Jesus of Nazareth? Really


I was looking for an introduction to this post and I think Jesus in wonderland by Ark does it for me.

In his book, Christ Myth( which yours truly is currently reading) Arthur Drews concludes and I quote

Whether there was a place called Nazareth in pre-Christian days must be considered as at least very doubtful. Such a place is not mentioned either in the old testament or in the Talmud, which, however, mentions more than 60 Galilean towns; nor again, by the Jewish historian Josephus, nor in the Apocrypha. Cheyne believes himself justified by this in the conclusion that Nazareth in the new testament is a pure geographical fiction.

[]The ‘nazorean’ is applied to Jesus only as guardian of the world, protector and deliverer of men from the power of sin and demons, but without any reference to a quite obscure and entirely unknown village named Nazareth, which is mentioned in documents beyond any dispute, only from the fourth century.

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About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

72 thoughts on “Jesus of Nazareth? Really

  1. Arkenaten says:

    One of my ”fav” topics.
    Should I alert Tim O’Neill for you and we can sit back and watch John Z use a whole lot of wonderful ”vernaculars”?
    🙂

    Like

  2. Barry says:

    I think most biblical scholars accept most of what is “known” about Jesus is myth.

    My personal belief is that it’s unlikely the character is entirely fictitious. It seems plausible that he was based on someone who had a radical (for that time and place) view on legalism (for want of a better word) and he placed great importance on creating a more kind and caring world for all. That is what he meant by terms such the “Kindom of God”. It’s in the here and now, not some magical place one goes to after death. However I must emphasise that it’s a personal opinion based on the research of others including The Jesus Seminar.

    Personally, it makes no difference to me whether or not he actually existed. Many of the parables attributed to him are meaningful to me.

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    • makagutu says:

      They could know it is myth but the religious ones would not admit it.

      Like

      • Barry says:

        I disagree. Funk, Cuppitt, Gearing and many more are religious. I follow a number of religious blogs but not one claims the Biblical Jesus is a reality. Both liberal and progressive Christians have recognised this for a long time.

        You’ll also find that within most mainline denominations the clergy are far more liberal than their congregations. Even in Aotearoa New Zealand the laity lag well behind the clergy. It was a lay member of the church who charged Gearing with doctrinal error, not the clergy.

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    • Nan says:

      The scriptures (authenticity unverified) indicate that Yeshua told his followers that the “Kingdom of God” was not here nor there … but was within. ” … neither shall they say, Lo, here! or, There! for lo, the kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21, ASV)

      As for the actual person that said this? Debatable.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Veracious Poet says:

    Drews’ argument is flawed. There is no place called Babylonia/Assyria today. Does that mean they never existed? They are now called Iraq/Syria respectively.

    Considering that the Hebrews were constantly at war with their neighbours until Jerusalem was completely destroyed, Nazareth, being a rural town, may have been immediately occupied and renamed by other neighbouring tribes. Also keep in mind that English translation of the Bible corrupted the original names of places.

    Like

    • Arkenaten says:

      ”Rural town”? The bible says it was a city.
      Some have suggested it was a village, while others a one or two family farm.

      Should we draw lots?

      Like

    • Swarn Gill says:

      This is a flawed argument as it is a false analogy. The analysis presented is not basic their argument that Nazareth didn’t exist because it doesn’t exist today. It makes the conclusion based on an analysis of texts written before the birth of Christ and around the time of the birth of Christ. The prominence of Nazareth as a place should have made it cited in some historical work or before around the time. This is basic historical research methodology to confirm the existence of a historical place or event.

      The author then goes on to say that Nazareth is prominent enough to be discussed in the 4th century. It’s unlikely that Jesus would be referred to as Jesus of Nazareth at the time he was supposed to be lived. Keep in mind the historian uses the word “doubtful”, which means obviously there is uncertainty. This is just aspect of the many missing pieces that historians have been unable to confirm about the life of somebody who was supposedly of divine importance.

      It also just seems strange that you would blow of a person’s research an accuse him of being flawed without having investigated the matter yourself with your historical research into books at the time. You are assuming that he isn’t aware of translations across languages of different places and the names used. I would imagine that would be a pretty integral part of confirming the name of any place in ancient times and yet you assume he is using the reasoning skills of a guy who just got on the internet for 10 minutes to look up something on wikipedia.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Veracious Poet says:

        Let me clarify:
        1. Jesus was a historical figure – a man. I’m not claiming to know he is divine.
        2. The number of years of research experience of the author has nothing to do with the validity of specific facts presented. Researchers make mistakes.
        3. My response addresses the specific quotation presented in the post since that’s what is of interest to the blogger. If you have read the entire book then you may summerize it for us.
        4. The author argues that there was no mention of Nazareth in the old testament. That’s because the story of Jesus was recorded in the new testament in the Greek language which few Hebrews write, speak or understand.
        5. The author further argues that the Talmud mentions more than 60 names of Galilean towns but not Nazareth in pre-Jesus times and I responded by saying there was constant warfare, with frequent loss and gain of new territories and therefore frequent name changes. Jesus was not born in Nazareth but Bethlehem and even in adulthood, he was quite nomadic. So Nazareth could actually be referring to Nain.
        6. And are you saying because Nazareth has not been cited in any historical work its existence is false? There are villages surrounding my home town that majority of people don’t know of.
        7. Need I remind you that the orthodox Jews completely rejected Jesus and Christianity. It was Paul who spread Christianity in the West and I believe the new testament was written after the death of Jesus – mainly from accounts of the disciples and other witnesses. You cannot therefore expect orthodox Jewish historians to admit Narzareth, the home town of Jesus, actually existed.

        I can only conclude that we’re all involved in speculations here, including the author, who is equally doubtful but draws conclusion from secondary fragmented sources. Why conclude at all that an event or a location is false when there are many missing pieces?

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        • Swarn Gill says:

          1. This is debatable.

          2. You have not demonstrated that you have analyzed the research, or demonstrated that he has made a mistake by presenting your own analysis which contradicts what he has said. The fact that researchers make mistakes is also not a reason to assume he has made a mistake. Again you’d have to present evidence that contradicts his research.

          3. Your critique is still flawed.

          4. The author mentions 4 sources, not just the old testament.

          5. You assume the author is unaware of that constant warfare and that names would have changed. Do you know the author has not taken this into account? Your critique here is purely conjecture and one that you have no idea whether or not the author has considered or not.

          6. Certainly I have not made that argument, nor is Drews. He simply says “very doubtful” based on the lack of evidence.

          7. This might be at the fair point but at the time, if Jesus did exist, they would also have no reason to fear admitting his existence either. He wasn’t some great religious symbol until later. They had no reason to fear admitting his existence, because to Jewish people, if he did exist, he would simply be a false prophet. It might also be in a Jewish historian’s best interest to humanize him so that he isn’t deified. The Jews have plenty of biblical support why he didn’t fit the description of the Messiah, there was no need for them to try to erase him from history when they could criticize him.

          My objection to your statement still stands because his conclusions are based on his research and expertise, and you haven’t presented evidence to demonstrate that he is in error or is guilty of not taking into account the factors that you deem important.

          Liked by 2 people

          • Veracious Poet says:

            1. I didn’t say it isn’t.
            2. I have not baked bread before but I can tell bread that is well baked from one that is not.
            3. My critique, in relation to the quote, is not flawed.
            4. All the sources were likely anti-christain.
            5. He didn’t mention it so he hasn’t. I cannot be expressing ideas I don’t have.
            6. Why conclude based on doubts caused by lack of evidence?
            7. I thought you said I am the one conjecturing.

            I don’t need to conduct a separate research simply to prove him wrong. He admits there is insufficient evidence, which means more speculation. Refer to number 2.

            In any case you are presenting an intellectual argument that lacks practical considerations. I’m not sure we can come to any understanding. I believe he was a man who existed, you clearly don’t (you don’t have to say it). So let each keep his belief.

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        • Swarn Gill says:

          You can also read this link. A ways down it looks at Jewish sources for Jesus’ existence. It appears Jewish historians had no problem mentioning Jesus, they just knew nothing more of him beyond what was in the Gospels. If they were truly trying to write him out of history why mention the Gospels at all?

          https://www.atheists.org/activism/resources/did-jesus-exist/

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          • Veracious Poet says:

            I could never trust Jewish sources. He insulted the Rabbis calling them hypocrites and they killed him. They then tried to erase his name and identity from Jewish society.

            “Why mention the Gospels at all?” — Because the Gospels had spread far and wide reaching Rome and Greece and many believed. There was no point opposing/avoiding them.

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          • Swarn Gill says:

            So Jewish sources talk about Jesus because how could they avoid it, but wanted to pretend Nazareth doesn’t exist. Okay…makes sense. Nice chat. lol

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          • Veracious Poet says:

            Contemporary sources would still talk about Jesus based on the Gospels (which they consider foreign). They won’t admit he existed because historically they don’t know anything about him. There is no contradiction in that. THE JEWISH VERSION OF HIS STORY HAS BEEN REJECTED/ERASED BY THE EARLY RABBIS. So you won’t find any record of him from that source. Nice chat!

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          • Arkenaten says:

            THE JEWISH VERSION OF HIS STORY HAS BEEN REJECTED/ERASED BY THE EARLY RABBIS.

            Is there any supporting evidence of this assertion, please?

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          • makagutu says:

            Is this not what led to the pogroms against the Jews in the first place?

            Like

          • Swarn Gill says:

            1. You said pretty specifically Jesus existed.
            Jesus was a historical figure – a man
            2. What does that have to do with anything? You reasoned through false analogy. If you can’t see that I don’t know what to tell you. The author researches numerous historical documents for proof of the existence of a place and cannot find it at a certain point in history, when later on in history it certainly exists. That’s a valid inconsistency to be concerned about. Your analogy of Babylonia and Assyria is ridiculous because we have a lot of historical evidence on the existence of those places and how their names changed. The author does not claim does not claim that because location A doesn’t exist in history at time B it never existed. Unlike Assyria and Babylonia it lacks the historical support to demonstrate it’s existence at a particular point in history.
            3. It is. See above.
            4. As the link I provided points out, the Josephus and the Talmud mention Jesus via the Gospels. Doesn’t seem like they were anti-Christian. And the Old testament isn’t anti-Christian. It’s part of the bible.
            5. This is a paragraph excerpt from an entire book. You make assumptions of carelessness of research by the author based on this excerpt. That makes no sense.
            6. Because absence of evidence in historical research actually means something. Should we simply accept historical assertions as true without evidence? Is that how history should be constructed?
            7. Conjectures to counter yours. I’m not the expert. You simply made a conjecture as if it was the only possible explanation, and clearly as the link I provided shows a conjecture that doesn’t stand up to evidence.

            Actually I don’t care if Jesus existed or not. I’m pretty agnostic over it. You simply made an bad argument, that’s all I was pointing out.

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        • makagutu says:

          1. No evidence for this claim.
          2. That researchers make mistakes is not in doubt. You haven’t demonstrated that this particular researcher has made a mistake
          3.
          4. Theologians and apologists have argued, referring to passages in Isaiah and Psalms as talking about Jesus. What do you say about those?
          5. No evidence of his birth anywhere. Bethlehem and Nazareth fit with the stories then current about the messiah
          6. And you have not nor have your villagers claimed you are the son of god. A world of difference lies in that small difference. There is a small village in my county that has become a tourist attraction because it is the birthplace of Obama Snr. Imagine what would become the birthplace of a god? Endless pilgrimages to that spot would be conducted to date.
          7. Glad that you mention Paul. He has no idea of a blood and flesh Jesus

          Liked by 1 person

    • makagutu says:

      What was Nazareth called before?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. renudepride says:

    I remember that as a child I had a board game called “Candyland.” Perhaps I should change the name to “Nazarethland” instead! Naked hugs!

    Like

  5. Nazareth WAS a real place! Archeologists recently discovered a sandwich wrapper with the words “Saul Goldberg’s Nazarene Deli” printed on it. It dates from around 23 CE and still has a bit of caked mustard on it. Thought is it probably once was wrapped around a tasty Ruben sandwich. Also, and few know this, Jesus was known as one of the best sandwich makers of the day. His mother, Mary, once said of him, “Oh, my boy can whip up a sandwich that will make anyone’s taste buds cry out for more.” Hopefully, if da Lord ever returns, he’ll bring some of his delicious sandwiches with him.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. grabaspine says:

    Simply put, the writers who took the oral story of Jesus the Nazarene thought he was Nazarene due to being from a ‘place’ called Nazareth rather than being a Nazarene due to a nararite vow.

    Liked by 2 people

    • makagutu says:

      Simply put, they made up the story as they went along

      Liked by 2 people

      • grabaspine says:

        They may not have made all of it up. There may have been a Jewish rabbi/reformer ‘Joshua’ behind the myth, but the nt Jesus is a fiction.

        Like

      • Barry says:

        Not necessarily. I suspect it’s more a case of inter-generational Chinese Whispers. And I speak from experience:

        In our family we have several myths we like think might be true. They get handed down to each generation, but as far as I’m aware no one has thought to put them into a permanent form. Perhaps someone has, but this part of the family is unaware of it. Any way, a few years ago at a family reunion, some of us eventually we got around to discussing one specific myth. Some versions of the myth were almost unrecognisable, and yet they all shared the same origin only 4, 5 and 6 generations ago. Even my brother’s version is not quite the same as mine, yet we both heard the story at the same time and we are each adamant that our version is the “correct” one.

        None of us have made up the story or deliberately changed it, but it’s quite obvious that additions, omissions, as well as errors have occurred at every retelling of the story. My version isn’t long – about one minute. Other versions ranged from a couple of sentences to one that could be turned into a movie.

        What’s interesting is that several family members are keen on genealogy, and they each independently have traced the subject of the myth back to the brother of my great, great grandfather. However, neither I nor my siblings were aware his name. We weren’t even sure how many generation back he was. In other branches he had a name, but some of them were very different, including versions where the first and last names had been reversed and modified, versions where only the first name was known, and some where the name appears to have nothing in common with the real name. In one version he was a US marshal for a while, but in another version, his first name was Marshall. At least now we have the real name and the correct number of generations, (and no, he wasn’t a US marshal as far as we can ascertain), but there’s no consensus on what the “true” version of the myth is. He traveled extensively through North and South America, and Europe, and according to the myth amassed a vast fortune (there is some evidence to indicate he was very wealthy, but there’s no record of how he achieved it). Many versions have him being killed in a train accident in South America although the country varies, and in others he died in a train crash in either Switzerland, Italy or France. One version has him dying in the Hindenburg disaster, but that’s too recent to be plausible. Almost every version has him dying in some sort of disaster where there were multiple deaths, yet there’s no official record of his death that the genealogists have been able to find. And the mystery of what happened to his supposedly vast fortune is what keeps the myth going…

        Without the amateur genealogists in the family, it would have been impossible to trace him to a real person, as most versions had too many differences including the year and place of his birth, where he traveled, how he amassed his fortune, where his fortune was supposedly located, which country he died in, and how he died.

        Now, if a single family in a matter of a few generations can evolve such different versions of the life of one person, I find it very plausible that the oral history that eventually became the story of Jesus as told in the Gospels passed through a similar form of evolution. I think it would be impossible to trace him back to an historical person, even though I suspect there was a real person around who the myths grew. But I wouldn’t want to bet my (mythical) fortune on it.

        Liked by 2 people

        • makagutu says:

          This is a great story, Barry and it does make a lot of sense. It’s also hilarious.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Barry says:

            While my branch of the family don’t take this myth very seriously, and it usually doesn’t come up very often unless there’s some alcohol involved (weddings and funerals for example), other branches take the myth very seriously. A few family members have spent a considerable amount of money in trying to locate the fortune based on clues within their version of the myth. They weren’t at all happy when they discovered that their area of search had just expanded from a region in Bolivia to cover three continents 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

          • makagutu says:

            Now that’s funny.
            You have a way of making my days. Hopefully one of them will cash in on the fortune.

            Liked by 2 people

          • Barry says:

            As long as I get my share…

            Liked by 1 person

        • Swarn Gill says:

          I like what you’ve said here. I guess though that there might be a difference in an example like this and the story of Jesus. If we were only interested in sort of the inspirational message or the moral lesson of the story we might allow stories to evolve like this. But if we feel like a prophecy is coming to pass, and this person is the son of a deity is performing actual miracles like bringing people back from the dead, then it seems like this would be a situation where as a historian we’d want to be as detailed and consistent as possible. Historians at the time wrote about far less significant events. So even if the story of Jesus evolved as you say at some point somebody wanted to write down that story and claim it as literal history and knowing how stories evolved would have at least been partly dishonest in trying to sell it as actually what happened. Just my thoughts.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Arkenaten says:

            Josephus resided just up the road for a time and never mentioned it.
            Origen was Bishop of Caesarea and if it existed was less than a day’s ride on a donkey. He never mentions visiting the place and this has always struck me as odd.
            Luke describes the place a ”city” so i«even if that was a tad of an exaggeration one would expect a thriving, if small village.

            Consider: If you had heard of the place where your god was born wouldn’t you consider it worthwhile to pop over for a visit and visit all of Jesus old haunts?
            I am surprised the place wasn’t swamped by newly converted Christians, and yet , not a peep.
            Probably coincidence.

            Liked by 1 person

          • makagutu says:

            And you would also want to know if Panthera was involved in the birth of the lord or it is just a tall tale

            Like

          • Arkenaten says:

            To quote Life of Brian:

            ”You mean you were raped !”
            ”Well, at first. There he was, having his way with me when … whoom !! like a rat out of an aqueduct he was gone. So the next time you go on about the bloody Romans just remember you’re one of them!”
            (More or less)
            🙂

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            When treated as myth, the story of Jesus makes sense. In fact, even the borrowings from religions then current in the Levant doesn’t become a problem. But to insist on special revelation, is to open a can of worms or is it Pandora’s Box

            Liked by 1 person

          • Arkenaten says:

            Exactly.
            Accepting the myth one can see the story comes together quite easily without any Hoop Jumping or convoluted nonsense to support some emotionally induced delusion.

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            But it would get many an apologist out of business, no one wants that

            Like

          • makagutu says:

            Indeed, and especially if your life in the netherworld depends on loving this deity, I would want to know as much as is possible

            Liked by 1 person

  7. shelldigger says:

    Odd, the more they look for historical evidence of their fairy tales, the more they have to make shit up to shore up the supports.

    No evidence for the exodus, no evidence for the jeebus, no evidence for a damn thing really. Yet they maintain the delusion to great lengths, with much stretching of the imagination. Frightened little children clinging to the invisible friend…

    Like

  8. I think VP’s tilting at straw windmills highlights why discussing the existence of Nazareth is pointless. The discussion always gets changed to, “Well, the author didn’t find and catalog EVERY Jewish town in the area, so I’m going to pretend that one of them had ‘Nazareth’ on the welcome sign.” It’s a great side argument, since it does supernaturalists the favor of glossing over all other nonsense they’re selling.

    Like

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