Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Holy Sepulchre tomb uncovered in renovations

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC: Exclusive: Christ's Burial Place Exposed for First Time in Centuries. Restorers working in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Israel uncover stone slab venerated as the resting place of Jesus Christ (Kristin Romey).
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL For the first time in centuries, scientists have exposed the original surface of what is traditionally considered the tomb of Jesus Christ. Located in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem, the tomb has been covered by marble cladding since at least 1555 A.D., and most likely centuries earlier.

"The marble covering of the tomb has been pulled back, and we were surprised by the amount of fill material beneath it,” said Fredrik Hiebert, archaeologist-in-residence at the National Geographic Society, a partner in the restoration project. “It will be a long scientific analysis, but we will finally be able to see the original rock surface on which, according to tradition, the body of Christ was laid."

Whoever may have been buried there (and I neither insist on nor exclude Jesus), this is an excellent opportunity for scholars and archaeologists to study a rock-cut tomb that probably dates to the first-century CE. At least the other tombs nearby fit that description. Todd Bolen has some helpful background on the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (Holy Sepulcher) at Background on the current renovations to the Church are here (cf. here) and links.