Question...

...was the town of Nazareth made-up by Christians?


Date 6/20/96
A friend wrote (paraphrased):

I have heard mythisicts argue that the non-historicity of Jesus is strongly supported by the discovery that much of the geography of the gospels is fictional. They claim that Nazareth did not exist during the first centuries BCE and CE; the earliest possible date for settlement of the place is CE 135. And if there was no Nazareth, so the argument goes, how could there be a Jesus of Nazareth?

My initial reaction to this is as follows: Nazareth was an extremely obscure Galilean village. In fact it was so obscure that it was never mentioned in the OT, Josephus, Philo, early rabbinic literature, or OT psuedepigrapha. However, the NT reference is (or should be) sufficient to establish its existence.

I'm looking for more information on this. I'd especially appreciate it if anyone could point me to some good scholarly references which address this issue.

Thanks in advance,

Here are a couple of quotes on the archeological data:

"Despite Nazareth's obscurity (which had led some critics to suggest that it was a relatively recent foundation), archeology indicates that the village has been occupied since the 7th century B.C., although it may have experienced a 'refounding' in the 2d century b.c. " ([MJ]A Marginal Jew--Rethinking the Historical Jesus, (vol 1), p.300-301)...cites Meyers and Strange, Archeology, the Rabbis, and Early Christianity, Abingdon:1981. pp.56-57
Although I do not have the Meyers/Strange work, more detail from it is given by Paul Barnett[BSNT], Behind the Scenes of the New Testament, IVP:1990, p.42:
"Despite the Hellenization of the general region and the probability that Greek was known to many people it seems likely that Nazareth remained a conservative Jewish village. After the Jewish war with the Romans from AD 66-70 it was necessary to re-settle Jewish priests and their families. Such groups would only settle in unmixed towns, that is towns without Gentile inhabitants. According to an inscription discovered in 1962 in Caesarea Maritima the priests of the order of Elkalir made their home in Nazareth. This, by the way, is the sole known reference to Nazareth in antiquity, apart from written Christian sources... (next paragraph) Some scholars had even believed that Nazareth was a fictitious invention of the early Christians; the inscription from Caesarea Maritima proves otherwise."
hope this helps...glenn miller
The Christian ThinkTank...[http://www.christian-thinktank.com] (Reference Abbreviations)