He Shall Be Called a Nazarene
Proof of Catholic Tradition?

Mat 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.

This is a verse that Roman Catholics are likely to quote in an effort to support Tradition. Where is the Old Testament scripture that makes this prophecy?... they will ask. See! This confirms the validity of Tradition since this prophecy was NEVER recorded by the Old Testament!... they will say. An ironclad example of Catholic Tradition in action?

But it was ultimately recorded in scripture wasn't it? Matthew recorded it in his Gospel and that is sufficient to validate that there was a prophecy, and that it was fulfilled by Jesus. Try doing that with any Roman Catholic Traditions! But that is not all-

From Holman's Bible Dictionary-

NAZARETH, NAZARENE - Place name meaning, "branch." Nazareth did not enjoy a place of prominence until its association with Jesus. It does not appear in the Old Testament.

Holman's Bible Dictionary for Windows, version 1.0g, copyright Parson's Technology, 1994.

From Smith's Bible Dictionary-

NAZARENE - an inhabitant of Nazareth. This appellative is applied to Jesus in many passages in the New Testament. This name, made striking in so many ways, and which, if first given in scorn, was adopted and glorified in by the disciples, we are told in Matt. 2:23 posesses a prophetic significance. Its application to Jesus, in consequence of the providential arrangements by which his parents were led to take up their abode in Nazareth, was the filling out of the predictions in which the promised Messiah is described as a netser, i.e. a shoot, sprout, of Jesse, a humble and despised descendant of the decayed royal family. Once, Acts 24:5, the term Nazarene is applied to the followers of Jesus by way of contempt. The name still exists in Arabic as the ordinary designation of Christians.

Dictionary of the Bible, by William Smith, L.L.D., published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, copyright 1986, ISBN 0-8407-3085-3.

The word for Nazarene is thought to be derived from-

5342. netser, nay'-tser; from H5341 in the sense of greenness as a striking color; a shoot: fig. a descendant:--branch.

Far from being a recent discovery, this apparent relationship between netser and Nazareth was proposed by Eusebius' (260-341 A.D.) Onomasticon and Jerome's (345-420 A.D.) Ad Marcellam, Epist. 46:

From Jerome's Letter XLVI,
Paragraph 13:

If only you will come, we shall go to see Nazareth, as its name denotes, the flower of Galilee.

Ad Marcellam, Epistle 46 online at Christian Classics Ethereal Library, Wheaton college.

So even early church fathers 1500 years ago were familiar with it.

So the place name Nazareth means branch, isn't that interesting ... well note these prophetic verses-

Isa 11:1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:

The same Hebrew word "netser" (H5342) that the word Nazarene is thought to be derived from, appears in the above verse and is translated "Branch".

Jer 23:5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
Jer 23:6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.

Jer 33:15 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.
Jer 33:16 In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness.

Zec 3:8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.

Zec 6:12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:

Each of the above verses is well recogized as a Messianic prophecy, with Jesus being the Branch in each case. I am sure Matthew was well aware of these scriptures, and the meaning of the name Nazareth, which made the association clear to Matthew. Can this be mere coincidence? In my personal opinion, no. It has every indication of a precise fulfillment of scripture. So who now wants to make a case for Tradition from Matthew 2:23 by doubting that the three different prophets and five different verses are the very ones that Matthew is referring to?

Which is more likely, a precisely fulfilled and scriptural Old Testament prophecy, or Catholic Tradition?

See also the first paragraph of the 1913 Catholic Encyclopedia online article: Nazareth.