Where was Jesus Christ crucified and buried

Where Was Jesus Crucified?

According to the New Testament, was Jesus crucified not nearby but outside the city of Jerusalem? Can today's Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which lies in the middle of the old town and is surrounded on all sides, then really be a place of crucifixion and burial? Yes, says Father Olivier-Thomas Venard, professor of the New Testament at the Ecole Biblique, the Dominican college in Jerusalem. He is certain that, with the best archaeological reasons, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, which dates back to Emperor Constantine, can be assumed to be the historical site of Good Friday events.

The contradiction regarding the location of the place of execution of Christ

In a recent lecture at the Ecole Biblique, he joined the archaeological consensus that existed in this regard. The obvious contradiction between the New Testament regarding the location of the place of execution of Christ "outside the city" and today's Church of the Holy Sepulcher can easily be resolved. Because at the time of Jesus the city wall in the area of ​​the Holy Sepulcher simply ran differently. The third Jerusalem city wall was only built under Herod Aggripa I in the years 41 to 44. With that Golgotha, a quarry that was abandoned at the time of Jesus because of its poor quality and lying close to the old wall, came to lie within the walls of the expanded city. Tombs from the time of Christ that were found in the area of ​​the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and can be viewed inside are evidence of this. Because according to Jewish law, the dead were never allowed to be buried within the city. So they must have been buried there beforehand.

Golgotha ​​or “garden grave”?

But with that, Golgotha ​​is only one possible place. Its historicity has not yet been proven. Competitors such as the “garden grave” north of today's city wall, discovered in the 19th century and favored by Protestants in particular, meet the topographical criteria of the New Testament - close to and yet outside the city, an elevated, lively place near a garden with private graves - as well. So why did Constantine's builders choose this site in the fourth century to build a basilica, on the remains of which the present-day church rises? Could they refer to a Christian tradition?

According to a report by Eusebius of Caesarea, the great church historian of the fourth century, it is probably not. There it is said that the forgotten place was discovered “thanks to divine inspiration”. Critics see this as a direct literary reference to a theological fig leaf for a historical nakedness: At the beginning of the fourth century, three hundred years after Good Friday, one no longer knew where the crucifixion was. Local knowledge of the job has simply been lost over time.

The Jerusalem narrative tradition

The majority of archaeologists, however, take the opposite view of Eusebius' formulation: the existing local tradition had to be fictitiously presented as broken off in order to literarily upgrade the place and its “discoverers”. Literary parallels for such fictionalizations can be taught. But what about the possibility of a Jerusalem narrative tradition lasting three centuries? Since the thirties of the 2nd century, the alleged site of the crucifixion and burial of Christ lay under the temple area of ​​the city that he consistently paganized, which was built by Emperor Hadrian, so it had become invisible. Nevertheless, Melito von Sardis was able to claim in a homily in the middle of the second century that Jesus was crucified "in the middle of Jerusalem". The Greek, who was ignorant of the location and one of the very first pilgrims to Jerusalem, was only able to make this statement, which contradicts the Gospel reports, because he was able to rely on a local Christian tradition according to which the crucifixion site, which was once outside the city, is now to be found within it.

But how old could such a tradition be? Could a local tradition going back to the beginning also have survived the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in 70 AD? Did Christians who could be considered as tradition bearers then live in the city? Yes, say the proponents. Eusebius has handed down uninterrupted succession of Jewish-Christian bishops in Jerusalem since 35 and thus also for the critical period between 70 and 135.

The early Christians also had an interest in worshiping the tomb of Christ. This simply corresponded to the widely documented practice of venerating saints graves in early Judaism. The rock tomb of Jesus was also able to survive the necessary ritual cleansing for the city expansion under Herod Aggripa unscathed. The monumental graves of Jewish rulers that still exist within the third wall are an example of this.

It was not until the fourth and fifth centuries that Christian authors suggested that Hadrian had his temple precinct built over a Judeo-Christian shrine - the Romans were unable to distinguish precisely here - in order to obliterate the memory of it and to make the triumph of Rome clear . The pagan layout above Christ's grave would be a direct reference to it. Because of existing local traditions, the architects of Constantine searched for the tomb of Christ under Hadrian's temple area and finally found what they were looking for.

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