How Jewish was Jesus? Olivier Fitoussi /Flash90

How Jewish was Jesus?

Mischaracterization of Galilee as “Gentile” in culture resulted in a Messiah disconnected from his Jewish identity


Everyone knows that Jesus grew up in Nazareth, a quiet town in Galilee. But what kind of a town was Nazareth? Was it dominated by the Greco-Roman culture of the time? Was Jesus influenced by the so-called “Galilee of the Gentiles” culture in the region where he grew up?

Many scholars argue that Jesus’ reforms were greatly influenced by the Greco-Roman philosophers and culture of his hometown, and not by rabbinic or classical Hebrew and Jewish traditions. Even the term “Jesus of Nazareth” has come to reflect a Gentile Jesus removed from Jewish roots, an image used to overlook the Jewish heritage of the Messiah.

It’s about where he grew up

Nazareth has yielded scant archaeological remains to help us discover details of the early years of Jesus’ life. But the city of Zippori (Sepphoris in Latin), the most important city in the area at that time and situated just four miles from Nazareth, has produced a wealth of discoveries that can help us better understand the world in which Jesus grew up, and the influence this…