Nazarene (title)

Nazarene (title)

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Nazarene is a title applied to Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

 (c. 4 BC- c. AD 30), who grew up in Nazareth
Nazareth
Nazareth is the largest city in the North District of Israel. Known as "the Arab capital of Israel," the population is made up predominantly of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel...

, a town in Galilee
Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

, now in northern Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. The word is used to translate two related words that appear in the Greek New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

: the adjective Nazarēnos (Ναζαρηνός) and the Nazōraios (Ναζωραῖος). The Greek phrases traditionally rendered as "Jesus of Nazareth" may come from Nazareth (Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

 Nazaret Ναζαρὲτ). The Greek structure Iesous o Nazoraios (Ἰησοῦς ὁ Ναζωραῖος) "Jesus the Nazarene/of Nazareth" is comparable with other geographical names such as Loukios o Kurenaios (Λούκιος ὁ Κυρηναῖος) "Lucius the Cyrenian/of Cyrene."

The Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

 explains that the title "Nazarene" is derived from the prophecy, “He will be called a Nazorean.” (Matthew 2:23) Unlike most other prophecies that Matthew quotes, this one has no obvious Old Testament
Old Testament
The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

 source. Some scholars argue that it refers to Isaiah 11:1, with "Nazarene" a Greek reading of the Hebrew netser (branch), understood as a messianic
Messiah
A messiah is a redeemer figure expected or foretold in one form or another by a religion. Slightly more widely, a messiah is any redeemer figure. Messianic beliefs or theories generally relate to eschatological improvement of the state of humanity or the world, in other words the World to...

 title. Others point to a passage in the Book of Judges
Book of Judges
The Book of Judges is the seventh book of the Hebrew bible and the Christian Old Testament. Its title describes its contents: it contains the history of Biblical judges, divinely inspired prophets whose direct knowledge of Yahweh allows them to act as decision-makers for the Israelites, as...

 which refers to Samson
Samson
Samson, Shimshon ; Shamshoun or Sampson is the third to last of the Judges of the ancient Israelites mentioned in the Tanakh ....

 as a Nazirite
Nazirite
In the Hebrew Bible, a nazirite or nazarite, , refers to one who voluntarily took a vow described in . The term "nazirite" comes from the Hebrew word nazir meaning "consecrated" or "separated"...

, a word that is just one letter off from Nazarene in Greek. The Septuagint gives "Nazirite" in some verses as naziraios (ναζιραιος) in some as the phrase "he who has taken a vow," while Matthew gives Nazorean as nazoraios (Ναζωραῖος).

The Greek New Testament
New Testament
The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

 uses "Nazarene" (Ναζαρηνός) six times, while "Nazorean" (Ναζωραῖος) is used 13 times. In the Book of Acts, "Nazoreans" is used by Tertullus to refer to followers of Jesus, i.e. Christian
Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...

s, rather than an inhabitant of a town. "Notzrim" is the modern Hebrew word for Christians (No·tsri, נוֹצְרִי) and one of two words commonly used to mean "Christian" in Arabic (Naṣrānī, نصراني). The term "of Nazareth" and Tertullus' "sect of the Nazarenes" are both translated nasraya (ܕܢܨܪܝܐ) "of Nazareth" in the Aramaic Peshitta
Peshitta
The Peshitta is the standard version of the Bible for churches in the Syriac tradition.The Old Testament of the Peshitta was translated into Syriac from the Hebrew, probably in the 2nd century AD...

, while Nasrat (ܢܨܪܬ ) is used for Nazareth.

Etymology


Nazarene is anglicized from the adjectival noun Nazarenos (Ναζαρηνός), the form used by Mark equivalent to the form used by Matthew, Luke and John Nazaraios (Ναζωραῖος) ("of Nazareth"). This word applied is to Jesus in the New Testament. Several Hebrew words have been suggested as roots:

Nazareth


Traditionally both spellings of Nazarene (Ναζαρηνός and Ναζωραῖος) are derived from Nazareth (Ναζαρὲτ) per Matthew "And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene."

In each of the four Gospels mention of the town "Nazareth" precedes the use of the adjective "Nazarene:"
  • Mark 1:9 "In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
  • Mark 1:24 "“What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth?”


The issue of whether Nazarene is derived from Nazareth has been the subject of much scholarly conjecture since the 19th century.
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
Selah Merrill
Selah Merrill, was an American Congregationalist clergyman, an educator, archaeologist of the American Palestine Exploration Society, and American diplomat.-Early life:...

, (1881) Galilee in the Time of Christ, p. 116. or from ne·tser, נֵ֫צֶר, meaning branch.

The Greek phrase usually translated as "Jesus of Nazareth" (Iēsous o Nazōraios) can be rendered as "Jesus the Nazarene." The attachment of a geographical adjective in this manner indicates familiar reference to the person by that name, such as "Lucius the Cyrenian." No one else is referred to in scripture with the adjective "the Nazarene", though the adoptive father of Jesus is Iōsēph ton apo Nazaret (Joseph, he from Nazareth) and Jesus is also referred to in this style ho apo Nazaret "Jesus.. he from Nazareth" in several verses, including and .

"Nazareth" and "Nazarene" are complementary only in Greek, where they possess the "z", or voiced [aspirated] sibilant. In Semitic languages, "Nazarene" and its cognates Nazareth, Nazara, and Nazorean/Nazaraean possess the unvoiced (unaspirated) sibilant corresponding to the "s" or "ts" sound. Voiced and unvoiced 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.

According to the standard reference for Koine Greek
Koine Greek
Koine Greek is the universal dialect of the Greek language spoken throughout post-Classical antiquity , developing from the Attic dialect, with admixture of elements especially from Ionic....

, the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament
Bauer lexicon
The Bauer-Danker Lexicon is among the most highly respected dictionaries of Biblical Greek. The author of the German original is Walter Bauer...

: / Nazoraios (plural: Nazoraioi) is translated into English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 as:

"Nazoraean, Nazarene, quite predominantly a designation of Jesus, in Mt
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

, J
Gospel of John
The Gospel According to John , commonly referred to as the Gospel of John or simply John, and often referred to in New Testament scholarship as the Fourth Gospel, is an account of the public ministry of Jesus...

, Ac
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

 and Lk
Gospel of Luke
The Gospel According to Luke , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels. This synoptic gospel is an account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It details his story from the events of his birth to his Ascension.The...

 18:37, while Mk
Gospel of Mark
The Gospel According to Mark , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Mark or simply Mark, is the second book of the New Testament. This canonical account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth is one of the three synoptic gospels. It was thought to be an epitome, which accounts for its place as the second...

 has ("coming from Nazareth"). Of the two places where the later form occurs in Lk, the one, Lk 4:34, apparently comes from Mk (1:24), the other, 24:19, perhaps from a special source. Where the author of Lk-Ac
Luke-Acts
Luke-Acts is the name usually given by Biblical scholars to the hypothetical composite work of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament. Together they describe the Ministry of Jesus and the subsequent lives of the Apostles and the Apostolic Age.Both the books of Luke and...

 writes without influence from another source he uses . Mt says expressly 2:23 that Jesus was so called because he grew up in Nazareth. In addition, the other NT writers who call Jesus know Nazareth as his home. But linguistically the transition from (Nazareth) to is difficult ... and it is to be borne in mind that meant something different before it was connected with Nazareth ... According to Ac 24:5 the Christians were so called;"

Branch, Ne·tzer

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


Jerome
Jerome
Saint Jerome was a Roman Christian priest, confessor, theologian and historian, and who became a Doctor of the Church. He was the son of Eusebius, of the city of Stridon, which was on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia...

 (c. 347 – 420) linked "Nazarene" to a messianic prophecy by Isaiah, claiming that "Nazarene" was the Hebrew reading of a word modern scholars read as ne·tzer (branch). The text from Isaiah is:
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
Jesse
Jesse, Eshai or Yishai, is the father of the David, who became the king of the Israelites. His son David is sometimes called simply "Son of Jesse" ....

, father of King David
David
David was the second king of the united Kingdom of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary...

). 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
Epistle to the Romans
The Epistle of Paul to the Romans, often shortened to Romans, is the sixth book in the New Testament. Biblical scholars agree that it was composed by the Apostle Paul to explain that Salvation is offered through the Gospel of Jesus Christ...

 and Revelation
Revelation
In religion and theology, revelation is the revealing or disclosing, through active or passive communication with a supernatural or a divine entity...

. *The Greek transliteration Ναζαρηνος (Nazareinos, from which the English "Nazarene" derived) of Neitzër (נצר), which is the Hebrew term meaning "offshoot(s)", especially from the branches of an olive tree (instead referring to a wicker in Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew , also known as Israeli Hebrew or Modern Israeli Hebrew, is the language spoken in Israel and in some Jewish communities worldwide, from the early 20th century to the present....

). which appears in Isaiah
Isaiah
Isaiah ; Greek: ', Ēsaïās ; "Yahu is salvation") was a prophet in the 8th-century BC Kingdom of Judah.Jews and Christians consider the Book of Isaiah a part of their Biblical canon; he is the first listed of the neviim akharonim, the later prophets. Many of the New Testament teachings of Jesus...

 chapters 11.1 and 60.21. This derivation is popular among some of the late 20th century's Messianic Jewish groups. But again, the same problem arises with the Greek letter ζ (zeta) being the Koine transliteration of ז (zayin) but never צ (tsade) (always represented by a σ (sigma) instead).

Nazirite


Nazirite
Nazirite
In the Hebrew Bible, a nazirite or nazarite, , refers to one who voluntarily took a vow described in . The term "nazirite" comes from the Hebrew word nazir meaning "consecrated" or "separated"...

, Hebrew na·zir (נָזִיר, n-z-r), pronounced naw·zeer, meaning "one consecrated, devoted". This word has a messianic association based on passages in Genesis and Deuteronomy
Deuteronomy
The Book of Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Hebrew Bible, and of the Jewish Torah/Pentateuch...

. A Nazirite
Nazirite
In the Hebrew Bible, a nazirite or nazarite, , refers to one who voluntarily took a vow described in . The term "nazirite" comes from the Hebrew word nazir meaning "consecrated" or "separated"...

 was a person consecrated to God either from birth, such as Samson
Samson
Samson, Shimshon ; Shamshoun or Sampson is the third to last of the Judges of the ancient Israelites mentioned in the Tanakh ....

 or Samuel; or for a limited time. "Nazirite" (Ναζιραιος) is only one letter off from "Nazorean" (Ναζωραιος) in Greek. In the Septuagint Nazirite is rendered euxamenos (εὐξαμένος) "separated one" in Numbers 6, but transliterated as nazir (ναζιρ) in Judges relating to Samson
Samson
Samson, Shimshon ; Shamshoun or Sampson is the third to last of the Judges of the ancient Israelites mentioned in the Tanakh ....

.
  • The word nazur means separate in Aramaic. The word is related to Nazir. There are a number of references to Nazirites/Nazarites in the Old Testament
    Old Testament
    The Old Testament, of which Christians hold different views, is a Christian term for the religious writings of ancient Israel held sacred and inspired by Christians which overlaps with the 24-book canon of the Masoretic Text of Judaism...

     and New Testament
    New Testament
    The New Testament is the second major division of the Christian biblical canon, the first such division being the much longer Old Testament....

    . 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
    Baptism
    In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

     of Jesus by his relative John the Baptist
    John the Baptist
    John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...

     could have been done "to fulfil all righteousness" at the ending of a nazirite vow. However, following his baptism, the gospels give no reason to suppose Jesus took another Nazirite vow until The Last Supper, (see ). The Quran (3:35 & 19:26) depicts Mary as a Nazirite from birth. describes John the Baptist as a Nazarite from birth. James the Just
    James the Just
    James , first Bishop of Jerusalem, who died in 62 AD, was an important figure in Early Christianity...

     was described as a Nazarite in Epiphanius of Salamis
    Epiphanius of Salamis
    Epiphanius of Salamis was bishop of Salamis at the end of the 4th century. He is considered a saint and a Church Father by both the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches. He gained a reputation as a strong defender of orthodoxy...

    ' Panarion 29.4.1. In Paul of Tarsus
    Paul of Tarsus
    Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

     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 "that you yourself also walk orderly". This event was the reason why in Paul was accused of being a "ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes" (and further verifies that the term Nazarene was connected to the term Nazarite).

Guard, Natzri


A rare proposal is a connection to the verb stem natsar (נָצַר) meaning "to watch, guard, keep". According to Joseph Samuel Christian Frederick Frey and a few others, this word also has a messianic association based on Jeremiah 31:5-6 ("watchmen" נֹצְרִים) However, the Greek letter ζ (zeta) is always used in Koine transliterations of ז (zayin) but never צ (tsade) which is always represented by a σ (sigma) instead.

Gospel of Philip: "Nazara means truth"


An etymology related to "truth" is given in the gnostic
Gnosticism
Gnosticism is a scholarly term for a set of religious beliefs and spiritual practices common to early Christianity, Hellenistic Judaism, Greco-Roman mystery religions, Zoroastrianism , and Neoplatonism.A common characteristic of some of these groups was the teaching that the realisation of Gnosis...

 Gospel of Philip
Gospel of Philip
The Gospel of Philip is one of the Gnostic Gospels, a text of New Testament apocrypha, dating back to around the third century but lost to modern researchers until an Egyptian peasant rediscovered it by accident, buried in a cave near Nag Hammadi, in 1945...

: "The apostles that came before us called him Jesus Nazarene the Christ ..."Nazara" is the "Truth". Therefore 'Nazarenos' is "The One of the Truth" ..." (Gospel of Philip
Gospel of Philip
The Gospel of Philip is one of the Gnostic Gospels, a text of New Testament apocrypha, dating back to around the third century but lost to modern researchers until an Egyptian peasant rediscovered it by accident, buried in a cave near Nag Hammadi, in 1945...

, 47). Unfortunately no language where the word Nazara, or anything like it, means truth is today known. Schneemelcher's edition passes this comment by without a footnote.

Usage


In the New American Standard Bible
New American Standard Bible
The New American Standard Bible , also informally called New American Standard Version , is an English translation of the Bible....

 translation, Jesus is called the Nazarene in ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; . According to , Paul of Tarsus
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

 was apprehended and accused by the attorney of the Jerusalem High Priest Ananias and Pharisaic Jews of being "a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes".

Matthew


Matthew consistently uses the variant "Nazorean." A link between Nazorean and Nazareth is found in Matthew:
The passage presents difficulties: (1) no prophecy is known in Jewish scripture, "He shall be called a Nazorean"; (2) "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. 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. Matthew's phrase "spoken through the prophets" may suggest that these passages are being referred to collectively. In contrast, the phrase "through the prophet," used a few verses above the Nazorean prophecy, refers to a specific Old Testament passage.

An alternative view suggests that a passage in the Book of Judges
Book of Judges
The Book of Judges is the seventh book of the Hebrew bible and the Christian Old Testament. Its title describes its contents: it contains the history of Biblical judges, divinely inspired prophets whose direct knowledge of Yahweh allows them to act as decision-makers for the Israelites, as...

 which refers to Samson
Samson
Samson, Shimshon ; Shamshoun or Sampson is the third to last of the Judges of the ancient Israelites mentioned in the Tanakh ....

 as a Nazirite is the source for Matthew's prophecy. "Nazorite" is only one letter off from "Nazorean" in Greek. 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.

Mark


The Gospel of Mark
Gospel of Mark
The Gospel According to Mark , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Mark or simply Mark, is the second book of the New Testament. This canonical account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth is one of the three synoptic gospels. It was thought to be an epitome, which accounts for its place as the second...

, 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," whereas afterwards he is "the Nazarene," suggesting a transformation at the time of baptism. In a similar fashion, 2nd century messianic claimant Simon bar Kokhba
Simon bar Kokhba
Simon bar Kokhba was the Jewish leader of what is known as the Bar Kokhba revolt against the Roman Empire in 132 CE, establishing an independent Jewish state of Israel which he ruled for three years as Nasi...

 (Aramaic for "Simon, son of a star"), changed his name from Simon bar Kosiba to add a reference to the Star Prophecy
Star Prophecy
The "Star Prophecy" is a Messianic reading applied by radical Jews and early Christians to a text from the Book of Numbers 24:17:...

.

New Testament apocrypha and gnostic writings


The Gospel of Philip
Gospel of Philip
The Gospel of Philip is one of the Gnostic Gospels, a text of New Testament apocrypha, dating back to around the third century but lost to modern researchers until an Egyptian peasant rediscovered it by accident, buried in a cave near Nag Hammadi, in 1945...

, a 3rd century Gnostic work, claims that the word "Nazarene" signifies "the truth":
"Gnostic" is Greek for "knowledge", as the Gnostics claimed to have hidden knowledge concerning the religions of others.

Historicity of the town Nazareth


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, 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. The earliest known reference to Nazareth outside the New Testament and as a contemporary town is by Julius Africanus
Julius Africanus
Julius Africanus was a celebrated orator in the reign of Nero, and seems to have been the son of the Julius Africanus, of the Gallic state of the Santoni, who was condemned by Tiberius in 32 AD. Quintilian, who had heard Julius Africanus, spoke of him and Domitius Afer as the best orators of their...

, who wrote around AD 200. 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. This process would assign Nazareth as a hometown.

In the Gospel of Luke
Gospel of Luke
The Gospel According to Luke , commonly shortened to the Gospel of Luke or simply Luke, is the third and longest of the four canonical Gospels. This synoptic gospel is an account of the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It details his story from the events of his birth to his Ascension.The...

 and the Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

, Nazareth
Nazareth
Nazareth is the largest city in the North District of Israel. Known as "the Arab capital of Israel," the population is made up predominantly of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel...

 is described as the childhood
Childhood
Childhood is the age span ranging from birth to adolescence. In developmental psychology, childhood is divided up into the developmental stages of toddlerhood , early childhood , middle childhood , and adolescence .- Age ranges of childhood :The term childhood is non-specific and can imply a...

 home of Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

. Many scholars have questioned a link between "Nazareth" and the terms "Nazarene
Nazarene
Nazarene may refer to:* Nazarene , a title applied to Jesus of Nazareth* Nazarene , a sect of 4th century Christianity described by Epiphanius* Church of the Nazarene, modern Christian Pentecostal denomination...

" and "Nazoraean" on linguistic grounds, while some affirm the possibility of etymological relation "given the idiosyncrasies of Galilean Aramaic."

The issue of whether Nazarene is derived from Nazareth has been the subject of much scholarly conjecture since the 19th century. "Nazareth", in turn, may be derived from either na·tsar, נָצַר, meaning "to watch," "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, notsri, to watch]" (Merrill, Selah
Selah Merrill
Selah Merrill, was an American Congregationalist clergyman, an educator, archaeologist of the American Palestine Exploration Society, and American diplomat.-Early life:...

, (1881) Galilee in the Time of Christ, p. 116. or from ne·tser, נֵ֫צֶר, meaning branch.

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. This process would assign Nazareth as a hometown. At one point, Mark states the home of Jesus was in Capernaum
Capernaum
Capernaum was a fishing village in the time of the Hasmoneans. Located on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee. It had a population of about 1,500. Archaeological excavations have revealed two ancient synagogues built one over the other...

, possibly the remnant of an older tradition that is otherwise lost.

Greek spelling variants, and inflected forms


The numbers in parenthesis are from Strong's Concordance
Strong's Concordance
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, generally known as Strong's Concordance, is a concordance of the King James Bible that was constructed under the direction of Dr. James Strong and first published in 1890. Dr. Strong was Professor of exegetical theology at Drew Theological Seminary at...

.

Nazarene, "of Nazareth," with case declensions


Adjective (3479)
  • Nominative singular Nazarēnos (Ναζαρηνός)
  • Accusative singular Nazarēnon (Ναζαρηνὸν)
  • Genitive singular Nazarēnou (Ναζαρηνοῦ) ,
  • Vocative singular Nazarēne! (Ναζαρηνέ) ,

Nazorean, "of Nazareth," with case declension


Adjective, or Masculine noun (3480)
  • Nominative singular Nazōraios (Ναζωραῖος) , , ,
  • Accusative singular Nazōraion (Ναζωραῖον) , ,
  • Genitive singular Nazōraiou (Ναζωραίου) , , ,
  • Genitive plural ("of the Nazarenes") Nazōraiōn (Ναζωραίων)

Nazareth, 3 spellings


Place name, Proper noun (3478) - these forms are undeclinable
Undeclinable
Undeclinable was a Dutch punk rock band.- Overview :They were formerly named Undeclinable Ambuscade, under which they released 3 full length albums worldwide , and two prior records available only in Europe.Undeclinable Ambuscade toured supporting each major album, playing in multiple European...

.
  • Nazareth (Ναζαρέθ) , , , , ,
  • Nazara (Ναζαρα) ,
  • Nazaret (Ναζαρὲτ) , , ,


"Nazarenes" - a term for the Early Christians


The first confirmed use of "Nazarenes" (in Greek Nazoraioi
Nazarene (sect)
The Nazarene sect is used in two contexts:* Firstly of the New Testament early church where in Acts 24:5 Paul is accused before Felix at Caesarea by Tertullus of being "a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes."...

) occurs from Tertullus
Tertullus
In the Bible, Tertullus was a lawyer, who was employed by the Jews to state their case against Paul in the presence of Felix ....

 before Antonius Felix
Antonius Felix
Marcus Antonius Felix was the Roman procurator of Iudaea Province 52-58, in succession to Ventidius Cumanus.- Life :...

. 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").

"Nazarenes" for Christians in Greek


In Acts, Paul of Tarsus
Paul of Tarsus
Paul the Apostle , also known as Saul of Tarsus, is described in the Christian New Testament as one of the most influential early Christian missionaries, with the writings ascribed to him by the church forming a considerable portion of the New Testament...

 is called, "a ringleader of the sect of the Nazoreans," 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
Nazareth
Nazareth is the largest city in the North District of Israel. Known as "the Arab capital of Israel," the population is made up predominantly of Palestinian Arab citizens of Israel...

 Christ was called a Nazoraean, and that in earlier centuries Christians, were once called Nazarenes. 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
Tertullus
In the Bible, Tertullus was a lawyer, who was employed by the Jews to state their case against Paul in the presence of Felix ....

 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
Antioch
Antioch on the Orontes was an ancient city on the eastern side of the Orontes River. It is near the modern city of Antakya, Turkey.Founded near the end of the 4th century BC by Seleucus I Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals, Antioch eventually rivaled Alexandria as the chief city of the...

." (Acts 11:26), and is acknowledged in 1 Peter (4:16). Later Tertullian, Jerome, Origin and Eusebius note that the Jews call Christians "Nazarenes."

"Nazarenes" for Christians in Aramaic and Syriac


The terms "Nazarenes" and "of Nazareth" are both nasraya (ܕܢܨܪܝܐ) in Syrian Aramaic, while Nasrat (ܢܨܪܬ ) is used for Nazareth. This usage may explain transmission of the name Nasorean as the name of the Mandaeans leaving Jerusalem for Iraq in the Haran Gawaita
Haran Gawaita
The Haran Gawaita or Inner Haran is a Mandaean text which purports to tell the history of the Mandaeans and their arrival in Iraq as Nasoreans from Jerusalem.-Content:...

 of the Mandaeans.

"Nazarenes" as Christians in Arabic literature


The term "Nazarene" was adopted into the Arabic language
Arabic language
Arabic is a name applied to the descendants of the Classical Arabic language of the 6th century AD, used most prominently in the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book...

 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
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

 when referring to them. For example, Surat Al-Baqara
Al-Baqara
Sura al-Baqarah is the second and longest chapter of the Qur'an. It is a Medinan sura and comprises 286 verses, including the single longest verse in the Qur'an...

 (Verse No. 113) says:
Those scholars who do not accept that the Qur'an has any loan words, have asserted that the word Naṣaara has its origin in the Arabic verb naṣr which means to bring victory pointing to Surat As-Saff
As-Saff
Surat As-Saff is the 61st sura of the Qur'an with 14 ayat.-See also:...

 (Arabic: سورة الصف‎, "The Ranks, Battle Array") the 61st chapter of the Quran for evidence.

"Nazarenes" as Christians in Hebrew literature


In rabbinical and contemporary Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

, the term "Notzrim" (plural) or singular Notzri" (נוצרי) is the general official term for "Christians" and "Christian," though many Christians prefer Meshiykiyyim (משיחיים) "Messianics", as found in most Hebrew New Testament translations
Bible translations into Hebrew
-Hebrew Bible:The Hebrew Bible is almost entirely in Hebrew. The few sections that are in Aramaic are in a form of Biblical Aramaic and in square-script which are effectively intelligible to Hebrew readers and do not require translation...

.

Notzri "Nazarene," plural Notzrim , "Nazarenes", in Rabbinic and modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew , also known as Israeli Hebrew or Modern Israeli Hebrew, is the language spoken in Israel and in some Jewish communities worldwide, from the early 20th century to the present....

 is the standard term for "Christian" and "Christians". An alternative term, used to translate the Greek Christianoi in many translations of the New Testament into Hebrew
Bible translations into Hebrew
-Hebrew Bible:The Hebrew Bible is almost entirely in Hebrew. The few sections that are in Aramaic are in a form of Biblical Aramaic and in square-script which are effectively intelligible to Hebrew readers and do not require translation...

, and by some churches, is Meshiykhiyyim "Messianics" .

"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
Jerusalem Talmud
The Jerusalem Talmud, talmud meaning "instruction", "learning", , is a collection of Rabbinic notes on the 2nd-century Mishnah which was compiled in the Land of Israel during the 4th-5th century. The voluminous text is also known as the Palestinian Talmud or Talmud de-Eretz Yisrael...

. Notzrim are not mentioned in older printed editions of the Talmud due to Christian censorship of Jewish presses. Notzrim are clearly mentioned in Avodah Zarah 6a, Ta'anit 27b, and may be reconstructed in other texts such as Gittin 57a.
  • Avodah Zarah
    Avodah Zarah
    Avodah Zarah is the name of a tractate in the Talmud, located in Nezikin, the fourth Order of the Talmud dealing with damages...

     ("foreign worship") 6a: "The Nazarene day, according to the words of R. Ishmael, is forbidden for ever"
  • 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) proposed that the passage in Gittin ("Documents") 57a, which is one of the most controversial possible references to Jesus in the Talmud
Jesus in the Talmud
The Talmud contains passages that some scholars have concluded are references to Christian traditions about Jesus.The history of textual transmission of these passages is complex and scholars are not agreed concerning which passages are original, and which were added later or removed later in...

, may also have included reference to "Yesu ha Notzri" warning his followers, the "Notzrim", of his and their fate.

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

There are no Tannaitic references to "Notzrim" and few from the Amoraic period. References by Tannaim
Tannaim
The Tannaim were the Rabbinic sages whose views are recorded in the Mishnah, from approximately 70-200 CE. The period of the Tannaim, also referred to as the Mishnaic period, lasted about 130 years...

 (70-200 CE) and Amoraim (230-500 CE) to "Minim
Minim
Minim may refer to:* Minim , a note length, another name for a half note * MINIM , an industrial rock band from Spain* Minim , an amount of fluid...

" are much more common, leading some, such as R. Travers Herford
R. Travers Herford
R. Travers Herford was a British Unitarian minister and scholar of rabbinical literature.He was the grandson of John Gooch Robberds and brother of Professor C. H. Herford, of Manchester University. Herford was educated at Owens College, Manchester, and Manchester New College, London . Then as a...

 (1903), to conclude that Minim in Talmud and Midrash generally refers to Jewish Christians.
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
Tosefta
The Tosefta is a compilation of the Jewish oral law from the period of the Mishnah.-Overview:...

. 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. The Jerusalem Talmud contains other coded references to Jesus such as "Jesus ben Pantera," while the references using the term notzri are restricted to the Babylon Talmud. (See main article Jesus in the Talmud
Jesus in the Talmud
The Talmud contains passages that some scholars have concluded are references to Christian traditions about Jesus.The history of textual transmission of these passages is complex and scholars are not agreed concerning which passages are original, and which were added later or removed later in...

 for further discussion).

Birkat haMinim, "Curse on the Heretics"



Two fragments of the Birkat haMinim
Birkat haMinim
The Birkat ha-Minim, , is a Jewish prayer of blessing on heretics in general, and sometimes Christians, though in this context "blessing" may also be a euphemism for a curse....

 ("Curse on the heretics") in copies of the Amidah
Amidah
The Amidah , also called the Shmoneh Esreh , is the central prayer of the Jewish liturgy. This prayer, among others, is found in the siddur, the traditional Jewish prayer book...

 found in the Cairo Geniza
Cairo Geniza
The Cairo Geniza is a collection of almost 280,000 Jewish manuscript fragments found in the Genizah or storeroom of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fustat, presently Old Cairo, Egypt. Some additional fragments were found in the Basatin cemetery east of Old Cairo, and the collection includes a number of...

 include notzrim in the malediction
Malediction
Malediction is any expressed wish that some form of adversity or unhappiness will befall another person or persons, a magical phrase or word uttered with the intention of bringing about evilMalediction may also refer to:...

 against minim.
Robert Herford
R. Travers Herford
R. Travers Herford was a British Unitarian minister and scholar of rabbinical literature.He was the grandson of John Gooch Robberds and brother of Professor C. H. Herford, of Manchester University. Herford was educated at Owens College, Manchester, and Manchester New College, London . Then as a...

 (1903) concluded that minim in the Talmud and Midrash
Midrash
The Hebrew term Midrash is a homiletic method of biblical exegesis. The term also refers to the whole compilation of homiletic teachings on the Bible....

 generally refers to Jewish Christians
Jewish Christians
Jewish Christians is a term which appears in historical texts contrasting Christians of Jewish origin with Gentile Christians, both in discussion of the New Testament church and the second and following centuries....

.

Toledot Yeshu, "History of Jesus"



The early medieval rabbinical text Toledoth Yeshu (600-800) is a polemical account of the origins of Christianity which connects the "notzrim" (Nazarenes) to the "netzarim" ("watchmen" Jeremiah 31:16) of Samaria. The Toledot Yeshu identifies the leader of the "notzrim" during the reign of Alexander Jannaeus
Alexander Jannaeus
Alexander Jannaeus was king of Judea from 103 BC to 76 BC. The son of John Hyrcanus, he inherited the throne from his brother Aristobulus I, and appears to have married his brother's widow, Shlomtzion or "Shelomit", also known as Salome Alexandra, according to the Biblical law of Yibbum...

 as a rebellious student mentioned in the Baraitas (traditions outside the Mishnah) as "Yeshu ha-Notzri
Yeshu
Yeshu is the name of an individual or individuals mentioned in Rabbinic literature. The oldest works in which references to Yeshu occur are the Tosefta and the Talmud, although some scholars consider the references to Yeshu to be post-Talmudic additions....

". This is generally seen as a continuation of references to Jesus in the Talmud
Jesus in the Talmud
The Talmud contains passages that some scholars have concluded are references to Christian traditions about Jesus.The history of textual transmission of these passages is complex and scholars are not agreed concerning which passages are original, and which were added later or removed later in...

 although the identification has been contested, as Yeshu ha-Notzri is depicted as living circa 100 BCE. According to the Toledot Yeshu the Notzrim flourished during the reign of the Hasmonean
Hasmonean
The Hasmonean dynasty , was the ruling dynasty of Judea and surrounding regions during classical antiquity. Between c. 140 and c. 116 BCE, the dynasty ruled semi-autonomously from the Seleucids in the region of Judea...

 queen Alexandra Helene Salome
Salome Alexandra
Salome Alexandra or Alexandra of Jerusalem , was the only Jewish regnant queen, with the exception of her own husband's mother whom he had prevented from ruling as his dying father had wished, and of the much earlier usurper Athaliah...

 among Hellenized supporters of Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

 in Judea
Judea
Judea or Judæa was the name of the mountainous southern part of the historic Land of Israel from the 8th century BCE to the 2nd century CE, when Roman Judea was renamed Syria Palaestina following the Jewish Bar Kokhba revolt.-Etymology:The...

.

"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
Hasdai Crescas
Hasdai ben Judah Crescas was a Jewish philosopher and a renowned halakhist...

, one of the most influential Jewish philosophers in the last years of Muslim rule in Spain, wrote a refutation of Christian principles in Catalan which survives as Sefer Bittul 'Iqqarei ha-Notzrim (Refutation of Christian Principles).

Modern Hebrew usage


In Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew
Modern Hebrew , also known as Israeli Hebrew or Modern Israeli Hebrew, is the language spoken in Israel and in some Jewish communities worldwide, from the early 20th century to the present....

, the word "Notzrim" (נוצרים) is the standard modern word for Christians, but Meshiykhiyyim is used by many Christians of themselves, as in the BFBS New Testament of Franz Delitzsch
Franz Delitzsch
Franz Delitzsch was a German Lutheran theologian and Hebraist. Born in Leipzig, he held the professorship of theology at the University of Rostock from 1846 to 1850, at the University of Erlangen until 1867, and after that at the University of Leipzig until his death...

; 1 Peter 4:16 "Yet if any suffer as ha-Meshiykhiyyim , let them not be ashamed, but let them glorify God in that name." In the Hebrew New Testament Tertullus
Tertullus
In the Bible, Tertullus was a lawyer, who was employed by the Jews to state their case against Paul in the presence of Felix ....

' use of "Nazarenes" (Acts 24:5) is translated "Notzrim", and "Jesus of Nazareth" is translated "Yeshu ha Notzri".

Pliny and the Nazerini (1st century BCE)


Pliny the Elder
Pliny the Elder
Gaius Plinius Secundus , better known as Pliny the Elder, was a Roman author, naturalist, and natural philosopher, as well as naval and army commander of the early Roman Empire, and personal friend of the emperor Vespasian...

 mentioned a people called the "Nazerini" in his Historia Naturalis (Book V,22). Bernard Duborg (1987) connects Pliny's Nazerini with early Christians, and Dubourg dates Pliny's source between 30 and 20 BCE and, accounting for the lapse of time required for the installation in Syria of a sect born in Israel/Judea, suggests the presence of a Nasoraean current around 50 BCE. Pliny the Elder indicates 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 Bizarrely, 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
Epiphanius of Salamis
Epiphanius of Salamis was bishop of Salamis at the end of the 4th century. He is considered a saint and a Church Father by both the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches. He gained a reputation as a strong defender of orthodoxy...

, Philastrius
Philastrius
Saint Philastrius Bishop of Brescia, was one of the bishops present at a synod held in Aquileia in 381. St. Augustine met him at Milan about 383, or perhaps a little later . He composed a catalogue of heresies about 384. He died before 397.Among the writings of St...

, and Pseudo-Tertullian
Pseudo-Tertullian
Pseudo-Tertullian is the scholarly name for the unknown author of Adversus Omnes Haereses, an appendix to the work De praescriptionem haereticorum of Tertullian...

 may all draw in part from the same lost anti-heretical works of Hippolytus of Rome, mentioned as the Syntagma by Photius, and Against all Heresies by Origen
Origen
Origen , or Origen Adamantius, 184/5–253/4, was an early Christian Alexandrian scholar and theologian, and one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. As early as the fourth century, his orthodoxy was suspect, in part because he believed in the pre-existence of souls...

 and Jerome
Jerome
Saint Jerome was a Roman Christian priest, confessor, theologian and historian, and who became a Doctor of the Church. He was the son of Eusebius, of the city of Stridon, which was on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia...

.

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. According to the testimony of Epiphanius against the 4th century Nazarenes
Nazarene (sect)
The Nazarene sect is used in two contexts:* Firstly of the New Testament early church where in Acts 24:5 Paul is accused before Felix at Caesarea by Tertullus of being "a ringleader of the sect of the 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
Panarion
In early Christian heresiology, the Panarion , to which 16th-century Latin translations gave the name Adversus Haereses , is the most important of the works of Epiphanius of Salamis...

, 29.6). The sect was apparently centered in the areas of Coele-Syria
Coele-Syria
Coele-Syria , or Cœle-Syria or Celesyria, traditionally given the meaning 'hollow' Syria, was the region of southern Syria disputed between the Seleucid dynasty and the Ptolemaic dynasty. Rather than limiting the Greek term to the Beqaa Valley of Lebanon, it is often used to cover the entire area...

, Galilee
Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

 and Samaria
Samaria
Samaria, or the Shomron is a term used for a mountainous region roughly corresponding to the northern part of the West Bank.- Etymology :...

, essentially corresponding to the long-defunct Kingdom of Israel. According to Epiphanius they rejected temple sacrifice
Korban
The term offering as found in the Hebrew Bible in relation to the worship of Ancient Israel is mainly represented by the Hebrew noun korban whether for an animal or other offering...

 and the Law of Moses
Law of Moses
The Law of Moses is a term first found in Joshua 8:31-32 where Joshua writes the words of "the Law of Moses" on the altar at Mount Ebal. The text continues "And afterward he read all the words of the law, the blessings and cursings, according to all that is written in the book of the law."...

, but adhered to other Jewish practices. They are described as being vegetarian. According to him they were Jews only by nationality who lived in Gilead
Gilead
In the Bible "Gilead" means hill of testimony or mound of witness, , a mountainous region east of the Jordan River, situated in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It is also referred to by the Aramaic name Yegar-Sahadutha, which carries the same meaning as the Hebrew . From its mountainous character...

, Basham, and the Transjordan
Transjordan
The Emirate of Transjordan was a former Ottoman territory in the Southern Levant that was part of the British Mandate of Palestine...

. They revered Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

 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
Wilhelm Bousset
Wilhelm Bousset was a German theologian and New Testament scholar. He was of Huguenot ancestry and a native of Lübeck....

, 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.

Mandaeans



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."...

Theories on the origins of the Mandaeans have varied widely. During the 19th century Wilhelm Bousset
Wilhelm Bousset
Wilhelm Bousset was a German theologian and New Testament scholar. He was of Huguenot ancestry and a native of Lübeck....

, Richard Reitzenstein
Richard August Reitzenstein
Richard August Reitzenstein was a German classical philologist and scholar of Ancient Greek religion, hermetism and Gnosticism. He is described by Kurt Rudolph as “one of the most stimulating Gnostic scholars”...

 and Rudolf Bultmann
Rudolf Bultmann
Rudolf Karl Bultmann was a German theologian of Lutheran background, who was for three decades professor of New Testament studies at the University of Marburg...

 argued that the Mandaeans were pre-Christian, as a parallel of Bultmann's theory that Gnosticism predated the Gospel of John. 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. They claim John the Baptist
John the Baptist
John the Baptist was an itinerant preacher and a major religious figure mentioned in the Canonical gospels. He is described in the Gospel of Luke as a relative of Jesus, who led a movement of baptism at the Jordan River...

 as a member (and onetime leader) of their sect; the River Jordan is a central feature of their doctrine of baptism
Baptism
In Christianity, baptism is for the majority the rite of admission , almost invariably with the use of water, into the Christian Church generally and also membership of a particular church tradition...

. However, in the 1960s the position of scholars of Mandaeism settled on an early Jerusalem, but not pre-Christian, origin.

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.