SOJOURNER

Step Inside the Hometown of Jesus

Christians on a spiritual pilgrimage to Israel expect to encounter God in powerful ways. Praying at the Western Wall. Singing in the Upper Room. Sailing on the Sea of Galilee. But no one could anticipate the opportunity to step into a first-century working village that allows them to experience the world Jesus would have known.

  • Listen to the scrape of a carpenter’s blade as sawdust piles on the stone floor around you. Observe the same tools Jesus would have as He learned His trade by watching Joseph work.
  • Relish the fresh, slightly bitter taste of pure olive oil after witnessing olives that have been hand-picked, crushed and pressed before you using primitive technology.
  • Understand Scripture better as you see the harvesting, winnowing and even threshing of cultivated grains of wheat—a process used often in biblical illustrations.

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Here, in Israel’s most well-known bustling, open-air living museum, sheep and goats graze around you. Chickens clamor as they peck along the stony soil. Donkeys pull rustic plows. Figs, almonds, barley and other ancient crops grow on a hillside, tended by young and old alike wearing 1st century garb. Seekers visiting Nazareth Village are transported back in time. Here, they discover much more than a history lesson: They watch the black-and-white details of the New Testament spring to vivid color before their eyes.

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Parables Come to Life

Unlike anywhere else, Nazareth Village has become a living lesson to New Testament scholars and those seeking to understand the teachings of Jesus.

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As expert guides lead visitors into this world, these period details become animated commentaries on Scripture. Oil lamps on display help show what Jesus meant when He challenged His followers to be the light of the world. Wine-making techniques make clear the meaning of Christ’s references to new wineskins. Farming practices explain His stories about sowing seeds in rocky soil. Why did Jesus use so many agricultural examples in His parables? Nazareth Village makes this abundantly clear. Scripture begins to unfold, moment by moment, with each step through this recreated hometown of Jesus—the place where He spent most of His life.

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The “Colonial Williamsburg” of the Bible

Just as Colonial Williamsburg recreates American life in the 18th century, Nazareth Village transports visitors into the world of the New Testament. Trained actors, performing in workshops and farms, the Village portrays the Jewish culture Jesus would have experienced. These villagers wear clothing appropriate to the 1st century. They use pottery and tools that would have been familiar to Jesus and His family.

Everything is so authentic that the site is regularly used as a location setting for TV and film productions portraying biblical narratives.  

The History of a Living History

In some ways, the history of Nazareth Village begins around the year 2000, when it first opened to the public. But in other ways, it dates back to the time of Christ Himself. In 1906, Scottish missionaries established Nazareth Hospital on these grounds southwest of the Church of the Annunciation. The hospital preserved a nearby hillside on its property. Ninety years later, a series of excavations showed a vast number of archaeological treasures below the surface of this untouched space.

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It soon became clear that the area, which had been located on the outskirts of the original New Testament village of Nazareth, was once home to a working terrace farm. Researchers found the remains of a vineyard, a man-made wine basin and a spring-fed irrigation system. Pottery from as early as the Bronze Age—centuries before the time of Christ—was discovered. As this evidence was collected and compared to ancient biblical texts, historians learned more and more about ancient Jewish farming techniques and construction methods in 1st century Galilee. The owners of the grounds saw an opportunity to educate the public on what they were learning.

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Nazareth Village…Stateside?

Israel’s Nazareth Village draws visitors from all over the world. But now, the long-awaited Museum of the Bible in Washington, D.C. will open with its own, scaled-back exhibit. Cary Summers, president of the Museum of the Bible and CEO of Nazareth Village in Israel, is ensuring that authenticity is carried over, down to the most minute detail.

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Despite being housed inside the Museum, this version of the site will offer visitors in the United States a taste of the landscape, tools and overall environment of Jesus’ hometown—the perfect appetizer before your own trip to Israel.

How would it impact you?

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From wine presses to ancient carpentry techniques, the Bible literally comes to life at Nazareth Village. In doing so, it helps spiritual pilgrims better understand the meaning of Jesus’ parables, and why He chose those stories in the first place. Here, you are transported directly into the daily life of Jesus of Nazareth. After walking these grounds, you’ll never read the New Testament the same again. Like visiting the land of Scripture itself, the experience can transform your faith forever.

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