Nazarene an epithet given to our Lord. There are two Greek words for this designation — Ναζαρηνός (only Mr 1:24; Mr 14:67; Mr 16:6; Lu 4:34); and (elsewhere) Ναζωραῖος — both derived from Ναζαρέθ, Nazareth of Galilee, the place of the Savior's childhood and education. These two Greek words occur in the New Testament nineteen times; twice only are they rendered Nazarene (Mt 2:23; Ac 24:5); everywhere else by the words "of Nazareth," as Mt 21:11. This appellative is found in the New Testament applied to Jesus by the daemons in the synagogue at Capernaum (Mr 1:24; Lu 4:34); by the people, who so describe him to Bartimsus (Mr 10:47; Lu 18:37); by the soldiers who arrested Jesus (Joh 18:5,7); by the servants at his trial (Mt 26:71; Mr 14:67); by Pilate in the inscription on the cross (Joh 19:19); by the disciples on the way to Emmaus (Lu 24:19); by Peter (Ac 2:22; Ac 3:6; Ac 4:10); by Stephen, as reported by the false witness (Ac 6:14); by the ascended Jesus (Ac 22:8); and by Paul (Ac 26:9). At first it was applied to Jesus naturally and properly, as defining his residence. In process of time, however, other influences came into operation. Galilee was held in disesteem for several reasons: its dialect was provincial, rough, and strange (Buxtorf, Lex. Talmud; Mr 14:70); its population was impure, containing not only provincial Jews, but also heathen, as Egyptians, Arabians, Phoenicians (Strabo, Geog. 16:523); its people were seditious (Josephus, as cited in Schleusner, s.v. Γαλιλαῖος); whence also the point of the accusation made against Paul, as "ringleader of the sect of Nazarenes" (Ac 24:5). Nazareth was a despised part even of Galilee, being a small, obscure place. Accordingly its inhabitants were held in little consideration everywhere. Hence the name Nazarene (Kuinol, in Mt 2:23) became a term of reproach (Wetstein, in Mt 2:23,23,23), and as such, as well as a mere epithet of description, it is used in the New Testament. "The name still exists in Arabic as the ordinary designation of Christians, and the recent revolt in India was connected with a pretended ancient prophecy that the Nanzarenes, after holding power for one hundred years, would be expelled." SEE NAZARETH.
In Mt 2:23, it is said of Jesus, "And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene." This citation has received the following explanations (Spanheim, Dubia Evangelica, 2:538-648; Wolf,
Curce Philologicae, 1:46-48; Hengstenberg, Christology of the O.T. 2:106-112):
1. It is generally thought that the evangelist does not limit himself to a quotation from any single prophet, but alludes to the several passages of the prophets where the Messiah is spoken of as "despised of men," as Ps 22; Isa 53. (See Paulus, Rosenmuller, Kuinil, Van der Palm, Gersdorf, Olshausen, Ebrard, Davidson, Lange, and others, ad loc.)
2. But many (as Bauer, Gieseler, in the Stud. u. Krit. 1831, page 588 sq.; De Wette, Bretschneider, 3d ed.) find here an allusion to the passages where the Messiah is called נֵצֶר, netser, a branch or sprout (Isa 11:1; see Hengstenberg, Christol. 2:1 sq.). " This explanation, which Jerome mentions as that given by learned (Christian) Jews in his day, has been adopted by Surenhusius, Fritzsche, Krabbe (Leben Jesu), Drechsler (on Isa 11:1), Schirlitz (N.-T. Wsorterb.), Robinson (N.T. Lex.), and Meyer. It is confirmed by the following considerations
(1) Netser, as Hengstenberg, after De Dieu and others. has shown, was the proper Hebrew name of Nazareth.
(2) The reference to the etymological signification of the word is entirely in keeping with Mt 2:21-23.
(3) The Messiah is expressly called a Netser in Isa 11:1.
(4) The same thought, and under the same image, although expressed by a different word, is found in Jer 23:5; Jer 33:15; Zec 3:8; Zec 6:12, which accounts for the statement of Matthew that this prediction was uttered 'by the prophets' in the plural." It seems, however, rather refined for so general a quotation; nor does it after all point especially to any particular passage of the Old Testament as being cited. Moreover, the ζ in Ναζωραῖος cannot correspond to צ, but to ז (see Olshausen. ad loc.; so Bengel, who derives the word from נֵזֶר a crown).
3. Others have supposed a direct quotation from some lost prophecy (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Clericus, etc., ad loc.), or from some apocryphal book (Ewald), or that it is a traditional prophecy (Calovius; Alexander, Connection and Harmony of the Old and New Testaments), all which suppositions are refuted by the fact that the phrase "by the prophets," in the New Testament, refers exclusively to the canonical books of the Old Testament. Nor is there any evidence elsewhere of such a source.
4. Many would make Ναζωραῖος = נָזַיר, Nazarite, i.e., one especially consecrated or devoted to God (Jg 13:5); but this does not at all accord with our Saviour's character (see Mt 11:19, etc.), nor with the Sept. mode of spelling the word, which is generally Ναζιραῖος, and never Ναζωραῖος. (See Schleusners Lex. to LXX, ad verb.) SEE NAZARITE.
5. "Recently a suggestion, which Witsius borrowed from Socinus, has been revived by Zuschlag and Riggenbach, that the true word is נֹצֵר or נֹצרַי, my Savior, with reference to Jesus as the Savior of the world, but without much success (Zuschlag, in the Zeitschriftfur die Lutherische Theologie, 1854, pages 417-446; Riggenbach in the Stud. u. Krit. 1855, pages 588, 612)." SEE JESUS.