Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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DCHindley
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Re: Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Post by DCHindley » Tue Nov 01, 2016 4:55 pm

andrewcriddle wrote:Our earliest account is Eusebius Life of Constantine it appears to imply that the identification of the site of the Holy Sepulchre occurred at least a short period before Helena's visit to Palestine.
Mighty convenient, that.

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spin
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Re: Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Post by spin » Tue Nov 01, 2016 10:06 pm

DCHindley wrote:
andrewcriddle wrote:the identification of the site of the Holy Sepulchre occurred at least a short period before Helena's visit to Palestine.
Mighty convenient, that.
The force was strong with that woman.
Dysexlia lures • ⅔ of what we see is behind our eyes

StephenGoranson
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Re: Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Post by StephenGoranson » Wed Nov 02, 2016 1:16 am

Perhaps of interest to some readers:
Joan Taylor, Golgatha: A Reconsideration of the Evidence for the Sites of Jesus' Crucifixion and Burial, New Testament Studies 44 (1998) 180-203, which uses Melito of Sardis among other sources.
Abstract:
In this study Golgotha is defined as the area of a disused quarry, west of first-century Jerusalem. The site of the crucifixion of Jesus and the. site of his entombment are distinguished as separate localities within this region. It is proposed that while Jesus was executed close to Gennath Gate and two main roads, he was buried some 200 m. further north in a more isolated area. Addressing archaeological and historical evidence, the author reconsiders her previous scepticism regarding the traditional tomb of Jesus, and proposes instead that it may well be authentic, though she renews her argument for the localisation of the crucifixion further south.

An apparently abridged version (e.g. fewer footnotes and perhaps other changes) appears here:
http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/20 ... px#Article

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JoeWallack
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Re: Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Post by JoeWallack » Wed Nov 02, 2016 7:10 am

TedM wrote:There has been recent news about efforts to further explore the alleged tomb of Jesus that is found in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/jesus-christs- ... yptr=yahoo is a sample article.

What are the strongest arguments against the idea that Constantine really did have this church built to include the actual burial cave of Jesus, or one that was really thought to be the actual burial cave?
JW:
The strongest argument against is the weakness of the argument for. You need to learn the difference between absolute and relative evidence. The relative evidence is for because there really is no relative evidence against. But what is the difference here between absolute evidence and relative evidence? Absolute evidence would be quality witness. Quality witness needs two attributes:
  • 1) Knowledge

    2) Credibility
Quality witness would be multiple first or second hand independent evidence from objective sources. We are a long way from that here. We've been through this before Ted.


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iskander
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Re: Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Post by iskander » Wed Nov 02, 2016 8:05 am

TedM wrote:There has been recent news about efforts to further explore the alleged tomb of Jesus that is found in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/jesus-christs- ... yptr=yahoo is a sample article.

What are the strongest arguments against the idea that Constantine really did have this church built to include the actual burial cave of Jesus, or one that was really thought to be the actual burial cave?
It could be anywhere around there.
The village of Silwan is situated on the east slope of the Kidron Valley, opposite the 'City of David' - the site of biblical Jerusalem (Fig. 1). A monumental necropolis dated to the later part of the First Temple period, when Jerusalem was the capital of the kingdom of Judah, is situated within the present-day village. About fifty rock-cut tombs are situated in the vertical cliffs which extend along the slope.
http://archaeology.tau.ac.il/?page_id=2047

TedM
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Re: Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Post by TedM » Wed Nov 02, 2016 10:49 am

I don't have any idea why you felt the need to write this Joe. I know the difference between evidence for and evidence against. I agree with your very first statement. The rest of what you wrote was completely unnecessary.
JoeWallack wrote:
TedM wrote:There has been recent news about efforts to further explore the alleged tomb of Jesus that is found in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/jesus-christs- ... yptr=yahoo is a sample article.

What are the strongest arguments against the idea that Constantine really did have this church built to include the actual burial cave of Jesus, or one that was really thought to be the actual burial cave?
JW:
The strongest argument against is the weakness of the argument for. You need to learn the difference between absolute and relative evidence. The relative evidence is for because there really is no relative evidence against. But what is the difference here between absolute evidence and relative evidence? Absolute evidence would be quality witness. Quality witness needs two attributes:
  • 1) Knowledge

    2) Credibility
Quality witness would be multiple first or second hand independent evidence from objective sources. We are a long way from that here. We've been through this before Ted.


Joseph

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JoeWallack
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Re: Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Post by JoeWallack » Wed Nov 02, 2016 11:36 am

TedM wrote:I don't have any idea why you felt the need to write this Joe.
JW:
No argument there Ted. But consider, just consider the possibility that people other than you are reading this. My fellow Skeptics are having difficulty articulating what exactly is wrong with the sources you are quoting. Regarding anyone who thinks that having a best source of Eusebius on this subject justifies a likely or better conclusion, well that is better evidence for the credibility of the source relying on Eusebius than it is for where Jesus' supposed tomb was.


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TedM
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Re: Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Post by TedM » Wed Nov 02, 2016 12:59 pm

JoeWallack wrote: My fellow Skeptics are having difficulty articulating what exactly is wrong with the sources you are quoting
I didn't detect that they were having any difficulty. I think they see it as originating too late and by too incredible sources to be taken seriously. But it is the origins of the tradition that I was hoping they would address more clearly.

It would be interesting to know why "the author reconsiders her previous scepticism regarding the traditional tomb of Jesus, and proposes instead that it may well be authentic", according to one of the responses. Surely it has to do with more than Eusebius. That doesn't make it valid, of course though.
Regarding anyone who thinks that having a best source of Eusebius on this subject justifies a likely or better conclusion, well that is better evidence for the credibility of the source relying on Eusebius than it is for where Jesus' supposed tomb was.
Whether Eusebius was the best source or not was one thing I was trying to determine.

Ulan
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Re: Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Post by Ulan » Wed Nov 02, 2016 1:40 pm

spin wrote:
DCHindley wrote:
andrewcriddle wrote:the identification of the site of the Holy Sepulchre occurred at least a short period before Helena's visit to Palestine.
Mighty convenient, that.
The force was strong with that woman.
Who knows, maybe she used a dipping rod? Dip, dip, "Jesus Tomb" , dip, dip, "True Cross", dip, dip, "Cave Jesus was born in", dip, dip, "Relics of the three Magi", dip, dip...

Of course, coming with a big stash of money with the sole purpose of spending it on Christian artifacts may make "memories" of the locals flow more easily.

Ken Olson
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Re: Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Post by Ken Olson » Thu Nov 03, 2016 4:40 am

It is remarkable how little Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea, our earliest source for Constantine’s founding of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, actually says about the historical circumstances of its foundation in the Vita Constantini. Eusebius does not associate the discovery of the tomb with Constantine’s mother Helena and does not record her discovery of the True Cross, though he does attribute her with the founding of the churches at the sites of the nativity in Bethlehem and of the ascension on the Mount of Olives (VC 3.41-43). It seems unlikely that Eusebius could have been ignorant of such a discovery by Helena and scholars are divided between those that think it was a later legend (first attested in Ambrose of Milan, a generation later) and those who think Eusebius suppressed it for some reason (perhaps because it would have enhanced the status of Macarius, bishop of Aelia/Jerusalem, who was his subordinate). Other scholars find a (very) veiled reference to the discovery of the cross in VC 3.28.

Vita Constantini 3.25-28http://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/basis/vi ... antine.asp
(3.25) AFTER these things, the pious emperor addressed himself to another work truly worthy of record, in the province of Palestine. What then was this work? He judged it incumbent on him to render the blessed locality of our Saviour's resurrection an object of attraction and veneration to all. He issued immediate injunctions, therefore, for the erection in that spot of a house of prayer: and this he did, not on the mere natural impulse of his own mind, but being moved in spirit by the Saviour himself.
(3.26) For it had been in time past the endeavor of impious men (or rather let me say of the whole race of evil spirits through their means), to consign to the darkness of oblivion that divine monument of immortality to which the radiant angel had descended from heaven, and rolled away the stone for those who still had stony hearts, and who supposed that the living One still lay among the dead; and had declared glad tidings to the women also, and removed their stony-hearted unbelief by the conviction that he whom they sought was alive. This sacred cave, then, certain impious and godless persons had thought to remove entirely from the eyes of men, supposing in their folly that thus they should be able effectually to obscure the truth. Accordingly they brought a quantity of earth from a distance with much labor, and covered the entire spot; then, having raised this to a moderate height, they paved it with stone, concealing the holy cave beneath this massive mound. Then, as though their purpose had been effectually accomplished, they prepare on this foundation a truly dreadful sepulchre of souls, by building a gloomy shrine of lifeless idols to the impure spirit whom they call Venus, and offering detestable oblations therein on profane and accursed altars. For they supposed that their object could not otherwise be fully attained, than by thus burying the sacred cave beneath these foul pollutions. Unhappy men! they were unable to comprehend how impossible it was that their attempt should remain unknown to him who had been crowned with victory over death, any more than the blazing sun, when he rises above the earth, and holds his wonted course through the midst of heaven, is unseen by the whole race of mankind. Indeed, his saving power, shining with still greater brightness, and illumining, not the bodies, but the souls of men, was already filling the world with the effulgence of its own light. Nevertheless, these devices of impious and wicked men against the truth had prevailed for a long time, nor had any one of the governors, or military commanders, or even of the emperors themselves ever yet appeared, with ability to abolish these daring impieties, save only that one who enjoyed the favor of the King of kings. And now, acting as he did under the guidance of the divine Spirit, he could not consent to see the sacred spot of which we have spoken, thus buried, through the devices of the adversaries, under every kind of impurity, and abandoned to forgetfulness and neglect; nor would he yield to the malice of those who had contracted this guilt, but calling on the divine aid, gave orders that the place should be thoroughly purified, thinking that the parts which had been most polluted by the enemy ought to receive special tokens, through his means, of the greatness of the divine favor. As soon, then, as his commands were issued, these engines of deceit were cast down from their proud eminence to the very ground, and the dwelling-places of error, with the statues and the evil spirits which they represented, were overthrown and utterly destroyed
(3.27) Nor did the emperor's zeal stop here; but he gave further orders that the materials of what was thus destroyed, both stone and timber, should be removed and thrown as far from the spot as possible; and this command also was speedily executed. The emperor, however, was not satisfied with having proceeded thus far: once more, fired with holy ardor, he directed that the ground itself should be dug up to a considerable depth, and the soil which had been polluted by the foul impurities of demon worship transported to a far distant place.
(3.28) This also was accomplished without delay. But as soon as the original surface of the ground, beneath the covering of earth, appeared, immediately, and contrary to all expectation, the venerable and hollowed monument (martyrion) of our Saviour's resurrection was discovered. Then indeed did this most holy cave present a faithful similitude of his return to life, in that, after lying buried in darkness, it again emerged to light, and afforded to all who came to witness the sight, a clear and visible proof of the wonders of which that spot had once been the scene, a testimony to the resurrection of the Saviour clearer than any voice could give.
Against the theory that a tradition about the location of the tomb was the basis for Constantine’s choice of the site on which he built the church, Annabel Jane Wharton has argued that Constantine first ordered the demolition of the temple of Venus that stood in Jerusalem and construction of a church in its place, and that a tomb that was unexpectedly unearthed during the demolition process was subsequently identified as that of Jesus [“The Baptistery of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem and the Politics of Sacred Landscape,” Dumbarton Oaks Papers 46 (1992) 313-325.]
A recognition of the topographic prominence of
the building site of the Holy Sepulcher affects the
reading of Eusebius' description of the complex.
Eusebius, who as metropolitan bishop of Caesarea
would have been fully aware of the architectural
enterprises of his suffragan at Jerusalem, is the
first and most important witness to Constantine's
building activities. Eusebius claims that the site of
the sepulcher was consciously buried beneath pagan
appurtenances.(49) Evil men attempted to obscure
the truth revealed by the tomb by covering it
over with a great mound of earth and a temple of
Venus. They succeeded in their plot until, "with
the guidance of the divine spirit," the emperor
Constantine began construction on the site. Then,
"contrary to all expectation, the venerable and hallowed
monument of our Saviour's resurrection was
discovered." (50)

Eusebius' narrative invites its readers to make
two historically problematical assumptions. First,
since the text fails to indicate how Constantine,
apart from the revelation of the divine spirit, knew
the location of the Holy Sepulcher, rationalist apologists
have been tempted to argue that the site was
identified by local tradition.(51) However, there is no
evidence that this site of the sepulcher was recognized
and visited in pre-Constantinian times,
though other sacred spots were venerated. The
cave of the Nativity was known to Justin and Origen;
(52) the cave on the Mount of Olives was apparently
a pilgrimage site by 314, before Eusebius
wrote his Demonstrationo f the Gospel.(53) Also, an uninterrupted
oral or literary tradition in Jerusalem
between the first and fourth centuries identifying
the site is questionable in view of the discontinuity
of the Christian community itself. In his Ecclesiastical
History Eusebius notes that the earliest Christian
community in Jerusalem was ethnically Jewish:
". . . up to the siege of the Jews by Hadrian the
successions of bishops [in Jerusalem] were fifteen
in number. It is said that they were all Hebrews by
origin. .... For their whole church at that time consisted
of Hebrews . . ."(54) It is, consequently, quite
reasonable to suggest that any surviving local tradition
might well have been severed by Hadrian's
dispersal of the Jews. (55) For example, on the basis
of his study of the episcopal lists, C. H. Turner
writes:
The break in continuity between Jerusalem and Aelia
must have been absolute. The Christians of Jerusalem
must have been ... of the most conservative type of
Jewish churchmanship: the Christians of Aelia, if at
first there were any of them at all, would have been
not only gentiles by race, but inimical, by the very fact
of their consenting to settle in the pagan city, to all
that pertained to Judaism or even Jewish Christianity.
(56)
In view of the historical circumstances of Jerusalem,
readers should take more seriously Eusebius'
own acknowledgement that the site of the Passion
"had remained unknown for a long series of
years"'(57)

The second dubious assumption concerning the
founding of the Holy Sepulcher has not been imposed
on Eusebius' narrative by its interpretants,
but lurks undisclosed in his text. Eusebius claims
that the new Jerusalem was built over the site of
Jesus' resurrection in order to obscure it. Such a
claim requires the reader to believe that Hadrian's
town planners, in the aftermath of the destruction
of Jerusalem and dispersal of the Jews, located the
center of their new city not with a view to the convenience,
water supply, and geology of the site, but
rather with the sole end of covering up the unmarked
shrine of a dispersed heretical Jewish sect.

A less historically improbable reading of the
source is possible. As in Rome, Antioch, and perhaps
Constantinople, Constantine's first ecclesiastical
construction in Aelia was to be a cathedral. A
site in the center of the city was selected: archaeological
evidence indicates that the church complex
was constructed on the north side of the main Roman
forum of Aelia. Several buildings were demolished,
including a temple. Only in the course
of leveling the area for the construction of the cathedral
complex was the rock-cut tomb from an
earlier Jewish cemetery on the site serendipitously
revealed. It was immediately identified as the locus
of Jesus' entombment and resurrection. With this
discovery came Constantine's order to Macarius,
bishop of Jerusalem, to make the church of the
complex the most glorious in the empire. What
was initially begun as an episcopal complex became,
in addition, a great martyrium. It is this latter
function on which historians, ancient and modern,
have exclusively concentrated.


NOTES:

(49) Vita, iii, 26-27, 95.5-96.19; also see Jerome, ep. 58, ed. I.
Hilberg, Sancti Eusebii Hieronymi Epistulae, I, CSEL 54 (Vienna,
1910), 531.5-532.4.
(50) Vita, iii, 26, 96.6-7; 28, 96.19-22.
(51) For example, D. Bahat, "Does the Holy Sepulchre Mark the
Burial Place of Jesus?," Biblical Archaeology Review 12, no. 3
(1986), 26-45, esp. 37.
(52) Dialogue with Trypho, PG 6, col. 657; Against Celsus, ed. M.
Borret, SC 132-136 (Paris, 1967-1968), 1.51.
(53) Wilkinson, Jerusalem Pilgrims, 166.
(54) Eusebius, Historia Ecclesiastica, ed. and trans. K. Lake and
J. E. L. Oulton, Loeb (London, 1926, 1932), book IV, v; I,
308.2-310.3.
(55) For the recent bibliography and restatement of this question,
J. E. Taylor, A Critical Investigation of Archaeological Material
Assigned to Palestinian Jewish-Christians of the Roman and Byzantine
Periods, Ph.D. diss. (University of Edinburgh, 1989), esp. 203-
30. I am grateful to Dr. Steven Gorenson for bringing this dissertation
to my attention.
(56) C. H. Turner, "The Early Episcopal Lists, II: The Jerusalem
List,"JTS 1 (1900), 529-53,
(57) Vita, iii, 30, 97.13-15.
Best,

Ken

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