Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Have Tomb: Will Aruge part 1

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One of the major Skeptical arguments against the Resurrection of Christ states that no tomb was ever venerated as the site of the Resurrection until Constantine arbitrarily chose one in the fourth century;that the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the oldest traditional site, was just a fabrication. None of this is true. While it cannot be proven conclusively that the CHS is the actual tomb site, there is a strong probability that it is, and there is good evidence to suggest this. The tradition can be traced back to the first century. Thus a tomb was venerated in the first century.The Church of the Holy Sepulcher is owned jointly by three major Christian denominations: The Roman Catholics, the Orthodox, and the Armenian Orthodox. The site was chosen and "discovered" to be the original tomb of Christ by Constantine in 336 AD when he accompanied his mother to the Holy Land in search of the true cross and other artifacts.My Argument is not that we can prove that the CHS is the tomb, but that the strong probability that it was venerated as the tomb in the first century, destroys the skeptical claim in books such as The Empty Tomb.The skeptics contributing to that book must disprove the possibility of the CHS before they can dismiss historicity of the empty tomb.My arguments will be presented in three major areas:

I. The modern site of CHS is the site Constantine chose; its place in the surrounding city is an exact fit for the physical and social experiment of the tomb.

II. Oral tradition guided Constantine's choice, passed down from the Jewish Christian community to the Gentile Chrsitians.

III. Modern archeaology verifies the claims of this tradition.

I. The modern site of CHS is the site Constantine chose; its place in the sourrounding city is an exact fit for the physical and social envoriment of the tomb.

A.Validation of Constantine's site two sources:

(1) The Description of the site itself

The Descriptions given by Eusebius, and by Crusaders in the Middle ages, match the actual site.Carbo Excavation.Church of The Holy Sepulcher--Jewish Virtual Library

"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 Basilica: Early masonry below the catholicon of the Crusader period was exposed during the excavations. This made possible the reconstruction of the original design of the 4th century basilica. The position of the two central rows of columns in the basilica (out of the four rows) may be determined by the remains of their foundations, which can be seen along the northern and southern sides of the chapel of St. Helena. In a small underground space north of this chapel, a massive foundation wall of the early basilica was exposed. On a large, smoothed stone which was incorporated in this wall, a pilgrim to the original church left a drawing of a merchant ship and the Latin inscription: "O Lord, we shall go." Beneath the apse of the present-day catholicon, part of the apse that marked the western end of the original church was exposed. Eusebius described this apse as being surrounded by twelve columns, symbolizing the twelve apostles."

"The Rotunda and Sepulcher:The most important element of the complex is the rotunda which contains the sepulcher itself. The sepulcher stands in an elaborate structure within the rotunda, surrounded by columns supporting an ornamented, domed roof.Some masonry remains were revealed below the floor and around the perimeter of the rotunda. Wherever bedrock was exposed, there were indications of stone-quarrying in earlier periods. The quarrying operation lowered the surface level around the sepulcher, which thus stood well above its surroundings. An architectural survey of the outer wall of the rotunda - 35 m. in diameter and in some sections preserved to a height of 10 m. - shows that it maintains its original 4th century shape. The sepulcher itself is surrounded by a circle of twelve columns - groups of three columns between four pairs of square piers. It is possible that the columns for the 4th century rotunda were removed from their original location on the facade of the Roman temple. Renovation of the piers exposed evidence that the columns had originally been much higher and that the Crusaders cut them in half for use in the 12th century rotunda.The renovation of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is still in progress, but after generations of neglect, the building has already regained most of its former beauty."The survey and excavations were conducted by V. Corbo, Ch. Coüasnon, M. Broshi and others, on behalf of the Christian communities which control most of the Holy Sepulcher: the Roman Catholic; the Greek Orthodox; and the Armenian Orthodox."

(2) Description of the Edicule.

The Edicule is the little house put over the tomb to protect it, before the basilica 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 development and finds:The History of the Edicule communications.org.
"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.Appearances of the Edicule (325-1009 ad)

1) 440 a.d.: on ivory casket side carving.

2) a Narbonne marble model (5th century).

3) Casket lid (6-7th century).

4) Pewter flask (6-7th century).

5) Pewter Medallion.

6) Glass Flasks.

7) Pottery Pilgrim Flask (shows Edicule and Golgotha).

8) Gold ring with the 3D Edicule on top.

9) Mosiac in the Church of St. Stephen in Jordan.

10) Bronze Censer casts (1009 a.d.)Appearances of the Edicule (11th Century -1555)1) Paintings.2) Drawings.3) Crusader Coins/Seals.4) Models.Appearances of the Edicule (1555-1808 ad)1) Stone scale models.2) Wooden models of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre with Edicule model inside.3) Engravings.4) Pottery.
Martin BiddleTomb of ChistIsrael Review of Arts and LettersWesite belonging to:Israel Ministry Foreign Affairsvisited 1/8/05

PBS Series Secrets of the Dead:
The Church of the Holy Sepulchre, located in the northwest quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, was built originally by Constantine the Great, the first Christian emperor of Rome. The church, dedicated in 336 A.D., was said to enclose both the site of Christ's crucifixion (Golgotha), and the rock-cut tomb in which he was said to have been buried. To enclose the tomb, which had previously been covered by a pagan Roman temple, Constantine's engineers had to cut away the hillside into which it had been carved, leaving a freestanding plug of rock jutting out into the landscape. An edicule, or "little house," was built over the tomb, to protect and cover it; a gold-domed rotunda, 65 feet in diameter, called the Dome of the Anastasis (Resurrection), covered the edicule, and a great basilica extended eastward from the tomb.

Over the centuries, the church was destroyed and restored many times. It was burned by the Persians in 614, and rebuilt by Abbot Modestus in 626, then destroyed again in 1009 by the Egyptian caliph al-Hakim Bi-Amr Allah. A new church and a second edicule were built in the early 11th century. In 1555, the third incarnation of the edicule was constructed. When that structure and much of the rotunda and basilica were badly damaged by a fire in 1808, the fourth, and current, edicule was built. It still stands, although it had to be reinforced with a scaffold of steel girders in 1947 and is badly in need of repair.

Biddle did the Secretes of the Dead show around 2000 when there was quite a bit of media attention.His book came out and they were waiting until some future time when he could use modern technology to get photographs of the walls between the Educle to see if any writing marked the site. Unfortunately in the interim they have been unable to find such writing. The matter may never be settled with any certainty.

B. Site's Physical and Social Fit in the Jerusalem Environment

(1)Site location is right in Relation to City Wall

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.
ad communications.orgThe 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 Crucifixion, 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 Sepulcher (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)."

(2) Site was a Cemetery with Garden

Martin Biddle Tomb of Christ 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."

(3) Name Galgotha Stuck to the Site.

"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.""It is only in recent years that study of Eusebius text has shown that the writing of his Onomastikon should be dated to the late third century, perhaps to the 290s, long before Constantines workers cleared the Rock of Golgotha and uncovered the tomb.There was thus a landmark to guide Constantines workmen. They removed the Roman temple covering the site and the masses of earth and rubble forming the platform on which it stood, cleared the Rock of Golgotha and then, to their surprise, found a tomb which fitted the Gospel descriptions. The position is best put by the Israeli scholar Dan Bahat, former City Archaeologist of Jerusalem:"We may not be absolutely certain that the site of the Holy Sepulchre Church is the site of Jesus burial, but we certainly have no other site that can lay a claim nearly as weighty, and we really have no reason to reject the authenticity of the site."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.

A. Location Handed Down From First Century Jewish Christians, To Gentile Christians, to Eusebius.

New AdventCatholic EncyclopeidaHoly SeplechurA.L. MCMAHONTranscribed 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.

B. Tradition linked to First Century.

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..New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia Holy Sepulcher A.L. MCMAHON Transcribed by Robert B. Olson

1) Site remembered by Jewish Christian Community after departure from Jerusalem in 60.

"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.

2) Christian Community Re-established in Second Century.

"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."

3) Tradition past from Jewish Christian community in Jerusalem to Gentile Christians.

"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."

C.Trial of Witnesses from Second Century to Contantine.


"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).

2) Eusebius.[Ibid]

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.

D. Site not questioned until 18th century.[Ibid]

"It was not until the eighteenth century that the authenticity of this tomb was seriously doubted. The tradition in its favor 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 Sepulcher, 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 favor."

excavation not only recognized the site from its description by Esuebius but also from artifacts.

Archaeology cannot yet identify with certainty the tomb of Christ, but here is strong evidence supporting the Church of the Holy Seplicur as the original site. The site does date back to the fourth century when it was shown to Constantine. Bruce attests to the evidential support.(FF Bruch, New Testament Documents) . More important confirmation comes from Gaalyah Cornfeld in Archaeology of The Bible Book By Book. (1976). Cornfeld tells us that from early times Christians reverenced the site, but it was desecrated when the Romans put up a statue of one of their gods. Jewish-Christians could no longer worship at the site for that reason, but they continued the knowledge of it until the time of Constantine when they were able to point him to it as the original site of the resurrection. Constantine put up a basilica over the original shrine, the Anastasis. Excavations by V. Corbo found a gold ring with the representation of the dome of the original shrine Anastasis. This indicates that this site was venerated by Christians in ancient times as the site of the resurrection. (and there is an empty tomb underneither it). (See Archaeology of The Bible: Book by Book, New York: Harper and Row, 1976, 271-2).

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."

Virgilio Canio Corbo ofm (1918 - 1991)

Dr. Corbo was a major figure in his field

Alviero Niccacci, O.F.M.

Archaeology, New Testament, and Early Christianity

Tomado de la página del "Estudio Bíblico Franciscano"

"Since 1961 archaeological soundings, excavations and restorations went on in the Basilica of the HOLY SEPULCHRE. The works were done by the three main Communities - the Greeks, the Armenians and the Franciscans. Fr. Virgilio Corbo acted as a supervisor and the archaeologist of the three communities. In 1981-1982 he published a three-volume illustration on the history of the Holy Sepulchre. By combining the Gospel traditions with the archaeological data Fr. Corbo showed that the area of Golgotha was a quarry of malaky stone since the seventh century BC. The quarry was abandoned in the first century BC and all the area was levelled and transformed into a garden. In this garden two kinds of tombs were carved. One is a single burial with an arcosolium arch. It was cut by Joseph of Arimathea, according to the Gospels and eventually became the tomb of Jesus. The other, lying at a small distance, has many burial places, known as kochim. The place remained a garden until 135 AD when, after curbing the second Jewish revolt, emperor Adrian founded a completely new city under the name of Aelia Capitolina. The area of Golgotha was covered under the basement of the Capitolium, a sacred pagan building. In the new layout the Golgotha found itself inside the city while before it was located outside. From Eusebius of Caesarea we learn that Adrian covered with earth the tomb of Christ in order to conceal it. St Jerome tells us that a statue of Jupiter was erected upon the tomb of Jesus and a statue of Venus on the top of the Golgotha. Archaeological excavations revealed sparse remains of these installations. Again, the pagan transformation helped keep the memory of the site."

(1) Venus and Jupiter

J.Randall Price
Th.M. DTS, Ph.D. Middle Eastern Studies Univ. Texas.

"Excavations conducted in the late 1970's at the site revealed further evidence for this being the place where the original Easter drama was performed. In the lower sections of the Church were discovered the foundations of the Roman emperor Hadrian's "Forum," in which his Temple of Aphrodite had been erected around A.D.135. Hadrian followed Roman custom in building pagan temples and shrines to supercede earlier religious structures. This was done at the site of the Jewish Temple, located not far from the Holy Sepulchre Church, and the fourth century church historian and Bishop of Caesarea Eseubius confirms that it was also done in this case: "Hadrian built a huge rectangular platform over this quarry, concealing the holy cave beneath this massive mound." If the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the actual site venerated by Christians as the tomb of Jesus, it would explain this location for the Roman building."

(2) Was it Really a Roman Temple? What kind of Temple was it?

I'm sure atheists will cloud the issue by probing to find what kind of temple. There appear to be "conflicting traditions as to wheather it was a temple of Venus, or of Jupiter, or even another diety. This obscrues the fact that all archaeologists agree there was a pagan temple there. The evidence points to both, statue of Jupiter, temple of Venus.

New evidence:
Biblical Archaeological Review:
There is no reason for Corbo to choose Jupiter over Venus/Aphrodite, especially because Dio Cassio in the third century fixes the site of the temple of Jupiter on the site of the former Jewish Temple, that is, on the Temple Mount. That is the temple Jerome is referring to. A number of other ancient writers from the fifth century on refer to a temple of Venus/Aphrodite on the site where later the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built.

Basillica of the Anastasis/Resurrection

Franciscan Cybrespot

Church of The Holy Seplecure

(visited 1/12/05)

"Emperor Hadrian suppressed the revolt in 135 AD and decided to demolish the whole city of Jerusalem in order to erase all sites which could incite another revolt by the Jewish people. The emperor also forbade any Jewish presence in the new city. A Gentile-Christian community continued to live in Jerusalem and they ensured the continuity of identification of the sacred sites (the first bishop of this community was Marcus).

A coin minted in Hadrian's Aelia Capitolina - Jerusalem

Hadrian thus prepared a completely new city structured on Hellenistic plans and renamed it "Aelia Capitolina" ("Aelia" in his honour and "Capitolina" because it was to contain a Capitol for the Roman gods). In this new architectural plan the Garden of Golgotha came to be at the centre of the new city. Some authors maintain that the area on this Garden became the Capitol of the new city with altars for the three main Roman gods - Jupiter at the centre flanked by Juno and Minerva. Others, quoting evidence provided by the writings of Eusebius of Caesarea, maintain that the temple was dedicated to Aphrodite. Both schools of thought agree that a pagan temple was erected on this site.

Confirming Biblical History

Originally quoting

From Break Point, May 2, 2002 Copyright © 2002, reprinted with permission of Prison Fellowship, P.O. Box 17500, Washington DC, 20041-7500 www.breakpoint.org

"One of the most powerful evidences for the truth of the Gospels is found underneath an ancient church in Jerusalem. Ironically, in attempting to cover up the evidence, the ancient enemies of Christianity preserved it for later generations.

Our story begins in the year 135 AD The Roman emperor Hadrian had just subjugated Judea after the Second Jewish Revolt. Hadrian was determined to impose Roman religion upon the Judeans. After destroying the Jewish synagogues in Jerusalem, he then turned his attention to the Christians. What better way to squelch this upstart religion than to obliterate its holy places? The site of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection was known and venerated by Christians at the time. So Hadrian concealed the site under a massive concrete platform and built a temple to the pagan god Zeus on top of it.

Nearly two centuries later the tables turned: The emperor Constantine converted to Christianity. He decided to build a magnificent church in Jerusalem to commemorate Christ's crucifixion and resurrection—and he insisted that the church be built upon the actual site. When Constantine's architects arrived in Palestine, Christians pointed them to Hadrian's temple, which marked the very spot.

The builders set to work demolishing the pagan temple. Sure enough, underneath they found the ancient quarry called Golgotha—and nearby, the remains of the tomb of Christ. Today, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem's Old City still marks the actual site of the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. You see, the early Christians knew their faith was rooted in historical events. They built churches throughout the Holy Land for precisely that reason—to mark the actual location.

The pagan temple of Hadrian was built on the east-west axis and was surrounded by a Temenos (a protective wall with its façade on the Cardus Maximus from where you entered into the sacred enclosure). St. Jerome, in a letter to Paulinus in 395 says that: "Since the times of Hadrian up to the empire of Constantine, for almost 180 years, the statue of Jupiter was venerated on the place of the Resurrection and on the rock of the cross a marble statue of Venus placed there by the gentiles. In the intentions of the perpetrators of the persecutions they would have removed our faith in the resurrection in the cross had they profaned the holy sites with idols". From these descriptions, confirmed also by the archaeological research carried out in the area, we know that this pagan temple of Aelia transformed the Judeo-Christian site into a pagan one by placing the cult of Jupiter on the tomb of the Lord and that of Venus on Calvary. This situation continued for about 180 years as is stated by Jerome himself.

B. Biddle Excavation.

Drawing upon work done in the 1980s in relation to accessing damages for repair, one of the most prominate British Archaeologists, Martin Biddle, with his wife, excavated the site and found that it may well be the actual tomb.


"The study by Professor Martin Biddle, Professor of Medieval Archaeology, and his wife, the Danish archaeologist, Birthe Kjobye-Biddle, shows how a tomb found in AD 325–6 under a Roman temple, has a good claim to be the tomb in which the body of Christ was laid on the evening of the crucifixion in AD 30 or 33. It also explores how it has fared over the centuries."

Biddle's data is distilled into a book entitled The Tomb of Christ

Biddle helps to confirm the authenticity of the site as that of Constantine, he also verifies some of Eusebius' observations. Corbo verifies the site as connected to first century oral tradition and veneration. Thus, the site's authenticity is a high probability. There are no counter arguments and no alternate sites with any real claim to the title.

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