Joan Taylor's Golgotha: A Reconsideration of the Evidence (1998)

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Kunigunde Kreuzerin
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Re: Joan Taylor's Golgotha: A Reconsideration of the Evidence (1998)

Post by Kunigunde Kreuzerin » Fri Feb 28, 2020 1:59 pm

Ken Olson wrote:
Wed Feb 19, 2020 3:33 pm
The Single Most Important Factor Pointing to Authenticity

On re-reading the paper, I realize that the factor that Taylor identifies as the single most important one supporting the theory that the tomb under the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is the actual tomb of Jesus is not any of the points I discussed above. Taylor says:
Upon further consideration of this matter, it seems to me that the fact that the tomb was considered self-evident is the single most important factor that points to the probable authenticity of the site. The traditional view has in its favour (though one that is usually completely ignored): it gives us a perfect reason why no physical proof or legitimating miracle was required for anyone to believe that the tomb was genuine. (196)
This claim is weak in at least three ways.

First, saying that the tomb was self-evident puts off the question of what the evidence was. Scholars have speculated that it could have been oral tradition or an identifying inscription. If our sources claimed either of those things, that would be much stronger evidence than simply inferring from the lack of evidence that the identity of the tomb was self-evident. Deducing that the evidence must have been good because the sources don't tell us what it is is a bizarre way of doing scholarship.

Second, if we are going to deduce from the fact that fourth century Christians accepted the tomb as that of Jesus that it must have been self-evident, we cannot assume that what was evident to them would be evident to us unless we can first establish that they employed good standards of evidence. But we do not know that they did. They were frequently convinced by evidence we (most of us) would not accept.
While I agree with your points, I think it would be interesting, and probably useful, to say more about the difference between those evidences.

What does it mean to look for an assumed historical place in late antiquity that should become the object of pilgrimage, church use and memory? For such purposes, was it really important that it was the authentic place? Can such a place also be established as authentic by imperial authority without sufficient evidence in a modern and in an ancient sense? Were there comparable places? How were they established? Who established them?

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Re: Joan Taylor's Golgotha: A Reconsideration of the Evidence (1998)

Post by Ken Olson » Fri Feb 28, 2020 5:19 pm

Joe Wallack wrote:
On a micro level you are doing a great (and respectful) job dealing with her specifics, seriously considering, contradicting and restraining incredulous impulse. But on a macro level you are just futzing around appearing to accept (or at least not giving it the criticism it deserves) her God-awful conclusion that "There can be only one!" (conclusion, authentic or not). As Dr. Evil said "How bout I don't Nooo!". In your response to me "Argument by Abduction" is an improvement as Joan of Aack has kidnapped good criteria. Primarily arguing which conclusion is more likely while exorcising good criteria is like arguing about who will win the World Series but agreeing not to talk about pitching (or cheating). Don't accept her assumptions with your silence.
Joe,

Thanks for the feedback. I'm not sure I'm getting what you're saying about accepting Taylor's assumptions by my silence here.

First, let me clarify my conclusion is not that the tomb in the CHS is inauthentic, it's that we do not know if it is authentic or not. The whole point of the my discussion of the burden of proof is that I think the issue has not been approached correctly in most of the scholarly literature. A number of scholars have made a case to the effect that since the traditional site cannot be proven to be inauthentic, it should be accepted. This seems to me to be tantamount to saying that the fact that something is traditional means it should be accepted as true unless disproven. That's the premise I reject. So if inauthenticity cannot be proven and authenticity can't be proven, we have to say we don't know if it's authentic or not.

The point of my "argument by abduction" was to steelman the arguments I've seen about oral traditions, inscriptions, pilgrims and the temple of Venus marking the site of Jesus' tomb. I think they're arguing that given the effect, that the tomb in the CHS was identified as that of Jesus c. 325, we need to hypothesize a sufficient cause, and oral traditions, inscriptions, second and third century pilgrims, would be sufficient causes. My point is that we can hypothesize any number of sufficient causes, nit just ones that would constitute good reasons. Annabel Wharton, arguing against authenticity, hypothesizes that Constantine decided to knock down the pagan temple and put up a church in its place, as he did elsewhere in the empire, and that the builders discovered a tomb on the site in the course of the demolition and identified it with the tomb of Jesus. One can reasonably object that she's just hypothesizing. But that's all the people who posit an oral tradition, and identifying inscription, or second and third century pilgrims are doing as well. We just don't have ancient sources for any of those things. (Well, a case could be made for oral tradition from a few of the later sources, but it's not very strong, and the sources are much bigger on signs from God).

Best,

Ken

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Post by JoeWallack » Mon Mar 02, 2020 8:20 am

Ken Olson wrote:
Fri Feb 28, 2020 5:19 pm
Joe Wallack wrote:
On a micro level you are doing a great (and respectful) job dealing with her specifics, seriously considering, contradicting and restraining incredulous impulse. But on a macro level you are just futzing around appearing to accept (or at least not giving it the criticism it deserves) her God-awful conclusion that "There can be only one!" (conclusion, authentic or not). As Dr. Evil said "How bout I don't Nooo!". In your response to me "Argument by Abduction" is an improvement as Joan of Aack has kidnapped good criteria. Primarily arguing which conclusion is more likely while exorcising good criteria is like arguing about who will win the World Series but agreeing not to talk about pitching (or cheating). Don't accept her assumptions with your silence.
Joe,

Thanks for the feedback. I'm not sure I'm getting what you're saying about accepting Taylor's assumptions by my silence here.

First, let me clarify my conclusion is not that the tomb in the CHS is inauthentic, it's that we do not know if it is authentic or not. The whole point of the my discussion of the burden of proof is that I think the issue has not been approached correctly in most of the scholarly literature. A number of scholars have made a case to the effect that since the traditional site cannot be proven to be inauthentic, it should be accepted. This seems to me to be tantamount to saying that the fact that something is traditional means it should be accepted as true unless disproven. That's the premise I reject. So if inauthenticity cannot be proven and authenticity can't be proven, we have to say we don't know if it's authentic or not.

The point of my "argument by abduction" was to steelman the arguments I've seen about oral traditions, inscriptions, pilgrims and the temple of Venus marking the site of Jesus' tomb. I think they're arguing that given the effect, that the tomb in the CHS was identified as that of Jesus c. 325, we need to hypothesize a sufficient cause, and oral traditions, inscriptions, second and third century pilgrims, would be sufficient causes. My point is that we can hypothesize any number of sufficient causes, nit just ones that would constitute good reasons. Annabel Wharton, arguing against authenticity, hypothesizes that Constantine decided to knock down the pagan temple and put up a church in its place, as he did elsewhere in the empire, and that the builders discovered a tomb on the site in the course of the demolition and identified it with the tomb of Jesus. One can reasonably object that she's just hypothesizing. But that's all the people who posit an oral tradition, and identifying inscription, or second and third century pilgrims are doing as well. We just don't have ancient sources for any of those things. (Well, a case could be made for oral tradition from a few of the later sources, but it's not very strong, and the sources are much bigger on signs from God).

Best,

Ken

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohDB5gbtaEQ

JW:
As Magneto said to Kevin Bacon, "I agree with everything you just said, but, there's still the matter of you killing the criteria my mother would have used." Joan of Ahah! does confess that The Shroud is Midevil so she is not beyond redemption. But she also says she is "fascinated" by it, and not for the right reason. In his related classic Judgment Day for the Shroud of Turin McCrone shows the right way to evaluate the historicity of ancient artifacts/artifrauds =
  • 1) Use a related expert = Here, a leading forensic scientist, who does this type of thing for a living, with a major supporting organization behind him (McCrone).

    2) Use the standard existing forensic tests (don't ad hoc new ones) for example, supposed blood on The Shroud.

    3) Standard forensic test 1 = chemical analysis of Shroud sample. Note that major chemical components of blood are not present.

    4) Standard forensic test 2 = color of supposed blood areas under microscope. Note that color is red. Dried blood is always black under microscope.

    5) Standard forensic test 3 = consider alternative to blood. Note that supposed blood images contain significant amounts of chemicals found in paint.

    6) Standard forensic test 4 = try to recreate hypothetical process. Note that recreations are identical under the microscope with The Shroud.
Conclusion = The Shroud failed every standard forensic test for evidence of blood.

Note that in evaluating historicity Dr. Carrier will compare supposed Christian artifacts with the evidence for non-Christian artifacts and go to the trouble of laying out some criteria. You remind me of the Fonz trying to say "I was wroong, I was rahng, I was wrreeng". Why can't you say "criteria"! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hs5j8uUR2nc

Can't you flesh out "Lack of ancient sources"? Otherwise you can just trade out ad hoc arguments like If Jesus existed and if Jesus had a tomb then it could only have been in one place so the odds are almost certain that any one spot was not his tomb, but that could take hundreds of years and cost thousands of lives. What about modern criteria to try and confirm that a specific spot/grave belonged to a specific person for say a life insurance or paternity issue? What are the criteria?

And as Fight Club pointed out, "On the longest possible timeline the survival rate goes to zero." What is the relationship between just time and conclusions? And that all important source witness criteria. How do we rate here with first, second, any hand (or foot) witness for this being Jesus' tomb?

Regarding the possible connection to my Eusebius thread, you don't think it quite a coincidence that these things just happen once Constantine/Christianity is in control (like when the TF is discovered)?

It's easy to trade ad hoc arguments. Not so easy to put together scientific criteria in an undiscipline that often avoids them. In every revolution there is one man with a vision. Be that man.


Joseph


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Re: Joan Taylor's Golgotha: A Reconsideration of the Evidence (1998)

Post by Ken Olson » Wed Mar 04, 2020 9:44 am

Joe Wallack wrote:
It's easy to trade ad hoc arguments. Not so easy to put together scientific criteria in an undiscipline that often avoids them. In every revolution there is one man with a vision. Be that man.
Joe,

Is your point that I should write a section on methodology in which I outline what would or would not count as good evidence for identifying the tomb in the CHS as the tomb of Jesus? Or is there something more (different or more particular) that you think I am letting Joan Taylor get away with?

Best,

Ken

P.S. Kunigunde Kreuzerin asked some very good questions, but I needed to do a bit more research before trying answer them. Hope to post a reply later today or tomorrow.

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Re: Joan Taylor's Golgotha: A Reconsideration of the Evidence (1998)

Post by Ken Olson » Fri Mar 06, 2020 1:37 pm

Back on Feb. 28, Kunigunde Kreuzerin wrote:
While I agree with your points, I think it would be interesting, and probably useful, to say more about the difference between those evidences.

What does it mean to look for an assumed historical place in late antiquity that should become the object of pilgrimage, church use and memory? For such purposes, was it really important that it was the authentic place? Can such a place also be established as authentic by imperial authority without sufficient evidence in a modern and in an ancient sense? Were there comparable places? How were they established? Who established them?
Those are very good questions and I'll try to answer them, but two caveats are in order. First, I'm planning to write an article on the CHS, not a monograph. Second, my thesis is that the arguments in favor of identifying the tomb in the CHS are weak and inconclusive. I'm trying not to a champion a particular theory on the origin of the tomb in the CHS. My experience is that when you do that, the usual response is for critics to claim that, since the opposing theory is not proven, their theory ought to be accepted by default.

The best book on the subject is Joan Taylor's The Christians and the Holy Places: The Myth of Jewish Christian Origins (1993). She argues that there was no tradition of pilgrimage to the Holy Land by Christians before Constantine and it was essentially his innovation. Most of the holy sites he established after he took the eastern half of the empire from Licinius in 324 were earlier pagan or Jewish sites which he appropriated for Christian use.

To try to answer your particular questions:

First, I should say that it's not at all certain that Constantine was looking for the tomb of Jesus when he ordered the temple of Venus in Jerusalem destroyed and a church built in its place. Eusebius records that Constantine demolished a temple of Venus in Heliopolis and built a church there (VC 3.58), presumably with no belief that there was a Christian site under it. Wharton has argued, quite plausibly in my opinion, that the discovery of the tomb was an accident. Constantine first decided that he would destroy the temple of Venus, and, when tombs (plural) were discovered in the course of the demolition and construction, one of them was identified by someone as being the tomb of Jesus, an idea that was entirely congenial to Constantine.

Second, I think the question about how important it was for sites to be authentic and what sort of standards fourth century Christians may have used to judge authenticity cannot be easily separated. Origen records a tradition that Golgotha, the Place of the Skull, is where Adam was buried (Comm. Matt 27.32-33, Migne PG 1777C). Colin Morris uses that as an argument that the site of Golgotha must have been known in Origen's time (Sepulchre of Christ, 10). I think this is a non sequitur, but more pertinently, I cannot imagine what sufficient evidence in a modern sense Origen or the later Christians who record this tradition could possibly have had for it. This seems to be a deduction from a theological belief that Jesus replaces the temple. Earlier Jewish tradition had Adam buried on Mount Moriah (i.e., the Temple Mount). Similarly, the later tradition that the Binding of Isaac occurred on the site of the CHS seems to have again replaced the Jewish tradition that this occurred on the Temple Mount (2 Chronicles 3.1, Josephus Antiquities 1.13.2).

A site's ability to visually evoke sacred events in liturgical celebration was probably more important to fourth century Christians than there being good historical grounds for concluding it was the actual geographic location where the event had taken place. But that's a thesis, not data.

Third, as alluded to above, I'm not arguing that Constantine necessarily originated the theory that the tomb discovered under the temple of Venus in Jerusalem was that in which Jesus had been buried, though that's possible. I think it more likely he threw his imperial weight behind that interpretation, and his imperial weight was decisive, as it had been at the recent Council of Nicaea. I think it unlikely that Eusebius was going to contradict Constantine, at least not overtly, once he had ruled on the issue. Most of our later sources (I hesitate to say all, because I may be overlooking something) are either dependent on Eusebius or are accounts of pilgrims to the CHS. Neither of these are likely to try to make the case for inauthenticity. There may have been skeptics at the time, but their voices are lost to us.

I say Eusebius would not contradict Constantine overtly because, in the view of a number of scholars, Eusebius has suppressed mention of the discovery of Golgotha and the True Cross in his account in the Vita Constantini and described only the discovery of the tomb. Stephen Borgehammar argues that Constantine's letter, which I quoted earlier, is in fact talking about the discovery of the cross at Golgotha. Eusebius has manipulated his readers' interpretation of the letter by placing it after his own account of the discovery of the tomb (VC 3.25-28, 30; Borgehammar, How the Holy Cross Was Found, 1991, pp. 93-122). It is notable that, while Eusebius does mention the site of Golgotha in his Onomasticon, he does not use the term in relation to the tomb and nothing in his language requires that the crucifixion took place near the tomb.

Book III of Eusebius Life of Constantine online here:

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/25023.htm

Fourth, it's really difficult to say what other sites cast the most light on the founding of the CHS. The other churches Constantine founded in Palestine at roughly the same time (Mamre, Bethlehem, Ascension) are probably the most comparable, but the question of how they were established is so intimately tied to the question of how the CHS was founded that they generally raise the same questions rather than providing answers. You can use later discoveries (i.e., later churches founded on holy sites), but they may well be taking the Constantinian discoveries as a model. Taylor suggests that Constantine was adopting a pagan practice – most of his foundations were on previous pagan and/or Jewish sites – but she doesn't provide much discussion of how pagan sites originated. She does cast a great deal of doubt on the Christian/Constantinian claim that they were recovering previously Christian holy sites that the pagans had taken over.

Sorry, I'm going to have to delay discussion of good and bad standards of evidence for a following post.

Best,

Ken

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Ken and Barbie (Like, I'm Sure)

Post by JoeWallack » Sun Mar 08, 2020 2:33 pm

Ken Olson wrote:
Wed Mar 04, 2020 9:44 am
Joe Wallack wrote:
It's easy to trade ad hoc arguments. Not so easy to put together scientific criteria in an undiscipline that often avoids them. In every revolution there is one man with a vision. Be that man.
Joe,

Is your point that I should write a section on methodology in which I outline what would or would not count as good evidence for identifying the tomb in the CHS as the tomb of Jesus? Or is there something more (different or more particular) that you think I am letting Joan Taylor get away with?

Best,

Ken

P.S. Kunigunde Kreuzerin asked some very good questions, but I needed to do a bit more research before trying answer them. Hope to post a reply later today or tomorrow.
Perhaps we could use scientific criteria for religious history based on logic, reason and experience, just like we do for every other discipline...Naaaaah

JW:
Hi Ken. I understand your reluctance to add in your Introduction a summary of the historical generally agreed quality criteria that religious scholars use because just like The Tomb of Jesus, it may not exist. So I suggest a much more limited approach:
  • 1) A limited description of criteria for evidence used by the US Legal System such as small hand evidence, credibility, location and confirmation.

    2) Summary of Joan of Aches formally listed criteria and as best you can tease out, her informal criteria.

    3) Criteria you decide to use for your conclusion or lack thereof.

    4) Using your criteria, a comparison of the evidence for Alexander the Great's Tomb location with Jesus'.


The point here Ken is to place the emphasis on the relative (the evidence) and not the absolute (the conclusion).


Joseph

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Ken Olson
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Re: Joan Taylor's Golgotha: A Reconsideration of the Evidence (1998)

Post by Ken Olson » Thu Mar 19, 2020 6:43 am

(Continued after a long delay from my previous post)

Good and Bad Standards of Evidence

As to what I mean by good standards of evidence, I gave a few examples: written or oral traditions that preserve the location of the tomb from the first century or an inscription identifying the site. Such things would not necessarily prove the authenticity of the tomb, because they could be wrong, but at least they provide a plausible route by which fourth century Christians could have received accurate information about the tomb. The problem is our fourth to sixth century sources do not actually say that there were such things identifying the site of the tomb, at least not in any clear or straightforward fashion. Modern scholars hypothesize there may have been such things. But that seems to be working backward from the conclusion that, since they found the actual tomb of Jesus, they must have had some form of reliable evidence.

Bad standards of evidence, as in the example from Sozomen would be things like divine signs, visions, and dreams, as well as arguments from authority based on people of high status who accepted the identification as correct, such as bishops and the emperor. There's also the anti-Semitic trope briefly suggested in Sozomen but developed some later form of the story of St. Helena's finding of the True Cross at Golgotha that the Jews knew where the cross was but had kept this knowledge hidden from the Christians.

I hesitate to call these modern as opposed to ancient standards of evidence as there are many modern people who accept what I have called bad standards of evidence (see Yoram Bilu, “The Role of Charismatic Dreams in the Creation of Sacred Sites in Present-Day Israel” in Sacred Space: Shrine, City and Land, B. Kedar & Z. Werblowsky, eds., 1998, 295-315, which discusses how the Jewish community relocated from Morocco to Israel received new holy places through dream visions of their saints).

Lucian as an Example of Bad Standards of Evidence

There's a fascinating first hand account by a priest named Lucian in the early fifth century of how Gamaliel (the Gamaliel of Acts 5) appeared to him three times to reveal where to find the tomb in which he had buried St. Stephen (the Stephen of Acts 7), though Gamaliel evidently had to appear again to the monk Migetius with a corrected location (for Avitus Latin translation of Lucian's Letter, see Migne, PL 41 cols. 807-818; S. Vanderlinden's critical edition is online at: https://www.persee.fr/doc/rebyz_0766-55 ... um_4_1_939 ).

As far as I know, there's no full direct English translation of the Epistula Luciani, but the account in Butler's Lives of the Saints sticks close to it:

https://www.bartleby.com/210/8/031.html

Lucian relies on visions, miracles, and the claimed testimony of three bishops as witnesses. It may be difficult to us to see Lucian's account as anything other than utterly fantastic, but it was nonetheless believed by contemporaries, and, in fact, by some as late as the 19th century (see Brewer's Dictionary of Miracles from 1884), and probably is still believed by at least a few today.

Gelasius of Caesarea and the Story of St. Helena's Finding of the Cross

There are no surviving accounts that give the location of the tomb that date from between the gospels (which are pretty vague on the location) and Eusebius in the early fourth century. Most of the later, post-Eusebian sources on the origin of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are not actually concerned with the finding of the tomb, but with with St. Helena's discovery of the True Cross at the site of Golgotha. Eusebius, who gives the earliest account, does not associate Helena with the site nor mention the discovery of the cross, though he does associate her with the sites of the churches at Bethlehem and the Mount of Olives (VC 3.41). This presents a problem. Most scholars dealing with the issue think Helena is a later addition to the story (Borgehammar is a notable exception), but several think the cross was discovered in Constantine's time (i.e., they think there was a piece of wood there which was identified as the cross of Jesus, not that it actually was).

The earliest surviving source source to mention Helena's discovery of the True Cross is Ambrose's Oration on the Death of Theodosius in 395 CE. On a source-critical basis, most scholars think that most or all of our later accounts, and particularly those found in Ecclesiastical Histories (Rufinus, Socrates, Sozomen) are based on the lost account of Gelasius of Caesarea from c. 390. The most recent critical edition of Gelasius of Caesarea (Martin Wallraff, 2018) gives the following translation (based on Rufninus Latin and Gelasius of Cyzicus Greek texts):
During the same time Helen, the mother of Constantine—a woman of incomparable faith, inner devotion, and singular magnificence, whose son Constantine truly was and was believed to be—being advised by divine visions, sought out Jerusalem and there inquired diligently of the local inhabitants after the place in which the sacred body of Christ had hung nailed on the cross. It was difficult to find, because a statue of Venus had been set up there by the ancient persecutors, so that if any of the Christians should wish to worship Christ in that place, he would seem to be worshipping Venus. And because of this the place was unfrequented and nearly consigned to oblivion. But when, as we said above, the devout woman had hastened to the place indicated to her by a divine sign, tearing down all the profane and polluted structures, after the rubble had been cleared away, deep down she found three crosses jumbled together. But the gladness of having found the object was disturbed by the uncertain identity of each of the crosses. To be sure, that inscription was also there which had been drawn up by Pilate in Greek and Latin and Hebrew letters, but even it did not reveal clearly enough the signs of the dominical cross. At this point the uncertainty of human ambiguity called for divine testimony.

But that most wise and truly divine Macarius, the president of that church, solved the perplexity by the following means. He saw to it that the pieces of wood were brought near to a woman of the highest nobility of that city, who was oppressed by a long illness and facing death, and he made known the efficacy of the salvific cross, making a prayer of this sort to God: bending his knees next to the woman’s bed he cried out in a loud voice, while the God-beloved Helen and a crowd of many people were also present with him. “Do you, master God almighty, who through your only-begotten child Jesus Christ wrought salvation for humankind on the tree of the cross, who also now at the end of times have inspired your maidservant along with her child, your manservant, to search for the blessed tree, on which the savior of all people (especially the faithful), Christ, was nailed in the flesh: show to us, Lord, which of these three trees is the cross of Christ, the one that, through its being pressed by us on this ill and half-dead woman, leads her by the hand to health and resurrection.”

So when he had finished praying, he carried forward the first piece of wood and placed it on the patient, but it did not profit her at all. Then he brought forward the second one too, but it also was shown to be ineffective. Now when he reached out his hand to the third one in turn, the wood approached the ill woman by its shadow and a great wonder occurred. For the half-dead woman suddenly opened her eyes and then, when he placed the precious and dominical cross upon her, she immediately jumped up, stood on her feet, and sent up glory to God. Having become so much better than she had previously been and running around her entire house and rejoicing, with a loud voice she declared the good tidings of the power of the divine cross together with all her household. Thus the most pious empress, the mother of the most praiseworthy and most God-beloved emperor Constantine, having wholly fixed her mind on the matter and proven the identity of the salvific tomb and the precious cross of Christ, immediately erected a house of prayer in that place according to the orders of her most pious child Constantine. And having designated it a martyrium, she advanced thenceforth more and more in faith. (Gelasius of Caesarea, Wallraff, 121-125).
My point in quoting this the reasons the text gives for the identification of the site are not the ones that modern scholars hypothesize. Helena was first advised by divine visions to go to Jerusalem, where the place was indicated to her by a divine sign, and then the cross was confirmed by a miracle.

The text also says she asked the local inhabitants where the crucifixion occurred, but the fact that the place was indicated to her by a divine sign implies that they were unable to tell her. The text does say the place was nearly consigned to oblivion, which one could, in a pinch, take to mean that it was not completely consigned to oblivion (i.e., it was remembered by someone). Reading the text that way requires a confidence in the accuracy of a small detail in a narrative in which we have very little confidence overall.

The claim that a statue of Venus had been set up over the site so that, if a Christian were to worship there, he would appear to be worshipping Venus, has also been taken to mean that Christians knew where tomb was and had worshipped there. (The later accounts of Socrates and Sozomen, dependent on Gelasius, literally say this). This does not follow. The Christians who are writing these accounts are writing in a period in which Christians had been worshipping in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher for some time (about 65 years for Gelasius, two centuries for Sozomen and Socrates). Fourth, fifth and sixth century Christian texts are not usually taken to record accurately first century Christian practices, and there is very little reason to assume they do so in this case, because, again, the narrative in which the detail is found is clearly late and legendary.

Caveat: Gelasius text does, in fact, say that there was an identifying inscription found at the site of Golgotha - the original titulus Pilate had written. Modern scholars, quite rightly, do not accept this story, but then go onto hypothesize that the may been some sort of identifying description. This is typical. Some of the later sources suggest that location of the site was preserved among the Jews, who kept it secret. Modern scholars rightly reject this as a later anti-Judaic legend, but then go on to hypothesize that there was an unrecorded local oral tradition that preserved the location of the site among the Christians of Jerusalem.

Best,

Ken

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Post by JoeWallack » Sat Mar 21, 2020 5:08 pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T3xbjxv-6ss

So few Christian women witnesses, so much time...

JW:
Great post Ken. let's go all the way:

http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/25023.htm

Life of Constantine (Book III)
...
Chapter 30. Constantine's Letter to Macarius respecting the Building of the Church of our Saviour.
Victor Constantius, Maximus Augustus, to Macarius.

Such is our Saviour's grace, that no power of language seems adequate to describe the wondrous circumstance to which I am about to refer. For, that the monument of his most holy Passion, so long ago buried beneath the ground, should have remained unknown for so long a series of years, until its reappearance to his servants now set free through the removal of him who was the common enemy of all, is a fact which truly surpasses all admiration. For if all who are accounted wise throughout the world were to unite in their endeavors to say somewhat worthy of this event, they would be unable to attain their object in the smallest degree. Indeed, the nature of this miracle as far transcends the capacity of human reason as heavenly things are superior to human affairs. For this cause it is ever my first, and indeed my only object, that, as the authority of the truth is evincing itself daily by fresh wonders, so our souls may all become more zealous, with all sobriety and earnest unanimity, for the honor of the Divine law. I desire, therefore, especially, that you should be persuaded of that which I suppose is evident to all beside, namely, that I have no greater care than how I may best adorn with a splendid structure that sacred spot, which, under Divine direction, I have disencumbered as it were of the heavy weight of foul idol worship; a spot which has been accounted holy from the beginning in God's judgment, but which now appears holier still, since it has brought to light a clear assurance of our Saviour's passion.
The chain of supposed witness -
  • 1) The earliest Manuscript is Codex Syriac 1 dated 462. Is the above in this Manuscript?

    2) Eusebius wrote in Greek c. 335.

    3) Is the Chapter description in the Manuscript?

    4) What exactly was the written source of the above?

    5) If you assume the source was a letter, who wrote it and what was the transmission history?
And

Trying to convert the above into witness testimony while ignoring transmission issues:
  • 1) The witness is Eusebius.

    2) Eusebius' source is the Letter.

    3) The Letter's source is Constantine.

    4) Constantine's source is ?.
So at a minimum we have quadruple hearsay Hearsay. The next step is to examine the credibility of each witness above, Eusebius, Letter, Constantine and ?.

By the way, the usual claim of a miracle is not only connected with the Tomb here but connected with its discovery. The type of the miracle is the timing, the tomb is discovered at the time Christianity takes control of the Roman Empire (maybe you mentioned this). Rather than a miracle or a coincidence, I would call it something else.


Joseph

Skeptical Textual Criticism

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