Glossary of Terms



Young People's Bible Dictionary

by Barbara Smith (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1965)

Nazareth. N.T. village in the hills of Galilee, eighty-eight miles north of Jerusalem. Matt. 2:23; 26:71; Mark 1:24; Luke 4:16-30; 24:19; John 1:46; 19:19; Acts 3:6.

Oxford Dictionary of the Bible

by W.R.F. Browning (NY: Oxford University Press, 1996)

Nazareth. A town in S. Galilee approximately half-way between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean not mentioned in OT but described as the residence of Joseph and Mary (Luke 1:26 f.) and so of Jesus (Luke 2:4; 4:16). Excavations in 1955 revealed that the town was inhabited before the Christian era, and in 1961 an inscription found in Caesarea mentions Nazareth. It was a satellite town of Sepphoris, 6.5 km. (4 miles) away, and had a population when Jesus lived there of about 500. It was assumed in Judaea that 'nothing good' (John 1:46) could possibly come out of the Graeco-Jewish area of Galilee.

Harper’s Bible Dictionary

edited by Paul J. Achtemier (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1985)

Nazareth, the place from which Jesus’ mother came (Luke 1:26) or the place in which he grew up (Matt. 13:54; Luke 4:16; Luke 2:4, 51; Matt. 2:23). Nazareth was an insignificant agricultural village not far from a major trade route to Egypt, the Via Maris. It is not mentioned in the ot, Josephus, or rabbinic writings. Not surprisingly, Jesus’ Nazareth origins are held up to scorn by those skeptical of his mission (John 1:46).

A Hebrew inscription found at Caesarea lists Nazareth as one of the villages in which the priestly divisions (cf. Luke 1:8-9) were resident after the Jewish revolt. Some scholars think that this notice attests to the piety attributed to Nazareth, which has not produced any remains with pagan symbolism.

The village appears to have occupied 40,000 square meters and to have had a population of 1,600 to 2,000 persons in Jesus’ time. The major settlement in the area appears to have occurred in the second century b.c. No layout of the village or its houses has been discovered, although the typical dwelling would probably have consisted of a small group of rooms around a central courtyard, and some houses may have had a second story.

According to legend, there was a Jewish-Christian community in Nazareth during the second and third centuries a.d. However, the early pilgrims were not much interested in Nazareth. In the sixth century a.d. legends about Mary sparked interest in the site, where one now finds the Church of the Annunciation and a well designated as ‘Mary’s Well or Fountain.’


Topical index of terms
Edited for by Robert Nguyen Cramer
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