The Nazareth inscription.

An edict of Caesar against graverobbing.


Also of interest, the priestly courses inscription.

On a marble slab in the Bibliothèque Nationale of Paris, France, can be found the following inscription, an edict of Caesar against graverobbing. The date is uncertain, as is exactly which Roman ruler is meant. Despite its name, the Nazareth inscription did not necessarily originate from Nazareth. The name comes from an inventory note which specifies that the slab was sent from Nazareth at some point.

The following transcription is from Bruce Metzger, New Testament Studies (volume 10 of New Testament Tools and Studies), page 76.

The accompanying translation is my own, but with an eye toward the translation that Metzger himself supplies on page 77, as well as the textual notes on pages 80-82:

  1. Διαταγμα Καισαρος.
  2. Αρεσκει μοι ταφους τυνβους
  3. τε, οιτινες εις θρησκειαν προγονων
  4. εποιησαν η τεκνων η οικειων
  5. τουτους μενειν αμετακεινητους
  6. τον αιωνα. εαν δε τις επιδιξη τι-
  7. να η καταλελυκοτα η αλλω τινι
  8. τροπω τους κεκηδευμενους
  9. εξερριφφοτα η εις ετερους
  10. τοπους δωλω πονηρω με-
  11. τατεθεικοτα επ αδικια τη των
  12. κεκηδευμενων η κατοχους η λι-
  13. θους μετατεθεικοτα, κατα του
  14. τοιουτου κριτηριον εγω κελευω
  15. γενεσθαι καθαπερ περι θεων
  16. ες τας των ανθρωπων θρησκ-
  17. κιας. πολυ γαρ μαλλον δεησει
  18. τους κεκηδευμενους τειμαν·
  19. καθολου μηδενι εξεστω μετα-
  20. κεινησαι· ει δε μη, τουτον εγω κε-
  21. φαλης κατακριτον ονοματι
  22. τυμβωρυχιας θελω γενεσθαι.
  1. An order of Caesar.
  2. It pleases me that graves and tombs,
  3. whoever has made them as a religious act
  4. for forebears or children or household members,
  5. that these remain undisturbed
  6. forever. But if any should show
  7. that someone has either destroyed or in any other
  8. way cast out those buried
  9. there, or has with evil deception
  10. removed them to other places,
  11. an injustice for those buried
  12. there, or has removed the monument
  13. or the stones, in such a case
  14. I command that there be
  15. a trial, as if pertaining to matters of the gods,
  16. for the benefit of the religious duty of
  17. men. For it shall very much be required
  18. to honor those who have been buried.
  19. Let no one move them for any
  20. cause. But if someone does not comply, it is
  21. my will that he suffer capital punishment
  22. on a charge of robbing tombs.