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What was Jesus’ πατρίδι (hometown/homeland) in John 4:44?

I had always assumed that this referred to Nazareth and Galilee, where Jesus grew up. However, Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg in The Jewish Gospel of John: Discovering Jesus, King of All Israel (p. 62) states that Jesus' homeland is Judea.

John states the reason Jesus did not return to Judea, but went on to Galilee, was because “Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own homeland.” (Literally: “fatherland” in the sense of “motherland” in the English language). (4: 44) What is of course striking here is that John names Judea as Jesus’ homeland, his fatherland, and not Galilee as do the Synoptics. (Mt 13: 54-57, Mk. 6: 1-4, Lk. 4: 23-24) It is likely that the Synoptics treat Galilee, the place of Jesus’ upbringing, as his fatherland. For John, however, Jesus is Judean because of his birth in Bethlehem of Judea. To John, Jesus lived in Galilee because of God’s mission and not because of his Galilean identity. To John he was a Judean…

Is there a basis for resolving this question?

  • "For John, however, Jesus is Judean because of his birth in Bethlehem of Judea." May I ask, what evidence does Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg provide for this statement? – grannux Aug 14 at 15:53
  • Eli just gives what you stated other than pointing out that most of Jesus arguments in John are with the Judeans. – Perry Webb Aug 14 at 20:17
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Jesus’ fatherland (πατρίς) in all the gospels is Galilee.

In the Synoptics, the people of Galilee were offended by Jesus and did not believe in him.1

57 So they were offended in him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.”

Consequently, Jesus did not do many mighty works there, because of their unbelief.2 Instead, Jesus did mighty works outside of Galilee, including in Jerusalem.3

23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. NKJV, ©1982

Peculiarly, the nature of these miracles in Jerusalem during the feast are not recorded by the author. Heinrich Meyer commented,4 Meyer, Heinrich August Wilhelm. Kritisch exegetischer Kommentar über das Neue Testament, Zweite Abtheilung, Kritisch exegetisches Handbuch über das Evangelium des Johannes. p. 149. John 2:23.

Not one5 from this time period6 is preserved for us (John 20:30 cf. John 4:45). Therefore, not only the Synoptics, but also John, summarily summarizes a multitude of miracles without relating individual ones from it.

After performing miracles in Jerusalem during Passover, many in Jerusalem believed in him. Then, Jesus eventually leaves Jerusalem (and Judea) and returns to Galilee, after briefly transiting Samaria.7

43 Now after the two days He departed from there and went to Galilee. 44 For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. NKJV, ©1982

The most important aspect of the narrative (with respect to resolving the question) is in v. 45.

45 Then when he was come into Galilee, the Galilaeans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went unto the feast. NKJV, ©1982

The Galileans now received Jesus, although before, they had been offended in him and did not believe in him. What changed? Many Galileans were in Jerusalem and saw the miracles (mighty works) that Jesus performed there. They saw how others honored Jesus (as a prophet and as the Messiah) and how they believed in him.

  1. Jesus leaves Galilee (his fatherland) because the Galileans did not honor him, nor did they believe in him, despite the mighty works he had did there.
  2. He performs mighty works and signs in Jerusalem during Passover and elsewhere outside Galilee, whereby he is honored by those people, and many of those people believe in him.
  3. Jesus eventually returns to Galilee and then receives honor from the Galileans because many of the Galileans were in Jerusalem and saw how other people there honored him and believed in him on account of the mighty works he performed there.

In summary, Jesus leaves his fatherland Galilee because they will not honor him, and he only returns to his fatherland Galilee once the Galileans in Jerusalem witness Jesus receive honor from others on account of the mighty works he performed in Jerusalem and elsewhere outside Galilee.

Heinrich Meyer comments,8

The words give the reason why He did not hesitate to return to Galilee. The gist of the reason lies in the antithetical reference of ἐν τῇ ἰδίᾳ πατρίδι. If, as Jesus Himself testified, a prophet had no honour in his own country, he must seek it abroad. And this Jesus had done. Abroad, in Jerusalem, He had by His mighty works inspired the Galilaeans who were there with that respect which they were accustomed to deny to a prophet at home. Thus He brought the prophet’s honour with Him from abroad. Accordingly (John 4:45) He found a reception among the Galilaeans also, because they had seen His miracles in Jerusalem (John 2:23).


Footnotes

1 Matt. 13:57 // Mark 6:3
2 Matt. 13:58 // Mark 6:5
3 John 2:23
4 Meyer, p. 149, John 2:23
5 i.e., Wunder (“miracle”)
6 The time period when Jesus was in Jerusalem during Passover (cf. John 2:23).
7 John 4:3, 4:43
8 Meyer, p. 165, John 4:43–44

References

Meyer, Heinrich August Wilhelm. Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the Gospel of John. Trans. Urwick, William. Ed. Crombie, Frederick. New York: Funk, 1884.

Meyer, Heinrich August Wilhelm. Kritisch exegetischer Kommentar über das Neue Testament, Zweite Abtheilung, Kritisch exegetisches Handbuch über das Evangelium des Johannes. 5th ed. Vol. 2. Göttingen: Vandenboeck and Ruprecht, 1869.

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John 1:45-46: "Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see" has one of the apostles stating that Jesus is of Nazareth. Yet in Matthew 2:1 "Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judæa...." we see Jesus was born in Judea....yet in Matthew 2:23 "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."

It seems clear to me Jesus' initial home was Judea, and in addition Jesus lived in Nazareth long enough to be called a Nazarene. Therefore the answer is both. In my own life this is the case. I was born in the very large State of Texas in a smaller town, so that people might say I was from there. However, my family moved from there and as a young adult I moved to another town in Texas hundreds of miles from the place of my birth and have lived that in fact at least three decades longer than I ever spent in the place of my birth, so that although as a child I may have called my birthplace my hometown, these days Austin is my hometown.

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