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New photo book portrays life in Jesus’ time


The Nazareth Jessus Knew

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November 1, 2005
-by Glenn Witmer

Nazareth, Israel — Can anything good come from Nazareth?” It is that famous question Nathaniel asked in an exchange with another disciple in the Gospel of John. Philip decided not to try to explain it to him. There was only one sure way to convince him. “Come and see,” he said.

Ideally timed for Christmas gift giving, the publication of a stunning new book of photographs—with text by Pontius’ Puddle comic strip artist Joel Kauffmann—is a first for the Galilee-based Nazareth Village centre. Entitled The Nazareth Jesus Knew, the book describes and portrays the developments at Nazareth Village—an ecumenical Christian re-creation of a Roman-era Jewish village that has many of the features and characteristics of Nazareth at the time when the young Jesus played and worked there.

The photographs and text follow the people and stories of Nazareth Village to date. Nosy sheep and pushy goats scamper about, a friendly donkey strains at a single-furrow wooden plow, and the sower in first-century clothing harvests wheat in the field just below the doorway of the old synagogue. There is an aura of mysterious history and the excitement of Jesus’ world emerging from the weed beds and rock quarries that has now been captured on camera.

The Nazareth Jesus Knew is a close-up look at the world of the man who changed the world—“a man revered by Jews as a rabbi, by Muslims as a prophet, and by billions of Christians worldwide like myself as saviour and lord,” writes American Sherry Herschend, a long-time supporter of the project located just a few blocks from the site of what is believed to be Jesus’ family home. Herschend has visited Nazareth Village many times from her home in the southern States, often bringing with her a group of friends and neighbours to see what is coming to pass in Nazareth.

Her enthusiasm for what she has seen, and her dedication to Jesus’ story and teachings, led her to undertake the funding of this elaborate publishing project—to be able to show others just what Nazareth has to offer. “Nazareth Village is a labour of love with Christ at the centre,” she wrote. “And now we want to share it with the whole world.”

The Nazareth Jesus Knew can be ordered from Nazareth Village by e-mail: The soft cover edition retails for $19.95, while hardcover copies sell for $35 (both plus shipping and handling). All proceeds go to support the ongoing mission of Nazareth Village.

— From the October 2005 issue of MennoLetter from Jerusalem