Nazareth - Encyclopedia

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NAZARETH (mod. Nasira), a town in Galilee, in a hollow of the hills on the southern border of the plain of Esdraelon. It first appears as a village (John i. 46) in which Joseph and Mary lived (Luke i. 26) and to which they returned from Egypt (Matt. ii. 23). Here the unrecorded years of Christ's boyhood were spent. From the name of the town comes nasara (i.e. " Nazarenes"), the ordinary oriental word for "Christians." There was here a synagogue (Matt. xiii. 54) in which Christ preached the sermon that led to his rejection by his fellow townsmen. The growth of legends and traditional identifications can be traced in the writings of the pilgrims who have visited the town from Jerome's time till our own. ' For none of these can anything be said, save that it is possible that the village spring (called "St Mary's Well") is the same as that used in the time of Christ. A large basilica stood here about A.D. 600: the crusaders transferred here the bishopric of Scythopolis. It was taken by Saladin in 1187. In 1517 it was captured by the Turks. The population is now estimated at about 3500 Moslems and 6500 Christians; there are numerous schools, hospitals, &c., conducted by Greeks, Latins and Protestants. Visitors are shown the "Church of the Annunciation" with caves (including a fragment of a pillar hanging from the ceiling, and said to be miraculously supported) which are described as the scene of the annunciation, the "workshop of Joseph," the "synagogue," and a stone table, said to have been used by Christ.

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