written, “because he shall be called a Nazoraean [Ναζωραῖος]” (= Matthew 2.23). 6 Even today, in fact, people call all the sects — I mean Manichaeans, Marcionites, Gnostics and others — by the common name of “Christians [Χριστιανούς],” though they are not Christians [Χριστιανούς]. However, although each sect has another name, it still allows this one with pleasure, since the name is an ornament to it. For they think they can preen themselves on Christ’s name — certainly not on Christ’s faith and works!

7 Thus Christ’s holy disciples too called themselves “disciples of Jesus [μαθητὰς Ἰησοῦ]” then, as indeed they were. But when others called them Nazoraeans [Ναζωραῖοι] they did not reject it, being aware of the intent of those who were calling them that. They were calling them Nazoraeans because of Christ, since our Lord Jesus was called “<the> Nazoraean [Ναζωραῖος]” himself — as the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles say — 8 because of his upbringing in the city of Nazareth [Ναζαρέτ], now a village, in Joseph’s home, after having been born in the flesh at Bethlehem, of the ever-virgin Mary, Joseph’s betrothed. For Joseph had settled in Nazareth [Ναζαρέτ] after leaving Bethlehem and taking up residence in Galilee.

7.1 But these same sectarians whom I am discussing here disregarded the name of Jesus, and neither called themselves Jessaeans [Ἰεσσαίους], kept the name of Jews, nor termed themselves Christians [Χριστιανοὺς], but rather “Nazoraeans [Ναζωραίους]” supposedly from the name of the place “Nazareth [Ναζαρέτ].” But they are Jews in every way and nothing else. 2 They use not only the New Testament but the Old Testament as well, as the Jews do. For they do not repudiate the legislation, the prophets, and the books which are called Writings by the Jews and by themselves. They have no different views but confess everything in full accord with the doctrine of the Law and like the Jews, except that they are supposedly believers in Christ. 3 For they acknowledge both the resurrection of the dead and that all things have been created by God (≈ Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.26.2; Hippolytus, Refutation 7.34.1; pseudo-Tertullian, Against All Heresies 3.3, of the Ebionites), and they declare that God is one, and that his Child [παῖδα] is Jesus Christ. 4 They are perfectly versed in the Hebrew language, for the entire Law, the prophets, and the so called Writings — I mean the poetic books, Kings, Chronicles, Esther and all the rest — are read in Hebrew among them, as of course they are among the Jews. 5 They are different from Jews, and different from Christians, only in the following ways. They disagree with Jews because of their belief in Christ; but they are not in accord with Christians because they are still fettered by the Law — circumcision, the Sabbath, and the rest (≈ Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1.26.2, of the Ebionites; Eusebius, History 3.27.3). 6 As to Christ, I cannot say whether they too are misled by the wickedness of Cerinthus and Merinthus, and regard him as a mere man — or whether, as the truth is, they affirm that he was born of Mary by the Holy Spirit. 7 This sect of Nazoraeans [Ναζωραίων] is to be found in Beroea (≈ Jerome, On Famous Men 3) near Coelesyria, in the Decapolis near Pella, and in Basanitis at the place called Cocabe, Khokhabe in Hebrew. 8 For that was its place of origin, since all the disciples had settled in Pella after their remove from Jerusalem — Christ having told them to abandon Jerusalem and withdraw from it (≈ Eusebius, History 3.5.3) because of the siege it was about to undergo. And they settled in Perea for this reason and, as I said, lived their lives there. It was from this that the sect of the Nazoraeans [Ναζωραίους] had its origin.

8.1 But they too are wrong to boast of circumcision, and persons like themselves are still “under a curse” (= Galatians 3.10) since they cannot fulfil the Law. For how will they be able to fulfil the Law’s provision, “Thrice a year you will appear before the Lord your God, at the feasts of Unleavened Bread, Tabernacles, and Pentecost” (= Deuteronomy 16.16), on the site of Jerusalem? 2 For since the site is closed off (≈ Justin Martyr, 1 Apology 47.5-6), and the Law’s provisions cannot be fulfilled, it must be plain to anyone with sense that Christ came to be the fulfiller of the Law — not to destroy the Law but to fulfil the Law — and to lift the curse that had been pronounced on transgression of the Law. 3 For after Moses had given every commandment he came to the end of the book and “included the whole in a curse” (= Galatians 3.22) by saying, “Cursed is he who does not continue in all the words that are written in this book to do them” (= Deuteronomy 27.26; Galatians 3.10). 8,4 Hence Christ came to free what had been fettered with the bonds of the curse by granting us, in place of the lesser commandments which cannot be fulfilled, ones which are greater and which are not inconsistent with the completion of the task as the former ones were. 5 For often in every Sect, when I reached the point, I have explained in connection with the Sabbath, circumcision and the rest, how the Lord has granted us something more perfect.

6 But how can people like these be defensible since they have not obeyed the Holy Spirit who said through the apostles to gentile converts, “Assume no burden save the necessary things, that ye abstain from blood, and from things strangled, and fornication, and from meats offered to idols” (= Acts 15.28-29)? 7 And how can they fail to lose the grace of God, when the holy apostle Paul says, “If you should be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing; whosoever of you do glory in the Law are fallen from grace” (= Galatians 5.2-4)?

9.1 In this Sect too, my brief discussion will be sufficient. People of their kind are refutable at once and easy to detect and, rather (than being heretical Christians), are Jews and nothing else. 2 Yet to the Jews they are very much enemies. Not only do Jewish people bear hatred against them; they even stand up at dawn, at midday, and toward evening, three times a day when they recite their prayers in the synagogues, and curse and anathematize them — saying three times a day, “God curse the Nazoraeans [Ναζωραίους, נצרים, noṣrim]” (≈ ברכת המינים, liturgical manuscripts of the Cairo Genizah). 3 For they harbor a further grudge against them, if you please, because despite their Jewish origin, they preach that Jesus is <the> Christ — something that is the opposite of those who are still Jews and have not accepted Jesus.

In this last section Epiphanius asserts that the Jews curse the Nazoraeans in their synagogues. This claim seems related to similar, less specific claims from other fathers:

Justin Martyr, Dialogue 16.3b-4: 3b Accordingly, these things have happened to you in fairness and justice, 4 for you have slain the Just One, and His prophets before Him; and now you reject those who hope in Him, and in Him who sent Him — God the Almighty and Maker of all things — cursing in your synagogues those that believe on Christ. For you have not the power to lay hands upon us, on account of those who now have the mastery. But as often as you could, you did so. / 3b καὶ ὑμῖν οὖν ταῦτα καλῶς καὶ δικαίως γέγονεν. 4 ἀπεκτείνατε γὰρ τὸν δίκαιον καὶ πρὸ αὐτοῦ τοὺς προφήτας αὐτοῦ· καὶ νῦν τοὺς ἐλπίζοντας ἐπ' αὐτὸν καὶ τὸν πέμψαντα αὐτὸν παντοκράτορα καὶ ποιητὴν τῶν ὅλων θεὸν ἀθετεῖτε καί, ὅσον ἐφ' ὑμῖν, ἀτιμάζετε, καταρώμενοι ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς ὑμῶν τοὺς πιστεύοντας ἐπὶ τὸν Χριστόν. οὐ γὰρ ἐξουσίαν ἔχετε αὐτόχειρες γενέσθαι ἡμῶν διὰ τοὺς νῦν ἐπικρατοῦντας· ὁσάκις δὲ ἂν ἐδυνήθητε, καὶ τοῦτο ἐπράξατε.

Justin Martyr, Dialogue 47.4: 4 But I believe that even those, who have been persuaded by them to observe the legal dispensation along with their confession of God in Christ, shall probably be saved. And I hold, further, that such as have confessed and known this man to be Christ, yet who have gone back from some cause to the legal dispensation, and have denied that this man is Christ, and have not repented before death, shall by no means be saved. Further, I hold that those of the seed of Abraham who live according to the law, and do not believe in this Christ before death, shall likewise not be saved, and especially those who have anathematized and do anathematize this very Christ in the synagogues, and everything by which they might obtain salvation and escape the vengeance of fire. / 4 τοὺς δὲ πειθομένους αὐτοῖς ἐπὶ τὴν ἔννομον πολιτείαν μετὰ τοῦ φυλάσσειν τὴν εἰς τὸν Χριστὸν τοῦ θεοῦ ὁμολογίαν καὶ σωθήσεσθαι ἴσως ὑπολαμβάνω. τοὺς δὲ ὁμολογήσαντας καὶ ἐπιγνόντας τοῦτον εἶναι τὸν Χριστὸν καὶ ᾑτινιοῦν αἰτίᾳ μεταβάντας ἐπὶ τὴν ἔννομον πολιτείαν, ἀρνησαμένους ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ Χριστός, καὶ πρὶν τελευτῆς μὴ μεταγνόντας, οὐδ' ὅλως σωθήσεσθαι ἀποφαίνομαι. καὶ τοὺς ἀπὸ τοῦ σπέρματος τοῦ Ἀβραὰμ ζῶντας κατὰ τὸν νόμον καὶ ἐπὶ τοῦτον τὸν Χριστὸν μὴ πιστεύοντας πρὶν τελευτῆς τοῦ βίου οὐ σωθήσεσθαι ὁμοίως ἀποφαίνομαι, καὶ μάλιστα τοὺς ἐν ταῖς συναγωγαῖς καταθεματίσαντας καὶ καταθεματίζοντας τοὺς ἐπ' αὐτὸν τοῦτον τὸν Χριστὸν πιστεύοντας ὅπως τύχωσι τῆς σωτηρίας καὶ τῆς τιμωρίας τῆς ἐν τῷ πυρὶ ἀπαλλαγῶσιν.

Origen, Against Celsus 2.29: 29 In the preceding pages we have already spoken of this point, namely, the prediction that there were to be two advents of Christ to the human race, so that it is not necessary for us to reply to the objection, supposed to be urged by a Jew, that the prophets declare the coming one to be a mighty potentate, Lord of all nations and armies. But it is in the spirit of a Jew, I think, and in keeping with their bitter animosity, and baseless and even improbable calumnies against Jesus [Ἰουδαϊκῶς δ' οἶμαι... καὶ κατὰ τὴν ἐκείνων χολὴν μετὰ τοῦ χωρὶς ἀποδείξεως κἂν πιθανῆς λοιδορεῖν τὸν Ἰησοῦν], that he says, “Nor did they predict such a pestilence.” For neither Jews, nor Celsus, nor any other, can bring any argument to prove that a pestilence converts men from the practice of evil to a life which is according to nature, and distinguished by temperance and other virtues.

Tosefta, Berakhot 3.25 (English translation slightly formatted from Ruth Langer, Cursing the Christians? A History of the Birkat HaMinim, page 19): 25 The eighteen blessings that the sages decreed correspond to the eighteen mentions of God’s name in Psalm 29. One includes that about the heretics [minim] in the blessing about the separatists, and that about the converts in the blessing of the elders, and that about David in the blessing for building Jerusalem. But if one recites these separately, one has prayed appropriately.

Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 28b-29a: 28b .... Our Rabbis taught, “Simeon HaPakuli arranged the eighteen benedictions in order before Rabban Gamaliel in Jabneh. Said Rabban Gamaliel to the Sages, ‘Can any one among you frame a benediction relating to the heretics [minim]?’ Samuel the Lesser arose and composed it. The next year he forgot it, 29a and he tried for two or three hours to recall it, and they did not remove him.”

Jerome, Commentary on Amos 1.11-12 (English translation modified from Ruth Langer, Cursing the Christians? A History of the Birkat HaMinim, pages 31-32): Until today in their synagogues they blaspheme the Christian people under the name Nazarenes [usque hodie in synagogis suis sub nomine Nazarenorum blasphemant populum Christianum].

Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah 5.18-19 (book 2; English translation modified from Ruth Langer, Cursing the Christians? A History of the Birkat HaMinim, pages 31-32): This is said to the leaders of the Jews who have been clearly shown above in their avarice and luxury because, after having been invited by the Lord and later by the apostles to do penitence, up to the present day they persevere in blasphemy, and three times a day in all the synagogues they anathematize the Christian name under the name of Nazarenes [et ter per singulos dies in omnibus synagogis sub nomine Nazarenorum anathematizent vocabulum Chistianum]. [Link.]

Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah 49.7 (book 13; English translation modified from Ruth Langer, Cursing the Christians? A History of the Birkat HaMinim, pages 31-32): For as a good shepherd he lay down his soul for his sheep and despised it, and became an abomination to the tribe of the Jews, for they curse him in their synagogues three times every day under that name of Nazarenes [cui ter per singulos dies sub nomine Nazarenorum maledicunt in synagogis suis]. [Link.]

Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah 52.5 (book 14; English translation modified from Ruth Langer, Cursing the Christians? A History of the Birkat HaMinim, pages 31-32): And one must know that “among the gentiles” is not in the Hebrew, but in short “my name is blasphemed continuously,” in order that they may be heard also in your synagogues [in synagogis vestris]: they who night and day blaspheme the Savior utter curses against the Christians three times a day, as I have said, under the name of Nazarenes [qui diebus ac noctibus blasphemant Salvatorem, et sub nomine, ut saepe dixi, Nazarenorum, ter in die in Christianos congerunt maledicta]. [Link.]

What is important to note is that the Jewish prayers which we possess which curse the Nazarenes are actually cursing the Noṣrim; that is, the Semitic word bears the ṣade, not the zayin, regardless of what the various renderings in English or in Greek or Latin may present us with. What follows is a composite version of the prayer from Ruth Langer:

Composite prayer from Ruth Langer, Cursing the Christians? A History of the Birkat HaMinim, pages 46-47: 46 May there be no hope for apostates if they do not return to Your Law; and may all the heretics [המינים] immediately perish; and may all the enemies of Your people quickly be cut off; and may You quickly uproot, smash, and humble the empire of insolence in our day; and may the Noṣrim [והנצרים] and the heretics [והמינים] immediately perish; 47 may they be blotted from the Book of Life and not be inscribed with the righteous; and may all the enemies of Your people and their oppressors quickly be cut off; and break the yoke of the gentiles from our necks, and grant no recovery to any of our enemies. Blessed are You, Eternal One, Who breaks evildoers/enemies and humbles the insolent.

I want to stress that this prayer does not represent any single version which Langer offers; rather, I have taken all readings into one from seven different versions which she presents in a useful synoptic format. My only purposes are (A) to give an idea of what the prayer was like and (B) to show the spelling of the term Noṣrim, which appears in five of the seven versions. There is much debate over exactly when certain Jewish synagogues started cursing the Noṣrim, but the main point here and now is that it is the Noṣrim whom they cursed, with the ṣade.

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Re: Of Nazirites & Naṣoraeans.

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Zz Ζζ ז (Zeta/Zayin) — The Later Greek and Latin Christian Texts, Part 2, and the Lexica

Jerome has quite a lot to say about the Nazaraeans:

Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah (preface to book 18): Since indeed the apostles supposed Him a spirit, or according to the gospel which the Nazaraeans [Nazaraei] read of the Hebrews an incorporeal daemon, He says to them, “Why are you troubled, and cogitations ascend in your hearts? See my hands and feet, that it is I myself. Handle and discern, because a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And, when He had said this, He showed them his hands and feet.

Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah 8.14 (book 3; translation slightly modified from that of Ray A. Pritz, Nazarene Jewish Christianity, page 58): The Nazarenes [Nazaraei], who accept Christ in such a way that they do not cease to observe the old law, explain the two houses as the two families, namely of Shammai and Hillel, from whom originated the Scribes and the Pharisees. Akiba, who took over their school, is called the master of Aquila the proselyte, and after him came Meir, who has been succeeded by Joannes, the son of Zakkai; and after him Eliezer and further Telphon, and next Joseph Galilaeus and Joshua up to the capture of Jerusalem. Shammai, then, and Hillel were born not long before the Lord; they originated in Judea. The name of the first means “scatterer” and of the second “unholy,” because he scattered and defiled the precepts of the Law by his traditions and δευτερώσεις. And these are the two houses who did not accept the Savior, who has become to them destruction and shame.

Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah 8.20-21 (book 3; translation slightly modified from that of Ray A. Pritz, Nazarene Jewish Christianity, pages 62-63): For the rest the Nazarenes [Nazarei] explain the passage in this way. When the Scribes and Pharisees tell you to listen to them, men who do everything for the love of the belly and who hiss during their incantations in the way of magicians in order to deceive you, you must answer them like this: “It is not strange if you follow your traditions, since every tribe consults its own idols. We must not, therefore, consult your dead about the living ones. On the contrary, God has given us the Law and the testimonies of the scriptures. If you are not willing to follow them, you shall not have light, and the darkness will always oppress you. It will cover your earth and your doctrine so that, when you see that those have been deceived by you in error, and they feel a longing for the truth, they will then be sad or angry. And let those who believe themselves to be like their own gods and kings curse you. And let them look at the heaven and the earth in vain since they are always in darkness and they can not flee away from your ambushes.”

Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah 9.1-4 (book 3; translation slightly modified from that of Ray A. Pritz, Nazarene Jewish Christianity, page 64): The Nazarenes [Nazaraei], whose opinion I have set forth above, try to explain this passage in the following way. When Christ came and his preaching shone out, the land of Zebulon and Naphtali, first of all, were freed from the errors of the Scribes and Pharisees, and he shook off their shoulders the very heavy yoke of the Jewish traditions. Later, however, the preaching became more dominant; that means the preaching was multiplied through the Gospel of the Apostle Paul who was the last of all the apostles. And the Gospel of Christ shone to the most distant tribes and the way of the whole sea. Finally, the whole world, which earlier walked or sat in darkness and was imprisoned in the bonds of idolatry and death, has seen the clear light of the Gospel.

Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah 11.2 (book 4): But according to the gospel which the Nazaraeans [Nazaraei] read, written up in Hebrew speech, “The whole fount of the holy spirit shall descend over him....” Further on in the gospel of which we made mention above we find these things written: “But it happened that, when the Lord ascended from the water, the whole fount of the Holy Spirit descended and rested over him, and said to him, ‘My son, in all the prophets I was expecting You, that You should come, and I might rest in You. You indeed are my rest. You are my firstborn son, Who reigns in eternity.’”

Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah 29.20-21 (book 9; translation slightly modified from that of Ray A. Pritz, Nazarene Jewish Christianity, page 65): What we have understood to have been written about the devil and his angels the Nazarenes [Nazaraei] believe to have been said against the Scribes and the Pharisees, because the δευτερωταί passed away who earlier deceived the people with very vicious traditions (and they watch day and night to deceive the simple ones), who made men sin against the Word of God in order that they should deny that Christ was the Son of God.

Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah 31.6-9 (book 10; translation slightly modified from that of Ray A. Pritz, Nazarene Jewish Christianity, page 68): The Nazarenes [Nazaraei] understand this passage in this way. Sons of Israel, who deny the Son of God with a most vicious opinion, turn to him and his Apostles. For if you will do this, you will reject all idols which to you were a cause of sin in the past, and the devil will fall before you, not because of your powers, but because of the compassion of God. And his young men, who at a certain time earlier fought for him, will be the tributaries of the church, and any of his power and stone will pass. Also, the philosophers and every perverse dogma will turn their backs to the sign of the cross, because this is the meaning of the Lord, that his will take place, whose fire or light is in Sion and his oven in Jerusalem.

Jerome, Commentary on Isaiah 40.9 (book 11): But also in the gospel which the Nazaraeans [Nazaraei] read, written according to the Hebrews, the Lord says, “Just now my mother, the Holy Spirit, bore me away.”

Jerome, Commentary on Jeremiah 3.14-16: They shall not have confidence in the ark of the Lord which was the guardian of the Mosaic Law, for they themselves will be a temple of God and not according to the erring Nazareans [Nazareos] serving the sacrifices which have been abolished, but aiming at a spiritual worship.

Jerome, Commentary on Ezekiel 16.13: In the gospel of the Hebrews also, which the Nazaraeans [Nazaraei] read, the Savior is introduced saying, “Just now My mother, the Holy Spirit, snatched Me away.”

Jerome, Commentary on Ezekiel 18.7: And in the gospel which the Nazaraeans [Nazaraei] are accustomed to read, according to the Hebrews, it places among the maximal crimes one who has caused sorrow to the spirit of his brother.

Jerome, Commentary on Matthew 12.13 (book 2): In the gospel which the Nazaraeans and Ebionites [Nazaraeni et Ebionitae] use, which we recently translated from Hebrew speech into Greek, and which is called by many the authentic gospel of Matthew, this man who has the dry hand is written to be a mason, praying for help with words of this kind: “I was a mason, seeking a livelihood with my hands. I pray, Jesus, that You restore health to me, lest I disgracefully beg food.”

Jerome, Commentary on Matthew 13.53-54 (book 2): Strange stupidity of the Nazarenes [Nazarenorum]! They wonder whence wisdom possessed wisdom and power possessed powers, but their obvious error is that they looked only at the son of the carpenter.

Jerome, Commentary on Matthew 23.35 (book 4): In the gospel which the Nazaraeans [Nazaraeni] use, instead of “the son of Berechiah,” we find “the son of Jehoiada.”

Jerome, Commentary on Matthew 27.9-10 (book 4): Recently I read a certain Hebrew work which a Hebrew person of the Nazarene sect [Nazarenae sectae] offered me as an apocryphal book of Jeremiah [Hieremiae apocryphum], in which I found these words literally.

Jerome, Against the Pelagians 3.2: 2 In the gospel according to the Hebrews, which indeed is written in Chaldean and Syrian speech, but with Hebraic letters, which the Nazarenes [Nazareni] use until this day, according to the apostles, or as most term it according to Matthew, which is also held in the Caesarean library, it narrates the story: “Behold, the mother of the Lord and his brothers were saying to him: ‘John the baptist is baptizing for the remission of sins. Let us also be baptized by him.’ But he said to them, ‘How have I sinned, that I should go and be baptized by him? Unless perchance this that I have just said is ignorance.’”

Jerome, On Famous Men 3: 3 Matthew, who is also Levi, the former publican apostle, first composed in Hebrew letters the gospel of Christ in Judea on account of those who had believed from among the circumcision; who afterward translated it into Greek is not sufficiently certain. Furthermore, this Hebrew is held even until today in the Caesarean library which Pamphilus the martyr studiously put together. There was an opportunity for me from the Nazaraeans [Nazaraeis] to copy this volume, which is used in Beroea, a city of Syria, in which it must be noted that, wherever the evangelist, whether from his own person or from the Lord and Savior, makes use of testimonies of the old scriptures, he does not follow the authority of the Seventy translators, but rather of the Hebrew, from which two things are, “Out of Egypt did I call my son” (= Hosea 11.1; Matthew 2.15), and, “For he shall be called a Nazarene [Nazaraeus]” (= Judges 13.5, 7; Matthew 2.23).

Jerome, Epistle 112 to Augustine 4.13: 13 The matter in debate, therefore, or I should rather say your opinion regarding it, is summed up in this, that since the preaching of the gospel of Christ the believing Jews do well in observing the precepts of the law, that is, in offering sacrifices as Paul did, in circumcising their children, as Paul did in the case of Timothy, and keeping the Jewish Sabbath, as all the Jews have been accustomed to do. If this be true, we fall into the heresy of Cerinthus and Ebion, who, though believing in Christ, were anathematized by the fathers for this one error, that they mixed up the ceremonies of the law with the gospel of Christ, and professed their faith in that which was new, without letting go what was old. Why do I speak of the Ebionites [Hebionitis], who make pretensions to the name of Christian? In our own day there exists a sect among the Jews throughout all the synagogues of the East which is called the sect of the Minei, and is even now condemned by the Pharisees. The adherents to this sect are known commonly as Nazarenes [Nazaraeos]; they believe in Christ the Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary; and they say that He who suffered under Pontius Pilate and rose again is the same as the one in whom we believe. But while they desire to be both Jews and Christians, they are neither the one nor the other. I therefore beseech you, who think that you are called upon to heal my slight wound, which is no more, so to speak, than a prick or scratch from a needle, to devote your skill in the healing art to this grievous wound which has been opened by a spear driven home with the impetus of a javelin. For there is surely no proportion between the culpability of him who exhibits the various opinions held by the fathers in a commentary on Scripture and the guilt of him who reintroduces within the Church a most pestilential heresy. If, however, there is for us no alternative but to receive the Jews into the Church, along with the usages prescribed by their law, if, in short, it shall be declared lawful for them to continue in the churches of Christ what they have been accustomed to practice in the synagogues of Satan, I will tell you my opinion of the matter: they will not become Christians, but they will make us Jews.

Notice that both Jerome and Epiphanius locate at least a part of this sect in Beroea, modern Aleppo, in Syria; Epiphanius adds that it is also located both in the Decapolis near Pella and in Basanitis (Bashan).

Augustine mentions the sect, as well:

Augustine, Against Faustus 19.4: 4 If one of the Nazaraeans [Nazaraeorum], or Symmachians [Symmachianos], as they are sometimes called, were arguing with me from these words of Jesus that he came not to destroy the law, I should find some difficulty in answering him. For it is undeniable that, at his coming, Jesus was both in body and mind subject to the influence of the law and the prophets. Those people, moreover, whom I allude to, practise circumcision, and keep the Sabbath, and abstain from the flesh of swine and such like things, according to the law, although they profess to be Christians. They are evidently misled as well as you, by this verse in which Christ says that he came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it. It would not be easy to reply to such opponents without first getting rid of this troublesome verse. But with you I have no difficulty, for you have nothing to go upon; and instead of using arguments, you seem disposed, in mere mischief, to induce me to believe that Christ said what you evidently do not yourself believe him to have said. On the strength of this verse you accuse me of dullness and evasiveness, without yourself giving any indication of keeping the law instead of destroying it. Do you too, like a Jew or a Nazarean [Nazaraeus], glory in the obscene distinction of being circumcised? Do you pride yourself in the observance of the Sabbath? Can you congratulate yourself on being innocent of the flesh of swine? Or can you boast of having gratified the appetite of the Deity by the blood of sacrifices and the incense of Jewish offerings? If not, why do you contend that Christ came not to destroy the law, but to fulfill it?

Augustine, Against Faustus 19.17: 17 Corresponding to this change in words is the change which naturally took place in the substitution of new sacraments instead of those of the Old Testament. In the case of the first Christians, who came to the faith as Jews, it was by degrees that they were brought to change their customs, and to have a clear perception of the truth; and permission was given them by the apostle to preserve their hereditary worship and belief, in which they had been born and brought up; and those who had to do with them were required to make allowance for this reluctance to accept new customs. So the apostle circumcised Timothy, the son of a Jewish mother and a Greek father, when they went among people of this kind; and he himself accommodated his practice to theirs, not hypocritically, but for a wise purpose. For these practices were harmless in the case of those born and brought up in them, though they were no longer required to prefigure things to come. It would have done more harm to condemn them as hurtful in the case of those to whose time it was intended that they should continue. Christ, who came to fulfill all these prophecies, found those people trained in their own religion. But in the case of those who had no such training, but were brought to Christ, the cornerstone, from the opposite wall of circumcision, there was no obligation to adopt Jewish customs. If, indeed, like Timothy, they chose to accommodate themselves to the views of those of the circumcision who were still wedded to their old sacraments, they were free to do so. But if they supposed that their hope and salvation depended on these works of the law, they were warned against them as a fatal danger. So the apostle says, “Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if you be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing” (= Galatians 5.2), that is, if they were circumcised, as they were intending to be, in compliance with some corrupt teachers, who told them that without these works of the law they could not be saved. For when, chiefly through the preaching of the Apostle Paul, the Gentiles were coming to the faith of Christ, as it was proper that they should come, without being burdened with Jewish observances — for those who were grown up were deterred from the faith by fear of ceremonies to which they were not accustomed, especially of circumcision; and if they who had not been trained from their birth to such observances had been made proselytes in the usual way, it would have implied that the coming of Christ still required to be predicted as a future event — when, then, the Gentiles were admitted without these ceremonies, those of the circumcision who believed, not understanding why the Gentiles were not required to adopt their customs, nor why they themselves were still allowed to retain them, began to disturb the Church with carnal contentions, because the Gentiles were admitted into the people of God without being made proselytes in the usual way by circumcision and the other legal observances. Some also of the converted Gentiles were bent on these ceremonies, from fear of the Jews among whom they lived. Against these Gentiles the Apostle Paul often wrote, and when Peter was carried away by their hypocrisy, he corrected him with a brotherly rebuke (Galatians 2.14). Afterwards, when the apostles met in council, decreed that these works of the law were not obligatory in the case of the Gentiles (= Acts 15.6-11), some Christians of the circumcision were displeased, because they failed to understand that these observances were permissible only in those who had been trained in them before the revelation of faith, to bring to a close the prophetic life in those who were engaged in it before the prophecy was fulfilled, lest by a compulsory abandonment it should seem to be condemned rather than closed; while to lay these things on the Gentiles would imply either that they were not instituted to prefigure Christ, or that Christ was still to be prefigured. The ancient people of God, before Christ came to fulfill the law and the prophets, were required to observe all these things by which Christ was prefigured. It was freedom to those who understood the meaning of the observance, but it was bondage to those who did not. But the people in those latter times who come to believe in Christ as having already come, and suffered, and risen, in the case of those whom this faith found trained to those sacraments, are neither required to observe them, nor prohibited from doing so; while there is a prohibition in the case of those who were not bound by the ties of custom, or by any necessity, to accommodate themselves to the practice of others, so that it might become manifest that these things were instituted to prefigure Christ, and that after His coming they were to cease, because the promises had been fulfilled. Some believers of the circumcision who did not understand this were displeased with this tolerant arrangement which the Holy Spirit effected through the apostles, and stubbornly insisted on the Gentiles becoming Jews. These are the people of whom Faustus speaks under the name of Symmachians or Nazareans [Symmachianorum vel Nazareorum]. Their number is now very small, but the sect still continues.

Augustine, Against Crescionus 1.31: 31 And now there are certain heretics who call themselves Nazarenes [Nazarenos], but who by some are called Symmachians [Symmachiani], who practice the circumcision of Jews and the baptism of Christians.

Augustine, Epistle 82 to Jerome 2.16: 16 Shall I also sum up the matter in debate, or rather your opinion concerning it, to quote your own expression? It seems to me to be this, that after the gospel of Christ has been published, the Jews who believe do rightly if they offer sacrifices as Paul did, if they circumcise their children as Paul circumcised Timothy, and if they observe the seventh day of the week, as the Jews have always done, provided only that they do all this as dissemblers and deceivers. If this is your doctrine, we are now precipitated, not into the heresy of Ebion or of those who are commonly called Nazarenes [in haeresim Ebionis vel eorum quos vulgo Nazaraeos nuncupant], or any other known heresy, but into some new error, which is all the more pernicious because it originates not in mistake, but in deliberate and designed endeavour to deceive. ....

Augustine, On Baptism, Against the Donatists 7.1: 1 .... But if he thought otherwise than right on any point, and persuaded certain of his brethren and colleagues to entertain his views in a matter which he now sees clearly through the revelation of Him whom he loved, let us, who are far inferior to his merits, yet following as our weakness will allow the authority of the Catholic Church of which he was himself a conspicuous and most noble member, strive our utmost against heretics and schismatics, seeing that they, being cut off from the unity which he maintained and barren of the love with which he was fruitful, and fallen away from the humility in which he stood, are disavowed and condemned the more by him in proportion as he knows that they wish to search out his writings for purposes of treachery, and are unwilling to imitate what he did for the maintainance of peace — like those who call themselves Nazarene Christians [qui se Christianos Nazarenos vocant] and circumcise the foreskin of their flesh after the fashion of the Jews, being heretics by birth in that error from which Peter, when straying from the truth, was called by Paul (= Galatians 2.11), and persist in the same to the present day. As therefore they have remained in their perversity cut off from the body of the Church, while Peter has been crowned in the primacy of the apostles through the glory of martyrdom, so these men, while Cyprian, through the abundance of his love, has been received into the portion of the saints through the brightness of his passion, are obliged to recognize themselves as exiles from unity, and, in defense of their calumnies, set up a citizen of unity as an opponent against the very home of unity. Let us, therefore, go on to examine the other judgments of that Council after the same fashion.

This next text I could not find an English translation for, so I give my own:

Anonymous, Dialogue With the Jews 6.319b-329: 319b-329 Ἄκουε φανερῶς· «ὁ Ναζωραῖος» ἐκ τῆς Ἑβραΐδος γλώττης εἰς τὴν Ἑλλάδα μεταβαλλόμενος, ἄνθος ἑρμηνεύεται· ἄνθος τοίνυν ὁ σωτὴρ ἡμῶν καὶ παρὰ Σολομῶντος ἐν τῷ Ἄσματι τῶν Ἀσμάτων προείρηται, καὶ παρὰ τῷ Ἡσαΐᾳ γέγραπται. Σολομὼν μὲν γὰρ ὡς ἐκ προσώπου τοῦ νυμφίου δραματουργῶν τῆς ἀκηράτου συναφείας τὰ θεῖα μυστήρια, ταῦτα φησὶ πρὸς τὴν νύμφην· Ἐγὼ ἄνθος τοῦ πεδίου, κρίνον τῶν κοιλάδων, Ἡσαΐας δὲ ἄνθος ἐκ τῆς ῥίζης τοῦ Ἰεσσαὶ ἀναβαῖνον τῷ πνεύματι προτεθέαται, ἐφ' ὃν τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον τοῦ θεοῦ ἀναπαύεσθαι γέγραφεν. / 319b-329 Listen clearly: when “the Nazoraean” is translated from the Hebrew tongue into the Greek, it is interpreted as “flower.” Accordingly, our Savior is a flower and is called as much by Solomon in the Song of Songs, and is written to be such by Isaiah. For Solomon, dramatizing the divine mysteries of the pure union as if from the perspective of the bridegroom, says these things to the bride: “I am a flower of the plain, a lily of the valleys” (= Song of Solomon 2.1), and Isaiah has written by the Spirit that it has been purposed that there will “sprout up from the root of Jesse a flower, upon which the Holy Spirit of God will rest” (= Isaiah 11.1-2).

Isaiah 11.1-2: 1 Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch/flower [נֵצֶר, ἄνθος] from his roots will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. / 1 καὶ ἐξελεύσεται ῥάβδος ἐκ τῆς ῥίζης Ιεσσαι, καὶ ἄνθος ἐκ τῆς ῥίζης ἀναβήσεται. 2 καὶ ἀναπαύσεται ἐπ᾽ αὐτὸν πνεῦμα τοῦ θεοῦ, πνεῦμα σοφίας καὶ συνέσεως, πνεῦμα βουλῆς καὶ ἰσχύος, πνεῦμα γνώσεως καὶ εὐσεβείας.

We also have various lexical entries purporting to give the etymologies of our relevant terms, with varying degrees of success:

Pseudo-Aelius Herodianus, Partitiones (= Ἐπιμερισμοί) 164.8-12, discussing the suffix -αῖος: 8-12 Likewise also such ethnic names as: Jew/Judean, Hebrew, Sadducee, Pharisee, Nazoraean, and Naziraean, the venerable, and the rest; and such proper names as: Matthew, Thaddaeus, Lebaeus, Antaeus, Arnaeus, and such like. / 8-12 Ὡσαύτως καὶ ὅσα ἐθνικά, οἷον· Ἰουδαῖος· Ἑβραῖος· Σαδδουκαῖος· Φαρισαῖος· Ναζωραῖος, καὶ Ναζιραῖος, ὁ καλόγηρος, καὶ τὰ λοιπά· καὶ ὅσα κύρια, οἷον· Ματθαῖος· Θαδδαῖος· Λεβαῖος· Ἀνταῖος· Ἀρναῖος, καὶ τὰ ὅμοια.

Pseudo-Zonaras, Lexicon, alphabetic letter nu, page 1383, line 21: 21 <Ναζωραῖος>. ἅγιος ἑρμηνεύεται. / 21 Nazorean. This, interpreted, is “holy.”

Anonymous, Etymologicum Gudianum, alphabetic letter nu, page 401, lines 41-42, 55-56:

41 Nazareth, purification; and Nazaraean, the purifier. / 41 <Ναζαρὲτ>, κάθαρσις· καὶ Ναζαραῖος, ὁ καθαριστής.
42 Naziraean, the pure and holy. / 42 <Ναζιραῖος>, ὁ καθαρὸς καὶ ἅγιος.
55-56 Naziraean, sanctified, pure calf [monk?] [the text is corrupt], holy, from which also the Naziraean role, the angelic. / 55-56 <Ναζιραῖος>, ἡγιασμένος, καθαρὸς μόσχος [μοναχός?], ἄθυξ, ἅγιος, ἐξ οὗ καὶ ναζιραῖον σχῆμα, τὸ ἀγγελικόν.

Anonymous (Souidas), Suda, alphabetic letter nu, listings 9-12:

9 Nazarene: from Nazareth of Galilee. / 9 <Ναζαρηνός:> ἀπὸ Ναζαρὲτ τῆς Γαλιλαίας.
10 Naziraean: the one gifted and dedicated to God; the monk [or: the solitary one]. And it is known that, in the time of Claudius, king of Rome, after Peter the apostle had ordained Euodius in Antioch, those of old, who were called Naziraeans and Galileans, were renamed Christians. / 10 <Ναζιραῖος:> ὁ θεῷ κεχαρισμένος καὶ ἀφιερωμένος· ὁ μοναχός. ἰστέον δέ, ὅτι ἐπὶ Κλαυδίου βασιλέως Ῥώμης, Πέτρου τοῦ ἀποστόλου χειροτονήσαντος Εὐόδιον ἐν Ἀντιοχείᾳ, μετωνομάσθησαν οἱ πάλαι, λεγόμενοι Ναζιραῖοι καὶ Γαλιλαῖοι, Χριστιανοί.
11 Nazis: an ethnic term. / 11 <Νάζις:> ἐθνικόν.
12 Nazoraean: one from Nazareth. / 12 <Ναζωραῖος:> ὁ ἀπὸ Ναζαρέτ.

This post concludes the series involving terms which bear a zayin, a zeta, or a zee.
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Re: Of Nazirites & Naṣoraeans.

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Ṣṣ Σσ צ (Sigma/Ṣade) — The Meaning of NṢR

So, in Semitic languages, if NZR means a Nazirite, or a holy, consecrated person, then what does NṢR mean? Its most common meanings are, as a verb, to guard, to watch, or to keep (and by extension to keep secret) and, as a noun, a shoot or branch. What follows is a nonexhaustive sampling:

2 Kings 17.9: 9 The sons of Israel did things secretly which were not right against Yahweh their God. Moreover, they built for themselves high places in all their towns, from watchtower [מִמִּגְדַּל נוֹצְרִים] to fortified city.

2 Kings 18.8: 8 He defeated the Philistines as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower [מִמִּגְדַּל נוֹצְרִים] to fortified city.

Proverbs 28.7: 7 He who keeps [נוֹצֵר] the Law is a discerning son, but he who is a companion of gluttons humiliates his father.

Isaiah 11.1: 1 Then a rod will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a shoot [וְנֵצֶר] from his roots will bear fruit.

Isaiah 48.6: 6 “You have heard; look at all this. And you, will you not declare it? I proclaim to you new things from this time, even hidden things [וּנְצֻר֖וֹת] which you have not known.”

Isaiah 49.6: 6 He says, “It is too light a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones [נְצוּרֵ֥י] of Israel; I will also make You a light to the nations so that My salvation may be unto the end of the earth.”

Isaiah 60.21: “Then all your people will be righteous; they will possess the land forever, the shoot [נֵ֧צֶר] of His planting, the work of My hands, that I may be glorified.”

Jeremiah 31.6: 6 “For there will be a day when watchmen [נֹצְרִים] on the hills of Ephraim call out, ‘Arise, and let us go up to Zion, to Yahweh our God.’”

Daniel 11.7: 7 “But a shoot [נֵצֶר] from her roots will arise in his place, and he will come against their army and enter the fortress of the king of the North, and he will deal with them and display great strength.”

1QH, column 14, lines 12b-17a: 12b For you have brought [your truth and] your [glo]ry 13 to all the men of your council and in the lot, together with the angels of the face, without there being a mediator between [your holy ones ...].... 14 Its fruit, because [....] They will respond to your glorious commands, and they will be your princes in the lo[t of your holy ones. Their root] 15 will sprout like a flo[wer of the field f]or ever, to make a shoot [נצר] grow in branches of an everlasting planting [מטעת עולם] so that it covers all the wo[rld] with its shade, [and] its [crown] 16 up to the skie[s, and] its roots down to the abyss. All the streams of Eden [will water] its [bra]n[ch]es and they will be [seas without] 17a limits; and its forest will be over the whole world, endless, and as deep as to Sheol [its roots.]

1QH, column 15, lines 18b-20a: 18b And I rely on the multi[tude of your compassion] and hope on the [abundance] of your kindness, to make 19 a [plan]ting [(מ)טע] thrive, and make a shoot [נצר] grow; to seek refuge in strength and [... in] your justice. You have established me 20a for your covenant and I will cling to your truth, and [....]

1QH, column 16, lines 4-11a: 4 I give [you] thanks, [Lord,] because you have set me at the source of streams in a dry land, at the spring of water in a parched land, 5 in a garden watered by channels [...] ... a plantation of cypresses and elms, together with cedars, for your glory. Trees of 6 life in the secret source, hidden among all the trees at the water, which shall make a shoot [נצר] grow in the everlasting plantation, 7 to take root before they grow. Their roots extend to the gul[ly], and its trunk opens to the living waters 8 to be an everlasting spring. And on the shoot [ובנצר] of its leaves all [the anima]ls of the wood will feed, its trunk will be pasture for all who cross 9 the path, and its leaves for all winged birds. Above it will rise all the tr[ees] at the water for they will grow in their plantation 10 although they do not extend their root to the gully. However, he who causes the h[o]ly shoot [נצר ק(ו)דש] to grow in the true plantation hides, not 11a considered, nor known, its sealed mystery. ~

4Q161, fragments 8-10, column 3, lines 1-25: 1 [«See! The Lord YHWH of Hosts will rip off the branches at one wrench; the] tall[est trunks] will be felled, 2 [the loftiest chopped.] The thickest [of the wood will be cut] with iron and Lebanon, with its grandeur, 3 [will fall» (= Isaiah 10.33-34). ~ Its interpretation concerns the] Kittim, wh[o] will be pla[ced] in the hands of Israel, and the meek 4 [of the earth...] all the peoples and soldiers will weaken and [their] he[art] will melt 5 [... and what it says, «The] tallest [trunks] will be destroyed,» they are the soldiers of the Kit[tim,] 6 [since ...] «and the thickest of [the] wood will be cut with iron.» ~ Th[ey are] 7 [...] for the war of the Kittim. ~ «And Lebanon, with its gran[deur], 8 [will fall.» They are the commanders of the] Kittim, who will be pla[ced] in the hand of the great of [...] 9 [...] in his flight befo[re Is]rael. [...] 10 [...] ~ [...] 11 [«A rod will issue from the stu]mp of Jesse and a shoot [ונצר] [will sprout] from [its] ro[ots.] Upon him [will be placed] the spi[rit of] 12 [YHWH, the spirit] of discretion and wisdom, the spirit of ad[vice and courage,] the spirit of knowl[edge] 13 [and of respect for YHWH, and his delight will be in respecting] YHWH. [He will not judge] by appearances 14 [or give verdi]cts [on hearsay alone;] he will judge [the poor with justice and decide] 15 [with honesty for the humble of the earth. He will destroy the land with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips] 16 [he will execute the evil. Justice will be the belt of] his [l]oins and lo[yalty the belt of his hips» (= Isaiah 11.1-5).] 17 [....] ~ [...] 18 [The interpretation of the word concerns the shoot] of David which will sprout in the fi[nal days, since] 19 [with the breath of his lips he will execute] his [ene]my, and God will support him with [the spirit of c]ourage [...] 20 [... thro]ne of glory, h[oly] crown and multicolor[ed] vestments 21 [...] in his hand. He will rule over all the pe[ople]s and Magog 22 [...] his sword will judge [al]l the peoples. And as for what he says, «He will not 23 [judge by appearances] or give verdicts on hearsay,» its interpretation: which 24 [...] and according to what they teach him, he will judge, and upon their authority 25 [...] with him will go out one of the priests of renown, holding in his hand clothes (of)....

4Q175, lines 14-20: 14 And about Levi he says, «Give to Levi your Thummim and your Urim, to your pious man, whom 15 I tested at Massah, and with whom I quarrelled about the waters of Meribah, /he who/ said to his father {not} 16 {...} and to his mother ‹I have not known you,› and did not acknowledge his brothers, and his sons he did not 17 want to know. For he observed your word and kept [ינצר] your covenant. /They have made/ your judgments /shine/ for Jacob, 18 your law for Israel, they have placed incense in your nose and a whole offering upon your altar. 19 Bless, ****, his courage and accept with pleasure the work of his hand! Crush /the loins/ of his adversaries, and those who hate him, 20 may they not rise» (= Deuteronomy 33.8-11). ~

4Q302, fragment 2, column 2, lines 1-: 1 [...] ... 2 Understand this, wise ones. If 3 a man has a good tree that towers up to the heaven ... [...] 4 for the ... of the lands, and it produces juicy fruit ... 5 early and late rains, ... in heat and in thirst; 6 does not he l[ove] it [...] ... and he watches it 7 [...] ... to enlarge the foliage 8 [...] from its shoot [מנצרו] to multiply 9 [...] its [...] and its branches 10-11 [...] ....

Babylonian Talmud, Bava Batra 91b: 91b .... “These were the potters and those who dwelt among plantations and hedges; there they dwelt, occupied in the king’s work” (= 1 Chronicles 4.23). “These were the potters [היוצרים, hayotzerim].” These are the sons of Jonadab, son of Rechab [בני יונדב בן רכב], who kept [שנצרו, naṣeru] their father’s oath. ....

In the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary niṣirtu is defined first as “arcana” or “secret,” second as “treasures,” and third as “fortifications” (volume 11, part 2 of N).

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Re: Of Nazirites & Naṣoraeans.

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Ṣṣ Σσ צ (Sigma/Ṣade) — Naṣareth and the Priestly Courses Inscription

An inscription informs us that the town of Naṣareth is spelled נצרת in Hebrew, with the ṣade, in agreement with how the Syriac versions of the Christian Bible render it:

Fragment 1:

[...] נצרת [...]
[...] אכלה [...]
[...]גדל [....]

Fragment 2:


Fragment 3:

[...]ת חמש ע[...]
[...]מרת שש עשר[...]
[...]מרת שב[....]

Andrew Criddle, responding to an inquiry in an old IIDB/FRDB post dated November 17, 2007:

Three fragments of a Hebrew inscription on a marble slab have been discovered at Caesarea. Fragments 1 and 2 were found in 1962 in controlled excavations near the remains of the synagogue. Fragment 3 was discovered some years earlier, and was photographed but has since disappeared. It is probable but not certain that they all came from the same physical inscription.

Fragment 1 has the putative mention of Nazareth; it was dated by Professor N. Avigad to the 3rd or 4th century (presumably on paleographic grounds). According to the excavator's account of the history of the synagogue (which if I understand correctly has been challenged by some), a purpose-built synagogue was constructed in the 3rd century, destroyed around 360 or slightly earlier, and rebuilt nearly a hundred years later. This 5th century rebuilt synagogue seems too late for the inscription which is more likely part of the earlier one. If the inscription was part of the original construction it would date from the 3rd century.

Fragment 3 reasonably clearly refers to the 15th, 16th, and 17th priestly courses. Fragment 2 has only 5 letters, but in the light of fragment 3 is probably also referring to priestly courses. Fragment 1 is the critical one. ....

The only genuinely questionable reading is the N [nun] in line 2, which is only half preserved.

At first sight fragment 1 is unclear. However, in Jewish tradition (an early example of which is found in Hebrew texts from the Cairo Genizah) we have a list of the priestly courses and their locations, the relevant part of which reads: Chezir at Mamliach..., seventeenth priestly course; Hap (or Hapizzez) at Nazareth, eighteenth priestly course; Pethachiah Akh (or Akhlah) at Ar (or Arab), nineteenth priestly course; Jehez (or Jehezekel) at Migdal Nunaiya..., twentieth priestly course.

The issue of whether Naṣareth in Hebrew can yield Nazareth in Greek, not to mention Nazarene and Nazoraean, is what drew me to this entire field of inquiry in the first place, as I mentioned in the OP.

Albright attempts to overcome the difficulty of getting from Hebrew ṣade to Greek zeta:

William F. Albright, “The Names ‘Nazareth’ and ‘Nazoraean,’” in the Journal of Biblical Literature, volume 65, number 4 (December 1946), pages 399-400: 399-400 The gentilic corresponding to *Nа̄ṣо̄rĕth would be *Nа̄ṣо̄rа̄yа̄. However, since the Aramaic name had not been etymologically transferred into Aramaic as *Nа̄ṭeráth (Heb. nṣr, “to protect,” appears in Aramaic after the shift of consonants as nṭr), there was nothing to keep the between two voiced (sonant) consonants from being changed by partial assimilation to z (as happened quite often in Palestinian place-names, e.g., in Arabic Ḥazzûr for Heb. Ḥа̄ṣôr).

But Albright, while giving examples of zayin for ṣade from Hebrew to Arabic, does not deal with the bare fact that such examples are hard to come by from Hebrew to Greek or Latin (or vice versa) during the time period at issue. Examples can prove possibility, but they do not prove probability until or unless one has run the numbers. And running the numbers, in this case, is what makes the case seem unlikely. FRDB/IIDB user spin mentioned Burkitt in that quote from the OP, so let me go ahead and quote him:

F. C. Burkitt, The Syriac Forms of New Testament Proper Names, page 16: The Syriac texts, without exception, have נצרת, vocalized Nāṣrath in the Peshitta. The adjectives, Ναζαρηνός and Ναζωραῖος, are rendered by נצריא. .... Nevertheless, there are difficulties.... The first and gravest is the z in ‘Nazarene’. The fact is, that in hardly any other instance does Greek ζ stand for Semitic צ. We are accustomed to the representation of צ by z in English, because it is done in the Authorized Version of the Old Testament. But this z is really ‘made in Germany’; it is the German 𝔷, to be pronounced like ts, and it was first used by the German Reuchlin, the friend of Erasmus, to imitate the sound which his Jewish teachers used. Before Reuchlin’s time the universal transliteration of צ was simple s, both in Greek and in Latin. The difference between the ancient and the Renaissance system is best illustrated to English people by the name of the city of David, which is ‘Zion’ in the Old Testament, but ‘Sion’ in the New Testament and in the Prayer Book. [Link. Refer also to appendix 3.]

As is to be expected, the same is true in reverse: Hebrew ṣade is not the transliteration for Greek zeta. (It is Hebrew zayin which routinely transliterates Greek zeta.) In fact, the Hebrew letter ṣade is not a very common target for consonants transliterated from Greek at all, which makes sense if you consider that Greek sigma would most naturally become either Hebrew samekh or Hebrew sin/shin while Greek zeta would most naturally become Hebrew zayin, leaving ṣade out of the loop for the most part. (Jastrow renders זט as explaining the Greek ζήτω at one point. On page 281 of her Lexicon of Jewish Names in Late Antiquity, Tal Ilan offers זונין and זנין for the Greek name Ζήνων. I know that the Greek Ζεύς comes out as זאוס in Hebrew, though I do not know how old this transliteration is.) Greek transliterations of Hebrew would have to contend with ṣade, but Hebrew transliterations of Greek would seldom have cause to use it. The entire ṣade section (listed Hebrew words beginning with the letter ṣade on loan from Greek or Latin) in Samuel Krauss, Griechische und Lateinische Lehnwörter in Talmud, Midrasch, und Targum, takes up no more than one full page in volume 2, more or less one column each of pages 497-498, and none of the listings involves a zeta being transliterated as a ṣade (rather, they are all sigma being transliterated as ṣade). His §7 on page 3 of volume 1 begins, "Griechischem ζ entspricht hebr. ז" — in English, "Greek ζ corresponds with Hebrew ז" — and none of the examples listed in §7 breaks that rule.

The upshot is that neither a town called Naṣareth nor a sect called Naṣoraean in Hebrew is in any way likely, on its own linguistic merits, to have come out in Greek either as Nazareth or Nazara, on the one hand, or as Nazarene or Nazoraean, on the other. Likewise, the transliteration of any one of those Greek words into Hebrew as Naṣareth or Naṣoraean or the like would be well nigh a unique linguistic occurrence.

Other difficulties in the derivation have been noted — Nazarene not being as good a demonym for Nazareth/Naṣareth as Nazarataean would be, for example, or the existence of two forms: Nazarene and Nazoraean — but these difficulties are not as insurmountable as the consonantal issue seems to be, at least not individually.

The gentilic Nazarene (Ναζαρηνός; Mark 1.24 = Luke 4.34; Mark 10.47; 14.67; 16.6; Luke 24.19) is most easily derived from a name like Nazara (Ναζαρά; Matthew 4.13; Luke 4.16). Gadarene (Γαδαρηνός), likewise, is the gentilic name (Matthew 8.28) for the city of Gadara (Γάδαρα), as well as Magdalene (Μαγδαληνή) for Magdala (Μαγδαλά).

The place name Γεννησαρέτ (Gennesaret) in Matthew 14.34 = Mark 6.53; Luke 5.1 appears as Γεννησάρ (Gennesar) in 1 Maccabees 11.67 and already as Χενάρα (Chenara) in the LXX of Numbers 34.11, transliterating the Hebrew כנרת; in the Babylonian Talmud it is spelled גינוסר, as in, for example, in Baba Bathra 122a. (The ending can also be retained, as in the LXX of Deuteronomy 3.17, which has Μαχαναρεθ; the OG of Joshua 12.3 and 13.27, which have Χενέρεθ; the OG of Joshua 19.35, which has Κενέρεθ; and the OG of Joshua 11.2, which has Κενερώθ; oddly, the OG of 1 Kings 15.20 has Χεζράθ.) The Vulgate transliterates Γεννησάρ as Gennesar in 1 Maccabees 11.67, but also transliterates Γεννησαρέτ as Gennesar in Matthew 14.34. Pliny writes in Natural History 5.15 that the river Jordan "drains into a lake, which many call Genesara" (in lacum se fundit, quem plures Genesarem vocant). In Antiquities of the Jews 5.1.22 §85 Josephus mentions that the tribal allotment of Zebulon extended "as far as the Genesaridean" lake (μέχρι Γενησαρίδος).

The Talmud, at Zevachim 110b, mentions a Rabbi Menachem the Yodpaean (רבי מנחם יודפאה), meaning that Menachem came from Yodapath (יוֹדְפַת, Ἰωτάπατα in Greek‎), which has lost its final tav. Nazareth may become Nazara, and thence the gentilic Nazarene, in the same way.

The seeming interchangeability of Ναζωραῖος and Ναζαρηνός finds an analogy in the interchangeability of Essene (Ἐσσηνός) and Essaean (Ἐσσαῖος); of Ossene (Ὀσσηνός) and Ossaean (Ὀσσαῖος); and of Sampsene (Σαμψηνός) and Sampsaean (Σαμψαῖος). The case of Dositheans (Δοσίθεοι) and Dosithenes (Δοσιθηνοί) is similar. ETA: Stephen Goranson adds Hagarene (Ἀγαρηνός, Vaticanus) and Hagaraean (Ἀγαραῖος, Alexandrinus) from textual variants in 1 Chronicles 5.19.

It is nonetheless true, however, that such exceptions all stacking up on this single place name seems suspicious in its own right. The following list of obstacles comes from George F. Moore, "Nazarene and Nazareth," in The Beginnings of Christianity, by F. J. Foakes-Jackson and Kirsopp Lake, volume 1, appendix B, pages 426-432 (and Moore is arguing for a derivation of Nazoraean/Nazarene from the place name Naṣareth):
  1. Not many words with a ṣade in a Semitic tongue represent that letter by a zeta in Greek, as Naareth is supposed to have been represented in Greek as Nazareth. Moore acknowledges that the few which exist are "rare exceptions to the general rule, and are doubtless in part only graphic accidents" (page 427).
  2. Not all place names ending with the Semitic tav lose that tav so that a place like Nazareth could produce a demonym like Nazarene. Moore characterizes the cases on each side as happening "sometimes" (page 428).
  3. Not many demonyms or similar adjectives wind up bearing two different endings like Nazarene and Nazoraean do. Moore gives the example of the Essenes or Essaeans (page 428), and there are also the Ossenes or Ossaeans and the Sampsenes or Sampsaeans, but such pairs are not easy to find.
One wonders why this place name would have attracted so many exceptional treatments. This exceptionalism is what I mean by a linguistic wall which had to be crossed. And the crossing of that wall is what we need to explain.
Last edited by Ben C. Smith on Mon Oct 12, 2020 1:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Of Nazirites & Naṣoraeans.

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Ṣṣ Σσ צ (Sigma/Ṣade) — The Mandaeans

I have recently posted a thread about the Mandaeans and the Mandaean parallels both with Christianity and with Enochic Judaism. For this current thread I merely add some information from Mandaean scholars and some quotes from the Haran Gawaita involving the history of the Mandaeans under the name of Naṣoraeans:

E. S. Drower & Jorunn Jacobsen Buckley, The Mandaeans of Iraq and Iran: Their Cults, Customs, Magic Legends, and Folklore, pages 4-5:

4 In Mandaean manuscripts and legends, however, the word Naṣurai is generally used in the sense indicated above, namely, ‘one skilled in religious matters and white magic’, while the Christians are usually called mshihiia, that is to say, ‘followers of Messiah’, or kristianaia, ‘Christians’. Magic rolls bear the inscription, ‘this is written from the naṣirutha (i.e. priestly craft) of So-and-So’. Of John it is written in the Harran Gawaitha: ‘When he was seven years old, Anush ‘Uthra came and wrote the ABC (a ba ga) for him, until, when he was twenty-two years old, he had learnt all the priestly-craft (naṣirutha).’

In later manuscripts Naṣurai are often mentioned as if they were of higher grade than laymen, e.g. ‘Naṣurai and Mandai’, while nowadays I hear the word sometimes applied to a priest who is especially literate, or reputed skilful in white magic. ‘Ah, he is a real Naṣurai!’

What is the root-meaning? Lidzbarski thinks it akin to ‘observe’, and deduces that the Naṣurai were ‘observers’. Another orientalist suggests that it may be analogous to the Syriac root nṣr meaning ‘to chirp, twitter (as a bird), utter broken sounds (as a magician), to chant, sing praises’.

Both these suggested root-meanings agree with the Mandaean conceptions. The Naṣurai was an observer of stars and omens, of constellations, and of auspices. A Mandaean priest in Ahwaz, speaking of the secret knowledge 5 transmitted from priest to priest, vaunted this secret knowledge.

‘If a raven croaks in a certain burj (astrological house) I understand what it says, also the meaning when the fire crackles or the door creaks. When the sky is cloudy and there are shapes in the sky resembling a mare or a sheep, I can read their significance and message. When the moon (gumra) is darkened by an eclipse, I understand the portent: when a dust-cloud arises, black, red, or white, I read the signs, and all this according to the hours and the aspects’.

The second meaning also answers to the functions and nature of the Naṣurai. No exorcism, no ceremony, no religious act is considered efficacious without a formula. Words have magic power. The mere utterance of a name will compel its owner to be at the service of the utterer, or at least, will summon his presence. Prayers, except when profoundly secret and pronounced ‘in the heart’, are spoken aloud. In short, the Mandaeans of to-day, like his predecessors in the land of Shumer long ago, believes in incantation.

Haran Gawaita, apud E. S. Drower, pages 3-4:

3 My Lord be praised. In the name of the Great Life, healing, vindication, health, soundness, speaking and hearing, joy of heart and forgiving of sins be there for me, Zakia Zihrun son of Šadia, and for my offspring and brothers (and sisters), and for my parents, in the strength of Yawar Ziwa and Simat-Hiia!. Finis.

...and Haran Gawaita receiveth him and that city in which there were Naṣoraeans, because there was no road for the Jewish rulers. Over them was King Ardban. And sixty thousand Naṣoraeans abandoned the Sign of the Seven and entered the Median hills, a place where we were free from domination by all other races. And they built cult-huts (bimandia) and abode in the Call of the Life and in the strength of the high King of Light until they came to their end. And they loved the Lord, that is, Adonai, until in the House of Israel there was created something which was not placed in the womb of Mary, a daughter of Moses. It was hidden in her womb for nine months and bewitched her until the nine months were fulfilled and she was in labour and brought forth a Messiah.

...and he called the people to himself and spoke of his death and took away some of mysteries of the (Sacred?) Meal and abstained 4 from the Food. And he took to himself a people and was called by the name of the False Messiah. And he perverted them all and made them like himself who perverted words of life and changed them into darkness and even perverted those accounted Mine. And he overturned all the rites. And he and his brother dwell on Mount Sinai, and he joineth all races to him, and perverteth and joineth to himself a people, and they are called Christians.

...and from Niṣrat (Nazareth), a city of the Jews, which is called the city of Qum.... ....

Haran Gawaita, apud E. S. Drower, page 14:

14 .... And Hibil-Ziwa hath delivered this saying and warning to Naṣoraeans who exist at the end of the last age: “Beware, and again beware! Act only (in accordance) with this writing of the Great Revelation. The (Mandaean) Root (Church) shall be steadfast, shall testify, shall act and not neglect this pure warning, and (so) will ascend to the presence of the Father. (But) any man who doth not testify to this Way or lay hold of it, seeketh darkness and will fall. (O) ye Naṣoraeans that shall exist at the end of the last age, I exhort you, be firm and act according to this book — its name is the Great Revelation. For at that time peoples, nations and tongues will multiply, and every individual will seek his own gain. And books and religious treatises of Ruha and Adonai(’s making) will be many, and through them souls will sink down to the Darkness”.

Thus, before the appearance of the Son-of-Slaughter, the Arab, the Christian, Idumaean, Jewish, Hurdabaean, and Dilbilaean peoples became many. The peoples were divided and languages became numerous; even the languages of Naṣoraeans multiplied. This; and then sovereignty was taken from the descendants of King Artabanus, and (they were driven) from Baghdad; the Hardbaeans (Sasanians) taking over the kingdom. (Nevertheless) there remained one hundred and seventy banners and bimandia in Baghdad.

Haran Gawaita, apud E. S. Drower, page 18:

18 .... And then Hibil-Ziwa — praised be his name! — taught Naṣoraeans about the end of the last age. For evil will increase and pollutions will be many and abound in the world, since it is decreed that wickedness will increase and pollutions multiply greatly in the world; because it is destined in that age. So that of a great shekel of gold but half-a-drachma’s weight will rise up to the Light; everything will sink down into Darkness. In that period and epoch — from the rule of the Arab Son-of-Slaughter unto the end of the worlds — persecution and tribulation will increase for Nasoraeans; purity will decrease and pollutions, adultery, theft and fraud will increase. And men will be polluted and during that period man will drink the blood of fellow man. All that is fair (will disappear), (but), amongst Naṣoraeans, he that is steadfast in and holdeth to these teachings and this great revelation will rise up by the path of believers and will behold the great Countenance of Glory. ....

Haran Gawaita, apud E. S. Drower, pages 19-20:

19 .... Hibil-Ziwa taught that “At the latter end of the world, when the Arab, the Son-of-Slaughter, hath completed his (allotted) four thousand years, it will come to pass that the false Messiah, son of Miriam, will succeed him, and that he will come and will show forth signs (wonders) in the world until the birds and the fish from sea and rivers open their mouths and bless him and give testimony, until (even) the clay and mudbrick in a building bear witness to him, and until four-legged creatures open their mouths and testify to him”.

And Hibil-Ziwa explained (further): “(But) you, O Naṣoraeans, and righteous elect men, testify not to him, for he is a false Messiah that walketh by fraud and sorcery. He is Mercury, who attracteth attention and doth whatsoever he wisheth and his mind is filled with sorcery and frauds. I declare to you, (ye) chosen righteous ones and (ye) perfect ones that that are stedfast, abide by this pure line of separation and alter no word or command of the great Father 20 of Glory, that He may take you by the hand, watch over you and deliver you out of the hands of the children of Krun”.

Hibil-Ziwa taught: “When the Messiah hath returned, ascending to the sky — and his reign will last six thousand years — he will ascend and assume his first body. From that epoch until worlds’ end, wickedness will depart from the world; that which issued from the earth will enter the earth and that which descended from the sky will return and enter the sky. And there will be righteous people in the world, and no man will covet his neighbour’s goods. And people’s senses will return to them and they will not perform circumcision; they will be converted and Naṣoraeans will increase in the world. The eye of envy will be lifted from them and the sword will depart from the world. It will be as if the sword brought by the Son of Darkness, he whose sword was of the world of Satan, had never been in the world. And with it (goeth?) a force which he possessed not in the world, until Mars came and set up his sign and bound him thereto by oath”.

Haran Gawaita, apud E. S. Drower, pages 21-22:

21 .... “Let every man of the Naṣoraeans and Mandaeans who may be living in the eighth world be steadfast and bear testimony and act according to this reliable basis, and with a sincere heart and believing lips be of my allotted portion, mine the High King of fight, so that thereby Habšaba (Sunday) may be his deliverer, and save him from the children of Krun; and I will set him at my right hand. (But) any Nasoraean or Mandaean that is of the True Root, yet doth not bear testimony to this Road of the Righteous but testifieth according to the Way of Ruha, their words have I rejected. (Such a one) will not be my allotted portion but will belong to Ruha 22 and the Messiah. Habšaba will not be his helper, and he will not be delivered out of the hands of the sons of Krun”. ....

Jorunn Jacobsen Buckley, The Mandaeans: Ancient Texts and Modern People, page 4: Since 1987, I have been researching parts of Mandaean history by studying and comparing accessible Mandaean colophons, which are lists of scribes appended to nearly all Mandaean documents. At present, my findings show that the earliest attested, named historical person in Mandaeism is the woman Šlama, daughter of Qidra (cooking pot). This woman, named in relation to her mother and/or initiator into priesthood, is the earliest recorded Mandaean copyist of the text called the Left Ginza. The Mandaean holy book, Ginza (treasure), is separated into a right (GR) and a left (GL) part. GL, much of it in poetic form, deals largely with the soul’s ascent to the Lightworld, and this section of the Ginza belongs among the religion’s most ancient textual material. Šlama may be dated to approximately 200, for she appears several generations before the famous early copyist Zazai of Gawazta, who flourished in the 270s. One may note that Zazai belongs to the decade of Mani’s death.

Mark Lidzbarski, Ginza, der Schatz: Das Grosse Buch der Mandäer, page 424, lines 15-21 (Left Ginza): 15-21 Es sind unsere Bröder Hibil, Šitil und Anо̄š, die Nа̄ṣо̄räer, die Vollkommenen, die von erprobter Gerechtigkeit, die Lohnspende und Almosen nicht vergaßen, die den Bau erleuchteten, die auf der Erde Tibil, die reich an Anstößen, und durchweg Mangel ist, einhergingen, dabei nicht bebten, nicht erbebten und deren Körper nicht in ihrem Gewande vor den Störmen, Blitzen und Wolken erbebte, die nicht vor den Bosen und Zornerregern der Tibil zitterten und erzitterten.

This early name for the Mandaeans, the Naṣoraeans, bears a ṣade, not a zayin.
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Re: Of Nazirites & Naṣoraeans.

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Ṣṣ Σσ צ (Sigma/Ṣade) — The Kartir Inscription

The Kartir inscription, inscribed in Middle Persian and dating to century III in southwestern Iran, names a few religious groups:

Kartir Inscription 9b-11a: 9b And in kingdom after kingdom and place after place throughout the whole empire the services of Ahura Mazda and the Yazads became preeminent, and great dignity came to the Mazdayasnian religion and the magi in the empire, and the Yazads and water and fire and small cattle in the empire attained great satisfaction, while Ahriman and the devs were punished and rebuked, and the teachings of Ahriman and the devs departed from the empire and were abandoned. And Jews [yhwdy/yahud], Buddhists [šmny/šaman], 10 Brahmins/Hindus [blmny/braman], Naṣoreans [n’sl’y/nāsrāy], Christians [klstyd’n/kristiyān], Baptizers (?) [mktky/maktak], and Manichaeans [zndyky/zandīk] in the empire were smitten, and destruction of idols and scattering of the stores of the devs and god-seats and nests was abandoned. And in kingdom after kingdom and place after place many divine services in magnificence and many Warharan fires were established, and many magi became happy and prosperous, and many fires and magi were imperially installed. And in documents and imperial rescripts and records, under Varahran, King of Kings, son of Varahran, 11a which were made, in which was recorded, “Kartir, Varahran’s Soul-Savior, Ahura Mazda’s Magus-master.” [Link.]

It is almost univerally agreed, I think, that the inscription refers to Jews, Buddhists, Hindus (under the name of Brahmins), Christians, and Manichaeans. The other two names are more controversial, and scholars also wonder out loud whether the Christians are supposed to be Marcionites, far more prevalent in the East at this time than in the West, or not. There are several hypotheses:

Jacob Neusner, A History of the Jews in Babylonia, page 19: 19 Although the Mazdean religion was the dominant one under the Sasanians, early and late, other religions and cults flourished in Babylonia in this period, including those listed by Kartir, the Brahmans and Shamans, whom Chaumont identifies as mendicant, itinerant Hindus and Buddhists, Nazareans and Christians, difficult to differentiate, though de Menasce holds, on good grounds, that the former were orthodox Christians and the latter Marcionites; Maktiks, whom no one can identify; and Zandiks, who, it is generally supposed, were Manichaeans.

Manfred Hunter, “Iranian Literature,” in The Church of the East: A Concise History, edited by Wilhelm Baum, page 165: In an inscription from the last quarter of the third century, the Zoroastrian priest Kartir indicated his enthusiasm for the spread of Zoroastrianism in the Sassanian empire, which had led to the persecution of other religions; among the Christians then living in the western Iranian region, Kartir distinguished between the Greek-speaking (krestyane) and Syriac-speaking (nasraye) communities.

Bentley Layton, “Social Description of Gnostics and Gnosticism,” Philadelphia Seminar on Christian Origins 27.2 (December 7, 1989): Fortunately, other materials are extant that originated independently of this tradition. The most important are inscriptions of early Sasanian kings and other powerful officials. The most important for the history of Christians and other non-Zoroastrian communities are the four inscriptions of Kartir, a powerful cleric from the reign of Bahram II (ca. 276-293 CE). In the longest versions of these inscriptions, Kartir mentions by name seven specific religious communities that he persecuted. Four of these can be certainly identified: Yahud (Jews); Shraman (Buddhists); Brahman (Hindus); Zandiq (Manicheans). The three others are more difficult to identify: Nasrai; Christian; Machatach. Machatach (which may form a pair with Zandiq [Manichean]), has been explained by some scholars as “baptists,” perhaps residual Elchasites that had not been converted by Mani and his disciples. H. W. Bailey proposed an Iranian etymology that would account for this. Nasrai and Christian might also form a pair (just as do Shraman and Brahman), with various hypotheses proposed to explain the terms. E.g., Christian might mean Marcionites and Nasrai might mean Christians. Alternatively, Christian might mean Christians and Nasrai might refer to Mandeans [apparently according to Bailey; in the discussion following the paper, Utz mentioned that Bailey argued that the Mandeans called themselves a name similar to Nasrai]. Or both “Christian” and “Nasrai” may refer to Christians, with Christian referring to Greek-speaking Christians (especially deportees from Antioch and other cities after the activity of Shaphur earlier in the century) and Nasrai Aramaic-speaking Christians indigenous to Mesopotamia. This last theory is supported by the report of the Seret (??? spelling) chronicle that there were two churches in Rev Artashir, the metropolis for Persis, each with its own language (Greek and Syriac). It would also have support in the Carola (?) Christians [in India] who distinguished between “Christians” of Latin origin and “Nasrani” as the usual appellation of Syro-Malabar Christians. [Link.]

Jason BeDuhn & Paul Allan Mirecki, Frontiers of Faith: The Christian Encounter with Manichaeism in the Acts of Archelaus, page 3:

From the same century we have the inscription of the Zoroastrian official Kartir on the so-called “Ka‘bah of Zoroaster” at Naqsh-i Rustam. Within the bounds of the Sassanid Persian state, he knows of four different groups that we might loosely cluster within some penumbra of the Christian movement. There are the N’CL’Y (Nа̄zrа̄y, from Syriac nsry’) — apparently Syriac-speaking “Nazareans” who adhere to a form of Christianity that has not passed through the environment of the Hellenistic cities of the west. There are the KLSTYD’N (Kristа̄dа̄n, from Syriac krystyn’) — clearly “Christians” whose very name indicates derivation from the Greek-speaking west. This term may have been used originally for Marcionites, but by the time of the inscription probably refers as well to deportees resettled in Persia from Roman cities sacked by Shapur I. Then there are the MKTKY (Maktaky, equivalent to Syriac mnqd’), “Purifiers” or “Baptists” who may or may not have direct affiliation to the Christian movement, including such groups as the Elchasaites and Mandaeans. And then there are the ZNDKY (Zandaky), the “interpreters” or “heretics” that we know as Manichaeans.

Manichaean sources going back to the third century largely confirm the picture given by Kartir’s inscription. They inform us of Mani’s youth as a member of the Elchasaite sect within the larger Jewish- or Semitic-Christianity category (CMC, passim), his conflicts with “Nazoreans” (Keph 221.18–223.16) and various (other) “Baptists,” his response to the slightly more-Hellenized but still Syriac community identified with Bardaisan, and his exposure to the work of Paul through what must have been a Marcionite medium strongest in the Greek centers of the region. The co-existence of these diverse religious communities can be seen in part as a characteristic of urban cosmopolitanism throughout Mesopotamia. But their clearly attested presence in rural areas as well points to the entire region as a convergence zone of multiple cultural and religious traditions, not excluding Kartir’s own Zoroastrianism.

The particular variety of Christian communities attested beyond the Roman eastern frontier fits the famous Bauer Thesis. Walter Bauer argued that the historical evidence showed that the earliest penetration of Christianity into eastern Syria and points beyond had been made by groups history has come to label as “heretical,” or “heterodox.”

Rebecca Stengel, “Kerdir and the Nazoraeans,” page 4: W yhwdy W šmny W blmny W n’sl’y W klstyd’n W mktky W zndyky. The identities of five of these is clear: yhwdy (yahud) are the Jews, šmny (šaman) are Buddhists, blmny (braman) are Hindus, klstyd’n (kristiyān) are Christians, and zndyky (zandīk) are Manichaeans. It is regarding the remaining two that questions arise. First, although on the one hand n’ṣl’y (in Ka͑ ba-e Zardušt and Sar Mashhad) and (n)’s(l’)[y] (in Naqsh-e Rostam) — two Persian variations of the Aramaic ‘nāṣrāy’ — have been consistently understood to refer to Nazoraeans, the question of who the Nazoraeans were and what their relationship was to the kristiyān of the same inscription has been subject to debate. Thus, while some have sought to see a Christian sect in the Nazoraeans and the kristiyān as ‘orthodox,’ the suggestion has also been made that the Nazoraeans were in fact the orthodox Christians and the kristiyān were Marcionites. A more recent theory from G. Widengren that was followed by Mackenzie, was that the Nazoraeans should be understood to be Mandaeans....

It seems clear to me that the very name of the Christians/kristiyān presumes something Greek, while the name of the Naṣoreans/nāsrāy presumes something Semitic. Because the Mandaeans were known as Naṣoraeans, it makes sense to me that either they or the parent group from which the Mandaeans emerged might be what is meant by the latter, while Christians (of whatever stripe) who spoke Greek might be what is meant by the former. I doubt that a Zoroastrian priest like Kartir would be able to tell the difference between the various Christian sects, anyway, but the language groupings would be obvious. It might even be futile to try to distinguish between Naṣoreans as Mandaeans and Noṣri as the Christians referred to in the Talmud from an outsider's perspective.

Of interest is that this inscription refers to a distinguishable group by means of a Persian equivalent to the Aramaic nāṣrāy, which bears the ṣade and not the zayin.
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