Have Tomb, Will Argue
Chruch of The Holy Seplechur--Government of Israel site, visited 6/7/01
"This courtyard, outside the present-day Church of the Holy Sepulcher, is partly supported by a large, vaulted cistern. The northern wall of this cistern is very impressive, consisting of large blocks with dressed margins, still standing several meters high. It has been suggested that this early wall served as the retaining wall of the second century Hadrianic raised platform (podium). This appears to support Eusebius' statement that the Temple of Venus, which Hadrian erected on the site of Jesus' tomb, stood here before the original church was built."
The Edicule is the little house put over the tomb to protect it, before the basillica was built. Constantine is known to have put up the first one, and it has been described and documented in many ways. Biddle Traces this developement and finds:
The History of the Edicule
"From the time of Constantine to the present day historians have been blessed with the archaeological evidence discovered showing the Edicule in its original form. The following list is only a fraction of what has been retrieved and the approximate dates of their origination.
Tomb of Chist
Israel Review of Arts and Letters
Wesite belonging to:Israel Ministry Foreign Affairs
Biddle:Constantines edicule, the first of the four "little houses" which have covered and protected the remains of the tomb since its discovery in 325-6, was destroyed in 1009 and no fragment of it has been seen since. How then do we know what it looked like? The best evidence is provided by a replica standing about a metre high, cut in a block of Pyrennean marble, found at Narbonne in south-west France, and dating from the fifth or sixth century CE. Being cut in local marble it cannot be a direct copy of the edicule in Jerusalem, but must be based on some intermediate copy, probably itself a model rather than a set of drawings. Its evidence is therefore second-hand, but there are sufficient other sources to show that it is likely to be in architectural terms a close representation of the Jerusalem original. The other fifth to seventh-century sources are pictures in mosaic, moulded pewter flasks and medallions, the painted lid of a box of relics (found in the Lateran in Rome), images on pottery and glass, and the written records of pilgrims. All these sources present their own problems of date and interpretation, but it is a remarkable range of evidence in different media, more evidence perhaps than for any other vanished building of late antiquity. But the picture is confused by the parallel existence of completely fanciful representations, some of the highest artistic quality, in the form of ivory panels carved in Alexandria and Italy. These show idealized edicules, bearing no relation to reality, but they have confused generations of scholars. Only the objects made in Palestine, mostly probably in Jerusalem, for the pilgrim trade, or copying such local products, like the Narbonne marble, tell us what the edicule built by Constantine was really like.
Biddle traces the full history in the article (see link).
The shapes and appearances have been correlated by the Biddle excavation using advanced thechnology wihch enable the archaeologist to see inside to the orignal layer. The Ediclues was repaced many times wiht scuceeding layers, until it became onionlike, hiding an original core of Constantine's Dome, which has now been penitrated by Biddle using the most advanced technology. There is virtually no doubt that the CHS is the site Constantine chose.
Secrets of the Dead (PBS)
In addition to the traditional methods used by archeologists to study buildings, including taking comprehensive and detailed photographs and studying ancient documents and drawings, archeologists Martin and Birthe Biddle and their colleagues employed a number of sophisticated scientific techniques to examine the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the edicule that purportedly houses the Tomb of Christ.
One of the major means of identification is through the relation to the city wall. They know where the tomb was suppossed to be in relation to the wall and that gives a vector in which to begin searching. Than there are two other peices of crucial evidence, the description by Eusebius and artifacts which link the site with the tomb.
The Tomb of Jesus, where is it?
"In 1963 Archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon while digging near the Church of the Holy Sepulcher proved that at the time of the Crucificion, the Church location was outside the walls of the Old City, during a dig a 49 ft. trench revealed a quarry which was in used between the 7th century b.c. and the first century. Additional support comes from the middle 1960's where repairs were given to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (floor) as well as a nearby Lutheran Church where quarrying evidence and pottery was uncovered. In addition to these discoveries the 1976 excavation by Dr. Christos Katsambinis revealed a cone-shaped grey rock with an incline (35 ft. high) probably the famed Golgotha which had two small caves that from a distance looked like a large skull (E.B. Blaiklock and R.K. Harrison)."
Tomb of Chist
Israel Review of Arts and Letters
Israel Ministry Foreign Affairs
"It is not as if it was the only tomb there. Some eight rock-cut tombs have so far been found below the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Some have kokhim (Heb.), the deep niches at right-angles to the wall into which a body could be inserted as into the drawers of a modern mortuary. At least one of these tombs (now below the Coptic Patriarchate) seems to be very like the tomb whose remains are still today covered by the edicule. Perhaps Eusebius identified the tomb now preserved within the edicule as the Tomb of Christ because it was near to Golgotha. This is suggested in St. Johns Gospel when it says that there was a "garden" at the place of Crucifixion, and that in that garden there was a tomb. But it may also have been because of the features of the tomb then discovered: a movable rolling stone, a low entrance through which it was necessary to bend down to look in or enter, and a bench on the right-hand side where Christs body could have lain and the "angel" could have sat, matched those described in the Gospel."
"Some points are crucial to note. First, the site was outside the city walls at the date of the Crucifixion in 30 or 33 CE. Second, the tomb was in an existing Jewish cemetery of rock-cut tombs typical of the Jerusalem area in the Second Temple period. Third, the place-name Golgotha seems to have lived on in local memory, despite the vast changes in the area brought about by Hadrians foundation of Aelia Capitolina in 132 CE. Before the end of the third century, Eusebius wrote in his Onomastikon, the "Place-Names of Palestine," that: "... Golgotha, place of a skull, where the Christ was crucified ... which is pointed out in Aelia to the north of Mt. Sion."
II. Site Location Handed on by Oral Tradition.
No one really knows how Contantine chose the site. Biddle thinks it was by graffiti found on the walls. Most historians beileve that the Jewish-Christian community passed on an orgal tradition telling their Genitle counterparts how to find the location.
Transcribed by Robert B. Olson
"But nearly all scholars maintain that the knowledge of the place was handed down by oral tradition, and that the correctness of this knowledge was proved by the investigations caused to be made in 326 by the Emperor Constantine, who then marked the site for future ages by erecting over the Tomb of Christ a basilica, in the place of which, according to an unbroken written tradition, now stands the church of the Holy Sepulchre."
The oral tradition makes the most sense because it would give the clearest marker. Of course it is true that Constantine could have just chosen the site at random, or for some other reason. But oral tradition is alluded to by Eusebius, and it is validated by modern archaeology. Before getting into that, let's explore the tradition itself.
Several issues that skeptics will raise include: 1)the tradition only began in the foruth century, 2) That Helena just chose the site arbitrarily, 3) that the site was moved in the middle ages, 4) that legonds and "traditions" are worthless. But all of these are false. The tradition can be linked to the first century..
Transcribed by Robert B. Olson
"These scholars contend that the original members of the nascent Christian Church in Jerusalem visited the Holy Sepulchre soon, if not immediately, after the Resurrection of the Saviour. Following the custom of their people, those who were converts from Judaism venerated, and taught their children to venerate, the Tomb in which had lain the Foundation of their new faith, from which had risen the Source of their eternal hope; and which was therefore more sacred and of greater significance to them than had been the tombs of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and David, which they had hitherto venerated, as their forefathers had for centuries. Nor would Gentile converts have failed to unite with them in this practice, which was by no means foreign to their own former customs.
"The Christians who were in Jerusalem when Titus laid siege to the city in the year 70 fled, it is true, across the Jordan to Pella; but, as the city was not totally destroyed, and as there was no law prohibiting their return, it was possible for them to take up their abode there again in the year 73, about which time, according to Dr. Sanday (Sacred Sites of the Gospels, Oxford, 1903), they really did re-establish themselves. But, granting that the return was not fully made until 122, one of the latest dates proposed, there can be no doubt that in the restored community there were many who knew the location of the Tomb, and who led to it their children, who would point it out during the next fifty years. The Roman prohibition which kept Jews from Jerusalem for about two hundred years, after Hadrian had suppressed the revolt of the Jews under Barcochebas (132-35), may have included Jewish converts to Christianity; but it is possible that it did not. It certainly did not include Gentile converts."
"The list of Bishops of Jerusalem given by Eusebius in the fourth century shows that there was a continuity of episcopal succession, and that in 135 a Jewish line was followed by a Gentile. The tradition of the local community was undoubtedly strengthened from the beginning by strangers who, having heard from the Apostles and their followers, or read in the Gospels, the story of Christ's Burial and Resurrection, visited Jerusalem and asked about the Tomb that He had rendered glorious."
"It is recorded that Melito of Sardis visited the place where "these things [of the Old Testament] were formerly announced and carried out". As he died in 180, his visit was made at a time when he could receive the tradition from the children of those who had returned from Pella. After this it is related that Alexander of Jerusalem (d. 251) went to Jerusalem "for the sake of prayer and the investigation of the places", and that Origen (d. 253) "visited the places for the investigation of the footsteps of Jesus and of His disciples". By the beginning of the fourth century the custom of visiting Jerusalem for the sake of information and devotion had become so frequent that Eusebius wrote, that Christians "flocked together from all parts of the earth". It is at this period that history begins to present written records of the location of the Holy Sepulchre. The earliest authorities are the Greek Fathers, Eusebius (c.260-340), Socrates (b.379), Sozomen (375-450), the monk Alexander (sixth century), and the Latin Fathers, Rufinus (375-410), St. Jerome (346-420), Paulinus of Nola (353-431), and Sulpitius Severus" (363-420).
Of these the most explicit and of the greatest importance is Eusebius, who writes of the Tomb as an eyewitness, or as one having received his information from eyewitnesses. The testimonies of all having been compared and analysed may be presented briefly as follows: Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, conceived the design of securing the Cross of Christ, the sign of which had led her son to victory. Constantine himself, having long had at heart a desire to honour "the place of the Lord's Resurrection", "to erect a church at Jerusalem near the place that is called Calvary", encouraged her design, and giving her imperial authority, sent her with letters and money to Macarius, the Bishop of Jerusalem. Helena and Macarius, having made fruitless inquiries as to the existence of the Cross, turned their attention to the place of the Passion and Resurrection, which was known to be occupied by a temple of Venus erected by the Romans in the time of Hadrian, or later. The temple was torn down, the ruins were removed to a distance, the earth beneath, as having been contaminated, was dug up and borne far away. Then, "beyond the hopes of all, the most holy monument of Our Lord's Resurrection shone forth" (Eusebius, "Life of Constantine", III, xxviii). Near it were found three crosses, a few nails, and an inscription such as Pilate ordered to be placed on the Cross of Christ. The accounts of the finding of the Holy Sepulchre thus summarized have been rejected by some on the ground that they have an air of improbability, especially in the attribution of the discovery to "an inspiration of the Saviour", to "Divine admonitions and counsels", and in the assertions that, although the Tomb had been covered by a temple of Venus for upwards of two centuries, its place was yet known."
Of course, Corfeld says that these pagan monuments, intended to defile the site and make it unfit for veneration, only served to mark the location, so that Christains could remember where it was by marking the pagan monument.There are more serious considerations which I do not have time to address here. I suggest that the reader click on the link above and read the entire article. But the point here is that, unlike many skeptics try to claim, the situation is not that no one ever heard of the site before Contantine; he did not pull it out of think air. There is a traceable tradition going back to the fist century.
"It was not until the eighteenth century that the authenticity of this tomb was seriously doubted. The tradition in its favour was first formally rejected by Korte in his "Reise nach dem gelobten Lande" (Altona, 1741). In the nineteenth century he had many followers, some of whom were content with simply denying that it is the Holy Sepulchre, because it lies within the city walls, while others went further and proposed sites outside the walls. No one, however, has pointed out any other tomb that has a shred of tradition in its favour."
Next:Next: part 2, Archaeological confirmation