Biblical Archaeology Review 26:4, July/August 2000
Spotlight on Sepphoris

How Jewish Was Sepphoris in Jesus’ Time?

By Mark ChanceyEric M. Meyers

Sepphoris is a bare 4 miles from Jesus’ hometown, Nazareth. So it is not surprising that the ancient city has become central to the study of the historical Jesus, especially because it has been very extensively excavated, while Nazareth has yielded far fewer archaeological remains.

Everyone agrees that to understand Galilee in Jesus’ time, it is necessary to understand Sepphoris, but that is where agreement largely ends. The issue is simply stated: What kind of city was Sepphoris when Jesus was growing up in nearby Nazareth and when he was preaching in the surrounding countryside in such places as Capernaum and Bethsaida? Was Sepphoris a Jewish city? Did it have a mixed population? Was it a Hellenistic Roman city?

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