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Holy Sepulchre and Garden Tomb can not possibly be where Christ was buried!

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by dan, Jun 13, 2006.

  1. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    I came a cross an interesting article in a religious journal recently. It was about research done concerning the burial place of Jesus. It shows that both the Garden Tomb (accepted by many Christians as Christ's tomb) and the Holy Sepulchre (accepted by Catholics as Christ's tomb) could not possibly be the location of Christ's burial.

    I have to start typing up all the evidence, but what have you heard, and what do you think about this?
     
  2. Quiddity

    Quiddity UndertheInfluenceofGiants

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    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. The most popularly accepted tomb among those proposed is one near Gordon's Calvary (see CALVARY, Modern Calvaries). But this has been found to be one of a series of tombs extending for some distance, and did not, therefore, stand in a garden as did Christ's Tomb. Moreover, the approach to this tomb is over made ground, the removal of which would leave the entrance very high, whereas the door of the Holy Sepulchre was very low. It has been suggested above, that when Constantine built his basilica, and for long afterwards, there may have been evident traces of an old city wall that had excluded the Holy Sepulchre from the city when Christ was buried. From Josephus, we know of three walls that at different times enclosed Jerusalem on the north. The third of these is the present wall, which was built about ten years after the death of Christ, and is far beyond the traditional Holy Sepulchre. Josephus describes the second wall as extending from the gate Gennath, which was in the first wall, to the tower Antonia. A wall running in a direct line between these two points would have included the Sepulchre. But it could have followed an irregular line and thus have left the Sepulchre outside. No researches have ever yielded any indication of a wall following a straight line from the Gennath gate to the Antonia. That, on the contrary, the wall took an irregular course, excluding the Sepulchre, seems to have been sufficiently proved by the discoveries, in recent years, of masses of masonry to the east and southeast of the church. So convincing is the evidence afforded by these discoveries that such competent authorities as Drs. Schick an Gauthe at once admitted the authenticity of the traditional Tomb. Since then, this view has been generally adopted by close students of the question.

    -Catholic Encyclopedia
     
  3. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    I’m condensing and abridging this article as well as re-arranging it for this thread, but the original is by Dr. Jeffrey R. Chadwick, and can be found in the Religious Educator, Vol. 4, No 1, 2003.

    The Holy Sepulchre


    Any site purported to be Jesus’ burial ground must fulfill several criteria. First, the Biblical account must be held against it. It must have been in a garden, newly hewn, and it must have allowed for a stone to be placed in front of the opening. The entrance must have been low enough to have required bending down to look in, and Christ’s body must have been visible from the opening. Wherever Christ was put must have also allowed for angels to sit at his head and feet. Second, the tomb must stand up to what is known about the Jewish practice of burial and the archeological state of the area.

    The site of the Holy Sepulchre sits on a quarry from the seventh century BC. The topsoil was removed for this and tombs were carved into it when the quarry was abandoned. In AD 135 Hadrian built a pagan temple in the tomb now called the Holy Sepulchre. Constantine ordered a temple to Christ be built there between AD 326 and 335. Before Hadrian, there was topsoil and seed blown around by wind, and grass did grow there, but a garden requires much more than weeds and grass, especially if it to employ an actual gardener. There was not enough arable soil to grow anything constituting a 1st century “garden” at the Holy Sepulchre. Strike one.

    The site should also be newly hewn, but the Holy Sepulchre contained horizontal burial niches (called kokhim in Hebrew) underneath Hadrian’s temple. These could not have been carved during (or any time near) Christ’s lifetime and therefore eliminate the possibility that this site was Jesus’ newly hewn tomb. From the 10th to the 1st Century AD tombs were not allowed to be carved west of Jerusalem. None have ever been found west of the city that have been dated during that time, but hundreds have been found north, east and south of the city from that time period. For over 350 days a year the winds in Jerusalem come from the west, off the sea. This would blow the stench of decomposing corpses directly into the city, as well as the ritual impurities that Jews believed were emitted by dead bodies. There were rules about how close to the city and in what direction burials of anything could occur. Observe (the Talmud): “They distance the animal carcasses and the tombs and the tannery from the city fifty cubits. None place a tannery other than to the east of the city. Rabbi Akiva says: to every wind one places, except the west, and fifty cubits.” The absence of tombs west of the city from ten centuries before on up to this time make it clear that they didn’t want the wind carrying any impurities or smells into the city. Those kokhim were carved two or three centuries before, when the city didn’t extend that far north, and that makes this tomb an old, previously used one. Where is the Holy Sepulchre located, by the way?

    From 20 BC on it was directly west of the city and the expanded Temple, but before that time period it was north of the city and the Temple.

    If scientific evidence and Jewish law is to be trusted at all, then this tomb could not possible have been carved out anytime near Christ’s life.

    [FONT=&quot]I move on to the Garden Tomb… [/FONT]
     
  4. Quiddity

    Quiddity UndertheInfluenceofGiants

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    Dan, assuming it's not the Tomb of Chirst, what if anything do you think it does to those who believe it is?
     
  5. James the Persian

    James the Persian Dreptcredincios Crestin

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    Well I'm pretty convinced that it is the Tomb of Christ and God appears to agree, if you accept the annual Holy Fire miracle. Even if you don't (and I doubt you would, Victor, given the history post Gregorian paschalion reform RCs have had with it), I've yet to see any good evidence to show that it is not. The evidence Dan provides seems rather poor and to revolve around there being a gardener. What if the gardener was there simply to keep the weeds down and not because there was actually a garden as such? That's always been my experience of what the equivalent in a modern cemetary does, after all. This seems to be nothing more than grasping at straws by those who must try to refute Holy Tradition at all costs.

    James
     
  6. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    OK, drop the gardener idea and it's still an open and shut case. A Jew (especially a prominent Jew like Joseph) wouldn't have built a tomb there. He wouldn't have been allowed to by Jewish law. It's that simple.

    The evidence I just cited is the evidence you'll have to address if you want to convince anyone who's not Catholic that you're not just closing your eyes to the facts because they're inconvenient to your faith.
     
  7. James the Persian

    James the Persian Dreptcredincios Crestin

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    I'm Orthodox.

    James
     
  8. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    I apologize for the mix-up. To me they share many traits, and I forget that they're two different churches.

    Oh, and I researched your gardener idea. In that time period only one kind of person was called a gardener. That was someone who tended to an orchard of olive trees or other kinds of fruit. A person who tended to grapes was working in a vineyard and was never called a gardner. "Garden" had a very specific meaning. That area has never had enough topsoil to support anything large enough to constitute a garden or the need of a gardner.

    You call it grasping at straws, but those straws are what are known as evidence, and they are legitimate. I have evidence - you have shown only conjecture and the ability to ignore evidence.

    All my other evidence remains unassaulted, but I renew the gardner argument. Your turn.
     
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  9. Smoke

    Smoke Done here.

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    It would be helpful to your case if you could substantiate the above claim.
     
  10. kai

    kai ragamuffin

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    well does it matter all that much i have been to both and i am not religious ,but a lot of people get comfort from it and you are not going to get much closer.
     
  11. James the Persian

    James the Persian Dreptcredincios Crestin

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    I concur. An assertion with no evidence to back it up is not really worth much.

    I'd also like to note two issues with what you posted. First that a newly hewn tomb does not have to be on a site with no previous tombs any more than a newly dug grave must be in an empty cemetary. Second, that the fact that Hadrian built a temple on the site about a century after the Crucifixion, given the way the Romans tended to build on the top of the religious sites of conquered peoples, actually lends credence to the histories of Eusebius and others that the early Christians in Jerusalem had visited and prayed at the tomb as the true Tomb of Christ right up to his day. It doesn't go so far as proving it but it certainly seems consistent with the early accounts rather than the 19th century revisionist historians accounts (which were originally based on the idea that the tomb was inside the city walls, which has subsequently been shown not to be the case at the time of the Crucifixion).

    James
     
  12. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    I already did. The ground was shown to be used as a quarry around the seventh century BC. At around AD 135 Hadrian built his temple and two hundred years later it was a shrine. During that time there was never anything more than a dusting of soil. To create a bed of topsoil large enough to support an actual garden would have been a very, very large deal which would have left records and evidence, but not a drop of evidence is found. So much so that the first person to actually effectively propose that it actually could have held a garden had to presume that wind blew enough soil over the area to grow sparce grass. The best a hard-core faithful archeologist could do was say, "There could have been grass?" You would have to show that it was possible for a quarry to naturally become arable enough to grow trees (that take decades to grow) in order to prove insufficient this evidence.

    My other evidence remains un-addressed. Please address it.
     
  13. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    You misunderstand. Nothing in the cave was newly hewn during Christ's time. Hadrian built the temple on top of what is today known as the Holy Sepulchre. When I say underneath his temple was found all these tombs I mean the tombs that are now paraded about as Christ's. Everything had been there for centuries and nothing new was added. There is nothing in that cave that was carved during Christ's lifetime. If you go there today you still see the exact same kokhim that were carved long before Christ's lifetime. The scriptures say no one had been buried there prior to Christ, but this tomb doesn't qualify at all.

    I'd like to add that your assumption about new tombs is equivalent to my saying only grass grew there with no other evidence. Don't object to my evidence unless you have something besides a supposition to support it. I don't mean to sound snide, but there's a lot of evasiveness and avoidance in these responses and not a shred of actual evidence.
     
  14. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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  15. Smoke

    Smoke Done here.

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    So:
    1) 700 years before Christ, it was a quarry.
    2) 100 years after Christ, Hadrian built a temple there.
    3) 200 years later it was a shrine.

    The second and third assertions are irrelevant to the question of whether there could have been a Garden there earlier, so the only possible relevant datum is (1). It is, to say the least, insufficient to show that there could not have been a garden there 700 years later. Note that Murphy-O'Connor's "windblown weed patch" is by no means the only way a garden could have come to be there.

    Why?

    Why? Must the location of a garden "naturally become arable"? Isn't a certain amount of human effort built into the idea of a garden?

    Your other "evidence" consists of the same kind of muddle. Chadwick clearly has an axe to grind -- having belatedly acknowledged the implausibility of the Garden Tomb as Jesus' burial place, he'd like to at least be able to say that the Holy Sepulchre is also inauthentic. And it may be. I'm not saying the Holy Sepulchre is necessarily the very burial place of Jesus, just that I don't find Chadwick's arguments very compelling. In fact, I find it impossible to Chadwick very seriously no matter what his topic.
     
  16. James the Persian

    James the Persian Dreptcredincios Crestin

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    I didn't assume anything. All I said was that the existence of old tombs does not preclude the existence of a new tomb. In other words, arguing based on the age of other tombs is irrelevant when it comes to the one tomb identified as Christ's. This is completely and obviously true without my having to provide further evidence. Your argument would be roughly equivalent to me saying that there cannot possibly be a newly built house in my street because all of the ones I have investigated were built in the 1890s. You need evidence about the one tomb, not about other burial niches to make your case. And if what you are saying is that there are old burial niches within the one tomb (your argument is far from clear), then that still does not preclude the possibility of new work having been done there to produce what was, in effect, a new tomb. Existing structures are quite frequently reused and remodelled for any number of reasons. To go back to the house example, my house was built in the 1890s but when it was built it looked rather different as it has two much more modern additions. Does that mean that no new building work has been done?

    James
     
  17. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    Are you aware of how deep soil has to go to hold up a tree? The human effort that would have been necessary is what would have left some kind of evidence, and we have no records of such projects being undertaken on a slab of rock just so they could grow a tree. You'd have to bring forth some pretty groundbreaking new theories and evidence to make that one plausible.


    Very easy to say, but quite anothe thing to prove, and saying it's muddled and not compelling means absolutely nothing to someone awaiting some kind of evidence.

    Most people, when they see a Mormon automatically dismiss whatever they say irrespective of the evidence brought forth. It's called a bias, and it means your judgment is skewed. I expect it when I enter any debate, but I also expect an actual argument from the other side. I usually don't get it, I just get "You're a Mormon and you're dumb!"
     
  18. dan

    dan Well-Known Member

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    To a first century Jew that's exactly what it means. Don't make anachronistic assumptions to try to prove your point.
     
  19. James the Persian

    James the Persian Dreptcredincios Crestin

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    As you're not a first century Jew, I would expect you to provide some evidence to back this assertion up. I wasn't making any kind of assumption (the way you use that word seems to imply that you might need to actually investigate its meaning), but was providing an analogy. If the analogy is in any way anachronistic then the onus is on you to show that it is. You are the one arguing that the site identified as Christ's tomb since at least (and according to the writers of the time long before) the 4th century could not possibly be correct. For that you need to provide evidence and so far you have provided merely assertions and opinions. Personally, I would trust those closer to the time than modern 'authorities' and so for you to convince me that your position, rather than well over 1500 years (or perhaps more) of Tradition, is correct would require you to provide at least some reasonably compelling evidence. So far I see none.

    James
     
  20. Smoke

    Smoke Done here.

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    That depends on the tree, doesn't it? But why are trees necessary, anyway? Are you assuming that a garden is always some sort of orchard?

    By your own account, there have been two major construction projects on that site since then -- actually, there have been more -- and it seems very plausible that a series of major construction projects could involve clearing away the remains of any garden. In fact, both Hadrian's construction and Constantine's involved such massive changes to the site that it's ludicrous to suppose there should be remaining evidence of a first-century garden there.

    No garden could possibly have been there unless records were made of it, and those records have survived to the present time? That's a very shaky proposition.

    Chadwick is overreaching. He doesn't support his assertions and his conclusions don't follow from those assertions, anyway.

    One could almost grow weary of Mormon defensiveness and self-pity. However, I didn't say a word about Chadwick being a Mormon, or about Mormons being incapable of being decent scholars; the insult is entirely in your own imagination.

    A True Believer with an axe to grind doesn't tend to make the best scholar, in archaeology or in many other fields. His preconceived ideas tend to get in the way of honest scholarship. However, that's not a problem unique to Mormons, even though Chadwick is a Mormon and he happens to be a particularly apt example of the problem. There's no reason a believer can't be a good scholar -- plenty of them are -- or that a Mormon in particular can't be a good scholar. It's just that Chadwick isn't.

    In this case in particular, Chadwick has an irrational attachment to the Garden Tomb. He wants to encourage people to continue to visit the Garden Tomb, in part because he believes the setting (including, I imagine the type of Christianity one encounters there) is more conducive to the kind of spirituality he prefers, and in part because the clear preference of the Mormon Presidents for the site is -- for Chadwick -- evidence in itself of the site's importance. The complete baselessness of his former claim that the Garden Tomb was actually the tomb of Christ has finally become clear to him, but he can't shake his attachment to the site. So it has become important to him to discredit the Holy Sepulchre and to claim that if the Garden Tomb is not actually the tomb of Christ, the tomb of Christ must still have been somewhere right around there. He's not at all successful in hiding his bias, and it's not surprising that someone who is determined to come to a certain conclusion finds a way to come to that conclusion, somehow. But it's a very poor way to go about archaeological or historical research.
     
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