¹ Most scholars, to my knowledge, seriously doubt whether the town of Nazareth existed at the time of Jesus. If this be true, how does one explain the identification of Jesus as being from Nazareth? "And he saith unto them, Be not amazed: ye seek Jesus, the Nazarene ... ." Mark 16:6 (see also Matthew 2:23). If the town of Nazareth did not exist at the time of Jesus, then the term "Nazarene", in my opinion, must refer to an organization or movement as opposed to a place. It has been suggest that "Nazarene" refers to a branch within the Essene sect of Judiasm (note: the Jewish-Roman historian Josephus identified three distinct sects of Judiasm at the time of Jesus--i.e., Sadducee, Pharisee, and Essene): link. Although the evidence is scant, the conclusion that Jesus was a member of the Nazarene branch of the Essene sect is the most logical explanation for his being referred to as a "Nazarene".
One final point on the issue: in the early years after Jesus's death, the term "Nazarene" was also used for the Christian movement as a whole.
We have, in fact, found this man [Paul] a pestilent fellow, an agitator among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. (Acts 24:5.)If the term "Nazarene" as used in the NT merely means someone from the town of Nazareth, why would the Christian community as a whole be called Nazarenes?