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Nazarene (title)

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Nazarene (title)

Mary's Well, said to be the site of the Annunciation, Nazareth, 1917

Nazarene is a title applied to Jesus, who, according to the New Testament, grew up in Nazareth,[1] a town in Galilee, now in northern Israel. The word is used to translate two related terms that appear in the Greek New Testament: Nazarēne (Nazarene) and Nazōraios (Nazorean). The phrases traditionally rendered as "Jesus of Nazareth" can also be translated as "Jesus the Nazarene" or "Jesus the Nazorean",[2] and the title "Nazarene" may have a religious significance instead of denoting a place of origin. Both Nazarene and Nazorean are irregular in Greek and the additional vowel in Nazorean complicates any derivation from Nazareth.[3]

The Gospel of Matthew explains that the title Nazarene is derived from the prophecy "He will be called a Nazorean",[4] but this has no obvious Old Testament source. Some scholars argue that it refers to a passage in the Book of Isaiah,[5] with "Nazarene" a Greek reading of the Hebrew ne·tser (branch), understood as a messianic title.[6] Others point to a passage in the Book of Judges which refers to Samson as a Nazirite, a word that is just one letter off from Nazarene in Greek.[7]

The Greek New Testament uses "Nazarene" six times, while "Nazorean" is used 13 times. In the Book of Acts, "Nazorean" is used to refer to a follower of Jesus, i.e. a Christian, rather than an inhabitant of a town.[8] "Notzrim" is the modern Hebrew word for Christians (No·tsri, נוֹצְרִי) and one of two words commonly used to mean "Christian" in Syriac (Nasrani) and Arabic (Naṣrānī, نصراني).


Nazarene is anglicized from Greek Nazarēne (Ναζαρηνέ), a word applied to Jesus in the New Testament.[9] Several Hebrew words have been suggested as roots:[10]


The traditional view is that this word is derived from the Hebrew word for Nazareth (Nazara) that was used in ancient times.[11] "Nazareth", in turn, may be derived from either na·tsar, נָצַר, meaning "to watch,"[12] or from ne·tser, נֵ֫צֶר, meaning branch.[13]

The common Greek structure Iesous o Nazoraios (Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος) "Jesus the Nazarene/of Nazareth" is traditionally considered as one of several geographical names in the New Testament such as Loukios o Kurenaios (Λούκιος ὁ Κυρηναῖος) "Lucius the Cyrenian/Lucius of Cyrene," Trofimos o Efesios ("Trophimus the Ephesian, Τρόφιμος ὁ Ἐφέσιος), Maria Magdalene ("Mary the woman of Magdala"), Saulos Tarseus ("Saul the Tarsian"), or many classical examples such as Athenagoras the Athenian (Ἀθηναγόρας ὁ Ἀθηναῖος).

The Greek phrase usually translated as "Jesus of Nazareth" (iēsous o nazōraios) can be compared with three other places in the New Testament where the construction "of Nazareth" is used:

How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth (ho apo Nazaret, ὁ ἀπὸ Ναζαρέτ) with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. Acts 10:38 KJV 1611

Jesus is also referred to as "he from Nazareth of Galilee":

And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. (ho apo Nazaret tes Galilaias, ὁ ἀπὸ Ναζαρὲτ τῆς Γαλιλαίας) Matthew 21:21

Similar is found in John 1:45-46:

Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus, the son of Joseph, he from Nazareth (Nominative case ho uios tou Iosef o apo Nazaret, τὸν υἱὸν τοῦ Ἰωσὴφ τὸν ἀπὸ Ναζαρέτ).
And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth (ek Nazaret εκ Ναζαρὲτ)? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.

Some consider "Jesus the Nazarene" more common in the Greek.[14] The name "of Nazareth" is not used of anyone else, and outside the New Testament there is no reference to Nazareth.

"Nazareth" and "Nazarene" are complementary only in Greek, where they possess the "z", or voiced alveolar fricative. In Semitic languages, "Nazarene" and its cognates Nazareth, Nazara, and Nazorean/Nazaraean possess the voiceless alveolar fricative corresponding to the "s" or "ts" sound. Voiced and voiceless sounds follow separate linguistic pathways. The Greek forms referring to Nazareth should therefore be Nasarene, Nasoraios, and Nasareth. The additional vowel (ω) in Nazorean makes this variation more difficult to derive, although a weak Aramaic vowel in "Nazareth" has been suggested as a possible source.[3]


  • ne·tser (נֵ֫צֶר, n-ts-r), pronounced nay'·tser, meaning "branch", "flower", or "offshoot". Derived from na·tsar. (See below.)[15]

Jerome (c. 347 – 420) linked "Nazarene" to a verse in the Book of Isaiah, claiming that "Nazarene" was the Hebrew reading of a word scholars read as ne·tzer (branch).[16] The text from Isaiah is:

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. ve·ya·tza cho·ter mig·ge·za yi·shai ve·ne·tzer mi·sha·ra·shav yif·reh.[5]

In ancient Hebrew texts, vowels were not indicated, so a wider variety of readings was possible in Jerome's time. Here branch/Nazarene is metaphorically "descendant" (of Jesse, father of King David). Eusebius, a 4th-century Christian polemicist, also argued that Isaiah was the source of "Nazarene." This prophecy by Isaiah was extremely popular in New Testament times and is also referred to in Romans and Revelation.[17]


A nazirite was a person consecrated to God either from birth, such as Samson or Samuel; or for a limited time.[18] "Nazirite" (Ναζιραιος) is only one letter off from "Nazorean" (Ναζωραιος) in Greek.[7] A Nazarite (נְזִיר) was an Israelite who had taken special vows of dedication to Yahweh whereby he abstained for a specified period of time from using alcohol and grape products, cutting his hair, and approaching corpses. At the end of the period he was required to immerse himself in water. Thus the baptism of Jesus ( Matthew 3:13-15) by John the Baptist could have been done "to fulfil all righteousness" at the ending of a nazirite vow. Following his baptism, the gospels give no reason to suppose Jesus took another nazirite vow until The Last Supper, (see Mark 14:25).

Luke 1:15 describes John the Baptist as a nazarite from birth. James the Just was described as a nazarite in Epiphanius of Salamis' Panarion 29.4.1. In Acts 21:23-26 Paul the Apostle is advised to accompany four men having "a vow on them" (a nazarite vow) to Herod's Temple and to purify himself in order that it might appear "that you yourself also walk orderly". In Acts 24:5 Paul was accused of being a "ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes". Tertullian also cites Lamentations 4:7 as evidence that Christians were predicted to be called Nazirites.[19] Lam 4:7 is another instance where Nazirites is rendered in Greek as ναζιραῖοι.[20]

Ancient usage

The term Nazarene (Nazorean or Nazaraean) has been referred to in the Jewish Gospels particularly the Hebrew Gospel, the Gospel of the Nazarenes and the Gospel of Matthew. It is also referred to in the Gospel of Mark. [21]


Matthew consistently uses the variant "Nazorean". A link between Nazorean and Nazareth is found in Matthew:

And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, "He will be called a Nazorean."[22]

The passage presents difficulties; no prophecy such as "He shall be called a Nazorean" is known in Jewish scripture, and "Nazorean" is a new term, appearing here for the first time in association with Nazareth and, indeed, for the first time anywhere.

Matthew's prophecy is often linked to Isaiah's.[5] Although only Isaiah's prophecy gives "branch" as ne·tser, there are four other messianic prophecies where the word for branch is given as tze·mach.[23] Matthew's phrase "spoken through the prophets" may suggest that these passages are being referred to collectively.[6] In contrast, the phrase "through the prophet," used a few verses above the Nazorean prophecy,[24] refers to a specific Old Testament passage.[25]

An alternative view suggests that a passage in the Book of Judges which refers to Samson as a Nazirite is the source for Matthew's prophecy. "Nazorite" is only one letter off from "Nazorean" in Greek.[7] But the characterization of Jesus in the New Testament is not that of a typical Nazirite, and it is doubtful that Matthew intended a comparison between Jesus and the amoral Samson.[7]


The Gospel of Mark, considered the oldest gospel, consistently uses "Nazarene," while scripture written later generally uses "Nazorean." This suggests that the form more closely tied to "Nazareth" came first. Another possibility is that Mark used this form because the more explicitly messianic form was still controversial when he was writing. Before he was baptized, Mark refers to Jesus as "from Nazareth of Galilee,"[26] whereas afterwards he is "the Nazarene".[27] In a similar fashion, second century messianic claimant Simon bar Kokhba (Aramaic for "Simon, son of a star"), changed his name from Simon bar Kosiba to add a reference to the Star Prophecy.[28]

Patristic works

After Tertullus (Acts 24:5), the second reference to "Nazarenes" (plural) comes from Tertullian (208), the third reference from Eusebius (before 324), then extensive references in Epiphanius of Salamis (375) and Jerome (circa 390).

Epiphanius additionally is the first and only source to write of another group with a similar name, the "Nasarenes" of Gilead and Bashan in Trans-Jordan (Greek: Nasaraioi Panarion 18). Epiphanius clearly distinguishes this group from the Christian Nazarenes as a separate and different "pre-Christian" Jewish sect.[29] Epiphanius' explanation is dismissed as a confusion by some scholars (Schoeps 1911, Schaeder 1942, Gaertner 1957), or a misidentification (Bugge). Other scholars have seen some truth in Epiphanius' explanation and variously identified such a group with the Mandeans, Samaritans, or Rechabites.[30]

Gnostic works

The Gospel of Philip, a third-century Gnostic work,[31] claims that the word "Nazarene" signifies "the truth":

"Jesus" is a hidden name, "Christ" is a revealed name. For this reason "Jesus" is not particular to any language; rather he is always called by the name "Jesus". While as for "Christ", in Syriac it is "Messiah", in Greek it is "Christ". Certainly all the others have it according to their own language. "The Nazarene" is he who reveals what is hidden. Christ has everything in himself, whether man, or angel, or mystery, and the Father....[32] The apostles who were before us had these names for him: "Jesus, the Nazorean, Messiah", that is, "Jesus, the Nazorean, the Christ". The last name is "Christ", the first is "Jesus", that in the middle is "the Nazarene". "Messiah" has two meanings, both "the Christ" and "the measured". "Jesus" in Hebrew is "the redemption". "Nazara" is "the Truth". "The Nazarene" then, is "the Truth". "Christ" [unreadable] has been measured. "The Nazarene" and "Jesus" are they who have been measured.[33]


Although the historian Flavius Josephus (AD 37 – c. 100) mentions 45 towns in Galilee, he never mentions Nazareth. But Josephus also writes that Galilee had 219 villages in all,[34] so it is clear that most village names have gone unrecorded in surviving literature. Nazareth was overshadowed by nearby Japhia in his time, so Josephus might not have thought of it as a separate town.[35] The earliest known reference to Nazareth outside the New Testament and as a contemporary town is by Julius Africanus, who wrote around AD 200.[36] Writers who question the association of Nazareth with the life of Jesus suggest that "Nazorean" was originally a religious title and was later reinterpreted as referring to a town.[37]


The numbers in parenthesis are from Strong's Concordance.

Nazarene (3479)

  • Nazarēne (Ναζαρηνέ) Mark 1:24, Luke 4:34
  • Nazarēnon (Ναζαρηνὸν) Mark 16:6
  • Nazarēnos (Ναζαρηνός) Mark 10:47
  • Nazarēnou (Ναζαρηνοῦ) Mark 14:67, Luke 24:19

Nazorean (3480)

  • Nazōraios (Ναζωραῖος) Matthew 2:23, Luke 18:37, John 19:19 Acts 6:14, Acts 22:8
  • Nazōraiou (Ναζωραίου) Matthew 26:71, Acts 3:6, Acts 4:10, Acts 26:9
  • Nazōraiōn (Ναζωραίων) Acts 24:5
  • Nazōraion (Ναζωραῖον) John 18:5, John 18:7, Acts 2:22

Nazareth (3478)

  • Nazareth (Ναζαρέθ) Matthew 21:11, Luke 1:26, Luke 2:4, Luke 2:39, Luke 2:51, Acts 10:38
  • Nazara (Ναζαρα) Matthew 4:13, Luke 4:16
  • Nazaret (Ναζαρὲτ) Mark 1:9, Matthew 2:23, John 1:45, John 1:46

"Nazarenes" - a term for the Early Christians

The first confirmed use of "Nazarenes" (in Greek Nazoraioi) occurs from Tertullus before Antonius Felix.[38] One such as Tertullus who did not acknowledge Iesous ho Nazoraios ("Jesus of Nazareth") as Iesous ho Christos ("Jesus the Messiah") would not call Paul's sect Christianoi ("followers of the Messiah").[39]

"Nazarenes" for Christians in Greek

In Acts, Paul of Tarsus is called, "a ringleader of the sect of the Nazoreans,"[8] thus identifying Nazorean with Christian. Although both "Christianios" (by Gentiles) and "Nazarenes" (by Jews) appear to have been current in the 1st century, and both are recorded in the New Testament, the Gentile name "Christian" appears to have won out against "Nazarene" in usage among Christians themselves after the 1st century. Around 331 Eusebius records that from the name Nazareth Christ was called a Nazoraean, and that in earlier centuries Christians, were once called Nazarenes.[40] Tertullian (Against Marcion 4:8) records that "for this reason the Jews call us 'Nazarenes'. The first mention of the term "Nazarenes" (plural) is that of Tertullus in the first accusation of Paul (Acts 24:4), though Herod Agrippa II (Acts 26:28) uses the term "Christians", which had been "first used in Antioch." (Acts 11:26), and is acknowledged in 1 Peter (4:16).[41] Later Tertullian,[42] Jerome, Origin and Eusebius note that the Jews call Christians "Nazarenes."

"The Christ of the Creator had to be called a Nazarene according to prophecy; whence the Jews also designate us, on that very account, Nazerenes after Him."– Tertullian, Against Marcion 4.8)[43]

"Nazarenes" or "Nasranis" for Christians in Aramaic and Syriac

The Aramaic and Syriac word for Christians used by Christians themselves is Kristyane (Syriac ܟܪܣܛܝܢܐ), as found in the following verse from the Peshitta:

Likewise "but if as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but glorify God in this name" (1 Peter 4:16), and early Syriac church texts.

However in the statement of Tertullus in Acts 24:5, "Nazarenes" and in "Jesus of Nazareth" are both nasraya (ܢܨܪܝܐ) in Syrian Aramaic, while Nasrat (ܢܨܪܬ ) is used for Nazareth.[44][45][46] This usage may explain transmission of the name Nasorean as the name of the Mandaeans leaving Jerusalem for Iraq in the Haran Gawaita of the Mandaeans. Saint Thomas Christians, an ancient community of Jewish Christians in India who trace their origins to evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle in the 1st century, are known by the name Nasranis even today.[47][48]

"Nazarenes" as Christians in Arabic literature

Although Arab Christians referred to themselves as Kristyan, the term "Nazarene" was adopted into the Arabic language as singular Naṣrani (Arabic: نصراني, "a Christian") and plural Naṣara (Arabic: نصارى, "Nazarenes, Christians") to refer to Christians in general. The term "Naṣara" is used many times in the Qur'an when referring to them. For example, Surat Al-Baqara (Verse No. 113) says:

2:113. The Jews say the (Naṣara) Nazarenes are not on anything, and the (Naṣara) Nazarenes say it is the Jews who are not on anything. Yet they both read the Book. And those who do not know say like their saying. Allah will judge between them their disputes on the Day of Resurrection.
—Hassan Al Fathi Qaribullah Qur'an Translation, AL-BAQARA 113

"Nazarenes" as Christians in Hebrew literature

In rabbinical and contemporary Israeli Hebrew, the term "Notzrim" (plural) or singular "Notzri" (נוצרי) is the general official term for "Christians" and "Christian", although many Christians prefer Meshiykiyyim (משיחיים) "Messianics", as found in most Hebrew New Testament translations.[49]

Notzri "Nazarene", plural Notzrim (Hebrew: נוצרים‎), "Nazarenes", in Rabbinic and modern Hebrew is the standard term for "Christian" and "Christians".[50] An alternative term, used to translate the Greek Christianoi in many translations of the New Testament into Hebrew, and by some churches, is Meshiykhiyyim "Messianics" (Hebrew: משיחיים‎).[51]

"Nazarene" and "Nazarenes" in the Talmud

The first Hebrew language mentions of Notzri (singular) and Notzrim (plural) are in manuscripts of the Babylonian Talmud, these mentions are not found in the Jerusalem Talmud.[52] Notzrim are not mentioned in older printed editions of the Talmud due to Christian censorship of Jewish presses.[53] Notzrim are clearly mentioned in Avodah Zarah 6a, Ta'anit 27b, and may be reconstructed in other texts such as Gittin 57a.[54]

  • Avodah Zarah ("foreign worship") 6a: "The Nazarene day, according to the words of R. Ishmael, is forbidden for ever"[55]
  • Taanit "On fasting" 27b: "Why did they not fast on the day after the Sabbath? Rabbi Johanan said, because of the Notzrim"

Samuel Klein (1909)[56] proposed that the passage in Gittin ("Documents") 57a, which is one of the most controversial possible references to Jesus in the Talmud, may also have included reference to "Yesu ha Notzri" warning his followers, the "Notzrim", of his and their fate.[57]

An additional possible reference in the Tosefta where the text may have originally read Notzrim ("Christians") rather than Mitzrim ("Egyptians")[58] is "They said: He went to hear him from Kfar Sakhnia[59] of the Egyptians [Mitzrim] to the west." where medical aid from a certain Jacob, or James, is avoided.[60]

There are no Tannaitic references to "Notzrim" and few from the Amoraic period.[61] References by Tannaim (70-200 CE) and Amoraim (230-500 CE) to "Minim" are much more common, leading some, such as R. Travers Herford (1903), to conclude that Minim in Talmud and Midrash generally refers to Jewish Christians.[62]

Yeshu ha Notzri

The references to Notzrim in the Babylonian Talmud are related to the meaning and person of Yeshu Ha Notzri ("Jesus the Nazarene") in the Talmud and Tosefta.[53] This includes passages in the Babylonian Talmud such as Sanhedrin 107b which states "Jesus the Nazarene practiced magic and led Israel astray" though scholars such as Bock (2002) consider the historicity of the event described is questionable.[63][64] The Jerusalem Talmud contains other coded references to Jesus such as "Jesus ben Pantera,"[65] while the references using the term notzri are restricted to the Babylon Talmud.[66][67] (See main article Jesus in the Talmud for further discussion).

"Curse on the Heretics"

Two fragments of the Birkat haMinim ("Curse on the heretics") in copies of the Amidah found in the Cairo Geniza include notzrim in the malediction against minim.[68][69][70] Robert Herford (1903) concluded that minim in the Talmud and Midrash generally refers to Jewish Christians.[71]

Toledot Yeshu

The early medieval rabbinical text Toledoth Yeshu (History of Jesus) is a polemical account of the origins of Christianity which connects the "notzrim" (Nazarenes) to the "netzarim" ("watchmen" Jeremiah 31:6) of Samaria. The Toledot Yeshu identifies the leader of the "notzrim" during the reign of Alexander Jannaeus as a rebellious student mentioned in the Baraitas (traditions outside the Mishnah) as "Yeshu ha-Notzri". This is generally seen as a continuation of references to Jesus in the Talmud[72] although the identification has been contested, as Yeshu ha-Notzri is depicted as living circa 100 BCE.[73] According to the Toledot Yeshu the Notzrim flourished during the reign of the Hasmonean queen Alexandra Helene Salome among Hellenized supporters of Rome in Judea.[74]

"Nazarenes" for Christians in late Medieval and Renaissance Hebrew literature

The term "Notzrim" continued to be used of Christians in the medieval period. Hasdai Crescas, one of the most influential Jewish philosophers in the last years of Muslim rule in Spain,[75] wrote a refutation of Christian principles in Catalan which survives as Sefer Bittul 'Iqqarei ha-Notzrim (Refutation of Christian Principles).[76]

Modern Hebrew usage

In Modern Hebrew, the word "Notzrim" (נוצרים) is the standard modern word for Christians, but Meshiykhiyyim (Hebrew: משיחיים‎) is used by many Christians of themselves, as in the BFBS New Testament of Franz Delitzsch; 1 Peter 4:16 "Yet if any suffer as ha-Meshiykhiyyim (Hebrew: משיחיים‎), let them not be ashamed, but let them glorify God in that name."[77][78] In the Hebrew New Testament Tertullus' use of "Nazarenes" (Acts 24:5) is translated "Notzrim", and "Jesus of Nazareth" is translated "Yeshu ha Notzri".[79]

Possible relation to other groups

Pliny and the Nazerini (1st century BCE)

[81] Pliny the Elder indicates[82] that the Nazerini lived not far from Apamea, in Syria in a city called Bambyx, Hierapolis or Mabog. However it is generally thought that this people has no connection to either Tertullus' description of Paul, nor to the later 4th century Nazarenes[83] Pritz, following Dussaud, connects Pliny's 1st century BCE Nazerini, to the 9th century CE Nusairis.

Nazarenes, and Ephanius' Nasaraioi (4th century CE)

The testimonies of Epiphanius, Philastrius, and Pseudo-Tertullian may all draw in part from the same lost anti-heretical works of Hippolytus of Rome, mentioned as the Syntagma (Hippolytus) by Photius, and Against all Heresies by Origen and Jerome.[84]

Epiphanius uses the spelling nasaraioi (Νασαραίοι), which he attempts to distinguish from the spelling nazoraios in parts of the New Testament, as a Jewish-Christian sect.[85] According to the testimony of Epiphanius against the 4th century Nazarenes, he reports them as having pre-Christian origins. He writes: "(6,1) They did not call themselves Nasaraeans either; the Nasaraean sect was before Christ, and did not know Christ. 6,2 But besides, as I indicated, everyone called the Christians Nazoraeans," (Adversus Haereses, 29.6).[86] The sect was apparently centered in the areas of Coele-Syria, Galilee and Samaria, essentially corresponding to the long-defunct Kingdom of Israel.[87] According to Epiphanius they rejected temple sacrifice and the Law of Moses, but adhered to other Jewish practices. They are described as being vegetarian.[88] According to him they were Jews only by nationality who lived in Gilead, Basham, and the Transjordan. They revered Moses but, unlike the pro-Torah Nazoraeans, believed he had received different laws from those accredited to him.

Epiphanius' testimony was accepted as accurate by some 19th-century scholars, including Wilhelm Bousset, Richard Reitzenstein and Bultmann. However Epiphanius testimony in this regard, which is second-hand, is in modern scholarship read with more awareness of his polemical objectives to show that the 4th century Nazarenes and Ebionites were not Christian.[89]


The Mandaeans of Iraq use the term "Nasorean" in their history, the Haran Gawaitha, to describe their origins in, and migration from Jerusalem: "And sixty thousand Nasoreans abandoned the Sign of the Seven and entered the Median Hills, a place where we were free from domination by all other races."...[90]

Theories on the origins of the Mandaeans have varied widely. During the 19th century Wilhelm Bousset, Richard Reitzenstein and Rudolf Bultmann argued that the Mandaeans were pre-Christian, as a parallel of Bultmann's theory that Gnosticism predated the Gospel of John.[91] Hans Lietzmann (1930) countered with the argument that all extant texts could be explained by a 7th-century exposure to, and conversion to, an oriental form of Christianity, taking on such Christian rituals as a Sunday Sabbath.

Scholars of Mandaeans considered them to be of pre-Christian origin; however, no evidence for this is found prior to the 2nd century.[92] They claim John the Baptist as a member (and onetime leader) of their sect; the River Jordan is a central feature of their doctrine of baptism.[93] However, in the 1960s the position of scholars of Mandaeism settled on an early Jerusalem, but not pre-Christian, origin.[94][95]

See also


  1. ^ "Jesus was a Galilean from Nazareth, a village near Sepphoris, one of the two major cities of Galilee". ("Jesus Christ." Encyclopædia Britannica, Chicago, 2009.)
    "[Jesus] spent His boyhood in the Galilean town of Nazareth." (Bromiley, Geoffrey W., "Nazarene," The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: K-P, pp. 499-500.)
  2. ^ See Luke 18:37
  3. ^ a b Bromiley, Geoffrey W., "Nazarene," The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: K-P, pp. 499-500.
  4. ^ Matthew 2:22-23
  5. ^ a b c Isaiah 11:1
  6. ^ a b Miller, Fred P., Isaiah's Use of the word "Branch" or Nazarene"
  7. ^ a b c d France, R. T., The Gospel of Matthew, pp. 92-93. See Judges 13:5-7. The Septuagint gives "Nazirite" as ναζιραιον, while Matthew gives Nazorean as Ναζωραῖος.
  8. ^ a b Acts 24:5
  9. ^ See Mark 1:24 and Luke 4:34
  10. ^ Stephen Goranson, "Nazarenes," Anchor Bible Dictionary, 4: 1049-1050; James F. Strange, "Nazareth," Anchor Bible Dictionary, 4: 1050-1,051
  11. ^ "The name has obvious reference to Nazareth," ("Nazarene", The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911.)
    Schaeder, H., "Nazarenos, Nazoraios" in G. Kittel, "Theological Dict. of the New Testament," p. 874.
    Albright, W., "Nazareth and Nazoraean," J. of Biblical Lit. 65:2 (June 1946), pp.397–401.
  12. ^ The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1906/2003), p. 665.
    "Some, however, think that the name of the city must be connected with the name of the hill behind it, from which one of the finest prospects in Palestine is obtained, and accordingly they derive it from the Hebrew notserah, i.e., one guarding or watching." (Easton's Bible Dictionary, (1897)).
    "...if the word Nazareth is be derived from Hebrew at all, it must come from this root [i.e. נֹצְרִ, nostri, to watch]" (Merrill, Selah, (1881) Galilee in the Time of Christ, p. 116.
  13. ^ "The etymology of Nazara is neser" ("Nazareth", The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1911.)
    "NAZARETH, NAZARENE - Place name meaning, 'branch.'" (Holman's Bible Dictionary, 1994.)
    "Generally supposed to be the Greek form of the Hebrew netser, a "shoot" or "sprout." (Easton's Bible Dictionary, (1897)).
  14. ^ "Although modern NT translations repeated references to 'Jesus of Nazareth', 'Jesus the Nazarene' is the more common form of words in the original Greek version." (Wilson, Ian, (1984) Jesus: The Evidence, p. 67.) See, for example, Luke 18:37.
  15. ^ Strong number 5342. Brown, Michael L., Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, Volume 4, Baker Books, 2006.
  16. ^ "For in the place where we read and translate, There shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots, in the Hebrew idiom it is written thus, There shall come forth a rod out of the root of Jesse and a Nazarene shall grow from his root." (Jerome, Letter 47:7).
  17. ^ Bauckham, Richard, Jude and the Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church, p. 65. See Romans 15:12 and Revelation 5:5.
  18. ^ Num 6:2ff.; Mischna tractate Nazir.
  19. ^ Tertullian Against Marcion 4.8.1 The Christ of the Creator had to be called a Nazarene according to prophecy; whence the Jews also designate us, on that very account, Nazerenes after Him. For we are they of whom it is written, "Her Nazirites were whiter than snow;" (Lam 4.7) even they who were once defiled with the stains of sin, and darkened with the clouds of ignorance.
  20. ^
  21. ^ The Anchor Bible Dictionary , Vol. 4. New York, NY : Doubleday , 1992. PP 1049-1052
  22. ^ Matthew 2:23
  23. ^ Jeremiah 23:5-6, Jeremiah 33:15-16, Zechariah 3:8, and Zechariah 6:12.
  24. ^ Matthew 2:15
  25. ^ Namely Hosea 11:1
  26. ^ Mark 1:9
  27. ^ Mark 1:24
  28. ^ Bauckham, Jude, Relatives of Jesus in the Early Church, p. 64. The prophecy may be found at Numbers 24:17
  29. ^ Antti Marjanen, Petri Luomanen -Companion to Second Century Christian Heretics 2008 - Page 282 "Who Were Called Nazarenes? Epiphanius discusses the correct spelling of the term Nazarenes (Nazòraioi) in Pan. 29.5.6–29.6.1, emphasizing that the name does not refer to nazirites or to the pre-Christian heresy of the Nasarenes (cf. Pan."
  30. ^ Pritz, R., "Nazarene Jewish Christianity" (Brill 1988) Page 45 "Among scholars the Nasarenes often enjoy the position of a kind of passepartout. They are an obscure entity with ... Many scholars, of course, simply dismiss them as unhistorical, a confusion of Epiphanius. Among these are some who say that ..."
  31. ^  
  32. ^ The Gospel of Philip, Translated by Wesley W. Isenberg, 56.
  33. ^ The Gospel of Philip, Translated by Wesley W. Isenberg, 62.
  34. ^ Josephus, Vita, 45.
  35. ^ "Nazareth", Jewish Encyclopedia, 1901-1906.
  36. ^ Eusebius, Church History 1.7.14.
  37. ^  
  38. ^ Marvin R. Wilson Our father Abraham: Jewish roots of the Christian faith 1989 p41 "The Greek Nazoraioi (Acts 24:5), "Nazarenes," was likely used as a designation for Jewish Christians from a very early date. It was apparently retained in Hebrew conversation (and later in Hebrew literature) by the term Notzrim,"
  39. ^ Eckhard J. Schnabel Paul the missionary: realities, strategies and methods p73 2008 "... that is “Nazarenes” 64 Jews who did not acknowledge Jesus as Messiah would hardly have called the believers in Jesus “followers of the Messiah” (Christeioi or Christianoi). It is quite possible that the term Christianoi was an official designation coined by the Roman authorities in Antioch."
  40. ^ Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies: Volume 65, Issue 1 University of London. School of Oriental and African Studies - 2002 "... around 331, Eusebius says of the place name Nazareth that ' from this name the Christ was called a Nazoraean, and in ancient times we, who are now called Christians, were once called Nazarenes ';6 thus he attributes this designation ..."
  41. ^ Edwin K. Broadhead Jewish Ways of Following Jesus: Redrawing the Religious Map of Antiquity Mohr Siebeck, 2010 "Here it is on the lips of Tertullus, the attorney who represents the case of Ananias and the elders against Paul (Acts 24.5)."
  42. ^ The Oxford Bible commentary - Page 850 John Barton, John Muddiman - 2001 Further, in Acts 24:5 Christians are 'the sect of the Nazarenes' (an appellation also attested in Tertullian, Adv. Marc. 4.8), and in rabbinic writings Christians are nosrim.
  43. ^ Adv. Marc. IV.8 unde et ipso nomine nos Iudaei Nazarenos appellant per eum
  44. ^ Bruce Manning Metzger The early versions of the New Testament p86 - 1977 "Peshitta Matt, and Luke ... nasraya, 'of Nazareth'."
  45. ^ William Jennings (Syriacist) Lexicon to the Syriac New Testament 1926 p143
  46. ^ Robert Payne Smith Compendious Syriac Dictionary 1903 p349
  47. ^ Županov, Ines G. (2005). Missionary Tropics: The Catholic Frontier in India (16th–17th centuries), p. 99 and note. University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-472-11490-5
  48. ^ Bindu Malieckal (2005) Muslims, Matriliny, and A Midsummer Night's Dream: European Encounters with the Mappilas of Malabar, India; The Muslim World Volume 95 Issue 2 page 300
  49. ^ Acts 11, etc. per BFBS Franz Delitzsch Hebrew New Testament and revisions
  50. ^ "Christian adj. n. נוצרי " (Notzri) The Oxford English-Hebrew Dictionary (9780198601722) 1999 p.69; The New Bantam-Megiddo Hebrew & English Dictionary, Dr. Sivan Reuven, Dr. Edward A. Levenston, 2009 p.50; Ben Yehuda's Hebrew Dictionary, 1940 reprint, p.450
  51. ^ United Bible Societies Hebrew New Testament, 1997 printing, based on the BFBS New Testament of Franz Delitzsch: Acts 11:26, Acts 26:28, 1 Peter 4:16.
  52. ^ Yaakov Y. Teppler, Susan Weingarten Birkat haMinim: Jews and Christians in conflict in the ancient world 2007 p48 "Only in a few places is the term notzrim mentioned, and they too are on the pages of the Babylonian Talmud. The only clear mention is as follows: The rabbis said: the people of the watch used to pray for their brothers' offering to be ..."
  53. ^ a b Yaakov Y. Teppler,Susan Weingarten Birkat haMinim: Jews and Christians in conflict in the ancient world p48
  54. ^ Graham Stanton, Guy G. Stroumsa Tolerance and intolerance in early Judaism and Christianity 1998 p256 "According to Pritz, Notzrim as such are explicitly mentioned only in Avodah Zarah 6a, Ta'anit 27b, and Gittin 57a. 36 The text is from Herford, Christianity in Talmud and Midrash, 171-2. 37 Herford, followed by Pritz, thinks the term in these two passages probably refers to catholic Christians."
  55. ^ Christianity in Talmud and Midrash - Page 171 R. Travers Herford - 2007 "For R Tahlipha bar Abdimi said that Shemuel said: ' The Nazarene day, according to the words of R. Ishmael, is forbidden for ever.' (59) b. Taan. 27b.— On the eve of Sabbath they did not fast, out of respect to the Sabbath "
  56. ^ Klein S. Beiträge zur Geographie und Geschichte Galiläas
  57. ^ Pritz, Nazarene Jewish Christianity, 95-102, who (like others) also includes Gittin 57a on the basis of an emendation suggested by Samuel Klein (Pritz, 107):
  58. ^ Yaakov Y. Teppler, Susan Weingarten Birkat haMinim: Jews and Christians in conflict in the ancient world 2007 p49 "The second is a little more problematic: "They said: He went to hear him from Kfar Sakhnia of the Egyptians [Mitzrim] to the west."'"* This should probably read Kfar Sakhnia of notzrim,' " as Kfar Sakhnia (or Sakhnin) is the arena for ..."
  59. ^ Frankfurter judaistische Beiträge: 27 Gesellschaft zur Forderung Judaistischer Studien in Frankfurt am Main - 2000 "Kfar Sakhnia (or Sekhania) has been identified by some scholars with Sukhnin in Galilee."
  60. ^ Jeffrey L. Rubenstein Rabbinic stories 2002 p170 "The identity of Jesus' disciple Yaakov [=Jacob] of Kefar Sarnma or Kefar Sakhnia (A, H) is unknown. The first Toseftan anecdote takes the extreme position that it is better to die than to solicit medical help from a Christian (AC)."
  61. ^ Wilson: "Related strangers Jews and Christians, 70-170 C.E." 1981 p366 "There are no tannaitic references and few from the amoraic period. The one clear reference (b.Ta'an.27b) could refer to Christians in general, but might mean only "Jewish Christians". The fullest discussion is in Kimelman.
  62. ^ Herford Christianity in Talmud and Midrash, 1903 p379 "The theory that the Minim are intended to designate Jewish Christians I regard as having been now conclusively proved. This may be otherwise expressed by saying that wherever the Talmud or the Midrash mentions Minim, the authors of the statement intend to refer to Jewish Christians"
  63. ^ Darrell L. Bock Studying the historical Jesus: a guide to sources and methods 2002 p230 Sanhedrin 107b, makes a similar claim, though it alludes to an event whose authenticity is questionable: One day he [R. Joshua] ... And a Master [another major rabbi] has said, “Jesus the Nazarene practiced magic and led Israel astray . ...
  64. ^ Primary source: [publication details needed since this text has been edited] Sanhedrin 107b: What of R. Joshua b. Perahjah? — When King Jannai (104-78 B.C.) slew our Rabbis, R. Joshua b. Perahjah (with his student Yeshu) fled to Alexandria of Egypt. On the resumption of peace, Simeon b. Shetach sent to him: 'From me, the holy city, to thee, Alexandria of Egypt (my sister). My husband (the Rabbis) dwelleth within thee and I am desolate.' He arose, went, and found himself in a certain inn, where great honour was shewn him. 'How beautiful is this Acsania!' (can mean inn or female innkeeper) Thereupon (Yeshu) observed, 'Rabbi, her eyes are narrow.' 'Wretch,' he rebuked him, 'dost thou thus engage thyself.' He sounded four hundred trumpets and excommunicated him. He came before him many times pleading, 'Receive me!' But he would pay no heed to him. One day he was reciting the Shema', when Yeshu came before him. He intended to receive him and made a sign to him. He thinking that it was to repel him, went, put up a brick, and worshipped it. 'Repent,' said he to him. He replied, 'I have thus learned from thee: He who sins and causes others to sin is not afforded the means of repentance.' And a Master has said, 'Yeshu the Notzri practised magic and led Israel astray.'
  65. ^ Yaakov Y. Teppler,Susan Weingarten Birkat haMinim: Jews and Christians in conflict in the ancient world p48
  66. ^ Graham Stanton, Guy G. Stroumsa Tolerance and intolerance in early Judaism and Christianity 1998 p256 "35 All these are from the Babylonian Talmud (Gemara): Sanhedrin 107b (twice), 103a, 43a (four times); Sola 47a;"
  67. ^ Joshua Efrón Studies on the Hasmonean period p156
  68. ^ Birkat haMinim: Jews and Christians in conflict in the ancient world ed Yaakov Y. Teppler, Susan Weingarten
  69. ^ A. J. M. Wedderburn A history of the first Christians 2004, Page 245 Cf. Maier, Zwischen den Testamenten, 288: he points out that the reference to the 'Nazarenes' (notzrim) is first found in medieval texts; also van der Horst, 'Birkat ha-minim'; SG Wilson, Strangers, 176-83. 8. JT Sanders, Schismatics ...
  70. ^ Herman C. Waetjen The Gospel of the Beloved Disciple 2005 p142
  71. ^ Herford Christianity in Talmud and Midrash, 1903 p379 "The theory that the Minim are intended to designate Jewish Christians I regard as having been now conclusively proved. This may be otherwise expressed by saying that wherever the Talmud or the Midrash mentions Minim, the authors of the statement intend to refer to Jewish Christians"
  72. ^ R. Travers Herford, (1906), “Christianity in the Talmud and Midrash,” Princeton Theological Review, 4:412-414.
  73. ^ Hayyim ben Yehoshua. "Refuting Missionaries". Retrieved 2008-04-12. 
  74. ^ Goldstein, M. Jesus in the Jewish Tradition, Macmillan 1950 (pp. 148-154 Toledot Y.S.W.)
  75. ^ The Columbia History of Western Philosophy p204 ed. Richard H. Popkin, Stephen F. Brown, David Carr - 2005 "In the last century of Jewish life in Spain, the three most influential Jewish philosophers were without doubt Rabbi Hasdai Crescas (ca. 1340-1410/1411), Rabbi Joseph Albo (d. after 1433), and Rabbi Isaac Abrabanel (1437-1508)."
  76. ^ History of Jewish Philosophy p551 ed. Daniel H. Frank, Oliver Leaman - 2004 "translation of Joseph ibn Shem Tov who entitled it Sefer Bittul 'Iqqarei ha-Notzrim (Refutation of Christian Principles)."
  77. ^ BFBS Delitszch translation 1 Peter pdf
  78. ^ example: The Christian Church, Jaffa Tel-Aviv website article in Hebrew יהודים משיחיים - יהודים או נוצרים?
  79. ^ United Bible Societies Hebrew New Testament, 1997 printing, based on the BFBS New Testament of Franz Delitzsch: Acts 24:5
  80. ^ Plinii naturalis historia: Libri I-VII ed. Francesco Della Corte - 1984 "Nunc interiora dicantur. Coele habet Apameam Marsya amne divisam a Nazerinorum tetrarchia, Bambycen quae alio nomine ... In Cele si trova Apamea, divisa dalla tetrarchia dei Nazerini dal fiume Marsia, Bambice, che con altro nome..."
  81. ^ B. Dubourg, L'Invention de Jesus, Gallimard Paris 1987, II, p. 157.
  82. ^ Pliny the Elder, Natural Histories Book V, recopying reports drafted by Marcus Agrippa on the orders of Emperor Octavian Augustus Caesar.
  83. ^ Ray Pritz Nazarene Jewish Christianity: from the end of the New Testament 1988 p17 Pliny's Nazerini - While treating the name of the sect, we may deal here with a short notice by Pliny the Elder which has caused some confusion among scholars. .... Can Pliny's Nazerini be early Christians? The answer depends very much on the identification of his sources, and on this basis the answer must be an unequivocal No. It is generally acknowledged that Pliny drew heavily on official records and most likely on those drawn up for Augustus by Marcus Agrippa (d. 12 BC).[31] Jones has shown that this survey was accomplished between 30 and 20 BC [32] Any connection between the Nazerini and the Nazareni must, therefore, be ruled out, and we must not attempt to line this up with Epiphanius' Nazoraioi. [33]"
  84. ^ The Cambridge history of early Christian literature 2004 p146 Frances Margaret Young, Lewis Ayres, Andrew Louth "18 A large section is ... of the Syntagma when he argued that Epiphanius, Philastrius, and Ps.-Tertullian had all drawn on the Syntagma "
  85. ^ Charles Hugh Hope Scobie John the Baptist 1964 "Epiphanius mentions a sect of Nasarenes (Nasaraioi), whom he carefully distinguishes from a Christian sect of Nazorenes (Nazoraioi) whom he also describes.2 The Nasarenes, we are told, existed prior to the time of Christ"
  86. ^ The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, translated Frank Williams p116
  87. ^ Encyclopædia Britannica, Nazarene article, Wm. Benton Publ., London, vol. 16, 1961 edition.
  88. ^ Bashan and Galaatides (Panarion 18; 20, 3; 29, 6, 1; 19, 5)
  89. ^ Antti Marjanen, Petri Luomanen A companion to second-century Christian "heretics" 2008 p281 "Because the ancient writers that explicitly deal with the Nazarenes, Epiphanius and Jerome, are from the fourth century and are known for often allowing their polemical interests and personal ambitions to dictate the contents of their presentations, it is no wonder that the role of the Nazarenes in second-century Christianity has been open to various interpretations."
  90. ^ Karen L. King What is Gnosticism? 2005 Page 140
  91. ^ Edwin M. Yamauchi Gnostic ethics and Mandaean origins 2004 - Page 8 "C. The Age of the Mandaean Sect Against the claims of Reitzenstein and Bultmann that the Mandaeans dated to the pre-Christian period"
  92. ^ Etudes mithriaques 1978 p545 Jacques Duchesne-Guillemin "The conviction of the leading Mandaean scholars — E. S. Drower, Kurt Rudolph, Rudolph Macuch — that Mandaeanism had a pre-Christian origin rests largely upon the subjective evaluation of parallels between Mandaean texts and the Gospel of John."
  93. ^ Drower, Introduction, p. xiv
  94. ^ King "Many specialists in Mandaean studies still argue for an early Western origin for Mandaeanism, preeminent among them Rudolf Macuch, Lady Drower, Kurt Rudolph, and Lupieri, but they generally reject a pre-Christian date and argue for great circumspection in using Mandaean texts to explain the genesis of New Testament literature.91 "
  95. ^ Edmondo Lupieri The Mandaeans: the last gnostics 2002

Further reading

  • Drower, E. S., The Secret Adam: A Study of Nasoraean Gnosis, Clarendon Press, Oxford (1960)
  • The Ante-Nicene Fathers (1986 American Edition), vol. viii, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publ. Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan.


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