Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
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24-06-2013, 09:11 PM (This post was last modified: 25-06-2013 09:41 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(23-06-2013 06:10 PM)maklelan Wrote:  
(23-06-2013 04:08 PM)Revenant77x Wrote:  One of the major flaws in the new testament is naming the town of Nazareth as the hometown of Jesus (Yeshua ben Josef) I believe it to have been a purposeful mistranslation of the Nazarene. . . .

I would say the position you're promoting is not built on solid methodological grounds. If you have more specific claims or evidence you'd like to share I'd be happy to take the time to respond, but I don't think I can commit the time to comprehensively respond to your whole post and the links you shared. My biggest concerns would be the following:

1 - Parallelomania, or the tendency toward equating similar looking or sounding personal and place names, philosophies, and traditions. As far back as the 60s this tendency has been criticized by scholars (see here). Ellis presents one of the most egregious and ridiculous examples of parallelomania I have ever seen. According to his series of books, Jesus was the king of Edessa and King Arthur, as well as a descendant of Cleopatra. Paul was Josephus. The linguistic and logical gymnastics required to arrive at any one of these identifications just absolutely horrifies me. They are the most irresponsible and illogical conclusions I've ever seen. One of the most prominent theories associated with parallelomania from a mainstream point of view is a genetic relationship between Qumran and Christianity. It's attractive because it provides some fertile grounds for insights into early Christianity and the development of the Christ tradition, but there's really not much that commends the theory. The Dead Sea Scrolls just happen to be the only other really significant Jewish literary corpora from the time period, and they promote a species of messianism, so it's quite natural to want to build a conceptual bridge of some kind between them and the Christ tradition. Strong connections between the two are purely speculative, no matter how secure they may be made to seem. There is nothing to suggest Jesus was an Essene, and even the notion that John the Baptist was an Essene (to say nothing of the notion that he was a leader) is at best only a probability. This leads to my next concern:

2 - The need to produce firm and groundbreaking conclusions. Scholarship is governed by a number of methodological boundaries that are intended to help theories stay within logical and evidentiary boundaries. They help us to be more secure in our conclusions, but they also limit what we can say from the evidence. Most academic discussion deals more with weighing probabilities rather than making definitive and absolute claims. On many, many occasions, however, the conclusions that hobbyists and pseudo-scholars are looking for--the really big and groundbreaking ones that obliterate this and that tradition or consensus view--lie on the other side of that limit. For those without rigorous training, those limits are almost always invisible (although the limits are glaring when it comes to the arguments of opponents), and the conclusions seem well within grasp. This leads almost invariably to fallacious and specious reasoning and speculation. The overriding drive in this speculation is usually the ostensible need to find theories that incorporate the most pieces of evidence, or make everything fit, but in reality certain pieces of evidence are always prioritized, with others manipulated to be made to fit within the model. Priority is given to evidence that supports presuppositions and biases. Mythicists, for instance, insist that Jesus didn't exist in any sense, but there's really no evidence that such is the case. There is certainly evidence that the New Testament's portrayal is thoroughly rhetorical and propagandist, but to suggest that no historical figure whatsoever lies at the root of the tradition reaches well, well beyond the evidence. For the most part, sound methodology prevents us from drawing absolute conclusions one way or another, but there are definitely dynamics within the text that problematize the notion that the character was invented from whole cloth (which conclusions requires logical leaps and assumptions anyway), and so the responsible conclusion is to place the weight of probability on the existence of some actual figure named Jesus whose story was elaborated upon through the years. I would call the conclusion that Nazareth is an intentional emendation of Nazarene purely speculative at best.

3 - The argument from silence. This tendency plagues both atheists and believers. The lack of mention of any character or toponym from any historical source is not, in and of itself, evidence of anything. Writers and annals inexplicably omit things all the time. To Ellis I pointed out that fundamentalists argue for the traditional dating of Daniel on the grounds that, among other things, the text uses the legitimately Neo-Babylonian name Belshazzar despite that character's omission from Herodotus' history. Where, they rhetorically ask, could a second century Daniel have gotten that name if not even Herodotus had access to it in his records? The assumption is that Herodotus didn't have access to it, but those fundamentalists happily ignore the fact that Herodotus also never mentions the name Nebuchadnezzar, the most famous king in Neo-Babylonian history. Certainly he had access to that name, but for some reason he omitted it.

Hi maklelan, thanks for contributing. I hope we can have a pleasant discussion. I am no scholar of primary sources, but have spent too many hours reading the words of people who are. You write "There is nothing to suggest Jesus was an Essene,"
I'm not so sure. Permit me to share some of my conclusions, and I invite your comments...

The Essenes
The third important group was the Essenes. We know a fair bit about them, not only from Flavius Josephus, who may himself have been an Essene, but also from Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, and from the (probably) Essene Qumran community who hid the Dead Sea Scrolls.

They were a heterogeneous group, but some generalizations can be made. They were well respected amongst most Jews. Josephus numbered them at about four thousand, and writes they had a strong affection for each other, and lived in groups scattered throughout Judea. They preferred to wear white and were particular about certain bathing rituals, including baptism. Most were celibate, which was quite unusual, as most Jews considered it as living an incomplete life. They rejected the pursuit of pleasure, preached poverty, humility, chastity, loving one's neighbor, and penitence. They believed in a war between the forces of good and evil, and the need for God's grace. They strove to speak gently and quietly, to never swear, and were strong believers in justice and that all Jews were equal. They rejected the accumulation of wealth, and shared all their possessions. They claimed to love the truth and to never steal. Unlike the other Jewish sects, they spurned animal sacrifice. They thought of themselves as healers, to be able to cast out demons and restore the dead to life. They were said to foretell the future and to have little fear of death. They were convinced that after death their souls were destined for paradise, provided they had been righteous, but if someone had been sinful, their soul was sent to hell.

They deeply resented the Sadducees, so set up their own priesthood separate to the temple. They may have mistrusted most of the Pharisees, regarding them as corrupt or hypocritical.

Josephus leaves out one important fact about them; that many of them were intensely anti-Roman. We know this from the Dead Sea scrolls. Many authors have unknowingly misled modern readers by stating that Essenes were pacifists because they wouldn’t fight in any war. But once they’d decided a war was a just war called by God against the men of darkness—a holy war—they would fight. ( http://www.askwhy.co.uk/christianity/0220Galilaeans.php ).
Josephus was writing for a Roman audience, and was trying to present his countrymen in the best possible light, so this omission is understandable.
Yeshua Was Probably an Essene
I think Yeshua probably was an Essene activist. (http://www.askwhy.co.uk/christianity/018...sene.php). The Essenes had many beliefs in common with those credited to Jesus. Some of the sayings attributed to Jesus are also found in the Dead Sea Scrolls (yet his existence is never mentioned in them.) Jesus and his disciples pooled their funds, which were administered by a treasurer, which was a feature of Essene communities.
Many scholars believe John the Baptist, who could have been Yeshua’s cousin, was an Essene. John baptized Yeshua, so Yeshua clearly had the same beliefs as him. ( http://www.sacred-texts.com/eso/jlgi/jlgi05.htm)

The Gospel’s writers and editors didn’t mention their existence even once. If it was suspected that Yeshua and the disciples were Essenes, it would have meant they were too fundamentally Jewish and too anti Roman. (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/...nes.html).
One minor fact that doesn’t fit is that Yeshua and his disciples allegedly ate fish, and the Essenes, as best I can tell, were strict vegetarians.

There was a particular group of Essenes known as Nazarenes. I believe John, Yeshua, his family, and his disciples were all Nazarenes. Obviously, then, they were an incredibly important group.

The Nazarenes
Yeshua was a Nazarene, as stated in the Bible: Acts referred to
“Jesus Christ the Nazarene” (Acts 3:6, 4:10, 2:22, 6:14, 22:8, 26:9, NJB). Most modern Christians assume the term “Nazarene” referred to the fact that Jesus came from the village of Nazareth. This was, after all, what Matthew claimed (Matt. 2:23); but Nazareth the place was not the real origin of the term. On (almost) every occasion that Jesus was referred to as being of Nazareth, the words “of Nazareth” should actually read “the Nazarene” (http://www.essene.com/What is a Nazarene.htm). Nazareth the village did not exist in Yeshua’s time. ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxEJHO8KIXY ). Calling him Jesus “of Nazareth” was a ploy to distract from his sectarian affiliations. The Bible made it clear the term “Nazarene” referred to a sect, when in the book of Acts, Paul is accused of being a Nazarene.

“The plain truth is that we find this man a perfect pest; he stirs up trouble among Jews the world over, and is a ringleader of the Nazarene sect.” (Acts 24:5, NJB)
Hugh Schonfield, who devoted his life to studying Judaism and Yeshua, claims Nazarenism was an ancient version of Judaism. He thought the original founder of the Nazarene sect may have been a Jewish-Arabian prophet named Essa in approximately 400 BCE.

Many eminent scholars have linked the Nazarenes with the Essenian sect at Qumran. One might consider the Nazarene sect a strongly developed messianic form of “Essenism.” ( http://www.essene.com/History&Essenes/TrimmNazars.htm )
The family, disciples and followers of Yeshua were Nazarenes. They believed that Yeshua was a (very human) prophet who could be the messiah of Israel. The “pillars” Paul refers to (James, Peter, and John) in his second letter to the Galatians, were the leaders and key figures of this group after Yeshua’s death. They (obviously) were not Christians. They practiced circumcision, believed in baptism, and were strict about the Sabbath. They were vegetarians who didn't approve of the slaughter of animals, either for food or sacrifice. They developed their own “Halacha,” which was their interpretation of the Torah. They were true believers in the power and glory of Israel, saw themselves as God's chosen people, and were vehemently opposed to the Romans. I think they were zealots, willing to take the Romans on, which was why the Roman world considered a Nazarene “a pest” who “stirs up trouble among Jews the world over.”

They were devoted to the Temple as the house of God, but were opposed to the Sadducees who they regarded as Roman collaborators. They had a broad base of support among Jews throughout Judea and much of the Roman Empire. Many ordinary Jews and Pharisees would have considered the Nazarenes brothers in the struggle against Rome.

Yeshua became their chief after John the Baptist’s death, and he remained in charge for (probably) a few years. Leadership was inherited from blood relations, which explains it passing from John the Baptist to Yeshua, and after Yeshua’s death, on to James, his brother.

James and the other Nazarenes didn’t think Yeshua was the Son of God, or that he needed to die to save anyone from their sins ( http://www.petahtikvah.com/Articles/nazarenes.htm ).

We read very little about this group in the pages of history because mainly gentiles wrote that history, and the early Christians ignored the Nazarenes or wrote them off as heretics.
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25-06-2013, 08:25 AM
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
Quote:We read very little about this group in the pages of history because mainly gentiles wrote that history, and the early Christians ignored the Nazarenes or wrote them off as heretics.

Mark, I'm surprised at that last sentence since I consider you to typically have good taste and discretion in matters like these.

We know little about Nazarenes because they weren't a sect and anyone who says so is writing that in post hoc. They were individuals who had taken vows.

1) We know little about Essenes because they were secretive and lived in monklike seclusion.

2) The followers of the Nazarene from Nazareth were called Nazarenes. It would have been more proper based on the conjecture that was posted to have called them NazaRITES if they had all taken such vows which prohibited the imbibing of WINE like they all had at THE LAST SUPPER, which was a Passover Seder where FOUR CUPS OF WINE were taken.

I mean, really!
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25-06-2013, 04:11 PM (This post was last modified: 25-06-2013 08:02 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(25-06-2013 08:25 AM)PleaseJesus Wrote:  
Quote:We read very little about this group in the pages of history because mainly gentiles wrote that history, and the early Christians ignored the Nazarenes or wrote them off as heretics.

Mark, I'm surprised at that last sentence since I consider you to typically have good taste and discretion in matters like these.

We know little about Nazarenes because they weren't a sect and anyone who says so is writing that in post hoc. They were individuals who had taken vows.

1) We know little about Essenes because they were secretive and lived in monklike seclusion.

2) The followers of the Nazarene from Nazareth were called Nazarenes. It would have been more proper based on the conjecture that was posted to have called them NazaRITES if they had all taken such vows which prohibited the imbibing of WINE like they all had at THE LAST SUPPER, which was a Passover Seder where FOUR CUPS OF WINE were taken.

I mean, really!

Hi PJ, we actually know a fair bit about the Essenes. Google them for yourself. If you also want to read some primary sources Google Josephus on Essenes or Philo on the Essenes.

The Nazarenes were very closely linked with the Essenes and were probably a subset of them, although this is not 100% certain. Jesus and his followers were Nazarenes. James, probably Jesus' brother, took over their leadership after Jesus' death. They were never Christians. In fact they were implacably opposed in later years to what became Christianity.

I include for your interest my small chapter on what happened to the Nazarenes including references.

What Happened to the Nazarenes?
“It is to the Nazarene records that we ought chiefly to look for our knowledge of Jesus, and we must regard Nazarenism as the true Christianity. As the Nazarenes throughout the period of personal recollection and down to the third generation, that is to say at least seventy five years after the death of Jesus, denied his deity and his virgin birth, we must recognize that these are alien doctrines subsequently introduced by a partly paganized Church, as Justin Martyr in the middle of the second century more or less admits. The Church which received them had no other course open than to belittle the Nazarenes and denounce them as heretics. The historian here has no difficulty in detecting the real heretics.”
(Hugh Schonfield)

The Nazarenes were Yeshua’s bona fide disciples. Much of their history is missing, probably because early Christians destroyed it. Yet their tale can be pieced together.

I think Paul masqueraded as a Nazarene. He sent what is now a famous letter to “the Romans,” urging them to obey their Roman rulers. He was trying to contaminate Nazarene doctrine with his own pro government perspective. To all true Nazarenes, Paul was a heretic and a traitor to Judaism. The cordial relationship between them and Paul described in Acts is a fiction. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Hippolytus (d. 236 CE), Tertullian, Origen, Epiphanius (c. 310 – 403 CE, bishop of Salamis) and Jerome all confirmed that the Ebionites (as the Nazarenes were later called, see below) opposed Paul as a false Apostle.

The Roman Emperor Nero may have blamed the Nazarenes for the great fire of 64 CE, and executed them. Christians today often incorrectly call Nero’s casualties Christians, whereas if this really happened, the victims were probably Nazarenes. There’s a Christian “tradition” that this was when Peter was crucified, but there’s no contemporary evidence to confirm the claim.

Hegesippus (c. 110 - 180 CE), a Christian chronicler of the early Church who may have been a Jewish convert, writes that after the death of James in 62 CE, the Nazarenes selected Symeon (aka Simeon), son of Cleophas, to be their new leader. He was one of Yeshua’s relatives.

During the first Jewish war of 66-70 CE, some of the Nazarenes may have fled across the River Jordan to Pella. Yet many of them probably tried to defend Jerusalem and therefore perished. The survivors must have been bitterly disappointed by the defeat. The remaining rebels reorganized and moved back into Jerusalem in 72 CE, although they never recovered their status and influence after the war.

Prior to 80 – 90 CE, the Nazarenes were still worshipping in synagogues alongside Pharisees. Yet they soon began to be viewed by their fellow Jews as trouble causers, probably because of their nationalistic ambitions. The Pharisaic Jews referred to them as “minim” (Hebrew for heretic.) A heretic is someone who still remains within the faith, but believes in elements not acceptable to the orthodoxy, so mainstream Jews never considered them Christians. A deep schism formed, and by 90 CE, Nazarenes were excluded from some synagogues. I suspect some Jews opted out of Nazarenism, or were intimidated by it, because opposing Rome was dangerous.

In his “Ecclesiastical History,” Eusebius of Caesaria wrote of the grandchildren of Jesus’ brother Jude, who were living in Galilee during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian (81–96 CE,) the son of Vespasian and brother of Titus. (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250103.htm, book 3, chapter 20.) He says they became dynastic leaders of various “Christian” (a misnomer) churches, and continued to be so up until the time of the Emperor Trajan (98–117 CE.)

Kamal Salibi, a former Emeritus Professor at the American University of Beirut, Department of History and Archaeology, wrote that after Symeon's death, twelve others followed in turn whose names are preserved down to 135 CE (the time of the Second Jewish Revolt.) So there were fifteen leaders of the Nazarene sect after Jesus, all of whom were circumcised Jews and relations of Jesus. The word “Desposyni” was reserved uniquely for Jesus' blood relatives and literally meant “belonging to the Lord.” They governed the Nazarenes. Each carried one of the names traditional in Jesus' family: Zachary, Joseph, John, James, Joses, Symeon, Matthias, and others, although no later Desposynos was ever called Yeshua.

Sextus Julius Africanus' ( http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articl...-africanus ) reference to "Desposyni" is preserved in Eusebius of Caesarea's Ecclesiastical History:
“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... 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. 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, into other parts of the world, they drew the aforesaid genealogy from memory and from the book of daily records as faithfully as possible. 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." (Eusebius, Historica Ecclesiae, 1:7:11.)

Eusebius has also preserved an extract from a work by Hegesippus (c.110–c.180), who wrote five books of Commentaries on the Acts of the Church. The extract refers to the period from the reign of Domitian (81–96) to that of Trajan (98–117), and includes the statement that two Desposyni brought before Domitian later became leaders of the churches:
“There still survived of the kindred of the Lord the grandsons of Judas, who according to the flesh was called his brother. These were informed against, as belonging to the family of David, and Evocatus brought them before Domitian Caesar: for that emperor dreaded the advent of Christ, as Herod had done.
So he asked them whether they were of the family of David; and they confessed they were. Next he asked them what property they had, or how much money they possessed. They both replied that they had only 9000 denaria between them, each of them owning half that sum; but even this they said they did not possess in cash, but as the estimated value of some land, consisting of thirty-nine plethra only, out of which they had to pay the dues, and that they supported themselves by their own labor. And then they began to hold out their hands, exhibiting, as proof of their manual labor, the roughness of their skin, and the corns raised on their hands by constant work.

Being then asked concerning Christ and His kingdom, what was its nature, and when and where it was to appear, they returned answer that it was not of this world, nor of the earth, but belonging to the sphere of heaven and angels, and would make its appearance at the end of time, when He shall come in glory, and judge living and dead, and render to every one according to the course of his life.
Thereupon Domitian passed no condemnation upon them, but treated them with contempt, as too mean for notice, and let them go free. At the same time he issued a command, and put a stop to the persecution against the Church.

When they were released they became leaders of the churches, as was natural in the case of those who were at once martyrs and of the kindred of the Lord. And, after the establishment of peace to the Church, their lives were prolonged to the reign of Trojan.” (Eusebius, Historica Ecclesiae, 3:20.)

Eusebius wrote that they didn’t fight in the second war (135 CE) against the Romans, as they considered Simon bar Kochba, the Jewish commander, to be a false messiah. After this war, the fifteenth Nazarene leader was exiled with the remaining Jewish population when the Emperor Hadrian banned all Jews from Jerusalem.

Over the next few centuries, the Nazarenes headed by Yeshua’s relatives continued as a movement that some Jews joined. They were well respected in their own locales. They moved northeastward, eventually making their way to the Tigris-Euphrates basin, spreading throughout Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia.

The early Christians considered them an heretical sect, so ignored and later suppressed them. Justin Martyr denigrated their beliefs. The developing orthodox Catholic Church deliberately called them the Ebionites “the poor ones” (although Jews did not consider this term derogatory; in fact they used the term to refer to the righteous.) Christians prior to Irenaeus didn’t use this term. He wrote
“Those who are called Ebionites agree that the world was made by God; but their opinions with respect to the Lord are similar to those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates.” (These men were Gnostics who believed Jesus was a very human teacher.) “They use the Gospel according to Matthew only, and repudiate the Apostle Paul, maintaining that he was an apostate from the law. As to the prophetical writings, they endeavor to expound them in a somewhat singular manner: they practice circumcision, persevere in the observance of those customs which are enjoined by the law, and are so Judaic in their style of life, that they even adore Jerusalem as if it were the house of God” (Against Heresies 1:26.)
The gospel according to Matthew that Irenaeus refers to was probably the same gospel that Jerome (342–420 CE) and Epiphanius (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13393b.htm) called the “Gospel of the Nazarenes/Hebrews,” which was written in Aramaic. Jerome mentions that he made translations of it into Greek and Latin. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, no significant part of this Gospel survives today. Some scholars believe that it was loosely linked to canonical Matthew, which fits with it being the most pro-Jewish gospel of the four. It’s possible that this was how some facts about Yeshua the Nazarene insurrectionist made it into the gospels.
Much later, Eusebius considered the Nazarenes heretics because
“they regarded [Jesus] as plain and ordinary, a man esteemed as righteous through growth of character and nothing more, the child of a normal union between a man and Mary; and they held that they must observe every detail of the Law—that by faith in Christ alone they would never win Salvation” (Ecclesiastical History 3.7.)
Irenaeus and Eusebius depicted them honestly in these quotes.

Gentile Christians came to refer to them indiscriminately as “Jewish Christians” because of their link with Jesus, yet this was another misnomer, because they never were Christians.

By the beginning of the fourth century, the Roman Catholic Church was becoming dominant and there were confrontations with Jews, including the Nazarenes. With the Synod of Elvira, held in 306 CE, prohibitions against eating, marriage, and sex with Jews were enacted in the Roman Empire. Nazarenes were included in this ban, which in effect excluded them from all social and religious association with those in the growing gentile Pauline church.

The Emperor Constantine appointed Sylvester as the head bishop of the universal church in 313 CE. According to the Irish Jesuit historian Malachi Martin, ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malachi_Martin ) a meeting took place in 318 CE in Rome between Pope Sylvester I and the Desposyni. Sylvester provided sea travel for the Nazarene leaders as far as the Roman port of Ostia, thirty kilometers west of Rome. The fact that Sylvester thought it necessary to meet with them suggests that he was curious, yet he initiated the meeting with the intention of exerting his pontifical authority over them.

The Nazarene leaders who appeared before Pope Sylvester quite rightly thought they represented Yeshua’s true legacy. They were, after all, his blood relations, part of at least three well-known lines of legitimate blood descent from Yeshua's family. They were eight in number, and Joses, the oldest of them, spoke on their behalf. They bluntly refused to recognize the Roman church as having any authority, and made the following demands:
(1) that the confirmation of the Christian bishops of Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus and Alexandria be revoked;
(2) that these bishoprics be conferred on members of the Desposyni;
(3) that the Law be reintroduced, which included the Sabbath and the Holy Day system of Feasts, and
(4) that Christian Churches resume sending money to the Desposyni Church in Jerusalem, which was to be regarded as the “Mother Church.”

Such bold claims must have come as a surprise to Sylvester, who refused their demands. They were told that the leadership of Jesus’ church had moved to Rome, and that they had no jurisdiction. Sylvester must have known his church was the impostor, but that didn’t concern him. The politics of power were more important than the truth.

This was the last known formal dialogue between Christian and Nazarene leaders.
A few years later Nazarenes began to surface in southern Upper Egypt. In this remote locale, far from the center of gentile Christianity, they continued to practice their beliefs.

In 364 CE, the Catholic Council of Laodicea decreed anathema on any “Jewish Christians” who continued to observe the seventh-day Sabbath. Historical references to Nazarenes became scarce thereafter. The few remaining believers petered out.

The Nazarenes were a Jewish sect that, at least in the first century, had strong anti Gentile political ambitions. Christianity, something quite separate, became a religion for Gentiles. It stole Yeshua the Nazarene’s identity to create Jesus, and reinvented him, not only as its founder, but also as God incarnate and the savior of the world. The Christian world then suppressed the Nazarenes. They struggled on for about four centuries before they disappeared.

If Yeshua and his original disciples could speak today, they’d be dumbfounded at the distortion of their legacy.

References:
Eisenman, Robert H. “James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls”
Klinghoffer, D. 1965 “Why The Jews Rejected Jesus”. Doubleday. United States Of America.
Lockhart, D. 1997 “Jesus The Heretic”. Element Books. Dorset.
Lockhart, D. 1999 “The Dark Side Of God”. Element Books. Dorset
Schonfield, H. 1969 “Those Incredible Christians”. Bantam. New York.
Thijs Voskuilen and Rose Mary Sheldon co-wrote “Operation Messiah”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4kTNS18ses
http://ia600401.us.archive.org/34/items/...onites.mp3
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebionites
http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Ebionites
http://douglaslockhart.com/pdf/THE NAZORAEAN SECT.pdf
http://www.yashanet.com/library/nazarene_judaism.html
http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/ebionites.html
http://www.yashanet.com/library/temple/nazarenes.htm for the above information.
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=b7bn...2C&f=false
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=jVyz...on&f=false
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_the_Hebrews
http://www.conorpdowling.com/library/council-of-elvira
http://www.askwhy.co.uk/christianity/0370Ebionites.php
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/te...ippus.html
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25-06-2013, 05:40 PM
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(25-06-2013 04:11 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  
(25-06-2013 08:25 AM)PleaseJesus Wrote:  Mark, I'm surprised at that last sentence since I consider you to typically have good taste and discretion in matters like these.

We know little about Nazarenes because they weren't a sect and anyone who says so is writing that in post hoc. They were individuals who had taken vows.

1) We know little about Essenes because they were secretive and lived in monklike seclusion.

2) The followers of the Nazarene from Nazareth were called Nazarenes. It would have been more proper based on the conjecture that was posted to have called them NazaRITES if they had all taken such vows which prohibited the imbibing of WINE like they all had at THE LAST SUPPER, which was a Passover Seder where FOUR CUPS OF WINE were taken.

I mean, really!

Hi PJ, we actually know a fair bit about the Essenes. Google them for yourself. If you also want to read some primary sources Google Josephus on Essenes or Philo on the Essenes.

The Nazarenes were very closely linked with the Essenes and were probably a subset of them, although this is not 100% certain. Jesus and his followers were Nazarenes. James, probably Jesus' brother, you took over their leadership after Jesus' death. They were never Christians. In fact they were implacably opposed in later years to what became Christianity.

I include for your interest my small chapter on what happened to the Nazarenes including references.

What Happened to the Nazarenes?
“It is to the Nazarene records that we ought chiefly to look for our knowledge of Jesus, and we must regard Nazarenism as the true Christianity. As the Nazarenes throughout the period of personal recollection and down to the third generation, that is to say at least seventy five years after the death of Jesus, denied his deity and his virgin birth, we must recognize that these are alien doctrines subsequently introduced by a partly paganized Church, as Justin Martyr in the middle of the second century more or less admits. The Church which received them had no other course open than to belittle the Nazarenes and denounce them as heretics. The historian here has no difficulty in detecting the real heretics.”
(Hugh Schonfield)

The Nazarenes were Yeshua’s bona fide disciples. Much of their history is missing, probably because early Christians destroyed it. Yet their tale can be pieced together.

I think Paul masqueraded as a Nazarene. He sent what is now a famous letter to “the Romans,” urging them to obey their Roman rulers. He was trying to contaminate Nazarene doctrine with his own pro government perspective.
To all true Nazarenes, Paul was a heretic and a traitor to Judaism. The cordial relationship between them and Paul described in Acts is a fiction. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Hippolytus (d. 236 CE), Tertullian, Origen, Epiphanius (c. 310 – 403 CE, bishop of Salamis) and Jerome all confirmed that the Ebionites (as the Nazarenes were later called, see below) opposed Paul as a false Apostle.

The Roman Emperor Nero may have blamed the Nazarenes for the great fire of 64 CE, and executed them. Christians today often incorrectly call Nero’s casualties Christians, whereas if this really happened, the victims were probably Nazarenes. There’s a Christian “tradition” that this was when Peter was crucified, but there’s no contemporary evidence to confirm the claim.

Hegesippus (c. 110 - 180 CE), a Christian chronicler of the early Church who may have been a Jewish convert, writes that after the death of James in 62 CE, the Nazarenes selected Symeon (aka Simeon), son of Cleophas, to be their new leader. He was one of Yeshua’s relatives.

During the first Jewish war of 66-70 CE, some of the Nazarenes may have fled across the River Jordan to Pella. Yet many of them probably tried to defend Jerusalem and therefore perished. The survivors must have been bitterly disappointed by the defeat. The remaining rebels reorganized and moved back into Jerusalem in 72 CE, although they never recovered their status and influence after the war.

Prior to 80 – 90 CE, the Nazarenes were still worshipping in synagogues alongside Pharisees. Yet they soon began to be viewed by their fellow Jews as trouble causers, probably because of their nationalistic ambitions. The Pharisaic Jews referred to them as “minim” (Hebrew for heretic.) A heretic is someone who still remains within the faith, but believes in elements not acceptable to the orthodoxy, so mainstream Jews never considered them Christians. A deep schism formed, and by 90 CE, Nazarenes were excluded from some synagogues. I suspect some Jews opted out of Nazarenism, or were intimidated by it, because opposing Rome was dangerous.

In his “Ecclesiastical History,” Eusebius of Caesaria wrote of the grandchildren of Jesus’ brother Jude, who were living in Galilee during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian (81–96 CE,) the son of Vespasian and brother of Titus. (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250103.htm, book 3, chapter 20.) He says they became dynastic leaders of various “Christian” (a misnomer) churches, and continued to be so up until the time of the Emperor Trajan (98–117 CE.)

Kamal Salibi, a former Emeritus Professor at the American University of Beirut, Department of History and Archaeology, wrote that after Symeon's death, twelve others followed in turn whose names are preserved down to 135 CE (the time of the Second Jewish Revolt.) So there were fifteen leaders of the Nazarene sect after Jesus, all of whom were circumcised Jews and relations of Jesus. The word “Desposyni” was reserved uniquely for Jesus' blood relatives and literally meant “belonging to the Lord.” They governed the Nazarenes. Each carried one of the names traditional in Jesus' family: Zachary, Joseph, John, James, Joses, Symeon, Matthias, and others, although no later Desposynos was ever called Yeshua.
Sextus Julius Africanus' ( http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articl...-africanus ) reference to "Desposyni" is preserved in Eusebius of Caesarea's Ecclesiastical History:
“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... 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. 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, into other parts of the world, they drew the aforesaid genealogy from memory and from the book of daily records as faithfully as possible. 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." (Eusebius, Historica Ecclesiae, 1:7:11.)
Eusebius has also preserved an extract from a work by Hegesippus (c.110–c.180), who wrote five books of Commentaries on the Acts of the Church. The extract refers to the period from the reign of Domitian (81–96) to that of Trajan (98–117), and includes the statement that two Desposyni brought before Domitian later became leaders of the churches:
“There still survived of the kindred of the Lord the grandsons of Judas, who according to the flesh was called his brother. These were informed against, as belonging to the family of David, and Evocatus brought them before Domitian Caesar: for that emperor dreaded the advent of Christ, as Herod had done.
So he asked them whether they were of the family of David; and they confessed they were. Next he asked them what property they had, or how much money they possessed. They both replied that they had only 9000 denaria between them, each of them owning half that sum; but even this they said they did not possess in cash, but as the estimated value of some land, consisting of thirty-nine plethra only, out of which they had to pay the dues, and that they supported themselves by their own labor. And then they began to hold out their hands, exhibiting, as proof of their manual labor, the roughness of their skin, and the corns raised on their hands by constant work.

Being then asked concerning Christ and His kingdom, what was its nature, and when and where it was to appear, they returned answer that it was not of this world, nor of the earth, but belonging to the sphere of heaven and angels, and would make its appearance at the end of time, when He shall come in glory, and judge living and dead, and render to every one according to the course of his life.
Thereupon Domitian passed no condemnation upon them, but treated them with contempt, as too mean for notice, and let them go free. At the same time he issued a command, and put a stop to the persecution against the Church.

When they were released they became leaders of the churches, as was natural in the case of those who were at once martyrs and of the kindred of the Lord. And, after the establishment of peace to the Church, their lives were prolonged to the reign of Trojan.” (Eusebius, Historica Ecclesiae, 3:20.)

Eusebius wrote that they didn’t fight in the second war (135 CE) against the Romans, as they considered Simon bar Kochba, the Jewish commander, to be a false messiah. After this war, the fifteenth Nazarene leader was exiled with the remaining Jewish population when the Emperor Hadrian banned all Jews from Jerusalem.

Over the next few centuries, the Nazarenes headed by Yeshua’s relatives continued as a movement that some Jews joined. They were well respected in their own locales. They moved northeastward, eventually making their way to the Tigris-Euphrates basin, spreading throughout Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia.

The early Christians considered them an heretical sect, so ignored and later suppressed them. Justin Martyr denigrated their beliefs. The developing orthodox Catholic Church deliberately called them the Ebionites “the poor ones” (although Jews did not consider this term derogatory; in fact they used the term to refer to the righteous.) Christians prior to Irenaeus didn’t use this term. He wrote
“Those who are called Ebionites agree that the world was made by God; but their opinions with respect to the Lord are similar to those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates.” (These men were Gnostics who believed Jesus was a very human teacher.) “They use the Gospel according to Matthew only, and repudiate the Apostle Paul, maintaining that he was an apostate from the law. As to the prophetical writings, they endeavor to expound them in a somewhat singular manner: they practice circumcision, persevere in the observance of those customs which are enjoined by the law, and are so Judaic in their style of life, that they even adore Jerusalem as if it were the house of God” (Against Heresies 1:26.)
The gospel according to Matthew that Irenaeus refers to was probably the same gospel that Jerome (342–420 CE) and Epiphanius (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13393b.htm) called the “Gospel of the Nazarenes/Hebrews,” which was written in Aramaic. Jerome mentions that he made translations of it into Greek and Latin. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, no significant part of this Gospel survives today. Some scholars believe that it was loosely linked to canonical Matthew, which fits with it being the most pro-Jewish gospel of the four. It’s possible that this was how some facts about Yeshua the Nazarene insurrectionist made it into the gospels.
Much later, Eusebius considered the Nazarenes heretics because
“they regarded [Jesus] as plain and ordinary, a man esteemed as righteous through growth of character and nothing more, the child of a normal union between a man and Mary; and they held that they must observe every detail of the Law—that by faith in Christ alone they would never win Salvation” (Ecclesiastical History 3.7.)
Irenaeus and Eusebius depicted them honestly in these quotes.

Gentile Christians came to refer to them indiscriminately as “Jewish Christians” because of their link with Jesus, yet this was another misnomer, because they never were Christians.

By the beginning of the fourth century, the Roman Catholic Church was becoming dominant and there were confrontations with Jews, including the Nazarenes. With the Synod of Elvira, held in 306 CE, prohibitions against eating, marriage, and sex with Jews were enacted in the Roman Empire. Nazarenes were included in this ban, which in effect excluded them from all social and religious association with those in the growing gentile Pauline church.

The Emperor Constantine appointed Sylvester as the head bishop of the universal church in 313 CE. According to the Irish Jesuit historian Malachi Martin, ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malachi_Martin ) a meeting took place in 318 CE in Rome between Pope Sylvester I and the Desposyni. Sylvester provided sea travel for the Nazarene leaders as far as the Roman port of Ostia, thirty kilometers west of Rome. The fact that Sylvester thought it necessary to meet with them suggests that he was curious, yet he initiated the meeting with the intention of exerting his pontifical authority over them.

The Nazarene leaders who appeared before Pope Sylvester quite rightly thought they represented Yeshua’s true legacy. They were, after all, his blood relations, part of at least three well-known lines of legitimate blood descent from Yeshua's family. They were eight in number, and Joses, the oldest of them, spoke on their behalf. They bluntly refused to recognize the Roman church as having any authority, and made the following demands:
(1) that the confirmation of the Christian bishops of Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus and Alexandria be revoked;
(2) that these bishoprics be conferred on members of the Desposyni;
(3) that the Law be reintroduced, which included the Sabbath and the Holy Day system of Feasts, and
(4) that Christian Churches resume sending money to the Desposyni Church in Jerusalem, which was to be regarded as the “Mother Church.”

Such bold claims must have come as a surprise to Sylvester, who refused their demands. They were told that the leadership of Jesus’ church had moved to Rome, and that they had no jurisdiction. Sylvester must have known his church was the impostor, but that didn’t concern him. The politics of power were more important than the truth.

This was the last known formal dialogue between Christian and Nazarene leaders.
A few years later Nazarenes began to surface in southern Upper Egypt. In this remote locale, far from the center of gentile Christianity, they continued to practice their beliefs.

In 364 CE, the Catholic Council of Laodicea decreed anathema on any “Jewish Christians” who continued to observe the seventh-day Sabbath. Historical references to Nazarenes became scarce thereafter. The few remaining believers petered out.

The Nazarenes were a Jewish sect that, at least in the first century, had strong anti Gentile political ambitions. Christianity, something quite separate, became a religion for Gentiles. It stole Yeshua the Nazarene’s identity to create Jesus, and reinvented him, not only as its founder, but also as God incarnate and the savior of the world. The Christian world then suppressed the Nazarenes. They struggled on for about four centuries before they disappeared.

If Yeshua and his original disciples could speak today, they’d be dumbfounded at the distortion of their legacy.

References:
Eisenman, Robert H. “James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls”
Klinghoffer, D. 1965 “Why The Jews Rejected Jesus”. Doubleday. United States Of America.
Lockhart, D. 1997 “Jesus The Heretic”. Element Books. Dorset.
Lockhart, D. 1999 “The Dark Side Of God”. Element Books. Dorset
Schonfield, H. 1969 “Those Incredible Christians”. Bantam. New York.
Thijs Voskuilen and Rose Mary Sheldon co-wrote “Operation Messiah”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4kTNS18ses
http://ia600401.us.archive.org/34/items/...onites.mp3
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebionites
http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Ebionites
http://douglaslockhart.com/pdf/THE NAZORAEAN SECT.pdf
http://www.yashanet.com/library/nazarene_judaism.html
http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/ebionites.html
http://www.yashanet.com/library/temple/nazarenes.htm for the above information.
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=b7bn...2C&f=false
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=jVyz...on&f=false
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_the_Hebrews
http://www.conorpdowling.com/library/council-of-elvira
http://www.askwhy.co.uk/christianity/0370Ebionites.php
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/te...ippus.html

Thank you, Mark, that was eloquent. As of now I still believe Nazareth, which may or may not have been a flyspeck village at the time if it existed at all in the early 1st century CE, and Yeshua had little or no connection.

(31-07-2014 04:37 PM)Luminon Wrote:  America is full of guns, but they're useless, because nobody has the courage to shoot an IRS agent in self-defense
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25-06-2013, 07:28 PM (This post was last modified: 25-06-2013 07:32 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(25-06-2013 05:40 PM)Revenant77x Wrote:  
(25-06-2013 04:11 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Hi PJ, we actually know a fair bit about the Essenes. Google them for yourself. If you also want to read some primary sources Google Josephus on Essenes or Philo on the Essenes.

The Nazarenes were very closely linked with the Essenes and were probably a subset of them, although this is not 100% certain. Jesus and his followers were Nazarenes. James, probably Jesus' brother, you took over their leadership after Jesus' death. They were never Christians. In fact they were implacably opposed in later years to what became Christianity.

I include for your interest my small chapter on what happened to the Nazarenes including references.

What Happened to the Nazarenes?
“It is to the Nazarene records that we ought chiefly to look for our knowledge of Jesus, and we must regard Nazarenism as the true Christianity. As the Nazarenes throughout the period of personal recollection and down to the third generation, that is to say at least seventy five years after the death of Jesus, denied his deity and his virgin birth, we must recognize that these are alien doctrines subsequently introduced by a partly paganized Church, as Justin Martyr in the middle of the second century more or less admits. The Church which received them had no other course open than to belittle the Nazarenes and denounce them as heretics. The historian here has no difficulty in detecting the real heretics.”
(Hugh Schonfield)

The Nazarenes were Yeshua’s bona fide disciples. Much of their history is missing, probably because early Christians destroyed it. Yet their tale can be pieced together.

I think Paul masqueraded as a Nazarene. He sent what is now a famous letter to “the Romans,” urging them to obey their Roman rulers. He was trying to contaminate Nazarene doctrine with his own pro government perspective.
To all true Nazarenes, Paul was a heretic and a traitor to Judaism. The cordial relationship between them and Paul described in Acts is a fiction. Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Hippolytus (d. 236 CE), Tertullian, Origen, Epiphanius (c. 310 – 403 CE, bishop of Salamis) and Jerome all confirmed that the Ebionites (as the Nazarenes were later called, see below) opposed Paul as a false Apostle.

The Roman Emperor Nero may have blamed the Nazarenes for the great fire of 64 CE, and executed them. Christians today often incorrectly call Nero’s casualties Christians, whereas if this really happened, the victims were probably Nazarenes. There’s a Christian “tradition” that this was when Peter was crucified, but there’s no contemporary evidence to confirm the claim.

Hegesippus (c. 110 - 180 CE), a Christian chronicler of the early Church who may have been a Jewish convert, writes that after the death of James in 62 CE, the Nazarenes selected Symeon (aka Simeon), son of Cleophas, to be their new leader. He was one of Yeshua’s relatives.

During the first Jewish war of 66-70 CE, some of the Nazarenes may have fled across the River Jordan to Pella. Yet many of them probably tried to defend Jerusalem and therefore perished. The survivors must have been bitterly disappointed by the defeat. The remaining rebels reorganized and moved back into Jerusalem in 72 CE, although they never recovered their status and influence after the war.

Prior to 80 – 90 CE, the Nazarenes were still worshipping in synagogues alongside Pharisees. Yet they soon began to be viewed by their fellow Jews as trouble causers, probably because of their nationalistic ambitions. The Pharisaic Jews referred to them as “minim” (Hebrew for heretic.) A heretic is someone who still remains within the faith, but believes in elements not acceptable to the orthodoxy, so mainstream Jews never considered them Christians. A deep schism formed, and by 90 CE, Nazarenes were excluded from some synagogues. I suspect some Jews opted out of Nazarenism, or were intimidated by it, because opposing Rome was dangerous.

In his “Ecclesiastical History,” Eusebius of Caesaria wrote of the grandchildren of Jesus’ brother Jude, who were living in Galilee during the reign of the Roman Emperor Domitian (81–96 CE,) the son of Vespasian and brother of Titus. (http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/250103.htm, book 3, chapter 20.) He says they became dynastic leaders of various “Christian” (a misnomer) churches, and continued to be so up until the time of the Emperor Trajan (98–117 CE.)

Kamal Salibi, a former Emeritus Professor at the American University of Beirut, Department of History and Archaeology, wrote that after Symeon's death, twelve others followed in turn whose names are preserved down to 135 CE (the time of the Second Jewish Revolt.) So there were fifteen leaders of the Nazarene sect after Jesus, all of whom were circumcised Jews and relations of Jesus. The word “Desposyni” was reserved uniquely for Jesus' blood relatives and literally meant “belonging to the Lord.” They governed the Nazarenes. Each carried one of the names traditional in Jesus' family: Zachary, Joseph, John, James, Joses, Symeon, Matthias, and others, although no later Desposynos was ever called Yeshua.
Sextus Julius Africanus' ( http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articl...-africanus ) reference to "Desposyni" is preserved in Eusebius of Caesarea's Ecclesiastical History:
“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... 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. 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, into other parts of the world, they drew the aforesaid genealogy from memory and from the book of daily records as faithfully as possible. 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." (Eusebius, Historica Ecclesiae, 1:7:11.)
Eusebius has also preserved an extract from a work by Hegesippus (c.110–c.180), who wrote five books of Commentaries on the Acts of the Church. The extract refers to the period from the reign of Domitian (81–96) to that of Trajan (98–117), and includes the statement that two Desposyni brought before Domitian later became leaders of the churches:
“There still survived of the kindred of the Lord the grandsons of Judas, who according to the flesh was called his brother. These were informed against, as belonging to the family of David, and Evocatus brought them before Domitian Caesar: for that emperor dreaded the advent of Christ, as Herod had done.
So he asked them whether they were of the family of David; and they confessed they were. Next he asked them what property they had, or how much money they possessed. They both replied that they had only 9000 denaria between them, each of them owning half that sum; but even this they said they did not possess in cash, but as the estimated value of some land, consisting of thirty-nine plethra only, out of which they had to pay the dues, and that they supported themselves by their own labor. And then they began to hold out their hands, exhibiting, as proof of their manual labor, the roughness of their skin, and the corns raised on their hands by constant work.

Being then asked concerning Christ and His kingdom, what was its nature, and when and where it was to appear, they returned answer that it was not of this world, nor of the earth, but belonging to the sphere of heaven and angels, and would make its appearance at the end of time, when He shall come in glory, and judge living and dead, and render to every one according to the course of his life.
Thereupon Domitian passed no condemnation upon them, but treated them with contempt, as too mean for notice, and let them go free. At the same time he issued a command, and put a stop to the persecution against the Church.

When they were released they became leaders of the churches, as was natural in the case of those who were at once martyrs and of the kindred of the Lord. And, after the establishment of peace to the Church, their lives were prolonged to the reign of Trojan.” (Eusebius, Historica Ecclesiae, 3:20.)

Eusebius wrote that they didn’t fight in the second war (135 CE) against the Romans, as they considered Simon bar Kochba, the Jewish commander, to be a false messiah. After this war, the fifteenth Nazarene leader was exiled with the remaining Jewish population when the Emperor Hadrian banned all Jews from Jerusalem.

Over the next few centuries, the Nazarenes headed by Yeshua’s relatives continued as a movement that some Jews joined. They were well respected in their own locales. They moved northeastward, eventually making their way to the Tigris-Euphrates basin, spreading throughout Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia.

The early Christians considered them an heretical sect, so ignored and later suppressed them. Justin Martyr denigrated their beliefs. The developing orthodox Catholic Church deliberately called them the Ebionites “the poor ones” (although Jews did not consider this term derogatory; in fact they used the term to refer to the righteous.) Christians prior to Irenaeus didn’t use this term. He wrote
“Those who are called Ebionites agree that the world was made by God; but their opinions with respect to the Lord are similar to those of Cerinthus and Carpocrates.” (These men were Gnostics who believed Jesus was a very human teacher.) “They use the Gospel according to Matthew only, and repudiate the Apostle Paul, maintaining that he was an apostate from the law. As to the prophetical writings, they endeavor to expound them in a somewhat singular manner: they practice circumcision, persevere in the observance of those customs which are enjoined by the law, and are so Judaic in their style of life, that they even adore Jerusalem as if it were the house of God” (Against Heresies 1:26.)
The gospel according to Matthew that Irenaeus refers to was probably the same gospel that Jerome (342–420 CE) and Epiphanius (http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13393b.htm) called the “Gospel of the Nazarenes/Hebrews,” which was written in Aramaic. Jerome mentions that he made translations of it into Greek and Latin. Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, no significant part of this Gospel survives today. Some scholars believe that it was loosely linked to canonical Matthew, which fits with it being the most pro-Jewish gospel of the four. It’s possible that this was how some facts about Yeshua the Nazarene insurrectionist made it into the gospels.
Much later, Eusebius considered the Nazarenes heretics because
“they regarded [Jesus] as plain and ordinary, a man esteemed as righteous through growth of character and nothing more, the child of a normal union between a man and Mary; and they held that they must observe every detail of the Law—that by faith in Christ alone they would never win Salvation” (Ecclesiastical History 3.7.)
Irenaeus and Eusebius depicted them honestly in these quotes.

Gentile Christians came to refer to them indiscriminately as “Jewish Christians” because of their link with Jesus, yet this was another misnomer, because they never were Christians.

By the beginning of the fourth century, the Roman Catholic Church was becoming dominant and there were confrontations with Jews, including the Nazarenes. With the Synod of Elvira, held in 306 CE, prohibitions against eating, marriage, and sex with Jews were enacted in the Roman Empire. Nazarenes were included in this ban, which in effect excluded them from all social and religious association with those in the growing gentile Pauline church.

The Emperor Constantine appointed Sylvester as the head bishop of the universal church in 313 CE. According to the Irish Jesuit historian Malachi Martin, ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malachi_Martin ) a meeting took place in 318 CE in Rome between Pope Sylvester I and the Desposyni. Sylvester provided sea travel for the Nazarene leaders as far as the Roman port of Ostia, thirty kilometers west of Rome. The fact that Sylvester thought it necessary to meet with them suggests that he was curious, yet he initiated the meeting with the intention of exerting his pontifical authority over them.

The Nazarene leaders who appeared before Pope Sylvester quite rightly thought they represented Yeshua’s true legacy. They were, after all, his blood relations, part of at least three well-known lines of legitimate blood descent from Yeshua's family. They were eight in number, and Joses, the oldest of them, spoke on their behalf. They bluntly refused to recognize the Roman church as having any authority, and made the following demands:
(1) that the confirmation of the Christian bishops of Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus and Alexandria be revoked;
(2) that these bishoprics be conferred on members of the Desposyni;
(3) that the Law be reintroduced, which included the Sabbath and the Holy Day system of Feasts, and
(4) that Christian Churches resume sending money to the Desposyni Church in Jerusalem, which was to be regarded as the “Mother Church.”

Such bold claims must have come as a surprise to Sylvester, who refused their demands. They were told that the leadership of Jesus’ church had moved to Rome, and that they had no jurisdiction. Sylvester must have known his church was the impostor, but that didn’t concern him. The politics of power were more important than the truth.

This was the last known formal dialogue between Christian and Nazarene leaders.
A few years later Nazarenes began to surface in southern Upper Egypt. In this remote locale, far from the center of gentile Christianity, they continued to practice their beliefs.

In 364 CE, the Catholic Council of Laodicea decreed anathema on any “Jewish Christians” who continued to observe the seventh-day Sabbath. Historical references to Nazarenes became scarce thereafter. The few remaining believers petered out.

The Nazarenes were a Jewish sect that, at least in the first century, had strong anti Gentile political ambitions. Christianity, something quite separate, became a religion for Gentiles. It stole Yeshua the Nazarene’s identity to create Jesus, and reinvented him, not only as its founder, but also as God incarnate and the savior of the world. The Christian world then suppressed the Nazarenes. They struggled on for about four centuries before they disappeared.

If Yeshua and his original disciples could speak today, they’d be dumbfounded at the distortion of their legacy.

References:
Eisenman, Robert H. “James the Brother of Jesus: The Key to Unlocking the Secrets of Early Christianity and the Dead Sea Scrolls”
Klinghoffer, D. 1965 “Why The Jews Rejected Jesus”. Doubleday. United States Of America.
Lockhart, D. 1997 “Jesus The Heretic”. Element Books. Dorset.
Lockhart, D. 1999 “The Dark Side Of God”. Element Books. Dorset
Schonfield, H. 1969 “Those Incredible Christians”. Bantam. New York.
Thijs Voskuilen and Rose Mary Sheldon co-wrote “Operation Messiah”
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4kTNS18ses
http://ia600401.us.archive.org/34/items/...onites.mp3
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebionites
http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Ebionites
http://douglaslockhart.com/pdf/THE NAZORAEAN SECT.pdf
http://www.yashanet.com/library/nazarene_judaism.html
http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/ebionites.html
http://www.yashanet.com/library/temple/nazarenes.htm for the above information.
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=b7bn...2C&f=false
http://books.google.com.au/books?id=jVyz...on&f=false
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gospel_of_the_Hebrews
http://www.conorpdowling.com/library/council-of-elvira
http://www.askwhy.co.uk/christianity/0370Ebionites.php
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/te...ippus.html

Thank you, Mark, that was eloquent. As of now I still believe Nazareth, which may or may not have been a flyspeck village at the time if it existed at all in the early 1st century CE, and Yeshua had little or no connection.

Yes...Nazareth didn't exist in the first century.
The Nazarenes, who were sectarian Jews, definitely did.
Jesus "of Nazareth" is a fiction.

It's an important discussion, because it means that a "Christian Jesus," the character so beloved by fundamentalist Christians, is a fiction.

If he ever even existed, he was a dyed in the wool Jew...not a Christian.
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25-06-2013, 09:37 PM
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(24-06-2013 08:51 PM)maklelan Wrote:  
(24-06-2013 02:29 PM)Revenant77x Wrote:  As to the argument from silence, I think the lack of any artifacts from the time period is a major point against the town having anything to do with this myth.

But there are plenty of material remains from the time period.

(24-06-2013 02:29 PM)Revenant77x Wrote:  Religious tourism makes a lot of sense here and considering the sheer amount of archeology done in the area had they ever found 1 shred of evidence the fundies would be crowing from the rooftops about it. Added to the fact that no non biblical sources even acknowledge the existence of the place for 200 years I can safely claim to be skeptical of it.


You can claim to be skeptical, but not safely. Strata associated with the first century BCE and CE show habitation. That's already been pointed out. I believe someone linked to an article that basically argues that that archaeology data doesn't count since it was theists who executed the excavations, but certainly no one here takes that kind of flippant and fallacious dismissal seriously.

Re
"You can claim to be skeptical, but not safely. Strata associated with the first century BCE and CE show habitation."
Can you provide a link re this?
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26-06-2013, 06:41 AM
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(25-06-2013 09:37 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Re
"You can claim to be skeptical, but not safely. Strata associated with the first century BCE and CE show habitation."
Can you provide a link re this?

Well, there's a somewhat recent excavation report here that shows inhabitation from the first century BCE through the first century CE. This press release from the Israel Antiquities Authority also announces the first residence discovered in Nazareth that dates to the early first century CE.

There's not really a lot of formal scholarship that directly addresses this question since the notion that Nazareth didn't exist during Jesus' day is a fringe theory that doesn't really circulate in the mainstream. The archaeology is clear enough for those who function professionally in that field. The debate of Nazareth's existence is confined mostly to apologists, critics, and other hobbyists. As a result, the methodologies are not always the best. For instance, I found some stuff by a guy named Salm that asserts post-Jesus dates for Nazareth artifacts universally assigned by archaeologists to the first century BCE and early first century CE. After some digging, you find that he just arbitrarily asserts the latest date ranges he can find suggested for the associated artifacts and then asserts the latest end of those ranges, provided they fall outside the traditional dating of Jesus' lifetime. He doesn't explain this methodology in his discussions, though. Obviously, since it's purely arbitrary, he cannot. I'm not impressed by that kind of approach, nor do I think it particularly informed or disciplined to base the majority of one's criticisms on the institutions with which an archaeologist is associated, rather than on their scholarship. Sure, biases exist, but merely pointing out the possibility that they exist neither establishes them nor exempts someone from a full and honest evaluation of the actual scholarship.
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26-06-2013, 06:59 PM (This post was last modified: 26-06-2013 07:04 PM by Mark Fulton.)
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(26-06-2013 06:41 AM)maklelan Wrote:  
(25-06-2013 09:37 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Re
"You can claim to be skeptical, but not safely. Strata associated with the first century BCE and CE show habitation."
Can you provide a link re this?

Well, there's a somewhat recent excavation report here that shows inhabitation from the first century BCE through the first century CE. This press release from the Israel Antiquities Authority also announces the first residence discovered in Nazareth that dates to the early first century CE.

There's not really a lot of formal scholarship that directly addresses this question since the notion that Nazareth didn't exist during Jesus' day is a fringe theory that doesn't really circulate in the mainstream. The archaeology is clear enough for those who function professionally in that field. The debate of Nazareth's existence is confined mostly to apologists, critics, and other hobbyists. As a result, the methodologies are not always the best. For instance, I found some stuff by a guy named Salm that asserts post-Jesus dates for Nazareth artifacts universally assigned by archaeologists to the first century BCE and early first century CE. After some digging, you find that he just arbitrarily asserts the latest date ranges he can find suggested for the associated artifacts and then asserts the latest end of those ranges, provided they fall outside the traditional dating of Jesus' lifetime. He doesn't explain this methodology in his discussions, though. Obviously, since it's purely arbitrary, he cannot. I'm not impressed by that kind of approach, nor do I think it particularly informed or disciplined to base the majority of one's criticisms on the institutions with which an archaeologist is associated, rather than on their scholarship. Sure, biases exist, but merely pointing out the possibility that they exist neither establishes them nor exempts someone from a full and honest evaluation of the actual scholarship.

Hi maklelan, thanks for posting these references. I respect your expert opinion.
Nevertheless, I smell a rat in these discussions you posted, ie some bias, as you admit.

I skimmed twice through the 60 odd pages on the "Nazareth farm" The authors mention a lot of dates, ranging from bronze age through to 15th century CE, based on bits of pottery. There is no mention of human places of residence, only terracing ie farming. I hoped for a conclusion from these authors, but there's none to be had. It's obvious that there is genuine archaeological evidence of ancient farming going on, but I'm not convinced that it dates to the first century. The Salm character certainly isn't. ( http://www.nazarethmyth.info ).

The press release you quote to my mind raises more questions than it answers. It states
"For the Very First Time: A Residential Building from the Time of Jesus was Exposed in the Heart of Nazareth (12/21/09)"
Mmmmm. The spiel doesn't actually give any good evidence that it's a first century artefact, only carefully worded circumstantial evidence...

"According to Yardenna Alexandre, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The discovery is of the utmost importance since it reveals for the very first time a house from the Jewish village of Nazareth and thereby sheds light on the way of life at the time of Jesus. The building that we found is small and modest and it is most likely typical of the dwellings in Nazareth in that period. From the few written sources that there are, we know that in the first century CE Nazareth was a small Jewish village, located inside a valley. Until now a number of tombs from the time of Jesus were found in Nazareth; however, no settlement remains have been discovered that are attributed to this period”.

Note that the person doesn't actually say that the archaeological remains are from the first century, he or she only implies they are. Also, he or she also says
"until now a number of tombs from the time of Jesus were found in Nazareth however no settlement remains have been discovered that our attributed to this period"
What then, of the Nazareth farm? And the bits of pottery from "early Roman times" found there.

The article goes on
"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)."
The Second century CE is NOT the time of Jesus.

Then we read
"Another hewn pit, whose entrance was apparently camouflaged, was excavated and a few pottery sherds from the Early Roman period were found inside it. The excavator, Yardenna Alexandre, said, “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”. "
I'm no archaeologist, but surely this is clutching at straws! It sounds very much like a rather weak attempt to place the find in the first century.
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26-06-2013, 07:43 PM
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(26-06-2013 06:59 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Hi maklelan, thanks for posting these references. I respect your expert opinion.
Nevertheless, I smell a rat in these discussions you posted, ie some bias, as you admit.

I skimmed twice through the 60 odd pages on the "Nazareth farm" The authors mention a lot of dates, ranging from bronze age through to 15th century CE, based on bits of pottery.

The most secure dating method in the archaeology of the ancient Near East.

(26-06-2013 06:59 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  There is no mention of human places of residence, only terracing ie farming.

The 2009 discovery is notable because it's the first residence uncovered at Nazareth dating to that time period.

(26-06-2013 06:59 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I hoped for a conclusion from these authors, but there's none to be had.

Excavation reports don't generally have conclusions in the traditional sense. They're reports, not arguments.

(26-06-2013 06:59 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  It's obvious that there is genuine archaeological evidence of ancient farming going on, but I'm not convinced that it dates to the first century.

Based on what?

(26-06-2013 06:59 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  The Salm character certainly isn't. ( http://www.nazarethmyth.info ).

And if anyone has a bias, it's the person not involved in this profession, and interacting with it only to assert that it doesn't undermine his worldview.

(26-06-2013 06:59 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  The press release you quote to my mind raises more questions than it answers. It states
"For the Very First Time: A Residential Building from the Time of Jesus was Exposed in the Heart of Nazareth (12/21/09)"
Mmmmm. The spiel doesn't actually give any good evidence that it's a first century artefact, only carefully worded circumstantial evidence...

It's not the job of a press release to argue for the dating arrived at by the archaeologists on whose behalf the release is publicizing the information.

(26-06-2013 06:59 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  "According to Yardenna Alexandre, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The discovery is of the utmost importance since it reveals for the very first time a house from the Jewish village of Nazareth and thereby sheds light on the way of life at the time of Jesus. The building that we found is small and modest and it is most likely typical of the dwellings in Nazareth in that period. From the few written sources that there are, we know that in the first century CE Nazareth was a small Jewish village, located inside a valley. Until now a number of tombs from the time of Jesus were found in Nazareth; however, no settlement remains have been discovered that are attributed to this period”.

Note that the person doesn't actually say that the archaeological remains are from the first century, he or she only implies they are.

Again, the press release is just for publicizing purposes, not argumentative purposes. Potsherds established the date.

(26-06-2013 06:59 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Also, he or she also says
"until now a number of tombs from the time of Jesus were found in Nazareth however no settlement remains have been discovered that our attributed to this period"
What then, of the Nazareth farm? And the bits of pottery from "early Roman times" found there.

Those aren't settlements (residences).

(26-06-2013 06:59 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  The article goes on
"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)."
The Second century CE is NOT the time of Jesus.

That's the range that is covered by the term "Early Roman period," not the specific potsherds.

(26-06-2013 06:59 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Then we read
"Another hewn pit, whose entrance was apparently camouflaged, was excavated and a few pottery sherds from the Early Roman period were found inside it. The excavator, Yardenna Alexandre, said, “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”. "
I'm no archaeologist, but surely this is clutching at straws! It sounds very much like a rather weak attempt to place the find in the first century.

Why do you say that? It's well established that the Jews developed underground hideouts through this area during the Jewish revolt. The residence had a camouflaged entryway to an underground hideout. It's a perfectly logical conclusion.

Your approach shows that you're not really trying to consider the evidence, but just looking for cracks you think you can exploit. That's not a sign of objectivity or critical thinking, that's a sign you're bringing a firm presupposition to the evidence and trying to see how you can make the evidence agree with that presupposition.

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26-06-2013, 08:33 PM
RE: Of Nazareth or the Nazarene?
(26-06-2013 07:43 PM)maklelan Wrote:  
(26-06-2013 06:59 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Hi maklelan, thanks for posting these references. I respect your expert opinion.
Nevertheless, I smell a rat in these discussions you posted, ie some bias, as you admit.

I skimmed twice through the 60 odd pages on the "Nazareth farm" The authors mention a lot of dates, ranging from bronze age through to 15th century CE, based on bits of pottery.

The most secure dating method in the archaeology of the ancient Near East.

(26-06-2013 06:59 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  There is no mention of human places of residence, only terracing ie farming.

The 2009 discovery is notable because it's the first residence uncovered at Nazareth dating to that time period.

(26-06-2013 06:59 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  I hoped for a conclusion from these authors, but there's none to be had.

Excavation reports don't generally have conclusions in the traditional sense. They're reports, not arguments.

(26-06-2013 06:59 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  It's obvious that there is genuine archaeological evidence of ancient farming going on, but I'm not convinced that it dates to the first century.

Based on what?

(26-06-2013 06:59 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  The Salm character certainly isn't. ( http://www.nazarethmyth.info ).

And if anyone has a bias, it's the person not involved in this profession, and interacting with it only to assert that it doesn't undermine his worldview.

(26-06-2013 06:59 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  The press release you quote to my mind raises more questions than it answers. It states
"For the Very First Time: A Residential Building from the Time of Jesus was Exposed in the Heart of Nazareth (12/21/09)"
Mmmmm. The spiel doesn't actually give any good evidence that it's a first century artefact, only carefully worded circumstantial evidence...

It's not the job of a press release to argue for the dating arrived at by the archaeologists on whose behalf the release is publicizing the information.

(26-06-2013 06:59 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  "According to Yardenna Alexandre, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “The discovery is of the utmost importance since it reveals for the very first time a house from the Jewish village of Nazareth and thereby sheds light on the way of life at the time of Jesus. The building that we found is small and modest and it is most likely typical of the dwellings in Nazareth in that period. From the few written sources that there are, we know that in the first century CE Nazareth was a small Jewish village, located inside a valley. Until now a number of tombs from the time of Jesus were found in Nazareth; however, no settlement remains have been discovered that are attributed to this period”.

Note that the person doesn't actually say that the archaeological remains are from the first century, he or she only implies they are.

Again, the press release is just for publicizing purposes, not argumentative purposes. Potsherds established the date.

(26-06-2013 06:59 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Also, he or she also says
"until now a number of tombs from the time of Jesus were found in Nazareth however no settlement remains have been discovered that our attributed to this period"
What then, of the Nazareth farm? And the bits of pottery from "early Roman times" found there.

Those aren't settlements (residences).

(26-06-2013 06:59 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  The article goes on
"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)."
The Second century CE is NOT the time of Jesus.

That's the range that is covered by the term "Early Roman period," not the specific potsherds.

(26-06-2013 06:59 PM)Mark Fulton Wrote:  Then we read
"Another hewn pit, whose entrance was apparently camouflaged, was excavated and a few pottery sherds from the Early Roman period were found inside it. The excavator, Yardenna Alexandre, said, “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”. "
I'm no archaeologist, but surely this is clutching at straws! It sounds very much like a rather weak attempt to place the find in the first century.

Why do you say that? It's well established that the Jews developed underground hideouts through this area during the Jewish revolt. The residence had a camouflaged entryway to an underground hideout. It's a perfectly logical conclusion.

Your approach shows that you're not really trying to consider the evidence, but just looking for cracks you think you can exploit. That's not a sign of objectivity or critical thinking, that's a sign you're bringing a firm presupposition to the evidence and trying to see how you can make the evidence agree with that presupposition.

Hi Daniel, I'm not necessarily saying that you're wrong. I'm only trying to assess the evidence and piece it all together. It makes little difference to the central themes of my book whether Nazareth existed or not in the first century.

I hear it that the age of the pottery is a fairly secure way of determining the period involved. Why is not more made of this? The whole Nazareth farm report doesn't bring all the facts together to a conclusion. It just talks vaguely about bits of pottery found and lots of terracing. Why doesn't the press article mentioned the fact that first century Roman pottery has definitely been found in Nazareth? Why do Israeli authorities directly negate this very finding....ie
"no settlement remains have been discovered that are attributed to this period" Are not bits of pottery "settlement remains?"

Can you appreciate that for a non-expert like myself I would like the evidence presented succinctly and definitively and for the authorities to not contradict each other? Show me the money! Show me the facts! Can you appreciate that when reputable (I believe) people write books about the very topic and find no evidence of first century occupation we become skeptical?

What do you think they meant by the term "apparently camouflaged?" It sounds like all they found was a hole in the ground. If it was a hiding place, what's to say that it wasn't dug during the Second revolt in 130CE?. My understanding is that it was more likely that underground tunnels were dug at this time rather than during the first revolt.

Also...why would it be preserved as "camouflaged?" The Jews lost both wars. The hole in the ground served its purpose. Did Mr and Mrs Jew say..."Mmmm...let's preserve this camouflaged hole as a memory of how badly we failed?" Surely the hole would be used for something else : ? a wine cellar maybe.

I think if there was good archaeological evidence for Nazareth's existence in Jesus' time it would be out there on the Internet, not buried away in obscure archaeological journals or hinted at in press releases. Tourism is a major business in Israel and the government would be pumping it for all their worth.

Maybe I am biased. So what? At the end of the day we're looking at the facts. I'm happy to be wrong. I would just like to know the truth. Convince me.
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