Bible study time! Today we’re going to look at two passages from the New Testament which talk about the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. Let’s begin:
“And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and as was His custom, He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.”
And the second passage is also from the book of Luke:
“… and they got up and drove Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff.”
Let’s analyse these two passages, this time from an archaeological perspective. The first passage describes Jesus going into the synagogue at Nazareth. Hold on I hear you say, there has never been a synagogue in Nazareth! You are quite correct, my mistake. Excavation of the site shows that the only structure ever found in Nazareth was a well. But how could Jesus go into a synagogue when there was… Um, let’s move on.
The second passage describes how all of the people who were in the synagogue were outraged and drove Jesus out of the city, leading him up to the brow of the hill upon which the city had been built so that they could throw him off a cliff. But, there is no hill in Nazareth which is tall enough to have a cliff face! Uh, oh, maybe I should have picked a different set of scriptures. Because there is not a hill with a cliff face near the Nazareth township, there cannot possibly have been a brow of a hill either. Geological research demonstrates that Nazareth is located in a valley with small undulating hills, there is not now, nor has there ever been, a hill with a cliff in the town. The Scripture also says that Nazareth was built upon a hill or mountain, depending upon the translation. This is clearly untrue as the city, which was not built until well after the time of Jesus, is located in a valley.
So what does this mean? Well, it means that the New Testament is incorrect. Not only is it geographically incorrect, but it is also historically incorrect. The details of the story reveal that the story in fact never happened. Of key significance to the story is the fact that the citizens of Nazareth attempted to throw Jesus off an imaginary cliff that could not possibly have existed. Furthermore, it suggests that Jesus’ ministry began in a synagogue that also never existed. This is not the kind of omission that we would expect to find from a divine, all-powerful and all-knowing deity. It is however the kind of error that we would expect to find in a myth.
Archaeological research demonstrates that the village of Nazareth did not come into existence until 70 CE at the earliest, and more likely sometime in the early second century. Interestingly, this was the same period in which the canonical gospels were being edited.
Another issue arises around Nazareth in regards to Matthew 2:23 which states:
“… and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
The problem is that no such prophetic utterance exists in the Jewish scriptures. This passage is almost certainly a late addition which came about to harmonise with the story being spun in the editing of the Gospels. The invention of Nazareth invalidates a central component of the Christian tradition, and throws light upon the questionable mythology of Christianity.