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Bible Encyclopedias

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature


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Nazarene´, an epithet constituting a part of one of the names given to our Lord. From the number of times that the epithet is employed, it appears that it became at the very first an appellation of our Lord, and was hence applied to designate his followers. Considering that the name was derived from the place where Jesus resided during the greater part of His life, we see no reason to think that at first it bore with it, in its application to Him or His followers, anything of an offensive nature. Such a designation was in this case natural and proper. In process of time, however, other influences came into operation. Nazareth was in Galilee, a part of Palestine which was held in disesteem for several reasons—its was a provincial dialect; lying remote from the capital, its inhabitants spoke a strange tongue, which was rough, harsh, and uncouth, having peculiar combinations of words, and words also peculiar to themselves; its population was impure, being made up not only of provincial Jews, but also of heathens of several sorts, Egyptians, Arabians, Phoenicians; its people were in an especial manner given to be seditious, which quality of character they not rarely displayed in the capital itself on occasion of the public festivals; whence may be seen the point of the accusation made against Paul, as 'ringleader of the sect of Nazarenes' (). As Galilee was a despised part of Palestine, so was Nazareth a despised part of Galilee, being a small, obscure, if not mean place. Accordingly its inhabitants were held in little consideration by other Galileans, and, of course, by those Jews who dwelt in Judea. Hence the name Nazarene came to bear with it a bad odor, and was nearly synonymous with a low, ignorant, and uncultured, if not un-Jewish person (Kuinoel, in ). It became accordingly a contemptuous designation and a term of reproach, and as such, as well as a mere epithet of description, it is used in the New Testament.





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Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Nazarene'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature".

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