Did Nazareth even exist in Jesus’ day? Or was it invented by the same ancient people who invented the man Jesus – a non-existent home for a non-existent person? So claim many of the “mythicists” I began to discuss in my previous post. Here I continue on the theme, as discussed in my book Did Jesus Exist?


G. A. Wells advances a different argument to much the same end. In his view the key to understanding the non-existence of Nazareth is in the four occasions in which Mark indicates that Jesus was a “Nazarene” (1:24; 10:47; 14:67; 16:6). According to Wells Mark misunderstood what this meant. What it originally meant was that Jesus belonged to a pre-Christian Jewish sect called the “Nazarenes” who were similar to figures from the Old Testament (like strong-man Samson) called Nazirites who took vows to be specially set apart for God (they couldn’t touch corpses, drink wine, or cut their hair). Mark didn’t know this, though, and wrongly assumed that the term Nazarene must have indicated Jesus’ place of origin, and so made up “Nazareth” as his hometown. [1]

Once again one looks in vain for any evidence to support this view, let alone clear logic: why would Mark invent a town that didn’t exist to explain how Jesus could be a Nazarene, when what the term originally meant was that he was a Nazirite? Moreover, Mark must have known the Old Testament. He does quote it on a number of occasions. Why wouldn’t he know what a Nazirite was? And if the sectarians that Jesus associated with were Nazirites, why did they call themselves, instead, Nazarenes (which is not etymologically related). Moreover, it should be stressed that there are multiple traditions about Nazareth (Mark, M, L, John). It was not

Unlock 4,000+ Articles Like This!

Get access to Dr. Ehrman's library of 4,000+ articles plus five new articles per week about the New Testament and early Christianity. It costs as little as $2.99/mth and every cent goes to charity!

Learn More!