Did Bethlehem and Nazareth exist in Jesus’ day?

Nazareth house

Not so very long ago, many internet critics of christianity were pointing out that there was no archaeological evidence of settlements at Bethlehem and Nazareth in the first century. This demonstrates, they said, despite the fact that few scholars agreed with them, that these towns didn’t exist, and that therefore the Bible accounts are not historical.

But three years later the situation has changed.

Nazareth

Until a few years ago, the only archaeological evidence for Nazareth amounted to little more than the remains of a winepress, a few tombs and a few artefacts. However in December 2009, the Israel Antiquities Authority issued a press release announcing that a house in Nazareth (see photo above) had now been excavated and had been found to contain artefacts from the “early Roman period” (first and second centuries). The archaeologists also found a pit hewn out of stone with a concealed entrance, which they believe was constructed as protection during the Jewish revolt of 67 CE.

This was seen by the Authority and others (The Guardian and the Huffington Post) as conclusive evidence that Nazareth did indeed exist in the first century. Based on the number of tombs found previously, they conclude that it was a small hamlet of about 50 houses.

Those who believe Nazareth didn’t exist have adjusted to this evidence, and tend to denigrate it as “sensationalist” (Nazareth: the town that theology built), or argue that the evidence doesn’t relate to the exact period of Jesus’ life, but several decades later (nazarethmyth.info). Nevertheless, scholars, who generally didn’t doubt that Nazareth existed as a small village, have been reinforced in their conclusions.

Bethlehem

There was even less archaeological evidence for Bethlehem – virtually nothing before the fourth century – giving sceptics even more basis for their arguments that this showed the unreliability of the New Testament. But that has changed slightly in the past few weeks.

Bethlehem bulla

Recently the Israel Antiquities Authority announced that archaeologists working in the city of David area of Jerusalem had discovered a small (1.5 cm) ‘bulla’ (see photo), a piece of clay used to make an impression in wax, sealing a document so it couldn’t be altered. This small bulla apparently accompanied a delivery of goods to the king of Judah about 7 centuries BCE, and identifies that the shipment was despatched from Bethlehem.

This shows the existence of town named Bethlehem seven centuries before Jesus, the first independent corroboration of the Bible’s references to the town. This doesn’t prove it existed in Jesus’ day also, but if it was there 700 years before and 400 years afterwards, it suggests that it probably did indeed exist at the time of Jesus (see report in the Los Angeles Times).

Cautionary tales

Scholars say that only a very small fraction of the artefacts of the time have ever been discovered, and no-one knows what discoveries are yet to come. This makes perilous any argument that a place doesn’t exist based on the lack of finds, and most scholars are cautious about making such claims.

Photos from Israel Antiquities Authority

32 Comments

  1. Not a single shred of evidence from the ‘Nazareth’ discovery has been put forward for independant verification.
    Interesting that until this ‘find’ the only ‘evidence’ was from what Bagatti uncovered, and nothing he found could be attributed for certain to the time that Jesus was supposed to have existed.
    Furthermore, a Church spokeman is on record stating that until this discovery no scientific evidence for Nazareth existed.

  2. G’day Akhenaten, thanks for reading my blog.

    “Not a single shred of evidence from the ‘Nazareth’ discovery has been put forward for independant verification.”
    Are you suggesting this invalidates the evidence. or what? What would you be expecting should be done?

    “Interesting that until this ‘find’ the only ‘evidence’ was from what Bagatti uncovered, and nothing he found could be attributed for certain to the time that Jesus was supposed to have existed.”
    I’m not sure this is correct. In Surveys and Excavations at the Nazareth Village Farm (1997–2002): Final Report in the Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society 2007 Volume 25, there is this comment about Nazareth:

    [One author] “identified an ancient winepress associated with agricultural terraces in a small valley about 500 m from the site of ancient Nazareth. …. Potsherds found on the surface of the terraces dated, in particular, from what appeared to be the Early-to-Late Roman Period. It was concluded that these terraces and the wine press were connected with the nearby original town of ancient Nazareth, located just to the east. …. Surface pottery …. with the predominant forms deriving from the Early to Late Roman period.”

    The early Roman period was first and second century. So that is clear evidence of settlement before this present study, which simply confirms the earlier discoveries and makes a first century date almost certain.

  3. “Are you suggesting this invalidates the evidence. or what? What would you be expecting should be done?”

    Invalidates? No. But does it provide proof of the claims. No. Not at all.
    But a discovery of this claimed magnitude should have been subject to peer review. It was not, and all mention of the discovery was removed from the official website shortly after the single press release. The area was covered and built over so now, no independant verification is possible.

    I approach such issues with an attitude of: “If it be true then the truth will reveal itself.”
    You and other Christians, assume it IS true then look for anything to back up your belief.
    This is what faith is all about.
    And that does not require truth, merely belief and obededience.

    “The early Roman period was first and second century. So that is clear evidence of settlement before this present study, which simply confirms the earlier discoveries and makes a first century date almost certain.”
    You see how ambiguous this statement is? It leads the believer to assume that the Nazareth in the Bible was around during the time of the character of Jesus.

    What a leap of faith!
    And you did not indicate if you have read Rene Salm?
    I promise it will be an eye opener. Whether you agree with his point of view or not, his research is meticulous.

  4. “Invalidates? No. But does it provide proof of the claims. No. Not at all.
    But a discovery of this claimed magnitude should have been subject to peer review. It was not, and all mention of the discovery was removed from the official website shortly after the single press release. The area was covered and built over so now, no independant verification is possible.”

    The same is true for so many other finds in Levantine archeology – they are not publisheds. Nothing unusual there. Besides, outside a tiny lunatic internet fringe, few question the existence of Nazareth.

  5. “But a discovery of this claimed magnitude should have been subject to peer review.”
    How do you know it hasn’t been peer reviewed, and won’t? The site was visited by a number of archaeologists. And when the Nazareth farm excavation was completed, the final report appeared 5 years later – presumably because the finds had to be sorted, dated, considered, etc. I would guess the same will occur here.

    “I approach such issues with an attitude of: “If it be true then the truth will reveal itself.”
    You and other Christians, assume it IS true then look for anything to back up your belief.
    This is what faith is all about.”

    It is interesting you say this, because, as I show in my response to your comment on The Jesus myth wars heat up, I am basing my view on the consensus of scholars, and you are basing your criticism of that view on the writings of one non-scholar.

    Perhaps you can tell me why you conclude you are being factual and I am exercising faith?

    “You see how ambiguous this statement is? It leads the believer to assume that the Nazareth in the Bible was around during the time of the character of Jesus.”
    Archaeologist Yardenna Alexandre dated the house to before 67CE, for reasons given in the Israel Antiquities Authority report. There were houses in Nazareth within 40 years of Jesus’ life. How close do you think archaeology can get?

    “And you did not indicate if you have read Rene Salm?
    I promise it will be an eye opener. Whether you agree with his point of view or not, his research is meticulous.”

    You asked me that question elsewhere, and I answered it there. I have looked at his writings, and I thought they were far from meticulous, quite misleading and biased – and it seems most scholars agree. So the question remains, why are you basing all your views on a non-scholar with a pre-conceived opinion to try to support rather than the consensus of many respected and unbiased scholars?

  6. I am not basing “all your views on a non-scholar with a pre-conceived opinion to try to support rather than the consensus of many respected and unbiased scholars?”

    And the many respected and unbiased scholars are whom?
    You have listed less than a handful.
    And what evidence have you produced to suggest they are not biased? None, so far.
    In fact, on one of your posts,you quote The Bishop of Durham. Do you honestly consider NT Wright an unbiased scholar? Are you serious?

    be that as it may. The facts as they stand re Nazareth are:
    There is no evidence of continual habitation at the site.
    There is no mention of the name Nazareth in the Old Testament.
    Even Josephus fails to even acknowledge its existance and if it was the ‘city’ as claimed in Luke then he surely would have, considering the town of Japha is so near, which he does mention.
    Luke’s description is erroneous; and is at best a secondhand report. At worst he simply made it up.

    If one takes all available evidence into account then the Nazareth as described in the bible simply did not exist.

  7. G’day Akhenaten

    “I am not basing “all your views on a non-scholar with a pre-conceived opinion to try to support rather than the consensus of many respected and unbiased scholars?””
    I have asked you before, but may have missed your answer. Which scholars have you read on the Nazareth archaeology and the existence of Nazareth in the first century?

    “And the many respected and unbiased scholars are whom? You have listed less than a handful.”
    In my comment on The Jesus myth wars heat up, I quoted 8 scholars, some of them very respected ones, who accept that first century Nazareth existed – that took me about 15 minutes searching. You have quoted one non-scholar who thinks otherwise. How many more bona fide scholars do you need before you will accept that Salm is rightly not accepted by his peers (well they are not actually his peers because he has no real qualifications that I can find)? Tell me the number you want, and if it’s reasonable, I’ll dig them out.

    “And what evidence have you produced to suggest they are not biased? None, so far.”
    Akhenaten, this is getting desperate and a little nasty. The scholars I quote are mostly (if not all) at established universities or authorities, they have recognised qualifications, they publish in peer reviewed journals, etc. Are you suggesting they are biased, and your one non-scholar (who I cannot find in any peer reviewed publication) is not?? Are you actually saying that all those universities, all those peer reviewed journals, the whole academic system is corrupted and biased? And this includes the several scholars I quoted who are not christian believers as well as the ones who are?

    Please tell me what you are actually saying, so we can examine it.

    “If one takes all available evidence into account then the Nazareth as described in the bible simply did not exist.”
    All these are arguments from silence, and fail in the face of genuine archaeology that dates the house to pre 67 CE. You have to ignore the solid evidence to reach your conclusion.

  8. There has been no added evidence to have been conclusively verified as being from the time that the character of Jesus was supposed to have existed since Bagatti conducted his archaeological digs. None. Therefore, all the qualified experts that you like to throw up to discredit Salm have no more evidence to work with than he has.
    Also, I am unaware of any papers written by your tenured experts corroborating such evidence, either. None of the
    Carbon dating of the uncovered artifacts has proved anything re: dating Nazareth to the time of Jesus. In fact the evidence leans against rather than for.
    It is Bagatti’s interpretation of what he found that Salm disputed, on reasonable grounds too, I might add. And if you read his work,rather than just peruse those who might wish to vilify his findings, you will see this.

    Where is the peer reviewed evidence that corroborates the archaelogical claim that dates this house to pre 67ce. Please point me to a link, other than the original press release.

  9. Akhenaten, I have said before that I think this is ceasing to be a discussion and has become two people talking past each other. I find your position confusing and contradictory, so I wonder if you could clarify a few matters please:

    1. Have you or Rene Salm any qualifications relevant to the interpretation of archaeological sites in Israel, or any experience in excavating them? Do you think such qualifications or experience are helpful or necessary in drawing conclusions? Do you believe that peer review is a helpful, or even necessary process of determining conclusions?

    2. How many bona fide scholars would you need to contradict Salm’s conclusions before you will accept that he is mistaken, or is there no number who will make a difference to your current view?

    3. You have inferred that most scholars are ‘theologically’ biased. Is this your actual view? Does this include the several scholars I quoted who are not christian believers as well as the ones who are? Are you actually saying that all those universities, all those peer reviewed journals, the whole academic system is corrupted and biased?

    4. What artefacts from an allegedly first century Jewish house do you think should be carbon dated as you suggest?

    5. Do you accept the statement by Israeli archaeologist Yardenna Alexandre that: “Based on other excavations that I conducted in other villages in the region, this pit was probably hewn as part of the preparations by the Jews to protect themselves during the Great Revolt against the Romans in 67 CE”? How much closer to the date of Jesus’ life (approx 5 BCE – 30 CE) would the dating need to go before you would be willing to accept that Nazareth existed in Jesus’ day? What evidence do you have to suggest that it didn’t exist in the period 5 BCE – 30 CE, but was established between then and 67 CE?

    6. You mention that Nazareth is not mentioned by Josephus. How many settlements of its apparent size (300-500 people) existed in Galilee and Judea at the time, and how many of them are mentioned in Josephus?

    Thank you.

  10. 1. Have you or Rene Salm any qualifications relevant to the interpretation of archaeological sites in Israel, or any experience in excavating them? Me, No. Salm. I do not know.
    2. Do you think such qualifications or experience are helpful or necessary in drawing conclusions? Helpful, maybe. Necessary. No.
    3. Do you believe that peer review is a helpful, or even necessary process of determining conclusions? Yes, and Yes.
    4. How many bona fide scholars would you need to contradict Salm’s conclusions before you will accept that he is mistaken, or is there no number who will make a difference to your current view? He has not been shown to be mistaken. This is a fallacious statement. In fact, much of the core evidence he has questioned forced a 22 page amendment. Would you care to provide a list of all these bona fide scholars that have, in fact, contradicted Salm’s conclusions?
    5. You have inferred that most scholars are ‘theologically’ biased. Is this your actual view? Does this include the several scholars I quoted who are not Christian believers as well as the ones who are? Are you actually saying that all those universities, all those peer reviewed journals, the whole academic system is corrupted and biased? Every Christian scholar will inevitably show bias to some degree. Look at yourself, for instance? It is unavoidable otherwise they would not be Christian. The Christian academic system is not all corrupt; this would suggest every individual is complicit. I would certainly state that there are huge vested interests at stake and every archaeological investigation that had vested Christian interests will do its utmost to ensure whatever is reported does not compromise or overtly jeopardise the Christian standpoint.
    5. What artefacts from an allegedly first century Jewish house do you think should be carbon dated as you suggest? This is academic now isn’t it? The excavation site was quickly covered over (by a religious tourist venue) making further digging impossible.
    6. Do you accept the statement by Israeli archaeologist Yardenna Alexandre that: “Based on other excavations that I conducted in other villages in the region, this pit was probably hewn as part of the preparations by the Jews to protect themselves during the Great Revolt against the Romans in 67 CE”? Has her assertion been verified by any other archaeologists that have no vested interest in the dig? Not affiliated to the Church or the IAA.
    7. How much closer to the date of Jesus’ life (approx 5 BCE – 30 CE) would the dating need to go before you would be willing to accept that Nazareth existed in Jesus’ day? The irony is that the dates are, in fact, almost irrelevant, as the site does not conform to the biblical description, thus making the bible wrong or… (well you figure it out) and aside from the house (which no evidence has been put forward to corroborate a date) there is no evidence to suggest the current site of Nazareth existed at all until it was named by Christians.
    8. What evidence do you have to suggest that it didn’t exist in the period 5 BCE – 30 CE, but was established between then and 67 CE? I have no evidence at all as I am not an archaeologist. But then, no archaeologist has evidence to suggest it existed in the period 5BCE – 30 CE either. This is the whole point, isn’t it?
    8. You mention that Nazareth is not mentioned by Josephus. How many settlements of its apparent size (300-500 people) existed in Galilee and Judea at the time, and how many of them are mentioned in Josephus Where do arrive at the figure of 300-500 people? At one stage the figure was estimated in the thousands. Again, you are assuming Nazareth existed. So I would ask, what expert provided these numbers and based on what evidence was this figure arrived at?
    Thank you

  11. Thanks for your answers. They confirm that further discussion would be pointless. Discussion can only take place where there is some agreement on ground rules, and we have none.

    1. You think that your and Salm’s lack of study, knowledge, experience and ability in ancient languages and idiom, archaeological finds, documents, history, culture, etc, are no barrier to making judgments about the matters we are discussing. I don’t know how you can think that, but you do.

    2. You have alleged that thousands of scholars at hundreds of universities have “vested Christian interests” and are part of a “Christian academic system”, and are therefore not to be trusted. You apparently think this even of the many atheist, agnostic and Jewish scholars in the field, including the atheists & agnostics I quote most often (EP Sanders, M Grant & B Ehrman). It also includes a Jewish archaeologist working for the Jewish state. Yet, although you make much of the paucity of archaeological evidence, you offer no evidence for this huge conspiracy beyond the fact that the scholars’ conclusions are contrary to what you think. These are amazing, unsupported, allegations.

    3. You accuse christian scholars of having biases while assuming that you and Salm have none. This ignores the fact that many scholars are not christians (so why are they so ‘biased’ as to come to the same conclusions?) and assumes that the academic peer review system which you say you support has totally failed. You apparently see no inconsistency in this.

    4. You draw conclusions about whether Nazareth should be mentioned by Josephus but you don’t know how many similarly-sized villages there were in Galilee and Judea, not how many of them Josephus mentioned, so you have no basis for estimating the probability that Josephus would mention it. Again, you don’t see any inconsistency in drawing conclusions without data.

    I think contrary to you on those four basic questions (as well as many others). I believe there are enough checks and balances in the academic system and enough non-christan scholars, to keep it mostly fair and trustworthy. I think we must start from the views of scholars and then draw our own conclusions from them.

    So we have no common basis for any discussion, and I will therefore not proceed further. I thank you for your interest. At least your comments, especially your last set of answers, illustrate the points I was writing about. Best wishes.

  12. No problem. People treated Albright with similar respect and his conclusions were eventually shown to be flawed and biased.
    Your questions were somewhat loaded towards distilling the answer you were searching in the first place, ergo, any opinion or acamdemic submission from any qualified individual
    should automatically carry more weight than an amateur in a similar field.
    This is the type of blind acceptance that defines religion in the first place; which is what this is truly all about, is it not?
    It still does not change the fact that Salm’s challenge to (in this case primarily biblical acadamia) is valid; that they have not responded honestly to his challenge and that the questions pertaining to Nazareth remain unanswered.
    And now that Alexandra and the IAA have covered up the site will, for the forseeable future, remain so.
    That you choose to accept the obvious bias as presented by the representatives of your faith illustrates that your faith cannot withstand serious challenge; even if the challenge comes from an ‘unqualified’ amateur.
    There is a lot of weight to the phrase, Ignorance is bliss.
    May you remain in such a blissful state.

  13. Maybe this approach will prick your curiosity yto delve a little deeper?

    An issue that has not been addresed, is where did the notion of a city, town, or village named Nazareth come from?
    There is no mention of Nazareth in Jewish literature; Nazareth does not feature on the archaeological record until it becomes established as place of Christian pilgrimage.
    Origen knew of the gospel tale, but did not know where it was –yet he lived less than 50 kms away.
    So we are left with biblical references.
    And this leads us to the etymology of the word. One would think that as the gospel writers mention Nazareth they were aware of a town? This is not the case. They assumed that the word Nazarene referred to one who came from Nazareth.
    It didn’t; but referred to a sub-set of the Essenes.
    You can research the rest yourself, I’m sure?

  14. It is so unique how the unbelievers won’t ever be satisfied no matter what you tell them, show them, or screamed at. Jesus was so Godly whenever he would speak in parables and explain that those on the “outside” would not understand, see, or perceive, and would neither convert nor their sins be forgiven by Him speaking like that, Mark 4:11-12. Well, today, nothing has changed, when a house remains in a place like Nazareth, or human artifacts in a Bethlehem site, is more than enough for His followers, yet it remains a parable for those on the “outside” of Jesus, my Lord. Peace of Christ.

  15. You have not the good manners to provide a profile so I won’t dignify your silly comment with a detailed response.

  16. Akhenaten, you are welcome to post contrary opinions as much as you like, but please don’t descend to insult, or I will remove your post.

  17. Commentors who have no blog are little better than trolls.
    If you feel that offended, then delete away. ;Tis your blog. No problem this side, I assure you.

  18. […] A few months ago, I wrote about finds that establish, contrary to the views of some sceptics, that Nazareth did indeed exist in Jesus day – as a small agricultural village of (probably) just a few hundred inhabitants (Did Bethlehem and Nazareth exist in Jesus’ day?). […]

  19. What one chooses to believe does not have to be supported by facts, by the same token, what you believe does not have to be supported by facts. This was clearly demonstrated by a TV show done by Chris Matthews in Little Rock Arkansas, during Bill Clinton’s presidency, in which he admitted to his affairs, and yet many in the audience chose not to believe him.

  20. Hi Ivan, thanks for commenting. I agree with you that there is no compulsion to base belief on facts, but I would prefer to. What about you?

  21. The obvious fact is there is not enough evidence at the moment to say whether there was a Nazareth during Jesus’ time or not. I have one, of many, questions about Jesus being the Messiah and that is Jesus commenting about proof that he was the Messiah, as stated in Matthew 12:40, about like Jonah he would be in the ground for 3 days and 3 nights. No one knows for sure just how long he was buried but it was much shorter than 3 days and 3 nights. He failed his own prophecy and the Bible states too that any prophet failing a prophecy was a false prophet, which means he could not be a Messiah. Where in the Old Testament does it state that a Messiah would come and save humanity? What was the need; Original Sin is not referred to in the Old Testament and since it came before the New Testament wouldn’t it refer to all those things stated in the NT? Keeping the Sabbath, keeping the Laws, etc? God was very emphatic about there being no other Gods, about not changing his mind etc.

  22. Hi Wade, thanks for visiting and commenting. Unfortunately you misread the first bit – the scholars say there is indeed enough archaeological evidence to say Nazareth was a small village in Jesus’s day.

    Regarding your question about Matthew 12:40 – it would indeed be a problem for someone who thought the New Testament we read today was perfect and without any error, but that isn’t my view, nor that of many scholars. The first century Jews appeared to be very relaxed about prophecy, and often re-applied, re-interpreted or changed prophecies around to explain what they thought. If Matthew had seen this as a serious problem, I don’t suppose he would have recorded it. My guess is that Jesus was buried for parts of three separate days, and that was enough for Matthew. Besides, why get hung up on the detail when something so amazing as resurrection, and the prediction of resurrection is being discussed?

    I think the OT prophecies of the Messiah related to a new king in the line of David coming to restore the kingdom of Israel. We can see that as including saving humanity, but it is far bigger than that. I agree with you that original is not an OT concept (and as it is often expressed, perhaps not a NT concept either).

    I’d be interested to hear a little more of what you think about all that.

  23. I think you are somewhat missing the point of the critics. The evidence suggests that the site of nazareth was used in antiquity and was likely to be very lightly inhabited if at all during 30 BCE to 50 CE. In other words there *could* have been a tiny hamlet sited there. But it wasn’t a town, not as the notion of “town” is understood, until much later. The critics point out via examination roman and other sources that nazareth is not a known place name in that era, even by the people in charge of governing the area. Certainly the people in charge of governing are not incompetent enough to not know their jobs.

    Now that this is out of the way, we can move to the actual point. Assuming that jesus existed and was the well known miracle working and highly regarded superstar hero claimed in scriptures, nazareth ought to have been really really really well known to the governors; it ought to have been a booming town. And yet it doesn’t really appear in roman records until the 2nd century CE.

    Add to this the countless other odd details such as roman maps of the area not referencing the sea of galilee as such, geographic incongruities in the accounts given by the four gospels, and what you have looks like these were all written after the fact.

    I think that when you can mount an argument that doesn’t demolish straw men but instead speaks to what the critics are actually saying, people like me will be happy to give your view more leeway. Until then, your arguments here are very much in the vein of “god of the gaps” where you hide behind the gaps in knowledge rather than illuminate these gaps. And that ain’t scientific.

  24. Hi, thanks for visiting and commenting. I certainly have tried to engage with the points made by critics, but I’m happy to address the ones you raise.

    ” there *could* have been a tiny hamlet sited there. But it wasn’t a town, not as the notion of “town” is understood, until much later”

    The scholars I have read suggest that Nazareth was a hamlet or village, with population of maybe a few hundred. I don’t recall anyone claiming much larger than this, certainly not a large town.

    The evidence for this is quite good. Archaeology has found agricultural terraces and structures, tombs, and a house. In these locations they have found coins, pottery and a lamp, some of which date to the early Roman period (first century BCE and first century CE). The archaeologists also found a pit hewn out of stone with a concealed entrance, which they believe was constructed as protection during the Jewish revolt of 67 CE.

    This is evidence of a village around the time of Jesus, enough to convince most historians. The late Maurice Casey wrote: “there does not seem to be any serious doubt among competent investigators that some finds are of sufficiently early date …. which show that there was some sort of settlement …”

    “Assuming that jesus existed and was the well known miracle working and highly regarded superstar hero claimed in scriptures, nazareth ought to have been really really really well known to the governors; it ought to have been a booming town.”

    On what basis do you say this? Jesus was not a “highly regarded superstar” except among his followers, who were a small minority until several centuries later. And even if he was, why would that make Nazareth significant? It was a small village of little consequence.

    Can you explain why you think otherwise?

    “what you have looks like these were all written after the fact”

    Of course they were written after the fact. They could hardly have been written at the time. They were clearly based on eye-witness accounts and perhaps some written records, but not compiled until some time later. But I can’t see how this throws into doubt the existence of Nazareth. Can you explain this a little more also please?

  25. I’ve read through all this, and I really think Arkenaten nailed it with his comment “a discovery of this claimed magnitude should have been subject to peer review. It was not, and all mention of the discovery was removed from the official website shortly after the single press release. The area was covered and built over so now, no independant verification is possible.”

    Christians had their chance to make the site an unequivocal statement of fact, but instead buried their precious evidence. How convenient. The missing “empty tomb” is another nail in the coffin for xtians. Where is it? Everybody just forgot about it? No Jesus bones, so just another hole in the ground? Pfft!

  26. Hi Searchengineguy, thanks for visiting my blog and reading through this post and the discussion. But I wonder if you did any fact-checking before you commented. For I think there are a few pieces of information you may find interesting.

    1. The remains of two houses have been discovered in Nazareth. The first was investigated by archaeologists in the 19th century, but it isn’t true to say that it is impossible to verify the details, or that nothing has been submitted for peer review. For Ken Dark of Reading University began new excavations there in 2006, and published some of his results in 2012 in a reputable academic journal. I wrote this up a year ago (Nazareth – the evidence mounts), and you can find there links to this publication. Dark has recently written an article on the excavations in the Biblical Archaeological Review.

    2. A second house was excavated in 2009 by the Israel Antiquities Authority. I don’t think those excavations have been published in an academic journal, but the site was certainly not hastily covered up, as the photos in that reference show.

    3. None of this has anything to do with Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, as you seem to suggest, which took place in Jerusalem, which is about 120 km to the south.

    I can understand how it may have looked to you if you assumed that Arkenaten’s “facts” were correct, but I guess this shows we should check the latest facts, even if the person is a friend or even a relative!

    Thanks.

  27. It always amazes me how the ‘rational’ thinking ones, can so enthusiastically utilize negative evidence as an anchor for any argument, and once the evidence is found, they move onto another argument condensed around negative evidence. It started in the 1800’s with claims that the entire Biblical account was a fraud, simply because a city called Nineveh hadn’t yet been found in Assyria … or in the case of Greek mythology that Troy didn’t exist because it hadn’t been found … until of course, they were both found. Now the misotheists have moved onto Nazareth and Bethlehem?

    Has it occurred to these ‘rational’ thinking ones, that shepherd civilizations don’t actually leave much trace of their existence, much like the ancient Bedouins? Sure, stone building foundations are positive evidence, but I would posit that 99.99% of human civilization has left no recoverable trace of its presence.

    The Bible is a living document which was never buried in the desert requiring excavation, and it’s exemption from the historical record in favor of material evidence since the ‘rational’ ones have entered the fore (Thomas Paine’s ideological offspring), have done more damage to our understanding of human civilization than good; and for what? To feed their own biased existential doctrine that Man is the guardian of his own destiny (seemingly a destructive one for the intellectually honest of the Ubermensch).

    Discrediting the existence of Judean towns is now where they find solace that their own world view is correct? It must be really sad to spend so much of ones time trying to prove what one DOESN’T believe, as opposed to what one DOES believe. Dedicating ones existential dynamo to justifying arguments based around negative evidence in order to urinate up against the world view of someone else, is a pretty sad existence indeed. Building walls is far harder – and more important for civilization – than ‘digging them down’, as it is said.

    Keep building UnkleE … even in troubled times.

  28. Hi EWO, thanks for the encouragement. Yes, the argument about Nazareth always seems to me to be rather unimportant. Negative evidence doesn’t tell us much about so long ago, as you say. Plus the sceptics have to explain away significant positive evidence. I can’t see why they spend the time on it. It seems like they care less about evidence than they say they do.

  29. >>>I can’t see why they spend the time on it. It seems like they care less about evidence than they say they do.

    Now, I don’t want this reply to be taken as Catholic bashing or anything, but I have noticed – at least in Australia, my home country – that most of the vehement and activist atheist, antitheist, and misotheists, are from highly conservative Catholic backgrounds. Maybe this is because Catholics are the largest denomination of faith tradition claiming Christ as a foundation, but I am sure it is because of a particular reverse psychology that can be developed in children who are *forced* into denominational doctrinal beliefs by over zealous parents.

    Like I said, I’m not saying this through an aversion to Catholic teaching (I was not brought up Catholic), but merely because I have observed it in the top antitheist authors of an activist bent from my country; the top three who author books as their primary career choice are ex-Catholics, and I have noticed that they are usually almost totally silent on militant Islam or the beliefs of ‘secular’ Statist regimes from Fascist and Communist example (which have killed far more people in the last century than religious conflict has … conflict of course always being their main complaint against belief in God I have noticed).

    As such, I have come to the conclusion that many of these people are actually fighting their childhood upbringing in a Freudian manner, rather than objectively trying to be constructive in the spirit of logical discourse. Most of them probably would never admit this, because they probably have convinced themselves that their adult ‘rationalism’, is disconnected from their state of formative ‘nurture’.

    I believe it is important to observe upbringing, because it helps explain bias and obsessive behaviour in regards to proving the beliefs of another group to be incorrect, rather than constructing an existential identity for oneself. Some of these people seem solely obsessed with latching onto any theory – sometimes highly marginal – that can destabilize Judeo-Christian foundational beliefs.

    I’ve been studying the *positive evidence* from Hebraic surrounding cultures – material and written – which enforce the living historical document we call the Bible, for many years, and it is obvious to me that those who rely on new fads of sensationalized negative evidence, are fighting a losing battle since the 1800’s; they seem however to clearly understand that consumption of positive evidence requires lots of reading and effort, whereas propagating denial of the existence of something, is far easier for the average agnostic to consume.

    We live in such a fast-food-society, where everyone wants enlightenment quick and easy, and many of these people are simply misothiests in my calculation, who have prepared a nice quick meal for their unsuspecting agnostic victims: ie, they are pushing an agenda and are posing as ‘rational saviours’.

    I guess this makes many of them false prophets, because they are actively attempting to recruit many people towards their own world view – an ideological vacuum – rather than allowing people to find their own path through studying the positive evidence. In my calculation, ‘nothing’ is in fact a ‘something’, otherwise it would not have a word to describe it as a concept. Zero is in fact a number – as important in concept as the number One.

    A great author I have found who has presented the positive evidence in an intellectually honest manner, is Kenneth Anderson Kitchen, the Professor Emeritus of Egyptology and honorary research fellow of the School of Archaeology, Classics and Oriental Studies, University of Liverpool.

    His book ‘On The Reliability Of The Old Testament’, is a great starting point for anyone who wants to build a wall of knowledge, rather than to build a wall of denial … but it’s 600+
    pages, so not exactly a fast-food-snack (as I like to call the modern Twitterverse-esque craving of the average attention span deprived denizen). Even people like Kitchen in the newer generations however are being denied faculty representation by militant misothiests who have taken over ‘secular’ educational institutions. I guess they will all learn the hard way, just like Pharaoh.

    Hosea 4:6] “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” (and a surplus of negative evidence, which abounds as a core *belief* system for the apollumi) … keep building my friend.

  30. Wow! Amazing to say the least. what are the odds of finding anything from so many centuries ago, its always a hit and miss. And on top of that consider how small of a village it was. Your not searching for a needle in a haystack but a needle in the field. And the suggestion by atheist and skeptics that the small artifacts from that era proves nothing is incorrect. Incorrect because it proves much. The least being how very wrong they were, and the most being how truthful is the word of GOD. Thank you for the info. And Praise Jesus! Praise his holy name.

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