Nazerath Inhabited In Time of Christ part 2


I noted that Humphreys doesn't include Pfann in his sources, nor does he give any indication that he's read about his excavation, he does speak of it to some extent. His arguments are picky and not well thought out. Of cousre he has no expertise so it's an untrained armature trying to disprove the work a professional archaeologist. I find that his approach is very much like an atheist on a message board. I mean that literally becuase I think he has gone on a message board and done his thing agaisnt me personally.
This guy uses and different name so I can't prove it. I do think it's him by the arguments and the writing style. Be that as it may let's look at Hurphreys' sight. First he deals dishonestly with Baggotti whom he dubs "Christian hero number one." he quotes Crossan to imply that Crossan doubts the existence of Naz. as a inhabited site. But it's doubtful that Crossan doubts that. Crossan doesn't believe in Jesus myth theory and he specifically lambastes Doherty. What he says that Humphry's quotes does not indicate that Naz did not exist, only that it's very small, which everyone admits: Humrphreys says:
Yet one point is inescapable: the Jewish disposition towards the 'uncleanliness' of the dead. The Jews, according to their customs, would not build a village in the immediate vicinity of tombs and vice versa. Tombs would have to be outside any village.
then quotes Crosson

"The tombs, both those discovered by Bagatti and others known from earlier explorations, would have been placed outside the village and serve, in fact, to delimit its circumference for us. Looking at their locations on the plans drawn up by Bagatti (1.28) or Finegan (27), one realizes just how small the village actually was ..."

–J.D. Crossan (The Historical Jesus)

Notice how the quote from Crossan positions in such a way as to seem like the back up for his statement, does not say what he wants it to. It does not say the town could not be Jewish, it say i would be a real small village. Skeptics have always made too much of this idea that they can't live near bodies. That doesn't mean they have to be miles away. The presence of burial sites is proof in itself that the site had to be inhabited by living people. More on that in part III.

The way he deals with Pfann's excavation is childish, amateurish and dishonest. He's already marked him out as the enemy, the only real aspect he deals with is amateurish carping about various artifacts, pitting his own lack of training against Pfann's expertise.


With typical Christian zeal Pfann was able to conclude that 'Nazareth was tiny, with two or three clans living in 35 homes spread over 2.5 hectares'. It was just unfortunate that all evidence of the homes was razed by later invaders.

In truth, the scanty evidence is consistent with the site being used as a single family farm over many centuries – and a single family farm does not make a village.

He's wrong in his untrained assertion that one family doesn't make a village. He's thinking of a nuclear family as we have in Modern America, but in th middle of the first century they had extended family. He was quotes Pfann's assessment 35 homes, that's a village. At this point he starts making assertions about the town based upon material from the fourth century, this would tell us nothing about the first century. That's really all he says about Pfann's work, which is idiotic becuase that's the major excavation which clearly proved that it was inhabited in the first century. Notice he quotes no scholars about that. But a bushel basket full of scholars accept Pfann's work. The archaeologists who discovered the house in 2009 agree with Pfann.

Humphrey's goes through a series of shallow cults on various artifacts. He has way too many fallacies, dishonest moves and mistakes to work out. He makes so many stupid assumptions. In painting a scenario for how various famous chruch theologians such as Origin who in real life took no hand in creating Holy places, or Jerome who described a pilgrim's journey, created the legend as a pilgrimage spot. He asserts that because Nazareth is not on the pilgrim path in the fourth century then it must not have existed until Helena and Constantine and other such notables created it. So he must have invented it with the help of people like Jerome. He asserts that because Helena found "Mary's well" a hole in the ground, that's how the site came to be associated with Mary. He shows that from the historical source, itinerary of the Anonymous Pilgrim of Bordeaux – "is the earliest description left by a pious tourist" he tells us, (dated to 333 AD) Nazareth is not on the tail. He asserts from this that no one lived there in 4BC -33 AD becuase in 333 a certain pilgrim didn't go there. First of all, he does not document that pilgrimages were all that common before that time. The oldest such description is from 333 then they weren't being made much before. To say it's not on his itinerary means Nazareth didn't exist is a pretty big leap. Besides, in part 1 I quoted Hegesippus who was writing in late second century (180) speaks of the relatives of Jesus still living in Nazareth.

Fragements of Hegesippus
on Peter Kirby's site:
Early Christian Writings

Concerning the relatives of our saviour.6

There still survived of the kindred of the Lord the grandsons of Judas, who according to the flesh was called his brother. These were informed against, as belonging to the family of David, and Evocatus brought them before Domitian Caesar: for that emperor dreaded the advent of Christ, as Herod had done.

Humphreys writes: "The 1955/68 Excavation at Nazareth – storage pits & votive lamps – enough for Franciscan archaeologists to declare Nazareth 'the village of Jesus, Mary & Joseph and the site of 'uninterrupted veneration' by Christians." What he's calling storage pits and votive lamps is seen in this graphic he uses and I used as well on my earlier site.


The foundation pictured may not be a house, it may have been industrial but it's still evidence of habitation.

Roman I (Herodian, 37 BC- 70 AD)

The remains from this period possibly include 6-10 oil lamps. (But they may date as late as 150 AD).

Of these, 4 are from Tomb 70 (near the Church of the Annunciation), 2 were found under the Church's 'grottos', and 4 are from nearby places.

Pfann did not base the concept of habitation in the Roman period on a few oil lamps and couple of pot shards. He clearly saw the whole agricultural system as part of this era. The watch tower, the wine press, the water system, the house is first century. The infrastructure of the habitation is within that time frame. He cleared missed a lot by not reading Pfann. There's much he found that is not reflected in Hurphrey's critique. he makes it sound like the only evidence for Jesus era habitation are a few oil lamps and some pots form a tomb, that is far from the case.

Excavation and Research at Nazareth
University of Holy Land

A survey of the area was conducted in February 1997 by CSEC’s archaeological staff. Four seasons of excavation, licensed by the Israel Antiquities Authority and under the joint direction of Ross Voss and S. Pfann, have been carried out by CSEC, with the help of students and local volunteers. These excavations have confirmed the land to be a complete Roman Period terrace farm with a winepress, watchtowers, olive crushing stones, irrigation systems, and an ancient quarry, and have illuminated previously unknown aspects of terrace farming in the Galilee.

Why would the site be occupied from the middle stone age to after the Romans and the early 4th century and yet they go away in the first century and come back in the late second? The whole site is clearly inhabited going back way into the stone age and way up into the current day. Humphreys does not quote a scholarly source saying that the only place Pfann finds coins, lamps or pots is in tombs. He's asserting that's the case. The new find of the house would help tend to disprove the assertion of no habitation.

Most of what he says on his site is coping about Christmas and tourism and insinuating that Christianity has to be false because some make money off it. Every little that he has to say really deals with the archaeological issues of Nazareth.

(2) There are tombs in Nazareth

Jews had a law that forbade them to live by tombs. This argument is also summarized and dealt with by couchman. The argument is little stronger. There are caves in Nazareth used as homes and also as storage facilities. The caves are also used as tombs. That is taken by atheists as a problem. It's important because all ancinet towns have tombs near by. They have to bury the dead relatively close to town (no pun). No town, no bodies, no cemetery. They didn't trek way into the wilderness to bury their dead. We can see that from research on the Church of the Holy Sepulcher as the site of Jesus' tomb. The site of the chruch was just outside the city gates in Jesus day. The site is now in the middle of town as over 2000 years the city grew up around it. It's in the Christian quarter so Jews don't live right up against it or the ancinet burial site. Yet they are within walking distance. If Jesus' family farm was in Walking distance of the tombs at Nazareth we can still say he lived in Nazareth.

The Jewish Encyclopedia tells us that they did live fairly near their dead.

Single burial was customary in ancient times, as is still the case among many peoples and in many lands. The most natural method was to bury one's dead near the house on one's own land, as is clear from 1 Samuel 25:1 and 1 Kings 2:3, while the latter passage, which refers to Joab, shows that this custom was not restricted to the burial of kings and prophets, as Winer ("B. R." i. 444) has supposed. The custom of interring Jewish kings in their castles, close to the Temple wall, is severely condemned by the prophet (Ezekiel 43:7-9), this criticism showing that graves were considered unclean, and were therefore not to be made near human habitations (Numbers 19:16). Graves were, accordingly, outside the cities (Luke 7:12; John 11:30), or, according to rabbinical precepts, fifty ells from the town (B. B. ii. 9).
also quoted by Couchman. In summarizing the article he says:

However, this article does not support the suggestion that because there were tombs at Nazareth, there could not have been people there:

  • The article itself says that 'The most natural method was to bury one's dead near the house on one's own land.'
  • It is at least possible that the reference in Ezekiel is not talking about burying bodies at all, but about idols. Contemporary English translations reflect this uncertainty.
  • The encyclopedia article talks about a distance of fifty ells. Apparently an ell was a distance of two feet, so fifty ells would have been around a hundred feet, or thirty metres. This is hardly a large enough distance to establish the point that if there were tombs there could not have been people living in the same neighbourhood.


It is a fact that there are tombs in the area. This does not mean that the area was uninhabited. In fact, there must have been people living in the area to provide the bodies to go in the tombs.

(3) The geography is wrong.

In the Gospels is says that Jesus tried to read a prophetic scroll and implied his own identity as Messiah and they tried to throw him off a cliff. There are no cliffs in the area.

Humphreys says:

Nazareth, in fact, is located in a depression, set within gentle hills. The whole region is characterized by plains and mild rises with no sharp peaks or steep cliffs. The terrain is correctly understood as a high basin, for in one direction is the much lower Plain of Esdraelon. But there is no disguising Nazareth is built in a valley and not on a mountain. Even the mediaeval town sat below the summit – protected from the wind. Beginning only in 1957, the Jewish suburb called 'Nazerat Illit' ('Upper Nazareth') was built to the top of the hills to the east of the city.

I know from previous research that there is a high place to throw him off of 2.5 miles. Humphreys' asserts they could not carry him that far, I don't know what not. He also solves the problem himself by suggested they roll him down the incline. It's a very rocky roll and if they threw him with enough force it could do some damage. This issue is really far too weak to disprove the existence of Nazareth. It's just picky. You can tell from the topography in the graphic above that it's amid hills and steep heights.