New York Times Quietly Concedes: Jesus Didn’t Live in ‘Palestine’

After twice this year failing to correct false references to Jesus as either Palestinian or living in Palestine, The New York Times has finally come through with a stealth correction on an additional item falsely stating that the revered figure lived in Palestine. In his May 14 article about Christian doomsday cult leader Paul Nthenge Mackenzie, Andrew Higgins erred: “Mr. Mackenzie, casting himself as a Christ-like figure, lived in a section he called Galilee — after the area of Palestine where Jesus lived most of his life” (“He Told Followers to Starve to Meet Jesus …,” May 14, 2023).

As The New York Times itself noted in a commendable June 20, 2008 correction, the Romans named Judea and the Galilee, where Jesus was born and then lived, “Palestina” more than a century after he was crucified. The Times’ correction 15 years ago accurately stated: 

The Malula Journal article on April 22, about efforts in the village of Malula, Syria, and two neighboring villages to preserve Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus, referred incorrectly to the name of the region where Jesus spent most of his time. It was Galilee — not Palestine, which derives from the word Palestina, the name that Roman conquerors gave to the region more than 100 years after Jesus’s death.

Jesus died a century before the Romans renamed the Galilee and Judea ‘Palestina’ (Illustration by Pixabay)

In 132 (Common Era or AD), approximately 100 years after the crucifixion of Jesus, the Jews fought against Roman rule for a second time in what is known as the Bar Kochba Revolt. After the Romans defeated the rebellious Jews in 135, they renamed the land of the Jews Palestina to punish the Jews and to make an example of them to other populations considering rebellion. The Romans took away the Jewish name, Judea, and replaced it with the name of an ancient enemy the Jews despised. The Philistines were an extinct Aegean people whom the Jews had historically loathed as uncultured and barbaric.
Four years ago, The New York Times corrected an Op-Ed by Eric V. Copage which had erroneously stated: “But Jesus, born in Bethlehem, was most likely a Palestinian man with dark skin.” The April 27, 2019 correction stated: “Because of an editing error, an article last Saturday referred incorrectly to Jesus’s background. While he lived in an area that later came to be known as Palestine, Jesus was a Jew who was born in Bethlehem.”
Regarding last month’s error in the piece on the cult leader, Times editors followed up on CAMERA’s request to correct, quietly deleting the false reference to Jesus residing in Palestine, apparently on May 24. The amended online text now accurately reports, “Mr. Mackenzie, casting himself as a Christ-like figure, lived in a section he called Galilee — after the area where Jesus lived most of his life.” (The publication of this post was delayed as the quiet correction has just now come to CAMERA’s attention.)
Breaking with standard New York Times practice, the paper did not append a correction to the article alerting readers to the change. A different correction, dated May 18, however, does appear at the bottom of the piece, stating: “An earlier version of this article mischaracterized the Book of Revelation. It is a book, not a chapter, of the New Testament.”
In addition, The Times has yet to correct the Spanish version of the feature on the cult leader, and CAMERA has again followed up with editors on that point.
See also “The New York Times’ Jesus problem” and “San Diego Union-Tribune‘s ‘Christmyth’: Jesus’ Relatives Were Palestinian” for details on Los Angeles Times and San Diego Union-Tribune corrections on this topic.

June 21 Update: New York Times Corrects Spanish Article

In response to additional follow up from CAMERA, editors removed the erroneous reference to Palestine from the Spanish version of the article. A screenshot of the Spanish feature before the change is at left.

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