Tuesday, September 02, 2008


We are all familiar with the initials universally displayed over the head of the image on most crucifixes and art work displaying the same. We have been taught that these initials, this acronym stands for "Iesvs Nazarenvs Rex Ivdaeorvm" Latin uses an "I" instead of the English "J," and a "V" instead of "U," so a modernized rendering would be "Jesus Nazarenus Rex Judaeorum." The English translation being "Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews."

There is speculation however that the N could have actually stood for Nazorean rather than Nazarene (meaning someone from the village of Nazareth). The Nazoreans were a sect that is believed to have been an offshoot of the Essenes. In fact, the town of Nazareth is not mentioned anywhere in the Old Testament, nor is it mentioned in the Talmud (which names 63 towns in Galilee by name). Further there is no archaeological or archival records or evidence that any town called Nazareth even existed before the fourth century A.D.

Nazareth was not included in the list of settlements of the tribes of Zebulon (Joshua 19:10-16) which mentions twelve towns and six villages, and Nazareth is not included among the 45 cities of Galilee that were mentioned by Josephus (37AD-100AD), a widely traveled historian who never missed anything and who voluminously describes the region. The name is also missing from the 63 towns of Galilee mentioned in the Talmud.

The first reference to Nazareth is in the New Testament where it can be found 29 different times. However, there is still cause for speculation as to whether or not the city existed at the time of Jesus. It is mentioned only in the Gospels and Acts. These books do refer to Nazareth, but they did not originate at this time, they are later writings. The earlier writings of the NT (Paul etc) mention Jesus 221 times - but never mention Nazareth.

One possibility is that it comes from the Hebrew root nzr in the form of the noun nazir, meaning someone "set apart," "consecrated," and, therefore, "holy," or in the form of the noun nezer, meaning "crown." A second possibility is that it comes from the Hebrew noun netser, meaning "branch" or "flower."

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