Matthew 2:1-23: A Nazorean Shall Be Called

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Centuries of Christian readers have pondered the meaning of the Greek term Ναζωραῖος (Nazōraios), usually rendered Nazarene, and which Old Testament passages Matthew had in mind when he interpreted the relocation to Nazareth as a fulfillment of Scripture (Matt. 2:23). Where in the Hebrew Scriptures is it expected that the Redeemer will be called a Nazarene or come from Nazareth?

In The Master's Steps

Frequent contributor to Jerusalem Perspective, Dr. R. Steven Notley, has recently published the first volume of a new atlas of Bible lands in New Testament times entitled, In the Master’s Steps: The Gospels in the Land (Jerusalem: Carta, 2015). The atlas examines not only geographical issues related to the New Testament, but historical, literary and linguistic issues, as well. Professor Notley’s discussion in this article, which is meant to whet your appetite for this indispensable new resource, is further developed with greater detail in In the Master’s Steps: The Gospels in the Land.

Against the backdrop of looming danger Joseph is warned in a dream to take his family to Egypt to escape Herod’s murderous intentions (Matt. 2:13-15). Only when Herod was dead would it be safe to return home. When the Judean king died in his winter palace in Jericho (4 B.C.E.), Herod’s will divided his kingdom between his surviving sons (Ant. 17:188-190; J.W. 1:664-669). Contrary to Herod’s final wishes, Augustus did not award Archelaus his father’s throne. He was instead appointed ethnarch of Judea, Idumea and Samaria (J.W. 2:93; Ant. 17:317). Herod Antipas became tetrarch of Galilee and Perea in the Transjordan, while Philip was appointed tetrarch over an amalgam of districts in the north (Gaulanitis, Trachonitis, Batanaea, Panias) on the frontier with Syria.

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R. Steven Notley, Ph.D., is Distinguished Professor of New Testament and Christian Origins and Director of Graduate Programs in Ancient Judaism and Christian Origins at Nyack College in New York City.

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  • R. Steven Notley

    R. Steven Notley

    R. Steven Notley is professor of Biblical Studies at the New York City campus of Nyack College. A member and past director of the Jerusalem School of Synoptic Research, Notley earned his Ph.D. in Comparative Religions at the Hebrew University (1993). He studied in Jerusalem…
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