Biblical Archaeology Review 40:6, November/December 2014

Biblical Views: Jesus’ Birthplace and Jesus’ Home

By Philip J. King

According to the Gospels, Jesus was born in Bethlehem but lived in Nazareth. While there has been a lot of scholarly discussion about whether or not he was actually born in Bethlehem,a both places are useful for teaching about the historical Jesus—regardless of any perceived conflict—and inspire us to take a deeper look at how Jesus was influenced by his environment.

The Biblical towns of Bethlehem and Nazareth are strikingly different from each other in many ways; at the same time they figure prominently in the life and ministry of Jesus. The issue to be discussed is the birthplace of Jesus. It seems clear from the infancy narratives in the Gospels that Bethlehem was the place of Jesus’ birth: “In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?’” (Matthew 2:1–2); “Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem … He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son” (Luke 2:4–7).

The infancy narratives in the Gospels give no indication that Jesus was born elsewhere.

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