Rejection at Nazareth.

Matthew 13.53-58 = Mark 6.1-6a = Luke 4.16-30  (John 4.43-45).

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Notes and quotes.

§ Matthew and Luke agree against Mark in the following instances:

  1. Matthew 13.54 has και λεγειν, while Luke 4.22 has και ελεγον. Mark 6.2 subordinates with λεγοντες.
  2. Matthew 13.57 has δε... ειπεν, while Luke 4.24 has ειπεν δε. Mark 6.4 has και ελεγεν.

§ Michael Gilleland, in one of his weblog posts, helpfully notes that the παραβολη (the parable or, as we might prefer to call it, the proverb) that Jesus volunteers on behalf of his synagogue audience in Luke 4.23...:

Ιατρε, θεραπευσον σεαυτον.

Physician, heal yourself.

...has a number of ancient parallels. He credits Joseph Fitzmyer (in his Anchor commentary on Luke) with Euripides, fragment 1086, Nauck...:

A physician for others, but himself teeming with sores.

...and with Genesis Rabbah 23 [15c]:

Physician, heal your own lameness.

Then he lists four others, all older than the gospel of Luke. (The Greek of the first two is from Perseus. Gilleland himself provides the Latin of the other two. The English translations are those provided by Gilleland.)

First, from the Iliad of Homer, book 11, lines 833-836 (English translation from Samuel Butler):

  1. Ιητροι μεν γαρ Ποδαλειριος ηδε Μαχαων
  2. τον μεν ενι κλισιησιν οιομαι ελκος εχοντα
  3. χρηιζοντα και αυτον αμυμονος ιητηρος
  4. κεισθαι· ο δ εν πεδιω Τρωων μενει οξυν αρηα.
For of the physicians Podalirius and Machaon I hear that the one is lying wounded in his tent and is himself in need of healing, while the other is fighting the Trojans upon the plain.

Second, from Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound, lines 473-475 (English translation from Paul Elmer More):

  1. ...κακος δ ιατρος ως τις ες νοσον
  2. πεσων αθυμεις και σεαυτον ουκ εχεις
  3. ευρειν οποιοις φαρμακοις ιασιμος.
Like a poor physician falling into sickness you despond and know not the remedies for your own disease.

Third, from Servius Sulpicius, letter to Cicero (in Cicero, Letters to His Friends 4.5.5; English translation from D.R. Shackleton Bailey):

Denique noli te oblivisci Ciceronem esse et eum, qui aliis consueris praecipere et dare consilium, neque imitari malos medicos, qui in alienis morbis profitentur tenere se medicinae scientiam, ipsi se curare non possunt.

And then, do not forget that you are Cicero, a man accustomed to give rules and advice to others. Do not be like a bad physician, who professes medical knowledge to his patients but does not know how to treat himself.

Fourth, from Ovid, Cures for Love 314:

Et, fateor, medicus turpiter aeger eram.

And, I confess, despite being a physician I was shamefully sick.

(Thanks to Mark Goodacre for the link to this very informative post from Gilleland.)

§ Barnabas 14.9:

Παλιν ο προφητης λεγει· Πνευμα κυριου επ εμε, ου εινεκεν εχρισεν με ευαγγελισασθαι ταπεινοις χαριν, απεσταλκεν με ιασασθαι τους συντετριμμενους την καρδιαν, κηρυξαι αιχμαλωτοις αφεσιν και τυφλοις αναβλεψιν, καλεσαι ενιαυτον κυριου δεκτον και ημεραν ανταποδοσεως, παρακαλεσαι παντας τους πενθουντας.

Again the prophet says: The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to evangelize grace to the poor, he has sent me to heal the crushed of heart, to preach release to captives and sight to the blind, to call the acceptable year of the Lord and the day of requital, to comfort all who mourn.

§ From Thomas 31, Greek from papyrus Oxyrhynchus 1 recto, lines 30-35:

ΠΕϪΕ Ι̅C̅· ΜΝ̅ ΠΡΟΦΗΤΗC ϢΗΠ ϨΜ̅ ΠΕϤϮΜΕ ΜΑΡΕCΟΕΙΝ Ρ̅ΘΕΡΑΠΕΥΕ Ν̅ΝΕΤCΟΟΥΝ Μ̅ΜΟϤ.
  1. .... Λεγει Ι{ησου}ς· Ου-
  2. κ εστιν δεκτος προ-
  3. φητης εν τη π{ατ}ριδι αυ-
  4. τ[ο]υ, ουδε ιατρος ποιει
  5. θεραπειας εις τους
  6. γεινωσκοντας αυτο{ν}.
  1. .... Says J{esu}s:
  2. Not accepted is a pro-
  3. phet in the f{at}herland of
  4. h[i]s, nor does a physician do
  5. healings for those
  6. who know hi{m}.

§ Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 88.8a:

Και ελθοντος του Ιησου επι τον Ιορδανην, και νομιζομενου Ιωσηφ του τεκτονος υιου υπαρχειν, και αειδους, ως αι γραφαι εκηρυσσον, φαινομενου, και τεκτονος νομιζομενου, ταυτα γαρ τα τεκτονικα εργα ειργαζετο εν ανθρωποις ων αροτρα και ζυγα, δια τουτων και τα της δικαιοσυνης συμβολα διδασκων και ενεργη βιον....

And, when Jesus came upon the Jordan, and was considered to be the son of Joseph the carpenter, and he appeared uncomely, as the scriptures preached, and was considered a carpenter, for while he was among men he worked at these things of carpenters, making plows and yokes, and through these things taught the symbols of righteousness and an energetic life....

This passage immediately continues with an account of the baptism of Jesus.

§ The place name Nazara (Ναζαρα) in Matthew 4.13a and Luke 4.16 is not the usual gospel name for the hometown of Jesus, which elsewhere is either Nazareth (Ναζαρεθ; refer to Matthew 21.11; Luke 1.26; 2.4, 39, 51; Acts 10.38) or Nazaret (Ναζαρετ; refer to Matthew 2.23; Mark 1.9; John 1.45, 46; note that some witnesses have Ναζαρα instead of Ναζαρετ at Matthew 2.23). Refer also to Julius Africanus, who according to Eusebius, History of the Church 1.7.14, wrote that the family of Jesus travelled away from the Judaic villages of Nazara and Cochaba (απο τε Ναζαρων και Κωχαβα κωμων Ιουδαικων); here the town name appears in the plural, but there is certainly no tau or theta behind the genitive.

However, the gentilic Nazarene (Ναζαρηνος; refer to Mark 1.24 = Luke 4.34; Mark 10.47; 14.67; 16.6; Luke 24.19) is most easily derived from a name like Nazara; confer Γαδαρηνος (Gadarene), the gentilic name (refer to Matthew 8.28) for the city of Γαδαρα (Gadara). The matter of the term Nazoraean (Ναζωραιος; refer to Matthew 2.23; 26.71; Luke 18.37; John 18.5, 7; 19.19; Acts 2.22; 3.6; 4.10; 6.14; 22.8; 24.5; 26.9) is perhaps not quite so simple, since it appears to be the name of a sect (see Acts 24.5), not just a reference to place of origin or residence. (Also refer to the helpful table assembled by S. C. Carlson.)

That Nazara was a variant of Nazareth seems clear enough from Matthew 4.13a and Luke 4.16 alone, but it becomes all the more plausible when we notice that certain other Hebrew place names ending in -t(h) can lose the ending, especially in Greek or Latin transcription. The place name Γεννησαρετ (Gennesaret) in Matthew 14.34 = Mark 6.53; Luke 5.1 appears as Γεννησαρ (Gennesar) in 1 Maccabees 11.67 and already as Χεναρα (Chenara) in the LXX of Numbers 34.11, transliterating the Hebrew כנרת; in the Talmud it is spelled גינוסר, as in, for example, the Babylonian tractate Baba Bathra 122a. (The ending can also be retained, as in the LXX of Deuteronomy 3.17, which has Μαχαναρεθ; the LXX of Joshua 12.3 and 13.27, which have Χενερεθ; the LXX of Joshua 19.35, which has Κενερεθ; and the LXX of Joshua 11.2, which has Κενερωθ; oddly, the LXX of 1 Kings 15.20 has Χεζραθ.) The Vulgate transliterates Γεννησαρ as Gennesar in 1 Maccabees 11.67, but also transliterates Γεννησαρετ as Gennesar in Matthew 14.34. Pliny writes in Natural History 5.15 that the river Jordan in lacum se fundit, quem plures Genesarem vocant (drains into a lake, which many call Genesara). In Antiquities of the Jews 5.1.22 §85 Josephus mentions that the tribal allotment of Zebulon extended μεχρι Γενησαριδος (as far as the Genesaridean [lake]). Gennesaret is not the only name to lose the final -t(h). In Joshua 19.21 the LXX renders the Hebrew רמת (Remeth) as Ρεμμας (Remmas) in Greek (but in this case a final Hebrew tau may be absorbed into the final Greek sigma). In 2 Kings 21.19 the mother of Amon is משלמת, with the feminine -t ending; but the LXX eliminates that ending to get Μεσολλαμ. The LXX renders the Hebrew דברת (Daberath) as Δαβιρωθ (Dabiroth) in Joshua 19.12, but alternatively as Δεβερι (Deberi) and as Δεββα (Debba) in Joshua 21.28. Ezra 2.2 has the name מספר (Mispar) where Nehemiah 7.7 has מספרת (Misperet). The LXX renders רמות גלעד (Ramoth Gilead) as Ραμωθ Γαλααδ (Ramoth Galaad) in 2 Chronicles 18.19, but it also renders it as Ραμα Γαλααδ (Rama Galaad) just a few chapters later, in 22.5.

Another issue concerns the Hebrew place name standing behind Ναζαρετ or Ναζαρα. Was it נזרת (Nazaret) or was it נצרת (Natsaret)? The zeta in the Greek place name would ordinarily lead us to suspect the former, since zeta is the customary Greek equivalent for the Hebrew letter zayin; the Hebrew tsade in the latter would usually yield a sigma in Greek transliteration. Yet a Hebrew inscription discovered at Caesarea Maritima in 1962 gives us the town name with a tsade; the Anchor Bible Dictionary article for Nazarenes confirms that the spelling of the name in this Hebrew inscription is נצרת, not נזרת. Furthermore, some versions of the Talmud mention Jesus of Nazareth, which they give as ישו הנוצרי, with the tsade.

However, the transliteration of a Hebrew tsade with a Greek sigma is not a hard and fast rule, as the same article reminds us (though without giving examples, which I intend to supply here). The Hebrew tsade can sometimes produce a Greek zeta or even a Greek xi (which letter is simply a consonant blend of kappa and sigma). Genesis 13.10 has צער, which the LXX renders as Ζογορα; Josephus renders this as Ζωωρ in Antiquities 1.11.4 §204. Genesis 8.5 gives the name of one of the kings of Midian as צלמנע; the LXX renders this name as Σελμανα, but Josephus renders it as Ζαρμουνη in Antiquities 5.6.5 §228. 1 Samuel 14.4 mentions a crag named בוצץ, which the LXX renders as Βαζες, turning one tsade into the expected sigma and the other into a zeta. (A Hebrew name in Genesis 14.7 with a double tsade, חצצון תמר, is transliterated into Greek as Ασασανθαμαρ, with the expected double sigma.) Genesis 22.21 gives us the two names עוץ and בוז; note that the former ends with a tsade, the latter with a zayin. In the LXX these names come out as Ωξ and Βαυξ; in Josephus, Antiquities 1.6.5 §153, they come out as Ουξος and Βαουξος; note that both now have a xi to transliterate the Hebrew tsade and zayin. Also, it is interesting that the Hebrew name for the Philistine city of Ashdod, אשדוד, becomes Αζωτος in Greek (see Acts 8.40), with the expected sigma becoming a zeta.