Archaeology of Nazareth

According to the Gospel of Luke, Nazareth was the home of Joseph and Mary and the site of the Annunciation (when Mary was told by the Angel Gabriel that she would have Jesus as her son); in the Gospel of Matthew, Joseph and Mary resettle in Nazareth after fleeing to Egypt from their home in Bethlehem.[ Mt.] The differences and possible contradictions between these two accounts of the nativity of Jesus are part of the Synoptic Problem. Nazareth is also allegedly where Jesus grew up from some point in his childhood. However, some modern scholars argue that Nazareth was also the birth place of Jesus.[26] James Strange, an American archaeologist, notes: "Nazareth is not mentioned in ancient Jewish sources earlier than the third century AD. This likely reflects its lack of prominence both in Galilee and in Judaea."[27] Strange originally speculated that the population of Nazareth at the time of Christ to be "roughly 1,600 to 2,000 people", but later, in a subsequent publication, at "a maximum of about 480."[28] In 2009 Israeli archaeologist Yardenna Alexandre excavated archaeological remains in Nazareth that might date to the time of Jesus in the early Roman period. Alexandre told reporters, "The discovery is of the utmost importance since it reveals for the very first time a house from the Jewish village of Nazareth."[29] According to the Israel Antiquities Authority, "The artifacts recovered from inside the building were few and mostly included fragments of pottery vessels from the Early Roman period (the first and second centuries CE)... Another hewn pit, whose entrance was apparently camouflaged, was excavated and a few pottery sherds from the Early Roman period were found inside it." Alexandre adds that "based on other excavations that I conducted in other villages in the region, this pit was probably hewn as part of the preparations by the Jews to protect themselves during the Great Revolt against the Romans in 67 CE".[30] Ancient Nazareth may have built on the hillside, as indicated in the Gospel of Luke: [And they led Jesus] to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong.[Lk. 4:29] However, the hill in question (the Nebi Sa'in) is far too steep for ancient dwellings and averages a 14% grade in the venerated area.[31] Historic Nazareth was essentially constructed in the valley; the windy hilltops in the vicinity have only been occupied since the construction of Nazareth Illit in 1957. Noteworthy is that all the post-Iron Age tombs in the Nazareth basin (approximately two dozen) are of the kokh (plural:kokhim) or later types; this type probably first appeared in Galilee in the middle of the first century AD.[32] Kokh tombs in the Nazareth area have been excavated by B. Bagatti, N. Feig, Z. Yavor, and noted by Z. Gal.[33] Excavations conducted prior to 1931 in the Franciscan venerated area revealed no trace of a Greek or Roman settlement there,[34] Fr. Bagatti, who acted as the principal archaeologist for the venerated sites in Nazareth, unearthed quantities of later Roman and Byzantine artifacts,[35] attesting to unambiguous human presence there from the 2nd century AD onward. John Dominic Crossan, a major figure in New Testament studies, remarked that Bagatti's archaeological drawings indicate just how small the village actually was, suggesting that it was little more than an insignificant hamlet.[36] Interior of St Joseph's Church.Matthew 2:19-23 reads: After Herod died, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, "Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child's life are dead." So he got up, took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning in Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he withdrew to the district of Galilee, and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene." In the Gospel of John, Nathaniel asks, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"[1:46] The meaning of this cryptic question is debated. Some commentators and scholars suggest that it means Nazareth was very small and unimportant, but the question does not speak of Nazareth’s size but of its goodness. In fact, Nazareth was described negatively by the evangelists; the Gospel of Mark argues that Nazareth did not believe in Jesus and therefore he could "do no mighty work there";[Mk 6:5] in the Gospel of Luke, the Nazarenes are portrayed as attempting to kill Jesus by throwing him off a cliff;[Lk 4:29] in the Gospel of Thomas, and in all four canonical gospels, we read the famous saying that "a prophet is not without honor except in his own country."[37]... Although mentioned in the New Testament gospels, there are no extant non-biblical references to Nazareth until around 200 AD, when Sextus Julius Africanus, cited by Eusebius (Church History 1.7.14), speaks of "Nazara" as a village in "Judea" and locates it near an as-yet unidentified "Cochaba."[52] In the same passage Africanus writes of desposunoi - relatives of Jesus - who he claims kept the records of their descent with great care. A few authors have argued that the absence of first and second century textual references to Nazareth suggest the town may not have been inhabited in Jesus' day.[53] Proponents of this hypothesis have buttressed their case with linguistic, literary and archaeological interpretations,[54] though some historians and archaeologists generally dismiss such views as "archaeologically unsupportable".[Wikipedia]

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