Nazareth Village and the Creation of the Holy Land in Israel-Palestine:The Question of Evangelical Orthodoxy

Dr Lena Rose has published a new article in Current AnthropologyThis paper is based on her doctoral research in Israel-Palestine, and while engaging with an altogether different fieldsite to that she is working on during her time at CSLS, it asks a similar question: who or what defines what 'orthodox' Christianity (in this case, evangelicalism) is? It's fun to read just for the case study of a biblical history museum in the Palestinian-Israeli town Nazareth, in which Palestinian evangelical Christians slip into the role of first century Jews for a mostly Western audience...


This article makes useful for the study of Christianity Talal Asad’s concept of Islam as a discursive tradition. It investigates how a particular theological position and practice, or “orthodoxy,” within evangelicalism is maintained and lived out. Its goal is to highlight evangelical orthodoxy as a relationship of power and explore the ways in which evangelical beliefs and practice are conditioned by and result in social and political consequences. To do this, it explores the example of the living history museum Nazareth Village in Israel-Palestine, developed jointly by American and Palestinian Israeli evangelicals, which reconstructs Jewish first-century life in the center of a Palestinian Israeli town. I argue that Nazareth Village recreates a particular imagination of the biblical first century that animates evangelical imaginations of and investments in what Israel ought to be like today. The powerful theologies that propel it stand in contrast to local Palestinian evangelical ideas of the “Holy Land.”