Did Nazareth exist at the time of Jesus?


A common argument by the Jesus mythicist is that Nazareth, the hometown of Jesus, did not exist at the time of Jesus. If, argues the mythicist, this is the case then how could Jesus exist if not even his hometown existed? Professor Bart Ehrman captures this, writing that “The logic of this argument, which is sometimes advanced with considerable vehemence and force, appears to be that if Christians made up Jesus’s hometown, they probably made him up as well.”

However, the mythicist’s argument quickly deflates when we consider that it has now become common knowledge that Nazareth did exist during the time of Jesus. Archeologist Yardena Alexandre explains that the Nazareth “discovery is of the utmost importance since it reveals for the very first time a house from the Jewish village of Nazareth and thereby sheds light on the way of life at the time of Jesus. The building that we found is small and modest and it is most likely typical of the dwellings in Nazareth in that period.”

However, let’s grant the mythicist his argument, that Nazareth did not existed at the time Jesus was alleged to walk the Earth. Now what? What can we really conclude from this? We can simply conclude that Nazareth did not exist. However, that has no bearing on whether Jesus existed, as Ehrman contends, “Again I reiterate the main point of my chapter: even if Jesus did not come from Nazareth, so what? The historicity of Jesus does not depend on whether Nazareth existed. In fact, it is not even related to the question. The existence (or rather, nonexistence) of Nazareth is another mythicist irrelevancy.”

And as per usual the mythicist is quick to use silence as an argument. But as this shows, the argument from silence loses power when new evidence undermines it. Just because Nazareth isn’t mentioned in extra-biblical sources it doesn’t go as far as to say that it did not exist. However, this considered, why then did the evidence for Nazareth take so long to come to light? Ehrman:

“No wonder this place was never mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, Josephus, or the Talmud. It was far too small, poor, and insignificant. Most people had never heard of it, and those who had heard didn’t care. Even though it existed, this is not the place someone would make up as the hometown of the messiah. Jesus really came from there, as attested in multiple sources.”

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