The Nazarener were a 19th century German religious art movement. Preferring Nazaräer to Nazarener (because Nazarener is commonly thought to derive etymologically from the geographical Nazaret), how would I write Johannes the Nazaräer in German?

Specifically, I'm interested if I can leave out the article and write "Johannes Nazaräer". And I'm interested both in how it would be written on a plaque as well as in a sentence.

Others have asked related questions [Using definite article with people's names, Why is there a definite article precedent to a name?], but I still feel I need to ask for my specific case. If it's a North/South, Standard German/Specific Dialect situation, then please tell me what the different ways to write this name and title are, and I'm interested to know what the Bavarian way to write it would be if that could be mentioned also, as well as the Standard German.

In fact, does the title have to precede the name in German, such as 'Der Nazaräer Johannes'? (I don't think that's the case since I can see 'Jesus der Nazaräer' written, but I have to ask) And in that situation can I exclude the article and write 'Nazaräer Johannes'?

I don't know any German, so please answer in English.

  • 3
    I'm a bit confused: would the Johannes in your example be a member of this 19th century art movement or a biblical figure (from Nazareth)? I'm asking, because naming of biblical figures can differ from modern naming. – Arsak May 7 '18 at 5:58
  • @Marzipanherz that's a great question. The art movement. But if you give an answer please address both. "If he were a Biblical figure then the name would be..." That would be extremely interesting for me. In that case would it be "Von Nazaret"? (I'm well aware it would be a hypothetical name, since there was no famous 'John of Nazareth'). Nazarene also became a common title for all Christians in some contexts, and there was a Nazarene sect after Jesus (just as there are Nazarene groups now). – Johan88 May 7 '18 at 7:03
  • In German it is either: Nazarener or Nazoräer. – Thomas May 7 '18 at 10:37

Looks good, compare Brockhaus Konversationslexikon 1894:

Nazarener, Nazaräer, bei den Juden die ältesten Bekenner der Messiaswürde Jesu. Später nannten sich die Ebioniten (s. d.) Nazaräer.

Due to that ambiguity, some additional explanation seems appropriate.

Typically you would use Johannes, der Nazaräer instead, to make clear it is not a last name, but a Beiname. (Depending on source sobriquet or epithet are suggested as translation, but I never encountered any of it.)


I don't know how Biblical figure names are handled in general but regarding names you can not change it easily without destroying potential meaning. You can not omit any words nor you can change word order. So usually you keep the name as is "Johannes der Nazarener". In this case the article emphasizes the fact Johannes is a real Nazarener standing for his religion.

Also in English you might not change the order of such a name: "Paul the carpenter" in any text. In rare cases you might say "The carpenter Paul", but this already has subtle different meaning and might be understood different.

"Johannes der Nazarener" is a fixed name or a literature figure. So if you change word ordering it is not clear you mean this one and only. However if you really don't mind, in German at least all these are syntactically valid:

Johannes der Nazarener ging in den Wald.

Johannes, der Nazarener, ging in den Wald.

Der Johannes, der Nazarener, ging in den Wald.

Der Nazarener Johannes ging in den Wald.

  • Hmmmm.. I don't see what is unusual about "The carpenter Paul" at all. I would use both interchangeably without a second thought. Further, in English, we could even shorten to "Carpenter Paul". And in certain situations the omission of the article is normal. "I'm going to see Doctor Sam." Not "I'm going to see the Doctor Sam" or "I'm going to see Sam, the Doctor". And, "This is Reverend Peter," not "This is the Reverend Peter." Perhaps that is only in informal settings, but the use of the article in such situations could sometimes only be for highly formal settings,suchas public ceremonies – Johan88 May 8 '18 at 2:22
  • In some rare instances in English (albeit archaic English) we even have two articles with two titles before a name, such as the style of address for a Baron: "Barons are styled The Right Honourable The Lord [Barony]. Barons' wives are styled The Right Honourable The Lady [Barony]." A good example is "The Rt Hon. The Lord Foster of Thames Bank OM" The only thing coming after his name is the Order of Merit, not the Title – Johan88 May 8 '18 at 2:39

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