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Responding To Zindler

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Posted by Harvey on April 24, 2001 17:58:33 UTC

Hi John,

Okay, I'll respond to Zindler by quoting from his own essay (i.e., the real 'evidence' of his argument and not all the fluff). First, let's make it clear that Zindler is an *editor* or journalist. To my knowledge he doesn't have any archaeological background (neither do I and I'm assuming that neither do you). Another issue that is very disappointing is that the Nazareth farm find by Stephen Pfann (a well-known and respected archaeologist) was discovered by him in 1997. It is strange that Zindler never mentions it in his essay. In my view, this borders on intellectual dishonesty. Okay, with that off my chest, let me respond with my lay person knowledge (which shouldn't trouble you since Zindler is also a lay person when it comes to Levant archaeology):

>>>(None of the saintly forgers called Paul ever refer to "Jesus of Nazareth.")>Nazareth is not mentioned even once in the entire Old Testament, nor do any ancient historians or geographers mention it before the beginning of the fourth century.According to Luke's tale, Jesus' teaching riled everyone up because of its supposed blasphemy, and the natives were going to execute him for that awful crime. Instead of stoning him, the required penalty for blasphemy, verses 28-30 tell us the legally and culturally implausible story that "At these words, the whole congregation were infuriated. They leapt up, threw him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which it was built, meaning to hurl him over the edge. But we walked straight through them all, and went away." Although this is an obvious fairy tale, it does tell us that wherever Nazareth was located, it was on a hill and that the hill had a cliff high enough that a man falling off it would be killed. The town now called Nazareth, however, until just recently never occupied the top of a hill. Rather for a thousand years or more it has occupied a valley floor and the lower half of the hillside that bounds it on the northwest.>I'm not making this up, you know. We have written records to prove it. In 1336 Sir John Maudeville checked out the site where Jesus landed after jumping from the crowd. "and soone after he was founden at the fote of an other Mountayne therby where yet the prynte of his holy stappes are sene" -- Maundeville's very words. (Of course, these fossil footprints are at the foot of the mountain rather than on the top. But only a hopeless skeptic would think this a discrepancy.)> Moreover, archaeological excavations at present-day Nazareth -- even though carried out by Franciscan monks and priests who must always be aware of the tourist significance of the real estate owned by their order>>To be sure, the Franciscans have pointed to crockery, coins, and other artifacts excavated from beneath the various shrines at Nazareth as proof that the place was inhabited during the first centuries B.C.E. and C.E. But all these items are compatible with the idea that they were associated with burials, and most items are dated vaguely (deliberately, in my opinion) as from "the Roman period" -- to conjure up images of Pontius Pilate and the first century, even though the Roman period lasted into the fourth century C.E., and even I accept the possibility that the site was settled as early as the end of the second century.>To sum up the archaeological evidence from so-called Nazareth, no remains of actual buildings datable to the turn of the era have ever been uncovered, despite the immense amount of excavating and building that have taken place there during the last century. What have been found, in mind-boggling plenty, are cave tombs and grave sites. Until the site was settled some time after the expulsion of the Jews from Jerusalem in 135 C.E., our would-be holy city was a burial ground, a veritable city of the dead, or necropolis. In the first century, the major town of Japha was only a little over a mile away, and it is likely that its inhabitants found the natural caverns and grottoes of the Nazareth hill an ideal place to bury their dead.>>Thus the name Jesus of Nazareth originally was not a name at all, but rather a title meaning (The) Savior, (The) Branch. In Hebrew this would have been Yeshua Netser. The word Yeshua means 'savior,' and Netser means 'sprout,'
'shoot,' or 'branch' -- a reference to Isaiah 11:1, which was thought to predict a messiah (lit., 'anointed one') of the line of Jesse (King David's father): "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots..." (You've all heard by now of the Branch Davidians! They take their name from the same idea.)>As we have already seen, at the turn of the era, there was no place called Nazareth, and we do not know when the place now called by that name became so identified. As far as I can tell, the place presently called Nazareth received its name from an imaginative Branch Jessaean some time at the end of the second or early third century. At the turn of the era, however, Nazareth was as mythical as the Mary, Joseph, and Jesus family that was supposed to have lived there.

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